You can read part one of Kate’s South African adventure right here.
Touching down in Cape Town, we immediately noticed two things: firstly, it was suddenly a lot cooler than where we’d been, at around 18 degrees, and secondly, the air was amazingly fresh considering we were just outside an airport. Donning our jackets, we set off to the first of two Cape Town stays – More Quarters.
More Quarters consists of 18 one and two-bedroom apartments situated in a beautifully renovated terrace in the heart of Cape Town’s Gardens District. Our two-bed apartment was bright, with modern décor, a small enclosed outdoor terrace and two large, comfortable bedrooms – both with en suite bathrooms, which is so handy when travelling with a little one. The apartment’s spacious living area made for a welcome change from our usual hotel room routine of tiptoeing around in semi-darkness while our boy sleeps, and kitchen was a welcome addition too. There were also plenty of thoughtful kid-friendly touches, like the large box of building blocks, paper and pencils left for us to use, toddler-safe toiletries in the bathrooms, and the option for a travel cot set up on arrival.
After a magnificent breakfast at More Quarters’ dining room (easily the best granola I have ever tasted!), we were all set to explore the Gardens district, but unfortunately the weather was not on our side, so instead we headed to the wonderful Cape Town Aquarium at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, where we happily whiled away several hours investigating all the wonders of the deep, before investigating some deep-fried wonders at one of the Waterfront’s many fish and chip restaurants.
The following morning, we took the opportunity to hire a car for the day and drove down to Cape Point within the Table Mountain National Park. I can highly recommend this as an option if you are travelling with children as the driving is easy, car rental is very reasonably priced, and there are plenty of pretty little towns dotted along the winding coastal route that make for perfect stops when little people get tired of sitting still! A highlight was our stop at Boulders Beach, where we were able to see wild penguins in a 3000-strong colony, most of whom were completely unfazed by a fast-moving toddler waving hello at them!
On our return, it was time to check in at our last stop; the fabulously luxurious One and Only Cape Town. Situated right on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, this imposing hotel has all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star property, and then some. The outdoor pool is heated and benefits from being absolutely enormous – I was not in the slightest bit concerned that my boy would disturb anyone while splashing around here! The award-winning spa is definitely worth a look in if you have the opportunity, and the dining options include a Capetonian branch of Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Nobu, and the more family-oriented Reuben’s, which offers delicious South African and international options, and has a great terrace that provides somewhere for little ones to run if they have ants in their pants!
A standout in terms of family-focussed facilities is the Kids’ Club, located on the ground floor of the hotel. Suitable for children from infants to teens, this large space was stacked to the rafters with toys, craft supplies, books and even games consoles and computers for slightly older kids. Added to which is a large garden and dedicated outdoor play area that I haven’t previously seen in a hotel – great for running around or a game of footy. In addition to the daytime Kids’ Club facility, babysitting can be arranged, giving parents the ideal opportunity to make the most of those dining options!
Our room had a breathtaking view of Table Mountain from the attached balcony, and was large enough that sharing with a two-year-old wasn’t an issue for us, with separate sleeping and lounge areas and that great outdoor space that allowed us to make the most of the view with a glass or two of wine while our boy slept. Now, I shamelessly judge hotel rooms on their bathrooms, and this one was a particular standout, with an enormous Philippe Starck-style egg bath and separate rain shower, along with a spacious dressing area. Once again, there were some welcome family-friendly amenities such as the baby toiletries, mini bathrobe and even a couple of cuddly friends waiting in the bed (Bob the lion and Fred the bear now have pride of place on my son’s bed back home!).
All settled in, our last full day was spent (reluctantly) packing for our connecting flight back to Johannesburg and then home; but we did managed to squeeze in a quick walk around the quirky Bo-Kaap residential district, whose colourful terraced houses fascinated us all.
All in all, our South African holiday was the perfect balance for us; far enough away to feel like a real adventure, but surprisingly easy to get to with a toddler. The twin-centre stay worked well for us, as we tend to like to cram in as much as possible (no sun-loungers for us!); but it also allowed us sufficient time to see everything without having to rush. Cape Town is a stunningly beautiful city and it somehow manages to feel laid-back and even a little sleepy despite its population of 3.7 million people!
Back home in Dubai, we’re already talking about our next trip to South Africa, and hope that by the next time we visit, our son is old enough to remember a little more of the trip… although penguins do seem to come up in conversation pretty frequently these days!