Readers of The Telegraph recently voted Cape Town as their favourite city in the world. It is indeed a city that offers the visitor everything, from a bustling nightlife, gay-friendly culture and fantastic shopping and dining, to nature experiences. Spread out over an area of almost 500 square kilometres, it can be difficult to choose accommodation that is not only safe and accessible, but affordable too. However, here is some insider’s information to make the process easier for you.
Where to Stay
There is a wide variety of hotels, B&Bs and backpacker’s hostels spread out over the Cape Town Metropolitan area. Price varies according to what the accommodation offers, but also according to its location and of course, the time of year. Guesthouses and B&Bs are often your best bet. Since they’re small and intimate, they offer you personalised service and the staff will do everything they can to make you feel at home. They are often cheaper than many big hotels and even a private room in a backpacker’s hostel too.
If you want to be close to it all, you may prefer a hotel, guesthouse or B&B in the CBD or its adjacent suburbs. This area is collectively called the City Bowl, since it’s being cradled by Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. The quickest and easiest way to get around here if you haven’t rented car is to take a minibus taxi. These are cheap and easy to catch. They also offer you the opportunity to mingle with everyday Capetonians.
The best gay-friendly accommodation is in Green Point and Sea Point, two suburbs adjacent to the City Bowl. Green Point is home to many gay clubs. Since both these suburbs are next to the ocean, you can also enjoy the sea air and take a walk along the promenade.
Green Point and Sea Point are some of the more affordable areas along the Atlantic Seaboard. Further south you will find suburbs like Camps Bay and Clifton, where the beaches are fantastic (but the water icy), the restaurants and cafes are where the beautiful people hang out and the houses are luxurious beyond belief. This means that holiday accommodation here tends to be more expensive too.
On the southern part of the Cape Peninsula you will find several suburbs that are really like small villages. Here you will find many affordable and not-so-affordable places to stay. Muizenberg has excellent surfing and a surf school, while St James and Kalk Bay offer fantastic views over the ocean and great places to walk up in the mountains, along with a wonderfully Bohemian atmosphere. Fish Hoek has a beautiful, family-friendly beach and the water on this side is much warmer than on the western side of the peninsula. Simon’s Town is a historic village and home to the country’s main naval base, but also to one of two mainland African penguin colonies. These suburbs are easily accessible by train and between Muizenberg and Simon’s Town, the railway line runs right next to the ocean, offering you the opportunity to spot seals, marine birds, whales and, if you’re very lucky, sharks.
The Northern Suburbs usually offer the most affordable guest houses and B&Bs, but are more difficult to get to by public transport. However, the suburbs stretching along the coast, including Milnerton, Table View and Bloubergstrand, are served by the MyCiti rapid transport bus system. The beaches here are excellent for kitesurfing and for taking your very own picture of Cape Town’s most iconic attraction, Table Mountain.
When to Go
High season in Cape Town is during the summer months, from around October to March. The city can then become quite crowded and prices can double or triple. Winter is rainy and mild, with some unexpectedly beautiful, sunny days in between. The best time to visit is August and September. Not only is this when winter is coming to an end, but it’s also whale season. If you opt for accommodation on the Southern Peninsula, you may even be able to spot southern right whales without having to get out of bed, and all this at low-season prices!