Yes, before anyone says it, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is indeed pink. Aside from being decorated like a very upmarket version of Barbie’s Dream House, the Belmond tag on the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town spoke volumes about what we could expect to discover inside. We were a little bit cautious about leaving the comfort of Camps Bay initially, but as we pulled up to the magnificent driveway into the Mount Nelson, these fears were immediately alleviated. This place was incredible.
Our accommodation for the two-night stay was to be one of the few Belmond Garden Cottages situated on the private path just off the main reception. It was a little surreal walking down a miniature version of Wisteria Lane in the middle of Cape Town, but as we were given the keys to our cottage, we quickly made ourselves at home. As well as a huge bed, ample storage and a bathroom that took all the style of the Fifties and combined it with modern technology, we had our own living room, terrace and front garden. Oh, and pretty much our own outdoor heated pool too as the neighbours were out. Throw in a pretty spectacular view of a certain Table Mountain that dominated the skyline and it was no wonder that the Belmond Mount Nelson carried such a prestigious reputation.
Arriving late on the first night, we decided to head next door for a quick bite to eat. Richard, the tour guide, had recommended Nelson’s Eye as a great place to eat and even voted it to be the best steak in Cape Town. A huge promise, I know, but as the restaurant was in the adjacent street and accessible directly through a side gate, it seemed a little too convenient not to check it out. So, that evening, we headed across the street to what looked like an old fisherman’s tavern perched on a street corner.
A slight caveat here; while my/Katie’s photography is often complimented by readers, I would like to point out that the pictures here will never do this meal justice. It was the best (and I do mean the best) steak I have ever had in my life. The quality of the meat could not be contained by the traditional scale of 1 to 10 and, even though I write this after eating a delicious lunch, I am still salivating at the thought of the sirloin cut that lay on my plate that night. The quantity was pure gluttony (I chose the weight), and the portion of sides was more than enough to balance out the meal. Katie had the fillet steak which was flambéed in the most spectacular style and that was out of this world. Any twelve hour red eye flight is worth it to sample the menu. I implore you, if you are ever in Cape Town, do check out Nelson’s Eye.
With our bellies full, we just had time for one quick cocktail at the Planet Bar back in the hotel. The drinks were excellent, as was the barman. As the hour hand passed midnight, it was time to turn in and get a good night’s sleep after a very busy day. The next morning, we woke up fairly full from the night before. However, the allure of a buffet breakfast is always hard to resist, so we headed down to the restaurant for a late sitting. The plethora of pink standing against a bright blue sky and green, green grass provided plenty of distraction on the way.
So, how do you serve breakfast in Barbie’s Dream House? With champagne, of course. This was the first buffet breakfast with champagne on ice, so we thought it rude not to partake in a glass or two. To keep things civilised, I helped myself to a few courses from a very large collection of foods. There are few hotels that we have stayed at that can claim to offer so many different food types. Even the resident bakery was a nice touch; tiers of glutenous temptation that could lure any man from his seat. As per usual, I went for a protein-heavy selection in order to try and avoid the sweet stuff.
The afternoon was spent taking a short trip to nearby Kloof Street, followed by an exploration of the hotel grounds. It is very rare that I’ll happily stay in a hotel for more than a few hours, but the streets of the Belmond Mount Nelson made it feel more like a tiny village than a hotel complex. Incredibly, after a few hours of burning off a late breakfast, our attention was then turned to afternoon tea. More food, more decadence. Not the best example being set from a qualified personal trainer.
If breakfast at the Belmond is good, then the afternoon tea at the hotel is an institution. Capetonians of all walks of life head here to sample the endless supply of sandwiches and pastries that are created by Executive Pastry Chef Craig Hibbert. With a CV as strong as his, it is no wonder that each creation was bursting with flavour and, despite the lack of available room in my stomach, provided the temptation to keep going back for more. A nice touch was the loose leaf tea which was served in transparent teapots; in my sugar-loaded and caffeinated state, it was hypnotic watching the leaves slowly diffuse into the boiling water.
Dinner that night was to be something very special, so I have dedicated the next post to writing about it. You can read all about our experience at the Chef’s Table here.