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user review | Hotel

Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

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Go for the Afternoon Tea, but don't spend the night.

Posted on: May 8, 2013 at 6:54PM

By Guest

With Table Mountain as a backdrop, this historic hotel has so much potential, but it fails to meet expectations. Built on land formerly used for slave and horse auctions the Mount Nelson was the first hotel to offer hot and cold running water in South Africa… today service lacks. As one example when it came to cleaning our room (or more literally not cleaning our room) the hotel was very quick to make excuses, placing blame on the guest first, and taking responsibility last. The hotel is renowned for two things - there afternoon tea and there gardens. The gardens, in my opinion are neither extravagant nor are they bad, but instead somewhere in the middle. I noticed weeds coming up between many of the paving stones. The afternoon tea is the hotels only saving grace. With 32 teas including their own blend, and hosts to assist with recommendations and steeping, all you have to do is sit back, enjoy the cucumber sandwiches and scones (the have an amazing spread of sandwiches, pies, cakes, and other sweet and savory treats laid out) as a pianist tickles the ivories. Once you have experienced the afternoon tea, it's easy to see why it's so popular – from multi generational families to middle aged women, to young professional Capetonians dressed in their finest. The pros of this hotel include the gardens, an excellent afternoon tea and breakfast and a decently sized gym and pool. The cons however outweigh the pros. Specifically service was poor, there is only one small elevator and views are limited in a town where almost every hotel has jaw dropping vistas. Honestly, while staying here, with my view of the pool and surrounding office buildings / shops it didn’t feel very Cape Town’ish. Too bad Table Mountain is behind the hotel! Also I was not impressed with the Prius vehicles used for free transfers (other comparable hotels in Cape Town offer transfers in BMW’s, Jags and Mercedes’). Interesting as well that free transfers are offered to Camp’s Bay and Table Mountain but not to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Perhaps they are concerned guests will see the waterfront and want to stay at one of the nice hotels there! My personal recommendation is visit it for afternoon tea, but don’t stay overnight.

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