South Africa’s Western Cape Is an Aesthete’s Paradise

There are few places more remarkable than South Africa’s Western Cape. If you’ve been to Cape Town, you’ll know. An ocean the color of Bradley Cooper’s eyes, mountains that rival Rio’s Sugar Loaf, and vineyards that produce wine that’s so good, you’ll rethink everything you know about oenophilia. Cape Town has been southern Africa’s It city for the better part of the 21st century—a metropolis that’s maintained its relevance thanks to its transformative restaurant and design scene. As it continues to mature, like any good Cape wine, so do the areas surrounding it. Here, three new places to seek in Cape Town and its surrounds.

Gorgeous George, Cape Town

A guest suite at Gorgeous George.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels

Cape Town might be slow on the hotel uptick, but this year, the city will welcome the urban Design Hotel Gorgeous George in the downtown area. Given that Cape Town has one of the most shockingly beautiful coastlines, the inner city seems like an ambitious choice of location. But for anyone who wants to hit the city’s dialed-in food and design scene, it’s also spot-on. Constructed from two original buildings (one New Edwardian, the other Art Deco), Gorgeous George takes advantage of downtown’s ornate, historic architecture. Inside, the hotel is beautified with artworks, fixtures, and furniture by trailblazing South African designers and artists (Gregor Jenkin, Porky Hefer) and speaks to what Cape Town is wholeheartedly about: exquisite taste. Unlike the buildings themselves, the rooms are keenly contemporary with shelving constructed from wood, steel, and glass, exposed cement ceilings, and walls washed in dark tones. In the evenings, the rooftop is where it’s at. There’s no better setting to sip locally infused gin cocktails than in the shadow of the city’s majestic Table Mountain.

Babylonstoren, Cape Winelands

The Fynbos Cottages at Babylonstoren on the slopes of Simonsberg.

Photo: Courtesy of Babylonstoren

There are luxe lodges in the Cape Winelands—ones that will knock the silk socks off of even the most seasoned high-end traveler—and then there’s Babylonstoren. A farm hotel that rose to fame thanks to its sprawling edible garden, farm-fresh restaurant Babel, and minimalistic old Cape Dutch cottages, Babylonstoren isn’t a hotel, it’s a global destination. This year, the property, which is curated by owner and former magazine editor Karen Roos, revealed a new collection of Fynbos Cottages. Clustered around a farm dam set deep in the vineyards, the cottages were built in the cape Dutch style in keeping with the Babylonstoren aesthetic. The almost entirely white rooms have Oregon pine floors, pitched ceilings, jute bouclé rugs, and private outdoor patios with swing nest seats—they’re the kind of rooms that make it challenging to explore beyond them. Guests have access to a private pool, lounge, and bar area. They also have access to all the things that make Babylonstoren, well, Babylonstoren: the gardens, Babel, the spa, the tasting room, and (obviously) the wine.

Morukuru Beach Lodge, De Hoop Nature Reserve

The Morukuru Beach Lodge.

Photo: Courtesy of Morukuru Beach Lodge

Cape Town and the Winelands are obvious destinations on the Cape’s tourist map. The De Hoop Nature Reserve, a three-hour drive from Cape Town, not so much. And that’s probably because until the opening of Morukuru Beach Lodge last year, there was no full-service accommodation available. A coastal reserve, which possesses both marine life and wildlife like bontebok and Cape Mountain zebras, De Hoop is considered one of the prime places to see the the southern right whales make their annual migration (usually between May and December). From Morukuru’s four ocean-facing suites (the fifth suite faces the dunes), guests watch whales breach, birth, and bathe in the Atlantic Ocean. The lodge itself feels more like a friend’s beach house than a hotel, albeit a super chic one. Dutch designer Janine Feikes-Butter ensured that playful elements drift through the bright wood interior: oversize leather chairs, wood-encased window seats, and a whale chandelier strung above the dining room. Much as with a traditional safari experience, guests have access to two activities a day: marine walks, game drives, sandboarding. Nothing is compulsory but there is one activity that should be: sunset drinks that take place around a roaring fire cauldron on the ocean-facing patio. On a calm, clear night, it’s frankly unforgettable.