Eat, Sleep and Drink in Cape Town

Washed up like a seashell along the coast and sheltered by soaring Table Mountain, Cape Town’s glittering city bowl juts into the sea at just the nexus where the Atlantic, charging and athletic, merges with the dreamy cerulean ink of the Indian Ocean.

The cultured Brit as played ?by an earthy Australian, Cape Town’s tacit glamour is veined in true grit. Raw and lush, its grand terrain offers myriad pastimes for the adventurer, while serving as an atmospheric backdrop to the city’s urbane pleasures. Scattered with gourmandian escapes, the surrounding winelands are among the most beautiful in the world; in town, numerous chic restaurants and boutiques are augmented by ?a buzzy cocktail scene, soigne locals and brilliant wine lists.

Selecting from Cape Town’s surfeit of graciously run hotels is akin to being handed a multi-page dessert menu; choices are endless in a city where luxury stays can easily be found at less than $200 a night (all prices Canadian).

At the Cape Cadogan (, a 19th-century manse within walking distance to the shops and cafes of bustling Kloof and Long streets, you’ll find 12 rooms and suites starting at $180 a night. Casually refined, the address also offers a cache of private flats just up the road (from $180 a night), including one called the Montreal.

Those travelling with friends or family can go next door and check into the Redcliffe, a four-bedroom villa (sleeps two to six, from $480 a night) equipped with a pool that can also be outfitted with a private chef. Those with a yen for more contemporary luxe and a scenic mountain setting should try Kensington Place (, which accents its sleek, modern design with a fine dining room and a sexy bar.

Nix jet lag with an afternoon at a day spa. Happily, four hours of pampering — body exfoliation, massage, facial, manicure (or pedicure) — plus lunch and a cocktail are yours for $262. No, really. Just book the “De-Stress” package at the oceanside Twelve Apostles (

Next, reserve a town car and driver. At $20 an hour, you can freely work your way through every good restaurant’s superb wine list.

Whether penchants run to fine dining or casual fare, a 7-to-1 exchange rate sees travellers spoiled. Why not dine out every night when a three-course meal at the finest epicurean addresses runs $100 or less? For two. With wine.

Visitors can sample from a range of wonderful local chefs and a host of dining options. Peruse for excellent restaurant (and wine) reviews. The short list, however, should include: Salt (, where David Winton’s much-lauded modern globetrotter menu ranges from Tandoori quail to braised warthog; the cosmopolitan cuisine of Cape cooking star Bruce Robertson, formerly of the Ritz in London, now at The Showroom (; and Jardine (, with co-owner/chef George Jardine’s award-winning take on modern Euro fare. The residents-only,” posh, intimate Ellerman House, a 16-suite palazzo with a Relais& Chateaux rating, now quietly takes outside guests. Soak up the atmosphere, and the sunset, with dinner on the terrace with sweeping Atlantic views.

Snap up the 2008 John Platter South African Wine Guide at the airport on your way into town and bone up on regional vineyards. Check Robert Parker ratings ( While away the earlier evening hours at Planet Champagne Bar, a jewel box antechamber hidden in the Mount Nelson Hotel. The history of the city’s classic grande dame includes housing Winston Churchill during the Boer War. Today, it’s the home of one of the world’s most chic lobby bars, offering a comprehensive list of domestic and international wines, along with champagne cocktails.

More casually, you can settle in at the Nose Restaurant & Wine Bar (, which offers 42 wines by the glass. In this utopia of 50 per cent off wine lists, you can’t go wrong with selections from the Warwick or Graham Beck wineries. Among a multitude of Cape vineyards, the latter produces the country’s best, and internationally recognized, sparkling wines.

In Cape Town, experiencing high style at a low cost, you just can’t go wrong.