I couldn’t hardly contain my excitement while hauling a taxi at Cape Town’s Waterfront district to head to the famed Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. It had been on my list to visit for years, and this should be the day!
The ‘Nellie’ as it is affectionately nicknamed by locals, is undoubtedly one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, built at the end of the 19th century. It is located in a prime location at the foot of Table Mountain and close to Company’s Gardens in the historic heart of Cape Town. Since its opening, it has welcomed among its wealthy guests a high number of celebrities, including Queen Elisabeth celebrating her 21st birthday at the hotel, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and even the Dalai Lama.
Fun fact: Belmond Mount Nelson is said to have been the first hotel in South Africa that on its opening had hot and cold running water.
The Belmond Mount Nelson was painted its famous pink to commemorate the end of World War I on November 1918. One hundred years later, the hotel is proudly celebrating a century potting its bright pink with a year of various ‘pink’ events. One of which includes a special twist of the hotel’s famous afternoon tea.
The hotel is indeed the institution for afternoon tea in Cape Town; and is actually said to offer one of the best afternoon tea experiences in the world! Afternoon tea is served in the hotel’s classy lounge, the glassed-in conservatory and during warmer months extends onto the beautiful terrace.
Before I tell you more about my fantastic afternoon tea experience at the Mount Nelson, which was every bit as exceptional as I had imagined, let me get started with a brief introduction to the rest of this amazing hotel.
The whole complex boasts a perfect mix of historic colonial chic and contemporary features.
There are six different wings all with a different style and feel surrounded by nine acre of wonderfully manicured gardens which offer stunning scenic views of Table Mountain.
I have not seen any of the rooms as I did not stay at the Mount Nelson. However, room categories include Deluxe and Superior rooms, a range of different suits including a presidential suite and the gorgeous Garden Cottage Suites complete with a little garden and white picket fences (and one of the most perfect views of Table Mountain across the whole compound).
The gorgeous Planet Bar is the perfect place for a pre or after-dinner drink.
There are also two restaurants on the grounds, the Lord Nelson fine-dining restaurant open for dinner only (and closed on Sundays) where you can expect a seasonal local menu featuring a number of traditional African food such as ostrich, springbok and kudu.
Oasis Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers light meals and a bistro style lunch buffet (definitely check ahead if you want to visit as during specific periods, not all of the options are available).
The hotels Oasis pool is one of the largest heated pools in South Africa whilst the significantly smaller Cottage pool is hidden away in an area close to the lovely cottages and adults-only (over 16).
But now on to the ‘summer of pink’ Afternoon Tea
As we settled down in the conservatory right next to the open doors leading out to the terrace, we were first greeted with a complimentary glass of bubbles whilst studying the large tea menu.
To help guests with the extensive selection, there are special trained tea sommeliers and your tea is brewed directly at your table.
For the special pink afternoon tea, you can obviously expect lots of pink features. Which does not mean you will have to forgo a range of classic goodies.
Without surprise, the afternoon tea starts with a tired stand of savoury treats including deliciously tasting sandwiches filled with cucumber, egg and salmon, roast beef with Dijon, along with various filled pastries.
Next come the classic scones, still slightly warm and served with clotted cream, strawberry jam and butter.
The final an perhaps my favourite part (absolutely my favourite part) was the selection of sweets presented on various buffets in the lounge area. They included such delights as raspberry filled white truffles, pink éclairs, pink swirl pavlovas, rose pink dobos, and among the non-pink goodies passion fruit squares, macarons filled with a delicious mocha mousse, chocolate cake and lemon tart.
If you want to visit Belmond Mount Nelson, there are a range of dining and Spa offers for day guests that will give you the freedom to roam around the estate, from fine dining at Lord Nelson Restaurant, the Oasis Bistro, the Chef Table, the famous Afternoon Tea or Planet Bar. In case your visit falls into the summer months, there is also a special lunch offer that included the use of the hotels wonderful Oasis pool.
Belmond Mount Nelson
76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Phone · +27 21 483 1000