REVIEW: Westin Cape Town
After setting myself up for what was essentially camping (glamping, really, but still there's limited electricity, internet, and hot water at all times folks and that makes life so, so hard..... right?) for the entirety of my stay in Zambia, when it came to planning the second half of my southern African trip which would be in Cape Town, I was definitely looking for something at the higher end of the luxury scale. Somewhere that had limitless wifi, endless hot water, and electricity flowing out its ass for days on end.
Cape Town is the kind of city that offers tons of options for luxury travelers so selecting a property might have been a bit daunt, but only one of them was offering all of the things I wanted at a price point that I could swallow - the Westin Cape Town. Priced at about $167 USD per night, it was outside of the budget I typically set for myself when it comes to nightly accommodations while traveling, but I made a bit of an exception for myself due to the previously mentioned glamping excursion that was an amazing experience but left me wanting the ease of a five star hotel for a bit.
So the exception was made, hotel was booked, and I was ready to luxuriate at the Westin in not time flat. This was one of the easiest and quickest hotel booking decisions I've ever made.
The hotel is about a 20 minutes drive from the airport, which I managed to make in just over 30 minutes due to the torrential downpour that opened up while I was wandering the airport grounds trying to find a taxi after my South African Airways flight in from Johannesburg. Better safe than sorry though, so I appreciate that my driver was a bit more cautious. We pulled up to the hotel and I was offered help with my luggage. I'm a single, independent-minded lady though, so I as is common for me I declined and dragged my suitcase through the marbled floor of the Westin to check-in all on my own. Clearly the picture below was taken at another time other than my arrival as the sun is shining brightly and no where can one see Noah's ark floating in the distance.
Check-in turned out to be a bit of a disaster as there was some sort of party going on in the lobby's open areas and staff seemed to be heavily allocated toward taking care of that event. Consequently when I checked in there was only one person handling guest inquiries at the desk. I queued up behind the person who was already speaking with the staff member and proceeded to wait for a good 15 minutes while this person ranted and raved about how awful the hotel had treated him up to this point. At first I was concerned as this was going to be the first night of several I'd be staying at what this man was calling a "hell hole", but after a few minutes of listening to his ravings I realized the hotel was likely just fine and it was actually him that was the problem.
Still, the long wait was less than ideal as at this point I'd flown out of the Zambian bush a good 8 hours prior and looked like I had be been dipped in water from the waist down due to the typhoon raging through Cape Town. Once I was face to face with the agent he did apologize for the time I spent twiddling my thumbs and processed my check-in very quickly. He even offered to put me into an "upgraded" room with a view of Table Mountain for my troubles, which would have been a nice gesture had it not continued to rain for essentially the remainder of my stay. Can't fault the guy for trying though!
The lobby was packed full of people at the time but I did take some time to note how nicely it was appointed. I'm a sucker for a nice design aesthetic and the Westin Cape Town just happens to have a certain something that really pleases my eye. Interesting artistic flourishes all over the lobby, warm colors contrasting with cool marble and black accents. It also featured some retail space for what appeared to be unaffiliated stores which sold wine, African inspired souvenirs, and the like.
Overall - two thumbs up from this guy.
I made my way to the elevator and punched in my floor. When I arrived I was worried for a bit that the elevator had dropped me off at the wrong floor or I had punched in the wrong number. The "floor" was simply a small elevator lobby with a set of glass doors that wouldn't open.
The doors clearly stated "Starwood Preferred Guest Floor" in frosting though, so I knew guest rooms had to be located beyond the glass. That's when I finally noticed the scanner to the right of the door where apparently I needed to put my room key to release the lock. Typically if hotels are going to restrict access to guest room floors they do so by requiring you to scan you key card to activate the elevator. Apparently things work a little differently in Cape Town!
White panel walls with a dark carpet headed off in either direction where bright sections of red and orange mark the locations of guest room door entrances.
A very heavy, solid wood door greeted me and I slide the key card into the lock and entered the room where my visual happiness continued. Again, I can't quite single out what about the design of this hotel suits me so well, but I do love it for some reason.
Just like almost every other chain hotel known to man, the room was laid out where the bathroom was off to the side as soon as you entered the room (through the frosted door) and the living area was placed directly ahead.
To the immediate left as a vase on a glass shelf as well as a full length mirror and to the right against a bright red/orange accent wall was the entrance to the bathroom.
I have to admit I was pretty impressed with the bathroom as it was set up like it's own little suite. Directly in front of the door was a set of dual sinks. As I was traveling alone I promptly dubbed one my shaving sink and the other my washing sink. Life feels better when things have purpose, right?
Amenities were provided by the hotel and featured the chain's signature white tea aloe scent.
To the left was a full sized bathtub. I always appreciate the availability of a bathtub though honestly I rarely ever use them. Maybe one day I'll strip off all my clothes and hop into one and shower myself with $5 USD worth of Laos kip while giggling and rolling about. Or something.
To the right were two additional frosted doors which housed separate rooms for a shower cubicle as well as the toilet.
The toilet area featured another splash from the bright red/orange accent paint used throughout the room, and also featured some calming African art on the walls to facilitate finding your bathroom zen.
The enclosed shower area was quite spacious and even featured a support bar along the wall which I used as a dancing center piece for my numerous in-shower showstopping musical numbers but was most likely there to help folks having trouble staying upright on the slippery tiles.
The four things I need for a decent shower are water, soap, shampoo, and some tunes to rock out to. This shower stall provided excellent acoustics for my in-shower concerts so I was always on key. I assume. So thumbs up from this future American Idol winner.
Out of the bathroom/entrance area and into the living space, the room follows the same layout pattern of just about any hotel room across the world - bed, cabinet, desk, and lounging chair all laid out in about the same location you'd find them anywhere. Hotels really need to up their game in the creativity department when it comes to hotel room lay out, though I suppose many folks likely enjoy the consistency of knowing what they will get.
The bed was from the Westin's signature "heavenly" collection and it was indeed quite heavenly to sleep in. The Westin Heavenly bed (it's actually trademarked folks) is one of those odd marketing quirks that actually delivers on what its grandiose naming states. They consistently have extremely comfortable beds and I've never once checked into a Westin property and thought anything but great things about the bed.
On one of the end tables was one of several complimentary bottles of water (replenished daily) as well as a nice piece of taffy.
The room also featured one of the largest, most extensive shelving units I've seen in a hotel. Room to hold you clothes, hold even more clothes, as well as a mini-bar and coffee/tea station with room left over to play hide and seek later.
The room provided actual tea/coffee cups with proper saucers as well as a few wine glasses for the bottles of wine in the mini-bar.
The mini-bar featured quite a few options for imbibing and snacking with a slew of international and local options.
The closet space was more than enough for me to store my luggage. The cabinet space also featured an in-room safe, however, it wasn't large enough to fit my older model Macbook inside. This concerned me slightly as I had read reviews of the Westin (and other higher end properties in Cape Town so I would emphasize this doesn't seem to be a problem unique to this property) that noted staff had taken guest possessions from their rooms while they were out. Some of those reports noted that possessions were taken from out of the safe, so I'm not even sure why I was distressed that my laptop wouldn't fit, but I was. Needless to say I didn't end up having anything taken from me while staying at the Westin Cape Town and even though my laptop didn't fit in the safe I left it inside my luggage under some clothes and it all worked out just fine. And I now have a smaller laptop to avoid this problem in the future.
Next to the cabinets in one corner was a desk. Instead of being flush with the wall it extended out from the wall into the room, which meant depending on which side of the desk you put the chair you could stare toward the room and TV or out over the city and (theoretically on a clear day) Table Mountain.
The last corner of the room was taken up but a very fancy looking, but highly uncomfortable lounging chair that was also brightly upholstered in warm fabric to match the accents across the room.
Overall I was really happy with the room. It was warm, modern, and comfortable (except for the lounger), and it really made a great "home" for me over the next few days. Sadly I spent pretty much all of my time inside the hotel as the torrential rains that soaked me upon arrival in Cape Town didn't let up even a little bit except for the very last day I had in town. So I literally spent several days trapped in the hotel and in my room waiting for the rain to let up so I could go out and explore.
The rain wasn't just a drizzle or a light shower, it was an extremely heavy rain fall which consistently fell over several days. Not exactly the kind of poor weather that you can still venture out in with a poncho or umbrella and explore a new city. So being isolated and not being connected or even next to any other type of retail establishments, I also became fairly familiar with the food services offered at the hotel.
The rate I booked with the Westin included breakfast, which was served daily in the lobby via a buffet. Selections were mostly traditional western options though there was a surprising number of Asian options since apparently this hotel hosts many package tours booked through Chinese and Japanese operators. The standard buffet options were supplemented by made-to-order stations for a few hot items. Breakfast was executed as expected for a hotel chain of this caliber and I enjoyed it quite thoroughly. Maybe a bit too thoroughly since I had nothing else to do.
*looks down at stomach, grimaces*
Breakfast wasn't the only time I experienced the hotel food service. Lunch and dinner needed to be eaten as well and the location of the Westin isn't exactly convenient to getting outside quickly and easily to local food options. It's a bit removed and isolated so they've got a fairly captive audience, especially when the weather is bad and people don't want to wander out or hop on the free shuttle to the V&A Waterfront.
Lunch and dinner options were varied, offering a mix of Western, Asian, and local fare for guests to enjoy. I ordered food a few times and was generally happy with what was delivered though nothing really wowed me or made me think "I'm pretty lucky to have been trapped at this hotel for dinner!" Breakfast seemed to be executed much better than lunch and dinner, though it may have been because some of the food I ordered wasn't exactly common place for South Africa.
In addition to stuffing my face, I also used the hotel's spa services to treat myself to a daily massage. It wasn't nearly as inexpensive as you'd find in Southeast Asia but they were running some heavy discounts due to it being low tourist season (did the torrential downpours clue you in?). The massage therapists all provided very nice, firm massages that helped me relax despite the gloom outside.
One of the nice perks of using the Westin's spa service is that you get access to the spa facilities for the remainder of the day. So that meant each evening when it was nice and quiet I could go up to the top floor of the hotel and enjoy the lap pool, hot tub, and sauna in peace and quiet as no one else was around at those times. It's all located inside an enclosed glass space at the top of the building with nice views over the city. The nights I went it were completely empty and no one else was around to distract you from relaxing or enjoying the views. A great way to finish the evening after a day trapped indoors.
I'm not sure why, but the Westin Cape Town is one of my favorite hotels. Maybe it's because I spent so much time there due to the rain that pretty much ruined the majority of my time in Cape Town. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for a cheap massage and a good nighttime view of a city. Or maybe it's because nothing makes me feel more at home than some brightly colored accents walls.
Whatever it is, this property always brings a smile to my face when I think about it. The staff was very friendly, the furnishings very modern and comfortable. I felt safe and secure here, which is probably a good feeling to have in a city with the sometimes sketchy reputation South Africa can have (which, once the rain went away, I found to be a bit overblown if you're vigilant and sticking to good parts of town). Unlike most of my hotel stays, if I were to return to Cape Town, I'd actively consider staying here again. I'm still open to staying somewhere else, as Cape Town is a city with a lot to offer in terms of unique and comfortable lodgings, but Westin would get a booking from me again if the price was right.