Cape Town's One&Only: The Wild Heart and Beautiful Soul of South Africa | Savoir Flair
Cape Town's One&Only: The Wild Heart and Beautiful Soul of South Africa
by Lydia Medeiros 7-minute read November 13, 2023

"This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.”

– From the journal of Sir Francis Drake, on seeing the Cape for the first time in 1580.


Cape Town, South Africa, has long been described as a place of breathtaking beauty. The anticipation was palpable as we prepared for our journey to the southernmost tip of Africa. It wasn't just the enchanting promise of penguins that tugged at our hearts, though we'd be lying if we said they didn't feature on our list of must-see attractions. No, it was the vivid images we had encountered through the lens of friends and fellow travelers, images that painted Cape Town with an ethereal brush. In their stories, the blues were bluer, the greens were greener, the mountains reached greater heights, and the beaches danced with wild abandon. 

But nothing, not even the most mesmerizing of photographs, could brace us for the profound beauty that lay in wait. It was a beauty so deep that it seized our breath the moment the clouds parted, and we glimpsed from the small window of our airplane the magnificent landscape below, revealing the very heart of a country that would soon steal our souls.


The city bustled with traffic, as is customary during rush hour, and pedestrians filled every nook and cranny around us as our taxi made stilted progress – as one would expect when navigating the city center. However, when we crossed the threshold of the One&Only Cape Town, everything from the horns to the crowds seemed to melt away as we were enveloped in the tranquility of the grand hotel. Towering floor-to-ceiling windows welcomed us with even more unexpected beauty as the setting sun's warm, pink embrace draped Table Mountain in a gentle glow. This was the same "magnificent silhouette" seen by the incarcerated Nelson Mandela on Robben Island as a "beacon of hope." It wasn't hard to imagine how it could inspire such hope. 

In that instant, we knew our journey was destined to be an unforgettable odyssey.

breaker_image ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN
breaker_image ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN

The Suite Life

We stayed in the luxurious One-Bedroom Island Villa, which was nothing short of an opulent escape. From the moment we stepped into this expansive retreat, we were enveloped in an atmosphere of unbridled luxury. The villa's separate living room, complete with a working fireplace, provided the perfect setting to cozy up with while we enjoyed the most delicious cookies, homemade snacks, and tea. The wrap-around balcony not only offered us a perfect place to take in the sunset and breathtaking panoramic views of the marina and the iconic Table Mountain, but we rather enjoyed going out in the morning with our coffee and breathing in the serenity before our day of sightseeing began. 

The large, family-style dining table and fully stocked kitchen made us feel at home, even if we didn't break it in by cooking a meal. The bedroom was our haven after a long day, thanks to its superb decor that exuded a Zen-like ambiance. The separate dressing area and the spacious bathroom, equipped with a rainshower and an extra-long soaking bathtub, provided the ultimate retreat within our private sanctuary. The only problem was we didn't want to leave as it truly exceeded all our expectations and left an unmistakable impression of pure luxury and comfort.


The Spa

The One&Only Spa on the exclusive Spa Island is nothing short of a haven for those seeking pure indulgence and rejuvenation. Spread across an impressive 1,000 square meters and nestled amidst serene waters and lush vegetation, the spa exudes an air of privacy and seclusion unparalleled in all of Cape Town. The 12 well-appointed treatment suites, including two private wet areas for couples, create an intimate and blissful escape. Two revitalizing vitality pools thoughtfully elevate the experience, seamlessly complementing the serene relaxation spaces, saunas, and steam rooms. While lounging in the relaxation area, you can relish an array of delicious snacks and beverages, including homemade granola, fruit, vegan treats, and the South African favorite: biltong.

But what truly sets the One&Only Spa apart is its talented therapists, commitment to tailor-made treatment plans, and incorporation of authentic techniques and indigenous ingredients, all complemented by ESPA's paraben-free products, showcasing a deep respect for nature and wellness. Additionally, their partnership with the renowned French premium skincare brand Biologique Recherche ensures innovative and rejuvenating facial treatments, should you opt for one of those. 

Surrounded by Cape Town's breathtaking natural beauty, this spa is a tranquil escape for those needing a little relaxation and rejuvenation, and my experience there was nothing short of sublime.


The Pool

Though it was too cold outside for a swim while we were there (even though the pool was heated), it certainly didn't stop us from enjoying the serenity that it offered. Situated on one of two private islands interconnected by graceful bridges, this aquatic sanctuary stretches over 350 square meters and showcases an enticing freeform design with an infinity-edge that seemingly merges with the surrounding azure expanse. There is a private seating section featuring luxurious double chaise lounges where guests can bask in the sun's warm embrace or cuddle in the shaded trellis pavilions. 


Food Matters

As a visitor (or a local, for that matter), you're treated to an array of dining options that elevate your taste buds to new heights. The crown jewel is undoubtedly the only Nobu in Africa, where Japanese-Peruvian cuisine dazzles with global renown. The menu pays homage to local South African ingredients, blending the exotic with the familiar. Breakfast is served at Ochre, where you'll savor a modern reinterpretation of traditional South African recipes, paying homage to the culinary legacy of the Cape, all while enjoying your familiar morning favorites.

For those seeking a more relaxed ambiance, Vista Bar & Lounge is a must-visit. Renowned for its decadent Afternoon Tea, it's framed by the iconic Table Mountain and was the first place we stopped for a tasty snack when we arrived hungry and tired. It was the rejuvenation we needed, and the relaxed atmosphere and live music in the evening only leveled up the experience.

But it's the wine experience that truly stands out. One&Only Cape Town proudly showcases a wine collection comprising nearly 700 unique vintages, making it the largest and most diverse on the continent. The Wine Studio opens the door to an extraordinary wine adventure from the comfort of an elegant and refined space. However, the secret weapon of the different experiences offered lies not in the wine but in the sommelier. South Africa's number one sommelier, Luvo Ntezo, is humble, funny, and supremely knowledgeable about everything to do with wine and a little bit about life too. We had the privilege of undertaking our wine exploration under his tutelage, and his guidance through the exquisite scents and flavors that have a hand in how we taste was a standout of our trip.


Location, Location, Location

The One&Only Cape Town's location is nothing short of perfection, with its premium position right on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. From the moment you step out onto your balcony or look out a window, you're greeted with the mesmerizing vistas of the marina and the iconic Table Mountain, standing tall in all its grandeur. Take leisurely walks along the marina, where you can spot seals sunning themselves on the docks just a stone's throw away. For the more adventurous, kayaking or paddleboarding around the tranquil waterways that wind through the islands housing the Island Villas and Spa is an absolute must. As you venture out towards the Marina, the vibrant energy of the Victoria and Albert Waterfront awaits, offering an array of unique South African gifts and a chance to witness local artisans and craftsmen showcasing their talents. Catch a group of dancers performing the Gwara Gwara, purchase souvenirs or local art to bring home as a memento of your stay, or simply sit at a cafe along the water and do a bit of people-watching. 

Explore beyond the waterfront, hire a car, and enjoy the freedom to traverse Cape Town's breathtaking coast, visit pristine beaches, or simply wander through charming residential neighborhoods. And if you have the time for a day trip, we highly recommend heading out to Stellenbosch on the other side of Table Mountain, a mere 45-minute drive away. Here, amidst the serene vineyards, gardens, and countryside, you can embark on tasting tours, savor farm-to-table delights at local restaurants, or simply stroll through the picturesque grounds of renowned wineries like Babylonstoren, Tokara, and Lanzerac.

For the active, skip the gym and embark on a stunning hike up Table Mountain, where the reward is an awe-inspiring view of the city below. And, of course, no visit to Cape Town would be complete without a visit to the charming penguins. With an endless array of options, One&Only Cape Town's prime location ensures that every day is filled with exciting possibilities.

breaker_image ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN
breaker_image ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN
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