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This is the eighth post of my South Africa Series. Follow along to read my reviews on several different aspects of my trip. Other posts in this series include: Come Along With Me To South Africa!; Flight Review: South African Airways Business Class JFK-JNB; Hotel Review: Westin Cape Town; Trip Report: Watching African Penguins at Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope; Cape Town Dining; Hotel Review: Hilton Cape Town; 10 Things I Love About South Africa; Trekking Up Table Mountain In Cape Town; Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg; Trip Report: South Africa Safari at Savanna Lodge in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve; Safari Highlights at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa.
After an overall nice (but slow wi-fi ridden) stay at the Westin Cape Town and a great time in the Cape Winelands, TPG Managing Editor Eric and I headed back to the coast and along the Cape to hang out with African penguins and hike up to the lighthouse at Cape Point looking down onto the Cape of Good Hope before driving the unbelievably scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive up the western side of the Cape to head to our hotel for the evening, the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, just outside of Camps Bay set right against the backdrop of the famous rock formations from which the hotel takes its name.
The 12 Apostles is a classic boutique hotel with just 55 guestrooms and 15 suites, and since it’s an independent luxury hotel, it’s a splurge and there are no points options to stay here.
Visa Signature or Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts?
However, there were still ways to get some great values out of the high room rates – namely by booking through Visa Signature Hotels, which I can do thanks to the number of Visa Signature cards I carry like the Sapphire Preferred, the Hyatt Visa and the British Airways Visa. I tend to use my Sapphire Preferred because it gives me 2x points on travel, including hotel stays.
Booking through Visa Signature Hotels means you get extra perks like an automatic room upgrade upon arrival when available, complimentary continental breakfast daily (although the hotel’s rates include breakfast), 3pm check-out when available, VIP guest status, one $25 food or beverage credit per stay and free in-room Internet (which the hotel already had) or valet parking (up to $50 USD value). We chose the valet parking because internet access there is free, but we had a car with us.
The hotel is also a member of Fine Hotels & Resorts, so as an Amex Platinum cardholder, I could book the rooms through there and be eligible for room upgrades, inclusive continental breakfast, 4pm late check out and complimentary lunch or dinner for two. However, rates were a good $100 per room per night higher, so I went with Visa Signature Hotels instead.
I booked one Classic Room for the rate of 4,410 ZAR ($497) and one Mountain View Room with views of the 12 Apostles for 4,875 ZAR ($549) – again, it was a splurge! The hotel was advertising the rooms at rates of 4,300ZAR and 4,755 respectively, so I was spending about $12 more per room.
When we got to the hotel, though, we found we’d both been upgraded – the Classic Room was upgraded to a Mountain View Room and the Mountain View Room was upgraded to a Luxury Room, a larger category with views of the Atlantic and the mountains. That room was going for 5,480 ZAR ($617), so I was getting $120 extra in value there.
The Mountain View room was about 350 square feet with a king bed, a pretty little white wooden writing desk, a wall-mounted plasma TV with a DVD player, a mini bar with tea and coffee service, complimentary WiFi, which worked really well, and a marble bathroom with shower-tub combo stocked with high-end, all-natural B|Africa products. The rooms come with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors with louvered wooden shutters, and either balconies and patios overlooking whatever view they have.
The Luxury Room had all the same amenities but was a bit larger at 430 square feet. Here’s quick video room tour I made of it:
The overall décor scheme felt very much like a French beach house with white and blue floral patterned linens and wallpaper, beds with antiqued mirrored headboards, white wooden desks and wrought-iron furniture with cushions out on the balcony. It was all very old-school elegant- not my typical style, but a unique change from run-of-the-mill chain hotels and the views were fantastic.
That said, it was a little bit fusty for my tastes, and I think they could do a little décor update, but for old-fashioned luxury hospitality, this is the place to go in the Cape Town area.
Apart from the rooms, the hotel has two pools – a small heated infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic, and a rock pool with a heated Jacuzzi behind the main hotel building that looks up at the 12 Apostles. There are also hammocks for sunbathing in one of the gardens.
As for restaurants, the hotel has a casual Café Grill for light lunches and dinners and the Leopard Bar upstairs from the lobby for cocktails, small bites and prime sunset viewing from the outdoor deck.
Azure is the hotel’s white-table-cloth fine-dining restaurant with a plush blue chairs and an obsequious wait staff where the full buffet breakfast is served, and Eric and I enjoyed a dinner of specialties like Cape Malay curried chicken and prawns and the house signature dessert of cheesecake with fresh strawberries – and we got $50 off the bill since each of our rooms came with a $25 food and beverage credit.
One of the hotel’s more unique features is a 16-seat movie theater where guests can catch regular screenings of (semi-)current movies or rent the whole thing out for a private screening.
The hotel also has a small spa with seven treatment rooms including two mountain gazebos with mountain and sea views. I tried to get a massage while I was there, but there were no appointments to be had so the hotel ordered me an outside therapist to do an in-room treatment at the last-minute, which was my first time doing that and while the therapist was good, I don’t really like the concept of a fold-up bed being set-up in the hotel room. I’d much rather go to a spa and get the whole experience and be able to steam before/after.
Although the room rate was expensive, the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa was a gorgeous little property that made the perfect beach respite for a little break between wine country and getting back to the city.
Pros: Beautiful location, member of both Visa Signature Hotels and Amex FHR, room upgrade, Azure was a delicious restaurant, great service
Cons: No points-redeeming opportunity, room and public area décor could be updated, expensive (overpriced) room rates, limited spa availability