One of only eight One and Only properties worldwide – and the group’s first “urban resort” – the hotel opened next to Cape Town’s rejuvenated waterfront in 2009.

What’s it like?

The property is part of a large development that includes separately run apartments that you drive past before sweeping up the drive and under the porte cochère. Liveried doormen, a reception with a view of Table Mountain and modern African art pieces – everything from wooden totems to works by Deborah Bell, Walter Oltmann and Norman Catherine – create a mixed international and South African vibe, which runs throughout the hotel.

The design, by Adam D Tihany and local architects Ruben Reddy, and Dennis Fabian and Berman, uses local materials such as sandstone and dark African oak, and a red, brown and terracotta colour palette. I visited during the winter period in July, when the pool and neighbouring restaurant, Isola, were closed. That said, rates come down at this time, the service is just as good, and the location and views of Table Mountain – when it is not swathed in cloud – are excellent.

Where is it?

On the waterfront, centred around a marina. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the international airport, traffic permitting, and an easy walk to the city centre.

Room facilities

The 132 rooms and suites comprise those in the Marina Rise main building, all of which have a mountain or harbour view, and 40 Island rooms and suites. If it’s your first time to Cape Town, there’s nothing quite like waking up to that view.

Harbour rooms are identical in size and amenities, while in summer the Island rooms are perfect for the pool and spa. All are huge, ranging from 63 sqm for entry-level Mountain and Harbour View rooms to the 1,300 sqm One and Only Penthouse. They feature balconies, dark wood furniture, bright African art and plenty of space – they haven’t been cluttered by unnecessary furniture. Each room has tea and coffee facilities, a Nespresso machine, huge minibar, safe, free wifi and a large selection of TV channels, including about a dozen for sport.

The attention to detail is certainly impressive. As well as a pillow menu, there was an aromatherapy “scent menu” with options including lavender, camomile, geranium and neroli, and “Fresh Beginnings Uplifting” (lime, lemongrass, bay and clary). “Love seat” sofas at the foot of each bed are paired with an armchair and coffee table so you can snack while watching the TV, and the room is divided by wooden screens. Bathrooms are luxurious, with ivory travertine stone floors and Charlotte Rhys amenities.

Restaurants and bars

A very good choice, including Nobu – the first in Africa – and Reuben’s, by South African chef Reuben Riffel, where breakfast is also served. Reuben’s is entered from the lower level through a huge glass-sided wine wall of more than 5,000 bottles. There’s an open kitchen and a terrace for guests during the summer.

Isola serves pizzas and grilled fish and meat – it’s open in the summer. The Vista Bar and Lounge gets its name from the double-height windows looking out over the island to Table Mountain. A chandelier with moulded crystals floats above the bar, from where a wide range of drinks, including some delicious cocktails, are served – try one of three versions (past, present or future) of the South African traditional Dom Pedro (whisky, Kahlua, ice cream and cream is the base recipe).

Business and meeting facilities

These are on the lower level and include a small ballroom that can host 110 guests for dinner or 200 for cocktails. The next-door meeting room seats 20 people, and a second boardroom can accommodate 12 delegates.

Leisure facilities

As well as a heated swimming pool and a spa offering Espa treatments, there is a large fitness centre on the first floor (open 6am-8pm daily), which has water, towels, headphones, a large choice of Technogym equipment, and a yoga pavilion.


This is a truly luxurious hotel with excellent service and a nice mix of South African art and international ambience. A great location on the waterfront as well.

Fact file

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 132 rooms – 62 Mountain View, 16 Harbour View and 32 Island Superior rooms, four Marina, seven Marina Grand, four Island and four Island Grand suites, a Table Mountain suite, Presidential suite and the One and Only Penthouse.
  • ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The huge size, free wifi and Table Mountain views.
  • CONTACT One and Only Cape Town, Dock Road, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront; tel +27 214 315 888;
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in November started from £417 for a Marina Harbour/Mountain View Double Queen room.