After spending two weeks touring around South Africa during January this year, mostly staying in small ’boutique’ hotels which we felt would probably be of little interest to our readers, we found ourselves spending the last two nights at The Westin Cape Town.
As it’s one of the highest rated hotels in central Cape Town, and part of the giant SPG / Marriott portfolio, it’s a likely option for anyone visiting the city, so we decided to review our stay here.
- Opened: 2003 (as Sheraton Grand)
- Renamed: July 2007 (as Westin Grand, and later simply to ‘Westin’)
- Last Renovated: 2014
- Rooms: 483
- Check-in: 3pm
- Check-out: 12pm
- SPG Category: 4
- Current Owner: Marriott International
The Westin is located right next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, at the north end of the main central business district, about a 10 minute walk to the many shops, bars and restaurants in this area.
It’s a little further from the V&A Waterfront, about a 20 minute walk, but the hotel provides a regular complimentary shuttle service between 9am and 11.15pm, operating every 30 minutes for most of the day.
Unless you’re in town for a convention, in which case this hotel is perfect, we found the location a little awkward – neither in the main shopping area nor the V&A waterfront. Having said that the shuttle service was efficient and Uber rides in Cape Town are safe and inexpensive.
If you’re travelling from Cape Town International Airport, the journey to the hotel is as little as 20 minutes, but can increase to over 30 minutes in heavy traffic at peak hours. The Westin will provide a private car transfer on request, which we took advantage of on arrival for ZAR 695 (about S$77). That’s quite steep but by far the smoothest arrival experience.
On the way back to the airport we took an Uber, which cost ZAR 194 (about S$21). The hotel website quotes a taxi fare at about ZAR 300-450 (S$33-50).
The public transport option from the airport is not ideal – a ZAR 150 (S$17) bus service which takes 45 to 55 minutes and operates to the Civic Centre bus station, two kilometres from the hotel. From there you’ll need to take a taxi for the final part of the journey anyway.
Check in was quick and efficient and we received very friendly service, this was a common feature with all staff we encountered at the hotel especially in the Club Lounge.
We booked an Executive Club Room for our 2-night stay. We were allocated a room on the 15th floor, one of the designated Executive Club floors.
While these rooms are no bigger than the hotel’s standard ‘Deluxe’ rooms, they are located on higher floors and have complimentary club lounge access.
The room is a reasonable size but is starting to look a little dated. Built-in laminate pine-effect wardrobes flank the walls and the other furniture is rather poor quality compared to other Westin hotels we have stayed at.
The fittings are starting to show their age too, with some lamps hanging off the wall at an angle. The bed however was extremely comfortable – as always with the signature ‘Westin Heavenly Bed’.
The view was over the exhibition centre with a glimpse of Table Mountain to the right.
A well-stocked chargeable mini-bar, with no space for your own wine or beer, is located in the wardrobe. We particularly dislike this style of mini-bar, as even if you move one of the items to refrigerate one of your own (say a bottle of nearby Stellenbosch white wine) you are automatically charged. Cue a possible argument with reception at checkout time!
The in room coffee machine made a reasonable espresso but there was no milk, only powdered creamer – a bit disappointing for a hotel of this standard.
A selection of out-dated sockets that are no longer useful lines the desk.
A desk with two chairs is a thoughtful touch in an executive room where you are expecting business people who will likely be sitting down to do some work, and is also ideal for in-room dining.
One thing that impressed us about this hotel was the little touches, like easy printing services from your mobile device or laptop, the lavender balm fragrance for better sleeping and the daily weather forecast card left next to the bed.
The hotel also has a supply of New Balance workout gear which can be delivered to your room in your size, if you didn’t pack your gym kit (no excuses now!).
Executive Club Lounge
The Executive Club Lounge is located on the 19th floor of the hotel, with spectacular views over the V&A Waterfront area to one side, and Table Mountain to the other. The space is also partly shared with ‘On 19’, one of the hotel restaurants.
An extensive breakfast is served in the club lounge with tea and coffee available throughout the day and a ‘Canapé Hour’ in the evenings (which actually runs for 2 hours), also offering complimentary snacks and beverages.
During the evening ‘Canapé Hour’, which runs from 5pm to 7pm, we were seated with a fantastic view of Table Mountain as we enjoyed a glass of wine and some food, all with table service rather than the more common self-serve style found in many hotel club lounges.
A white wine and a red wine were on offer, both scored fairly well on our favourite wine-rating app Vivino, 3.4 out of 5 for both the Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The canapés and snacks were tasty and plentiful, but options were a bit limited. This is certainly no dinner replacement (which surprisingly can be found in some hotel club lounges). Most hotels are understandably keen for you to remain sufficiently hungry for dinner.
Beer and Cider was also available, with a wide selection of soft drinks. For those looking for something a bit stronger, club lounge guests can order any additional drinks from the bar, including premium wines and spirits, at a 20% discount on the regular price during ‘Canapé Hour’.
We did not dine at ‘On 19’ during our stay since we had so many ‘must-try’ local recommendations from friends, though it seems broadly well reviewed for a ‘pricey side’ Cape Town restaurant.
Club Lounge Breakfast
Breakfast is served either in the Club Lounge, for eligible guests, or at the main hotel restaurant ‘Thirty7’ on the ground floor. We dined at the Club Lounge which has both an extensive buffet and a full a la carte menu.
Of course the added attraction is also the outstanding view, just as impressive in the morning as it was the previous evening.
Once again we were shown to a table for two by the window, this time on the stadium / waterfront side but I’m sure you could also ask for a Table Mountain view if you preferred that.
After a coffee, we ordered an Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale from the menu, both were very good and a perfect start to the day.
For those wanting to catch a few rays of sun, there is a ‘Harbour Deck’ with a small outdoor pool.
On the 19th floor, in addition to the Club Lounge and restaurant, you’ll find the spa, fitness centre and indoor pool with jacuzzi, all of which are available for hotel guests. There is even a hair salon, which is also open to the public.
Stunning sea views run along the infinity edge of this very decent sized lap pool. It is also clean, warm and has sun-loungers with jugs of iced-water. All thoughtful touches.
The positioning of the jacuzzi is stunning. A great place to relax and enjoy the view. Shame it faces the port rather than Table Mountain but it’s still very pretty.
A quiet and very well equipped gym is located alongside. The view certainly beats watching daytime TV whilst you clock your 10k run.
Bars and restaurants
Apart from ‘On 19’ there is also a ground floor restaurant ‘Thirty7’. Here the main hotel breakfast is offered for non Club Lounge guests, as well as a lunch and dinner menu.
We had a drink at the lobby bar (Louis B’s) one evening, but otherwise apart from breakfast we ate out during our stay – there’s really no shortage of excellent restaurants in Cape Town.
A very enjoyable stay in this hotel with excellent facilities and a great club lounge, with perhaps the only major downside being the slightly awkward location which would suit business travellers better than those on holiday.
The complimentary shuttle to the V&A Waterfront and ready supply of inexpensive Uber cars does somewhat alleviate this factor. There is also an extensive bus network, which we did not try during our stay.
The rooms are spacious and have floor to ceiling windows offering stunning views, not to mention the ‘Westin Heavenly Bed’. We did find however that some of the room fittings are looking a bit dated.
Overall we would certainly recommend the Westin and would happily stay here again.
Example non-refundable rates for a weekend stay in June 2018, including breakfast:
- Deluxe Rooms from S$346 per night
- Club Rooms from S$382 per night
- Waterfront Rooms from S$408 per night
- Grand Deluxe Family Rooms from S$443 per night
- Junior Suites from S$496 per night
- Executive Suites from S$522 per night
Exchange rate of 1 SGD = 9.215 ZAR assumed.
Stayed January 2018
(Cover Photo: SPG)