Published in the December 2017 issue of RoadTrip Magazine.
Note two things: Open your windows for that unique sea-mixed-with-seaweed-mixed-with-sand smell and slow down, especially if you are in a Mini One, as we were, which seems to consider speed-limits a taunt. Before you know it, it is an unexpected 50 kilometres an hour area and traps are usually not far beyond.
With its diverse communities, Sea Point, the sea-front suburb nearest to central Cape Town, is a cultural and social-economic melting pot. With some of the costliest real estate on the Beach road and higher on the slopes of Lion’s Head and affordable and, in some areas, downright dodgy accommodations between, Sea Point has something for every taste. Long established as a Jewish enclave, there are more Kosher restaurants and synagogues in Sea Point than elsewhere in Cape Town and, more recently, as the demographics of the area have changed, the Chinese and Asian communities have grown along with Middle Eastern ones. All of which is to say that you will most likely find the best ethnic food in Sea Point and for this reason alone it is worth basing yourself there. In fact, within one or two blocks of the Premier Hotel Cape Town you can feast on Beijing-style Dim Sum, traditional Spanish tapas and paella, great pizza and the best brisket and gefilte fish in the area.
The other great appeal of Sea Point is the Promenade – a more than six kilometre seafront paved walk and grassed area that stretches, like a giant smile, from Queen’s Beach in Bantry Bay all the way, via Mouille Point to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
As a microcosm of what life in South Africa might be, the Promenade is where everyone congregates – across all races, ages and socio-economic position and on all manner of foot driven vehicle – skates, bicycles (available for hire near the public pool), prams, tricycles along with people dog walking, running or just sitting on one of the many benches taking in the sea. Busiest times are sunrise and sunset but there is always good reason to be on the Promenade. From the sea facing rooms at Premier Hotel Cape Town you can see the Promenade and the sea and, conveniently, there is a bus stop for both the MyCity transit as well as the excellent Hop-On, Hop-Off open-topped sightseeing bus just a few meters from the hotel.
The hotel recently benefitted from a major, R11 million upgrade and now includes accommodations in 130 rooms in two wings and Kosher catering. There are also upgraded conferencing facilities and a quality restaurant for all-day grazing.
If you’re not looking out over the Atlantic, other, equally arresting views, are of the Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Table Mountain.
The hotel’s public areas are stylish with gleaming marble floors and a feature chandelier and the reception staff were friendly and on hand 24-hours a day to manage late arrivals. As we returned to the hotel from a late night out, a large group was arriving and being checked in by the efficient team.
From Sea Point, the Cape Town CBD is not even 10 minutes away and if it is nightlife you’re after Green Point and De Waterkant, the suburb between the city and Sea Point, is where you want to be.
There are other quality Sea-front accommodation options nearby which include The Winchester Mansions Hotel, an iconic Cape Dutch building with a special courtyard garden and The Peninsula, in Bantry Bay, a deluxe all-suite hotel.
Being able to tumble from your bed onto the Promenade and the sandy beaches is the true joy of staying in Sea Point but many will say it is Sea Point’s foodie offering that really impresses:
The Chicken Shop, for example, just around the corner of Premier Hotel Cape Town, is on trend with their canteen-style selection but the food is hard to beat for value and flavour. The Press, also a newish craft beer and burger spot is Kosher while HeSheng will serve up the kind of mainland Chinese cuisine that people love to talk about – a salad of shredded seaweed in a garlic vinegar, roasted aubergine with chilli, fluffy egg rolls or chive filled pancakes all of which are delicious.
For lovers of old-style Italian, there are two Sea Point restaurants that have weathered the fickle tide and, for longevity alone, are noteworthy. At La Perla, the elegant and sophisticated restaurant overlooking Sea Point’s sea-water public swimming pool, white-jacketed waiters rush around the restaurant or, as iconic, Pizzeria Napoletana, on Sea Point’s Main road is always popular.
Cheap-and-cheerful takeouts are equally plentiful as are a number of nearby supermarkets if you want to self cater.
Sea Point may well be Cape Town’s best-kept secret when it comes to visitors but for variety, convenience and the stellar sun sets, few other places come close.