Issa guide, you guys!
I understand that it can be quite overwhelming to know where to stay in a city, especially if the city is as massive as Cape Town. Accommodation is far and wide, which can make choosing the perfect place a little confusing.
What may be perfect for someone else may not be for you.
So here’s a simple guide to knowing the best areas in Cape Town. I’ve included the hotels where I stayed below to facilitate your decision (thank me later).
Best for: nightlife, business, great location
Let me just put it out there: I stayed in City Bowl and wouldn’t stay anywhere else.
City Bowl is the city centre, so many attractions are close or just a short distance away via Uber. The Central Business District is a part of City Bowl and gets quite busy during the day, with professionals going to and from work. Once the sun goes down, the area becomes quiet, which is why you need to stay on one of two streets: Long Street or Bree Street.
Bree Street is lined with cool restaurants, bars, clubs and galleries. The street is also a haven for foodies. If you plan to turn up on a regular, stay on or very close to Bree Street to avoid long journeys home.
Long Street is the heart of Cape Town’s nightlife scene and is more grungier than Bree Street. Many backpackers flock to Long Street’s cheap bars and restaurants, but there are a number of upscale options too. It’s worth noting that people may frequently ask you for money; just hold your ground and don’t feel intimidated.
Things to do: Greenmarket Square, Bo-Kaap, Iziko Lodge, Long Street, Bree Street
Where I stayed
Cape Heritage Hotel (Melanin Travel rating: 5/5)
This charming boutique hotel is full of character and ticks every box. The combination of 18th century decor and modern service put a nice touch on my experience. The staff were extremely friendly and within days, I felt like I’d known them for ages.
I stayed in one of the luxury rooms, which also had a private patio overlooking the beautiful courtyard.
The courtyard has a bar and an open space for eating their delicious breakfast and hosting events. I was pleasantly surprised to walk into the hotel one night and hear afrobeats coming from the courtyard – they had a live band playing and everything!
The location was beneficial as there are a number of quaint cafes, shops and restaurants surrounding the hotel. Given that it’s often not recommended to walk around at night, I felt safe leaving Cape Heritage Hotel to explore the eateries on Bree Street.
To make you even more upset about leaving Cape Town, the staff ensure you receive a souvenir and edible treats as a parting gift.
I really wish I could list something that needed room for improvement, but I just can’t fault Cape Heritage Hotel. Overall, the room was comfortable, homely, and the service exceeds the price. It’s the most pleasant stay I’ve in any hotel to date.
Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel (Melanin Travel rating: 3.5/5)
Another boutique hotel but located on Long Street, Daddy Long Legs is a creative concept that art lovers will appreciate. If you want affordable accommodation, great service and appreciate funky designs, then Daddy Long Legs is unrivalled.
I was invited to stay at Daddy Long Legs and was immediately drawn to the fact that no room is the same – each unique room is designed by a different brand or artist! Take a look at their pictures online to stay in a room that matches your preference.
I stayed in the 501 room, a collaborative effort with Levi’s to pay homage to the original 501 jeans.
Once I arrived, I was greeted with a welcome drink on the balcony, which was a great introduction to the forthcoming nights on Long Street. The location was perfect to explore the nightlife scene on Long Street; I only walked about 2-5 minutes to reach any destination.
The staff were extremely helpful and never seemed annoyed at the 1000s of questions that I fired at them. One of the duty managers offered a notable act of service which I’m very grateful for: he accompanied me to Bo-Kaap at sunset to make sure nothing happened to my photography equipment! Overall, I had a good experience.
The only reason why I rate the hotel as a 3 was due to its WiFi connection. I quickly found out that WhatsApp and Facetime calls are not available on their connection. I use both platforms daily and that situation is not ideal when I’m travelling alone. Luckily I had bought a sim card at the airport, so it wasn’t the biggest disturbance. However, if you don’t use those platforms then your stay will be fine.
Update: Daddy Long Longs has now confirmed that the WiFi connection is resolved! You can use WhatsApp and Facetime calling to your heart’s content.
Best for: tourists, hanging out
Home to the famous Cape Town Stadium, Green Point is a safe (but touristy) area of Cape Town. The suburb is a stone’s throw away from the V&A waterfront and remains lively day and night, with many restaurants, cafes and hangouts.
Sea Point is close by and another area worth visiting; the cosmopolitan area is popular with tourists for its beachfront promenade.
Things to do: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Stadium, helicopter tours, Robben Island tour
Best for: LGBT friendly spots, nightlife
Although De Waterkant is wedged between Green Point and the Central Business District – the area has it’s own distinct factors. De Waterkant is Cape Town’s LGBT area with vibrant nightlife and entertainment. Restaurants, shopping spots and cafes are abundant. De Waterkant is a good spot for those who want to chill at a lively eatery or bar at the end of the night.
The area stands out for its colourful cottages and cobbled streets, while still offering amazing views of Cape Town. The city centre, as well as the V&A Waterfront can be accessed on foot or by Uber.
Things to do: Cape Quarter, walking tours, the Chocolate Studio
Best for: Creatives, hipsters
Only a short Uber ride away from City Bowl, Woodstock is the cool, hipster suburb of Cape Town. Pop up stalls, cafes and retail spaces fill the area, drawing in locals and travellers alike to show off local art and design. Woodstock is similar to London’s Shoreditch or New York’s Brooklyn: a gentrified space laden with street art and food spots.
As with any gentrified area, there are still pockets that hold a bad rep. A local advised me to always know where you are going when staying in Woodstock. If you are looking for for an area that is seamless around the edges and you can explore freely, Woodstock may not be for you. However, Woodstock is a buzzing non-touristy area to visit nonetheless.
Things to do: Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock Exchange, Roodebloem Road, street art tours
Camps Bay or Clifton
Best for: ballers, shot callers, beach lovers, couples
Camps Bay and Clifton are adjacent to each other and home to the rich. Be prepared to drop some serious money, but the 5-star service, views and beaches are worth it.
Camps Bay’s main event happens on one strip, lined with upscale restaurants and bars positioned to view the awe-inspiring sunset. Camps Bay’s white sand beach is opposite the main strip, providing a popular location for families, couples and solo travellers. The beachfront is considered to be quite safe to walk at night.
Clifton is the most affluent area in Cape Town and is home to the the most expensive real estate in South Africa. A little bit more secluded, Clifton draws both South Africans and travellers. Luxury accommodation is the norm here, so if you are looking for a peaceful environment right on the beach front, Clifton is the place to stay.
Things to do in Camps Bay: Camps Bay beach, hiking, surfing
Things to do in Clifton: Beach hopping Clifton’s four beaches, relaxing
What area seems best suited for you?
Thank you to Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel and Cape Town Heritage Hotel for partnering with Melanin Travel and hosting us during our stay. All views are our own – we’ll always keep it real!
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