Known as 12A to its brus (mates), The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, South Africa has, at various times, been a farmhouse, hunting lodge, mansion and now a top-end hotel set in one of the finest locations in the world. Given its current name – and fully renovated - by Red Carnation Hotels, which took control of the property in 2002, 12A has won plenty of awards for its overall quality, restaurant, bar, spa and romance. (Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards voted it the third best hotel in Africa in 2018.)
With the Atlantic Ocean (Camps Bay, to be precise) out the front, Table Mountain out the back and the eponymous Twelve Apostles mountain range in the near distance, the hotel takes advantage of its stunning scenery from every room. This is one of Cape Town's most sought-after neighbourhoods with top-end hotels and accommodation villas lining the seafront.
The stately white mansion hosts a plush bar, a white linen restaurant and eye-drawing African flora and fauna artworks and photos every couple of paces. A swimming pool, ornate rock pools and gardens complete the scene. The Spa has its own range of body care products and treatments, based on native African plants, as well as a flotation tank.
Rooms and suites are mostly sea or mountain-facing and both offer sumptuous views. My spacious sea-facing suite on the ground floor is luxuriously-appointed and also has a balcony and an open yard, which means I can walk out the front and watch the ocean crashing onto rocks and turn around to see towering mountains right behind the building.
The main restaurant, Azure, has a seashell motif and more ocean views. We take on a tasting menu, highlighted by venison tartar and sea bass with a champagne and caviar sauce. The wine list is extensive and impressive and Gregory the sommelier pairs wines with the courses, including his favourite, the Shannon Rockview Ridge pinot noir. Regular wining and dining events are offered, including Tea by the Sea (with a Vegan High Tea alternative) and a fun make-your-own-gin class.
A free hotel shuttle runs every hour around the rocky bays to the 123-hectare V & A Waterfront, where shops, markets, bars, restaurants and entertainment and cultural offerings skirt the yacht harbour. Don't miss the very funky Zeitz MOCAA - Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the Silo District, featuring five levels of intriguing modern art and absurdist architecture. The Table Mountain plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and Lion's Head to the west, form a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. Weather permitting, a cable car and climbing options offer unforgettable adventures.
Rates from $AUD278 per person per night, based on twin share in the low season (May 1 – September 30).
Location, location. Even if this were ordinary accommodation, which it is not, the spectacular environs would be sufficient reason to stay here.
Cape Town is famously running out of water and the showers contain buckets to capture your run off.
This is a superb property boasting captivating vistas, classy rooms and a relaxed, yet professional attitude.
Mal Chenu was a guest of 12 Apostles, Adventure World Travel and South African Airways