Cape Town truly is a place that has it all – the breathtaking nature and incredible wildlife, dangerously good shopping, delicious food, friendly people, as well as world-class hotels and restaurants. There are many reasons why this city should be on everyone’s bucket list, especially if wellness is your passion in life. The promenade by the ocean is busy every morning with surfers and joggers, healthy juice bars and cafés are constantly popping up in the city, and trendy studios, award-winning spas, as well as centres for treatments have contributed to the growing Capetonian health scene. Thus, Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world for a rejuvenating and relaxing vacation focusing on well-being and health. Enjoy this guide and these wellness gems to peruse during your next visit.
WHERE TO STAY & SLEEP
There are many different kinds of hotels in Cape Town and you can find both cosy boutique hotels out in the Cape Winelands and luxurious villas overlooking the ocean in the city. A recommendation is to get a little bit of everything in order to experience it all. A visit to any of the gorgeous wineries is a must, and the brightest gem of them all for an unforgettable experience with stunning accommodation, impeccable service, delectable food, a relaxing spa, and beautiful sceneries is Babylonstoren. Check into one of their Fynbos villas, take a stroll in their immense garden, and explore their vast array of tours, ranging from essential oil tours, winery tours, garden tours, and more. They serve their own vegetables, fruits, and herbs in their restaurants, and they make everything from their own juices, teas, honey, and sweets, to body lotions, oils, and tablecloths.
Another iconic hotel in the city is Mount Nelson hotel, which is one of Cape Town’s most famous and luxurious, easily recognized by its pink exterior. Another pink favourite is the lovely boutique hotel Pineapple House, and a must-visit in the city centre is Gorgeous George. This hotel is modern and trendy with a young crowd and spacious and thoughtfully designed rooms. The Greek yoghurt and avocado toast at Gorgeous George’s Gigi Rooftop are two musts for breakfast. Another hip escape to check out is Pod in Camps Bay – a modern and luxurious hotel with a superb location right by Camps Bay Beach. Walk down to the strand promenade and start the day with a run, or why not go down to the beach for morning meditation. Kensington Place is another gorgeous spot on the top of Kloof street, which is a tranquil location yet close to many of the city’s best restaurants and cafés. Relax in their beautiful rooms and picturesque pool area before hitting the town in the evening. If minimalistic and Scandi-chic interior is your cup of tea, drop your bags at the new luxury boutique hotel NOAH House. The Old Victorian charmed architecture combined with modern and simplistic design make this hideaway a must-visit for anyone into a colour palette ranging from white to beige with hints of black. Vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free options are available among their local, fresh, and high-quality foods and drinks at their serene café, which is mandatory to visit during the stay. Additionally, another hidden, and relatively new, gem in the city is Dorp Hotel. This incredible place is a world of its own and it feels like entering a movie when you come inside the gorgeous lobby. The interior is a bit more bohemian, each room is unique and the attention to detail is astonishing. Their outdoor garden is a favourite lunch spot and their rooftop offers the best possible view of Table Mountain.
Speaking of soaring mountain vistas, spending a few nights in Camps Bay will be a highlight of your visit, and the villa to book is La Baia. Accommodating up to 12 people, this jaw-dropping house has a large kitchen, its own fully equipped gym and spa area, a sundeck with both a swimming pool and enough room for several yoga mats, and the interior is carefully curated and absolutely gorgeous. The view, overlooking the mountains, the famous Lion’s Head, and the beach, will help upgrade your Instagram game immediately and definitely create many pinch-me-moments. Another favourite over-the-top accommodation is The Residence by Atzaró, located by the foot of Table Mountain with an unbelievable view and stunning interior. You find several terraces and balconies, an outdoor kitchen, a pool, multiple living and dining areas, staff suites, and more in the stylish property. In addition, among the seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, there is even a “Wellness Suite” with its own changing room, sauna, massage room, as well as a yoga room and juice bar. Hence, you get your very own well-being sanctuary – perfect for the most rejuvenating visit! Enjoy the sensational and panoramic views as you spend the whole day at the villa, or maybe go for a hike in the surrounding mountains.
WHERE TO RECHARGE & WORK OUT
In addition to the musts to do and visit, such as hiking up Lion’s Head, driving through Chapman’s Peak, walking through Bo-Kaap, taking a trip to Hout Bay, visiting the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, going out to the Winelands, and enjoying beach days at Clifton 2nd, there are lots of studios, shops, and places for holistic treatments to visit in the area.
Schedule a spa day at the multiple award-winning spa, Mai Thai Spa, which has been voted one of the best in the world, and it is easy to understand why. The attention to detail is beyond this world and the experience starts from the very moment you step inside the picturesque colonial villa and enter the African and Thai-influenced reception area. Mai Thai Spa offers everything from massages and facials, to manicures and waxing. The massage beds feel like luxurious hotel beds thanks to the fluffy blankets and warm mattresses, the lotions and oils are divine, and the therapists are so incredible. If you want the best massage of your life – make sure to book it here. For acupuncture, make sure to visit Dr. Zhang and Dr. Li said to be some of the best acupuncturists in the country) in their hidden gem and renowned practice in Rondebosch where they work with both traditional acupuncture and herbs.
For an active Cape Town vacation, you can always join the locals in the morning running or walking along the promenade around Sea Point, go for a hike, or go surfing in Muizenberg if you like to be outdoors. Luckily, the city is home to some amazing studios as well and a favourite yoga spot is Awake Yoga Studio in Sea Point (Justine’s classes are amazing), and The Movement Lab is the place to go to for any Pilates and barre classes. Make sure to try their reformer or mat classes for a burning but fun session. To unwind and cool off a bit after the sweat, head down to the secluded natural saltwater pool, Saunder’s Rock and don’t miss stopping by the two lovely shops Mash and Blink just around the corner on your way home. You will find everything from beautiful ceramics and clothing, to stunning jewellery, incenses and candles, as well as workout wear and bikinis. Two other stores that can’t be missed are Faithful to Nature and Wellness Warehouse. If you are into basically anything health-related, prepare to dedicate at least a few hours to spend here. Everything from superfood powders, local kombuchas, and organic and toxic-free beauty products, to gluten-free cookies, CBD-infused rooibos tea, and raw chocolate bars are stacked on the shelves, and it is absolutely impossible to leave empty-handed. Last but not least, a must-visit for wellness shopping is the famous Oranjezicht City Farm Market right by the water around Green Point every weekend. Relish fresh vegetables and berries, local honey and pastries, handmade soaps and olive oils, and maybe take a quick shopping break to try some of the local delicacies that are also sold among the stands.
WHERE TO NOURISH & EAT
Finding a great place to eat, even when it comes to healthy food, isn’t a hard task when in Cape Town. Luckily enough, both restaurants and grocery stores are full of organic and nutritious foods; hence, Cape Town is one of the best places on earth to treat both body and taste buds.
A favourite for lunch if you’re looking for an intimate and a bit extra festive experience, is to join chef Nicky Gibbs around her kitchen table at Crofter’s Kitchen and enjoy a 6-course meal, made of local, seasonal and fresh ingredients, paired with floral and herbal teas. Another tip is to make your reservation at gorgeous Hemelhuijs, where you find both inspiring interior and an incredible menu. And if you have time, visit their picturesque guest house in Jonkmanshof, which is absolutely stunning. Between Us is another gem in the city where you can spend all day from morning to evening eating through their delectable menu. Some favourites are the heirloom Caprese, the activated granola, “avo on Danish rye”, and the homemade rosemary flatbread. Other gems perfect for breakfast or lunch are Our Local (with amazing avocado toasts), The Stranger’s Club (order their House Salad and make sure to check out their quaint shop right next door), Pauline’s (the best coffee shop according to many locals), and The Electric (a perfect work-spot with delicious juices).
A few favourite places to check out for a bit of extra nutrition and fuel are Schechter’s Raw, Nourish’d, NÜ, and Shamballa Lifestyle. The best stop for a quick lunch is NÛ, and get some healthy snacks for the beach or stop for a wholesome breakfast (order the açaì smoothie and the flapjack pancakes which are to die for) at Scheckter’s Raw in Sea Point. Just remember that you can’t leave without having tried their own healthy version of “Twix” – it’s unbelievable. Nourish’d is the other place to go to for some of the best smoothies, juices, and bowls in town, and their extensive menu will force you to come back many times during your stay since it’s impossible to choose among all the delicious options. However, a favourite to start with is their “Naughty Nutter” bowl accompanied by the “Green Goddess” juice or “Frutti Tutti” (a blend of grapefruit and pineapple). A wide range of thirst-quenching and nourishing drinks can also be found at Shamballa Lifestyle, and this new favourite in town has also added its own “Alchemy bar” to their restaurant, which makes it possible to add everything from CBD oil to adaptogens into your green juice or matcha latte. Moreover, dishes such as miso aubergine, grilled cauliflower, and salads are served for both lunch and dinner, and a gorgeous gift shop where you can find both dazzling crystals and their own wellbeing tinctures can also be found at this sanctuary (which is located right across the street from famous Yoga Life).
words by Matilde Wergeland @matildew