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Summer Harvest Festivals in the Cape

February 17, 2020 Southern Africa Bush Tails

February is a magical month in Cape Town. The wind dies down, the intensity of January heat mellows out into warmth, and all around, people soak up the summer swansong.

Laresa Perlman Photography

It is also during this time of year that our grapes ripen to their sweetest and wine farms everywhere host fabulous harvest festivals to celebrate their bounties. Join in these family-friendly soirees and take part in everything from stomping contests to tractor rides, picnics and of course, plenty of vino.

1. Grand Provence Harvest Festival 2020
Celebrate the 2020 grape harvest with Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday, 22 February, when barrels of fun will be the order of the day.

The annual harvest day festival promises a full day of entertainment, kicking off with a tractor ride, followed by grape picking, stomping, wine tasting and a cellar tour. There will be plenty of action for the little ones and a harvest table heavily laden with delicious fare in the vineyards to end off a day of festivities.

When: 22 February 2020

Where: Grand Provence, Franschhoek

Cost: R1000 per couple which includes a bottle of wine and water and R400 for children under 10.

Email or call Tel: + 27 21 876 8600 for tickets.

2. Constantia Fresh Wine Festival 2020
Set in the heart of Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine region, the Constantia Fresh Wine Festival showcases the finest local and international wines with the freshest and most creative food our most celebrated local chefs can offer. A jamboree of flavour and set in the peaceful and uncluttered grounds of Buitenverwachting, the day is one of relaxation and a taste sensation that will leave body, mind, and spirit invigorated.

When: 23 February 2020

Where: Buitenverwachting Wine Farm, Constantia

Costs: R600 per person (inclusive of food, wine, live music, and fun)

Book tickets online.

3. Robertson Hands-On Harvest Festival 2020
With more than 20 wineries, estates and other establishments taking part, this food and wine affair spoils visitors for choice with a wide variety of tailor-made activities. Explore a full range of fun experiences, from tasting fine wine and delicious deli products at the various wine estates in the Robertson Valley as well as harvest and blending experiences with some of the country’s best cellar masters. Along with open-air concerts, picnics, nature walks, kids entertainment and even a fun ‘amazing race’.

When: From 28 February 2020 – 1 March 2020

Where: Robertson Wine Valley, Robertson

Costs: Vary depending on the chosen event.
Explore the full programme and purchase tickets online.

4. Cape Point Vineyards Harvest Festival and Seafood Braai
Cape Point Vineyards is known for their beautiful 360-degree vistas of sea, mountains, vineyards, and fynbos – particularly stunning at sunset when the sun dips into the Atlantic Ocean.

This March, they invite all to join them as they celebrate their 20th harvest on their unique seaside soils, celebrating their heritage with a traditional South African Fish Braai (barbeque).

Join winemaker Riandri – recently named the “Siren of Sauvignon” by Wine Magazine – in the vineyards surrounding their restaurant to experience the hands-on harvest. Thereafter, make your way down to the Courtyard and join their traditional long table for fresh seafood and all the accompaniments cooked on an open fire.

When? 1 March 2020

Where? Cape Point Vineyards, Noordhoek

Cost: R550 per person including the harvest feast

Visit their website for more.

5. Jordan Wine Farm 2020 Harvest Celebration
Join in for a picnic under the Stellenbosch night sky at the full moon and celebrate the 2020 harvest! Enjoy a picnic basket filled to the brim with freshly baked bread, snacks and more with a full range of Jordan wines available to purchase all night. As the sun sets, a fire show courtesy of The Psychedelic Theatre will keep you entertained.

When: 8th March 2020

Where: Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch

Price: R 425 per person, based on 2 people sharing

Purchase tickets online.

6. Ambeloui Harvest Festival
For the last 20 years, the Christodoulou family, tucked away deep in the Hout Bay valley of Cape Town have been producing a boutique, hand-made and highly sought after Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine. This year, they’re celebrating their harvest with cold bubbly by the bottle and by the glass, hot Greek food straight off the coals and delicious Greek delicacies to enjoy at the festival or take home ready for your dinner party.

When: 14 March 2020

Where: Ambeloui Wine Farm, Hout Bay

Visit their website for more.

7. Spier Harvest of the Arts
Spier Hotel & Wine Farm will be hosting a magical evening of music, song and dance in celebration of their annual grape harvest. Showcasing a wide range of the Cape’s top talents. The family-friendly celebration will take place on the lawns of the Spier Werf at the historic Stellenbosch farm from the late afternoon into the evening. Guests are invited to arrive early to enjoy a wine tasting and a picnic on the lawns before the diverse array of performances start.

When: 27 March 2020

Where: Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch

Price: R650 Admission & picnic for two, R220 Admission & Farm Cafe burger, R140 General Admission, Free for Children under 12.

Visit their website for more.

Best of the Best at Cape Grace

Harvest Festivals, Sports Events, Music, Culture, and everything in between. Cape Town plays host to some of the greatest events in the world.

Celebrate historic events with a stay at Cape Grace, receive a 15% discount off the nightly room rate and we will treat you to a complimentary 50-minute massage.

To complete the perfect experience, enjoy tapas on us at our iconic Bascule Bar poised on the edge of Cape Town’s most glamorous marina at the V&A Waterfront as well as a 50 minute Spa Massage.

Visit our website for more.

Leap into the month of love

Catch the Greatest Cape Town Events with our New Best of the Best Promotion

Eager to participate in some of the world’s largest and most iconic events, while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Cape Town? Our exciting new Best of the Best promotion is here, and with it, your opportunity to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Signal Hill, with Table Mountain at the back. Image by Cape Town Tourism

Voted as the world’s best city in 2018, Cape Town plays host to some of the greatest events across the land, sea and sky. Here at Cape Grace, we are uniquely positioned to help you combine the best African holiday with the epic thrills of your favourite Cape Town events.

Stay with us over the date of any of these historic events and receive a 15% discount off the nightly room rate.

The Best of the Best promotion also includes a 50-minute massage per person (based on two people sharing). So once you are done competing (or viewing because we know that can be just as stressful), you are able to relax, unwind, and ease tense muscles at the Spa at Cape Grace.

Indulge in our Bascule Bar tapas selection pre or post-competition with your complimentary tapas voucher. Of course, if it post-event, we could think of no better spot to cheers to yourself or those you support, than our vibrant whiskey bar, poised on the edge of Cape Town’s most glamorous marina at the V&A Waterfront.

Tapas at the iconic Bascule Bar

We have listed some of the biggest Cape Town events from December 2019 to December 2020. With your luxury accommodation and comforts covered by Cape Grace, all you need to do is book tickets to your dream event of choice.

1. Cape to Rio – Yachting

4 January

The Cape to Rio is an Ocean Race across the South Atlantic between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro, linking two of the world’s most beautiful sea ports. The first edition of the race dates back to 1971, and many legends of international yachting have competed in the event. Watch the start right here from the V&A.

2. L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate – Horseracing

10 – 11 January 2020

Steeped in tradition and prestige, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is the oldest horse racing event in South Africa bearing international significance. The event was first raced in 1861 in honour of Queen Victoria. To this day, Queen Elizabeth retains a keen interest in the race and its outcome. The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate not only hosts courageous and determined champion racehorses, but its stylish theme of blue and white also brings elegance and beauty into the mix.

3. Red Bull King of the Air 2020 – Kiting

24 January – 16 February 2020

Image by Craig Kolesky

The Red Bull King of the Air competition is the highlight of the kitesurfing calendar in Cape Town. It sees the very best board-riders from all over the world coming together for a day of adrenaline and a lot of wind. Dress warmly and admire the brave sportsmen compete for the title.

4. Sun Met Horse Racing Event 2020 – Horseracing

1 February 2020

Under the theme African Luxury: Visionaries, Cape Town’s most prestigious horse-racing event combines high-end fashion with world-class entertainment – both on and off the race track. Inspired by forward-thinkers and creativity, the theme for the 2020 edition of The Sun Met is a celebration of luxury with racing enthusiasts and fashionistas expected to evolve imagination on Race Day.

5. Cape Town 10s 2020 – Sports festival and lifestyle event

31 January – 1 February 2020

Image by @10sseries

South Africa’s biggest social sports festival and lifestyle event includes nine sports and the biggest ten-a-side rugby tournament in the world! In 2020, the event will host 350 local and international sports teams.

6. Cape Town – South Africa vs  England T20 – Cricket

4 February 2020

See England do battle against South Africa at one of the world’s most iconic grounds in Cape Town. Twenty20 cricket or Twenty-20 (often abbreviated to T20), is a shortened format of cricket, designed to be faster than traditional cricket. Watch the national teams take to the pitch for some explosive T20 action.

7. The Match In Africa 6 – Tennis Match – Federer vs Nadal

7 February 2020

Witness history in Africa. 20-time Grand Slam Champion, Roger Federer, will play his first-ever match in Sub Saharan Africa in Cape Town on Friday, 7 February 2020 at 8 p.m. Federer’s opponent will be 18-time Grand Slam Champion and rival Rafael Nadal. The match will be played to support children’s education in Africa.

8. Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020 – Art Fair

14 February 2020

The annual Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the Cape Town International Convention Centre is renowned as a leading destination in Africa to buy local and international art. It is also the place where buyers from around the world interact with galleries and exciting emerging and established artists, creating important global networks.

9. The Cape Peninsula Marathon – Road running

16 February 2020

Image by Kway VOB Running Club

This is Africa’s fastest point-to-point marathon. If the excitement of Eliud Kipchoge’s massive achievement has you lacing up your running shoes and hitting the road, put your grit to the test in this beautiful half or full marathon that finishes in the historic Simon’s Town.

10. Cape Town – South Africa vs Australia T20 – Cricket

26 and 29 February 2020

Newslands Stadium. Image by Club Cricket SA

The Aussies are back in 2020 and they will be looking to redeem themselves as they left SA in disgrace last time out!

11. Cape Town Cycle Tour – Cycling

08 March 2020

The world’s largest timed cycle race is an iconic fixture in the international cycling calendar. With the 42nd running of its world-famous cycling tour as its crescendo, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Lifecycle Week is an eight-day celebration of all things cycling, where a world-famous city embraces human power and celebrates the healthy lifestyle and freedom of movement the humble bicycle offers all its inhabitants and visitors.

12. Absa Cape Town Epic – Cycling

15 – 22 March 2020

The Absa Cape Epic – staged towards the end of March every year – is also considered one of the toughest races of its kind.

An eight-day, 700-kilometre mountain bike race through the Western Cape, it is the pinnacle event for both professional and amateur riders. The Epic is the most televised mountain bike stage race in the world and the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). It is long, it is brutal, but it is also a sought after ticket.

13. Cape Town International Jazz Festival – Music

27 – 28 March 2020

Affectionately referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. The festival is famous for its star-studded line up of local and international artists, and in 2020, will be celebrating its 21st birthday!

14. Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon – Running

11 April 2020

Known as the world’s most beautiful marathon; Africa’s biggest running event is something you have to participate in, even if it is just once in a lifetime. Choose from the Ultra Marathon (56km), the Half Marathon (a favourite with everyone) or the Trail Run and join in the Easter weekend fun!

15. Boatica – Boat Show

23 – 25 October 2020

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mother City, the annual boat show features 120 exhibiting companies, over 12 live on-water activities, a once in a lifetime VIP boat cruise experience on the 60-foot Luxury Ocean Princess, a display of the world’s finest yachts, catamarans and exotic boats; family fun and water activities over 3-days.

16. Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – Running

18 October 2020

Image by Fitness Magazine

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (42.2km) is a prestigious global city race open to a range of running enthusiasts from elite athletes to social runners.  Along the spectacular route, you will take in the famous natural beauty of Cape Town’s mountains and sea, as well as many of the city’s great attractions. The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is home to ASA Marathon Championships.

17. Cape Town Sevens 2020 – Rugby

Date TBC

Image by @rugbyamericasnorth

We are wrapping up the year with a round of Sevens Rugby, so if you are planning on spending December in Cape Town in 2020, look into booking your ticket now.

Best of the Best Promotion Terms and Conditions:

  • Stay 2 consecutive nights or more, and receive a 15% discount off the nightly room rate. Booking restrictions apply to this promotion, stay within the event dates as per calendar below.
  • 50-minute massage per person based on two sharing per room.
  • Tapas voucher to the value of R500 excluding beverages.
  • Applicable on all room types.
  • Promotions are mutually exclusive and cannot be combined or used in conjunction with any other special rates or promotions unless specified.
  • Tickets for the events mentioned are not included in this promotion.
  • The offer must be requested at the time of booking and cannot be applied retrospectively. Subject to availability.
  • Offer is restricted and Cape Grace reserves the right to limit the number of rooms available and to discontinue the promotion at any time.
  • Bookings made using promo code: CGEVENTS will only be applicable on any new bookings from 13 December 2019 – 15 December 2020.
4 January 2020Cape to Rio 2020 – Yachting
10 – 11 January 2020L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate – Horseracing
24 January – 16 February 2020Red Bull King of the Air 2020 – Kiting
31 January – 1 February 2020Cape Town 10s 2020 – Sports festival and lifestyle event
01 February 2020Sun Met Horseracing Event 2020 – Horseracing
04 February 2020Cape Town – South Africa vs  England T20 – Cricket
07 February 2020The Match in Africa 6 – Tennis Match – Federer and Nadal
14 February 2020Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020 – Art Fair
16 February 2020The Cape Peninsula Marathon – Road running
26 and 29 February 2020Cape Town – South Africa vs Australia T20 – Cricket
08 March 2020Cape Town Cycle Tour – Cycling
15 – 22 March 2020Absa Cape Town Epic – Cycling
27 – 28 March 2020Cape Town International Jazz Festival – Music
11 April 2020Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon – Running
18 October 2020Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – Running
23 – 25 October 2020Boatica Cape Town – Boat Show
11 – 13 December 2020Cape Town Sevens 2020 – Rugby [Date to be confirmed]

Cape Town’s Culinary Talents Shine: Eat Out Awards 2019

A dish at La Colombe

The Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards are the Oscars of South Africa’s culinary accolades. Launched in 1998 and presented at an awards celebration held in November, the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards celebrate the South African restaurant industry, with accolades including the Top 10 Restaurants, Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year and more.

The winning restaurants were determined by the scores of a panel of anonymous judges, headed up by accolated Chief Judge Margot Janse, who dined around the country unannounced and scored the restaurants against the rigorous judging criteria in line with international standards.

This year, Cape Town and the Western Cape scooped up most of the awards, taking nine out of the top 10 spots, including the number one place! So without further ado, make sure to add these hot spots to your Cape Town culinary bucket list.

1. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)

Up from third place last year, La Colombe’s menu of delightfully quirky dishes inspired by local flavours skyrocketed them to the number one spot this year. They also rank in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards earlier this year. Chef James Gaag and his team have mastered a French flair but unique style of cuisine and impeccable service. We love sister restaurant La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek, which ranked at sixth place this year.

2. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)

Holding steady at position number two for two years in a row, The Test Kitchen, steered by Chef Luke Dale Roberts, remains a firm favourite with the judges and public. Precise attention to detail, and a dining experience that is adventurous in every way are just two of the reasons why our Golden Keys concierge loves recommending TTK to our guests. Innovation is at the heart of their continued success, and this is evident in Luke Dale Robert’s ever-expanding array of dining establishments, including the new Salsify, which we dined at and wrote more about here. Salsify nabbed eighth place, so you can be sure that it is a winning experience

3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)

Last year’s winning restaurant is still a shining star. The wine pairings, exquisite setting with vineyard as well as sea views, and freshly interpreted French cuisine make for an unforgettable experience. Chef Gregory Czarnecki tells a nostalgic tale in four or eight-course menus, infusing his dishes with a lot of personality and love.

4. Wolfgat (Paternoster)

This pocket-sized restaurant on the West Coast packs a punch! Named Best Restaurant in the World at the World Restaurant Awards (held earlier this year in Paris), this Paternoster gem, captained by Chef Kobus van der Merwe, reflects the beachy surroundings in their dishes, which are pared down, pure and rather perfect.

5. FYN (City Bowl)

A brand new entry, FYN, opened this year by Ashley Moss and Peter Tempelhoff, quickly rose to fame for its theatrical interplay of Japanese and South African flavours. We love this moody inner-city dining experience that’s all marble, exposed cement and impressive lighting, where bento boxes contain unexpected morsels like samoosas. Read our five-star full review here and then hurry off and book a seat.

The Full Top 10 restaurants:

  1. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)
  2. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)
  3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)
  4. Wolfgat (Paternoster)
  5. FYN Restaurant (City Bowl, Cape Town)
  6. La Petite Colombe (Franschhoek)
  7. Eike (Stellenbosch)
  8. Salsify (Camps Bay, Cape Town)
  9. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein, Pretoria)
  10. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia, Cape Town)

The Eat Out Awards are a reflection of the ongoing excellence of the restaurants we are lucky to be surrounded by in South Africa. If you would like to make the most of them while staying with us, speak to our Cape Grace Concierge Team – they are passionate foodies who love booking their best-loved dining spots in the Cape and beyond for visiting guests.

Explore and Experience, Featured – 10 of Cape Town’s Top Restaurants with Fireplaces

‘Tis the season to get toasty! Bring out the red wine, hearty dishes and cozy up to our top restaurants with fireplaces this winter. From roaring hearths to sleek gas features, we have rounded up the most memorable of the crackling lot. Choose your ideal nook and nestle in.   1. Aubergine Best for: Fusion…

1. Aubergine

Best for: Fusion flair

Consistently rated as one of Cape Town’s best restaurants, Aubergine combines rich history with contemporary flair, not to mention their world-class wine list! In winter, they light up their charcoal fireplace, which warms up the interior of their sophisticated and historic spot in Gardens (the former home of the first Chief Justice of the Cape). We recommend taking advantage of their excellent Winter Bistro Menu, and selecting a hearty red to savour while the fire crackles.
See more:

2. Kloof Street House

Best for: Date night

Kloof Street House

This Kloof Street must boasts three fireplaces, so your chances of nabbing a seat next to one of them is fairly high. It is also one of the most well-loved and iconic places to dine in Cape Town, a collection of different rooms and spaces each bursting with an assortment of eclectic decor and character. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner and tuck into the likes of the roasted beets and fried goat’s cheese salad, pan-fried calamari, Norwegian salmon, bouillabaisse or ostrich fillet. To end, always have the baked cheesecake, served with caramelised popcorn.
See more:

3. Asoka

Best for: Jazz, cocktails and tapas


The sister restaurant of Kloof Street House, this petite palace on upper Kloof unfolds from a living olive tree in the centre of the sultry spot. The open fireplace warms the dimly-lit interior where Cape Town’s glamorous set enjoy cocktails and tapas to the sounds of the live jazz bands they play host to. Sip on one of their legendary cocktails (the Orchard Breeze is recommended), and snack on their sharing plates and tapas while you huddle around intimate tables and while away the evening in swinging style.
See more:

4. Cape Grace Library

Best for: Afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea at Cape Grace

Heavy curtains sweep the soft carpets of the hushed library of Cape Grace, where we serve our delectable Afternoon tea – a time-honoured tradition. Pause next to the elegant fireplace and nibble on fresh, crumbly scones piled high with jam, lemon curd and cream, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, irresistible macaroons and artisanal pastries, while you sip on a selection of loose-leaf teas, served in delicate glass teapots. If you’re feeling festive, or simply celebrating life, add a glass of bubbles to your order and toast to some of the best views in Cape Town.
See more:

5. Bascule Bar

Best for: Whisky and tapas

Whisky Tasting at Bascule Bar

Take refuge ‘below deck’ in the nautically-inspired Bascule Bar at Cape Grace. Pull up a leather chair while you browse the whisky menu – one of the most extensive collections in the southern hemisphere! Once you have selected a dram, snack on tasty morsels or go big with the Bascule Speciality – a Wagyu beef burger served with all the trimmings.
See more:

6. Societi Bistro

Best for: A comforting culinary journey

The fireplace as Asoka

Cornerstone of the Cape Town culinary world, Societi Bistro has long been the favourite of locals and visitors alike. Must be something to do with their combo of fantastic (and ever-changing) menus, admirable red wine selection, and simple interior that is all about the wooden floors, exposed bricks, and multiple fireplaces of course. Grab a seat in the main restaurant and enjoy the exceptional staple, the mushroom risotto; or be bold and venture across the globe with Chef Robert Giljam, as he presents 21 menus featuring modest and traditional meals from around the world, each only available for 4 days, and paired with exceptional South African wine. Indulge in the chocolate nemesis to end – it is wickedly good.
See more:

7. Beau Constantia’s Chefs Warehouse

Best for: The views and every little morsel

Bookings fill up fast for this Southern suburb gem that boasts arguably some of the best views in the Cape. In summer, it’s best to spend time outdoors, but winter means no deprivation as the floor to ceiling glass allows for panoramic views of the vineyards while you dine, huddled snugly nearby one of two warming fireplaces. Speaking of which, expect the same glorious set menu that made them famous – Chef Ivor Jones a master at tapas and small plates.
Read our full review here.

8. The Codfather

Best for: Seafood and sushi

The Codfather in Camps Bay is an unpretentious seafood-lovers dream. The model is simple, and the menu is non-existent. Instead, you are chaperoned to the seafood selection where you choose your favourite slices of the freshest shellfish and fish, which is then grilled to perfection and served to the table along with fat-cut fries, rice and greens. The large wood fireplace separates the main part of the restaurant from the equally as appealing sushi bar if that is more your scene. Whatever your choice, do not skip dessert – the brownie is one of the best around!
See more:

9. Cafe Paradiso

Best for: Hearty Italian fare

Cafe Paradiso on upper Kloof Street offers a beautiful setting and a menu that combines classic Meditteranean fare with some South African favourites. In summer, sit outside in the courtyard and soak in the mountain views, and in winter, snuggle up to the fireplace (a feature in all of the Madame Zingara restaurants). Choose a wood-fired pizza, risotto, or truffled pasta, bring along the family (they are very kiddie-friendly) and enjoy!
See more:

10. The Village Idiot

Best for: Fun and frivolity

The Village Idiot is one of Cape Town’s favourite watering holes. The charming colonial fireplace, booths and leather seats are ideal for chillier nights, where you are invited to dive into a beer and enjoy traditional South African cuisine, inspired by ‘braai’ culture. Do not forget to wave at Oskar – the resident ostrich and ‘village idiot’
See more:

Sharing the History of the Cape Town… One Room at a Time

Poised between land and sea, between the ancient Table Mountain and bustle of the working historic harbour that is the V&A Waterfront. We are ideally positioned, not just to explore all the many delights that Cape Town offers, but to delve back into history. Indeed, it is the early formation of the Cape as a refueling station, that has inspired our decor and infused our identity. Antiques, murals, rare furniture and even our bedcovers tell the many tales of the Cape, the story woven throughout every floor and in each and every one of our totally unique 120 rooms. Let us peel back the layers of modernity and take a peek at the early years of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’, and how it marries into the sense of time and place we hope to impart to our guests and visitors with our ‘home away from home’.

The Company’s Gardens

While nomadic indigenous people have long populated the shores of the Cape, Dutch settlers arrived in 1652. They were sent by the Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or simply VOC), with instructions to establish the Cape as a halfway refueling station for ships travelling to Asia. They quickly established the historic Company’s Gardens (still in existence today), to provide the fruit, meat, wine and vegetables, as well as the remarkable canals that channeled freshwater down from the mountain to the gardens below. These too, can be seen in certain parts of the CBD and form a part of the City Cycle Tour.

At Cape Grace, our second floor is home to the Company’s Gardens Two Bedroom Suite. The curtains in the lounge display is a reproduction of the VOC mandate given to the settlers to create a refreshment station for the company, dated 30 December 1651, while the tapestry in the lounge shows a bird’s eye view of the Company Gardens – a reproduction of an etching created in 1719 by Peter Kolbe.

Citrus was a key part of the VOC plantings, and this is captured in the Lemon Bedroom. Lastly, in another bedroom, the bedcover is a stylised layout of the Company’s Gardens, with the broad strip carrying the scientific names of many of the Cape’s flora.

Of Food and Fine China

The Dutch were quickly followed by the first wave of Asian immigrants, who were banished to the Cape by the Dutch Batavian High Court. The mix of skilled artisans, slaves and even royalty, formed the basis of our Cape Malay population, with many families settling in the much-photographed colourful Bo Kaap area. At Cape Grace, our style of cuisine is directly influenced by our Malayan heritage, Chef Malika van Reenen deft at weaving the heavenly spices, scents, and flavours into aromatic culinary delights inspired by over 300 years of Cape cooking.

Of course, as a port, ship life was and continues to be an important part of the Cape (if maritime history intrigues you, we strongly recommend that you visit the Chavonnes Battery Museum, where you can actually stand on Cape Town’s original shoreline).

Cape Town’s treacherous shores meant that ships often met a watery end (we have the rescued ship’s manifests and broken china to prove it). However, the ones that made it through, were often laden with treasures, sourced from Japan, China, Europe and Indonesia. Much of our decor pays homage to ships and popular finery that met our shores.

Imari was the name of the port in Japan that controlled the Japanese porcelain, most of it being sourced from a town called Arita. It was in the 1640’s that new techniques were introduced into the processes that enabled the ceramicists to work with colours, such as red and gold. Over the years the red, blue, white and gold porcelain became known as simply Imari, and often recorded in inventories of Cape Town homes – symbols of wealth for gentry and officials. In our Imari Three Bedroom Suite, the tapestry in the living room depicts reproductions of various Imari plates, combined with names of select VOC ships. The three bedrooms respectively showcase Imari porcelain, Japanese lace and the story of the voyages undertaken to bring these to the Cape.

Ironically, despite the fact that the Dutch East India Company (VOC) held the monopoly on the export of Japanese porcelain between 1656 and 1756, collectors at the Cape had to acquire these pieces surreptitiously as they did not form part of the official local imports.

The Castle of Good Hope

Image by Craig Howes

We could not speak about the history of the Cape without mentioning the castle! The Castle of Good Hope, the first permanent European fortification in the area, began in 1666. Finally completed in 1679, the castle is the oldest building in South Africa.

At Cape Grace, this vital piece of history is brought to life in the Castle of Good Hope Two Bedroom Suite. The tapestry in the lounge showcases the Castle layout surround by the names of the five bastions. The Castle layout is a reproduction of an etching published in 1719 by German astronomer Peter Kolbe, commissioned by the Dutch government to compile an all-round description of the Cape.

Finishing off with Furniture

The Cape Grace collection is one of the most important and comprehensive public collections of furniture and artifacts owned by and displayed in a hotel in South Africa. The collection consists of more than 300 pieces of original antiques that were all made or used locally.

The term Cape Furniture refers to all furniture made at the Cape between 1700 and 1900. Society in this far-away colony was highly stratified right from the beginning of the Colonial Period, and the furniture that was made locally reflects this social segregation. Three main categories can be identified: Patrician Furniture, Country Furniture and Folk Furniture.

Around the Governor and other top officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) a patrician society soon started to express its own standards and tastes. This resulted in the development of a Patrician Furniture, popularly referred to as “town” furniture. It was made for and used by the wealthy officials who lived in 18th and early 19th century Cape Town.

Cape Country Furniture forms the biggest part of the Cape Furniture heritage. Even though Country Furniture took its stylistic inspiration from the more sophisticated Patrician Furniture made in Cape Town, these pieces were anything but second-best or watered-down copies.
 Furniture with a robust character and made from a combination of light and dark timbers was popular. Most of the country pieces were made by qualified craftsmen who adapted the patrician fashions to suit their clients’ tastes and aesthetic sensibility.

Finally, Folk Furniture was made in remote locations by craftsmen and women who often had little or no official training. This genre developed out of necessity; in this case, the needs of the farmers and pioneers who travelled to the deep country in search of opportunities. With limited access to professional furniture makers, these intrepid men and women had to make everything they needed, including their own furniture, often using nothing more than a pocketknife and the endemic timbers they found in the veld.

Iconic pieces from each distinct category are dotted throughout the hotel. We invite guests to ‘hunt’ them down, ticking them off the list available from concierge. For those invested in learning more about antiques and art in the Cape, we also offer an exclusive day-long tour. Speak to our concierge for more information and availability.