Bring out your inner mad scientist: experiment with unique spirits + meat cuts
Things to do at Mount Nelson
6 ways to enjoy summer at famous pink luxury hotel (without staying over)
Savour delicious summer days at Mount Nelson, Cape Town’s famous pink luxury hotel where hundreds of legends have stayed; including John Lennon, for a week, alone, six months before his death, says the general manager.
What you might not know is that you don’t have to be a staying guest to spend time in its lush gardens, sitting in its jasmine-scented breezes; to enjoy the majestic mountain views from its bars and terraces, or to get access to its heated swimming pool, tennis court, for that matter. Here are 6 ways to savour the legendary Mount Nelson this summer without checking in.
You don’t need to stay to use the facilities at the Mount Nelson. Find out how to access them by reading on. Image: Belmond Mount Nelson
PICNIC IN THE GARDENS
From Wednesdays to Sundays, you can order a wicker basket filled with delicious goodies and it will be laid out under a shady tree in the gardens for you. It’s filled with light finger foods including cheese from the Winelands, artisanal charcuterie and homemade atjars, pickles and tapenade. It costs R395 per adult and R250 per child. Chef Rudi Liebenberg suggests you add some bubbly – a local Cap Classique or, if you’re feeling flush, splash out with a vintage champagne.
Open: Wednesdays to Sundays. Picnic baskets are available from 1pm.
Tip: Add R200 and get access to the Oasis heated swimming pool, tennis courts (60 minutes guaranteed), and the supervised Kids Club. Your picnic will then be laid out near the balmy pool.
TREAT YOURSELF TO AFTERNOON TEA
Tea at Mount Nelson is legendary. First, the atmosphere is set by the debonair, fedora-wearing Henry Dike tinkling away on the grand piano. Choose your seat from one of the many lovely tables and padded chairs inside or outside, and then select your brew: there’s a vast selection of premium leaf and flowering teas from around the globe.
You’ll be impressed by the spread: It ranges from Cape Malay classics, like melktert, and other sweets such as baked chocolate cheesecake to baskets of warm-from-the-oven scones and pumpkin fritters, mushroom empañadas and delicate cucumber sandwiches. For vegetarians, Chef Rudi has created an imaginative plant-based menu. What few know, he adds, is that “no gelatine is used in any of our afternoon treats, making it halaal friendly”. Prices are R395 per adult, and R215 per child.
Open: Wednesdays to Sundays, with the first sitting at 12pm and the second sitting at 3pm.
The range of teas on offer come from around the globe. Image: Belmond Mount Nelson
ZEN OUT AT THE LIBRISA SPA
Did you know the name “Librisa” means balance or breeze? You’ll certainly find your body’s balance at this gorgeous, tranquil spa. It offers pampering, de-stressing and anti-ageing treatments in the gorgeous environment of three original Victorian buildings, with heated marble slabs. There’s also a sensation shower in both men’s and women’s changing rooms.
The Journey of Discovery is the most popular treatment, says the spa manager. It’s a half-day experience including a manicure/pedicure, facial, aromatherapy massage and full body exfoliation with body wrap (book it and you get access to the swimming pool and Kids’ Club).
Open: 9am to 7pm every day of the week.
The Librisa Spa is in three original Victorian buildings, and is a tranquil space. Image: Belmond Mount Nelson
DINE OUTDOORS IN THE SCENTED BREEZE
One of Cape Town’s most charming dining experiences is at the terrace, which looks out over the hotel’s gorgeous gardens with towering palm trees and a tinkling fountain. Chef Rudi’s offers a three-course lunch and dinner menu, and Cape wild foods, plant-based and slow food dishes feature prominently.
There is also an exceptional seafood platter of grilled line fish, mussels in beer, prawns, salmon cakes and calamari fritto misto. Also, Chef Rudi points out, the smoked salmon is made in-house.
Breakfast on the balcony at the Helmsley, close to the magnificent, old palm trees. Image: Belmond Mount Nelson
JOIN THE HARVEST TABLE IN THE GARDEN
You can never be sure what this menu will be, says Chef Rudi, because they only decide on it once they’ve checked what their farmers are growing. “We then walk through the garden and collect edible elements like dandelion, spekboom or Eugenia berries,” he says, adding, “All our harvest menus will always feature curry leaf in a dish.”
This lavish fresh gourmet harvest fare is sumptuously laid out on platters on a long, African teak table, placed in the hotel’s charming gardens. It’s a delightful and memorable experience to dine in this way in the open air. Cost is R850 per adult, and R450 per child (includes two bottles of South African Methode Cap Classique as well as access to the heated Oasis swimming pool, tennis courts and the supervised Kid’s Club)
Open: For lunch and for dinner every day (minimum six guests, up to 12)
SIP WINE AT THE SOPHISTICATED PLANET BAR
The Planet Bar is one of Cape Town’s most popular meeting places not only thanks to its wonderful wine list and cocktail menu, but because of its lovely, sophisticated interior. It got its name from the orrery – a model of the solar system – hanging from the ceiling, the bartender told us.
You can also have a light bite there, with a menu that includes General Tso’s cauliflower, ceviche in mini tacos, potato samosas and lamb kibbeh in yoghurt. Or stay over, because nothing tops spending a night or more at the legendary Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel.
Open: Every day
Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out all about our very attractive festive season and summertime rates for SADC region guests