When the opportunity came up to speak at WTM Africa in Cape Town this year, I didn’t need a great deal of persuading. I was tentatively planning to visit the fair anyway to meet contacts old and new, so this was just the push I needed.
Happily the timing worked well with regard to home life and I even managed to leverage the last of a stash of American airline points I had bought for half price months ago to secure tickets in Etihad Business Class for the long parts of the journey.
It was quite a journey, too – both in terms of the number of flights just to get from Trondheim to Cape Town and back but also in terms of luxury – you can read the full review by clicking that link in the previous sentence.
With those logistics taken care of, I began to approach hotels to see if any where interested in my reviewing their property in return for a couple of nights accommodation. I realised that demand for rooms was going to be high and that I had left it rather late (I was sending emails less than two weeks before my departure date) but crossed my fingers.
Not only did I receive a slew of positive replies, I actually managed to get invitations from several of the hotels on the top of my wish list – including the one at number one, the Grand Daddy.
I had heard a lot about this place, how it had a perfect central location and a quirky style. If I wasn’t mistaken there was something about a rooftop cinema and a trailer to stay in up there too. I wasnt’ mistaken, but more on this later…
I was incredibly excited to be finally visiting Cape Town and also to be staying at the Grand Daddy. The hotel arranged a transfer from the airport for ZAR 330 and my driver was waiting with my name on a board as I came through arrivals. It was late, I’d been in transit over 35 hours so this was an extremely good move and (little) money well spent.
It was dark as we drove into the city but I could see that Long Street was a lively place. But what of the hotel?
The Grand Daddy Hotel, 38 Long Street, Cape Town 8001 South Africa +27 21 424 7247
Early April 2016.
Four stars. Opened 1895(!), last renovated 2008. 33 rooms over 3 floors.
Location, location, location?
For a first-time visitor to Cape Town wanting to dive straight into the nightlife or start exploring the downtown areas, you can’t beat being based on Long Street. This is basically the heart of the bar scene at night and by day you’ll find dozens of interesting shops and cafes.
It’s also safe, there are taxis everywhere if you fancy striking out further afield and it’s within walking distance of many of the city’s sights. Table Mountain can be seen from the hotel.
For me it was a pleasant ten minute walk to the Convention Centre where WTM Africa was taking place – so that was ideal too.
What about parking?
There’s no car park at the hotel itself but the property does have an affiliation with a parking garage very close by, if required.
Why choose this place?
The location is reason enough. But the Grand Daddy offers so many more reasons to choose it as your base – it does indeed boast a rooftop bar and open air cinema, there are Airstream trailers on the same roof offering a unique accommodation option, the restaurant is excellent and service is friendly, efficient and knowledgable.
It’s affordable, too – South Africa in general is about 30% cheaper now for most visitors than it was when I visited a year ago due to the fall in the value of the Rand. This is no cause for jubilation and a real hardships for the local population, but there’s no denying that it has made an already cheap destination an absolutely incredible bargain.
There are three main types of room: standard (20 square metres) are the smallest and face the inner courtyard. Superior rooms are the same size but have street views while luxury rooms are 30 square metres and can accommodate families with children.
Two suite are also available – the Sugar Daddy Suite which is 45 square metres with an open plan lounge and balconies, and the Grand Daddy suite weighing in at 60 square metres with a separate lounge and an outdoor patio.
Then you have the “trailer park” – but we’ll get to that in a bit.
I stayed in a superior room, number 206 to be exact.
As you can see it was tastefully decorated and featured a large and very comfortable double bed.
A flatscreen TV provided a large range of channels and gave me the chance to catch up with a couple of South African soaps since my last visit to the country. Not a great deal seemed to have happened in 12 months, let’s just put it that way…
Tea and coffee making facilities are always welcome, too.
Fluffy robes are provided for lounging around in should you so desire. The other wardrobe contained a decent sized safe.
I do understand why hotels would rather provide empty minibars and allow guests to request them to be filled, but I still find it a little disappointing that there’s not even a cold beer to celebrate with when I arrive in a new place. It’s probably just me, but I don’t mind paying twice the usual rate for one as part of my ritual on checking in, so Grand Daddy take note – you are missing out on easy money.
Okay, it could just be me.
I don’t know about you, but I reckon it’s time for a video overview of the room so you can see more:
All in all the room was very comfortable and cozy. Noise from the street was minimal, the curtains effectively blocked out the light and the air conditioner didn’t disturb.
In other words, you could probably sleep easily during the day too if you needed to catch up on sleep after a long journey.
I also appreciated the daily updates I received after turndown service in the evenings…
Yes – perfectly clean and nice to pad around on barefoot when the air conditioner is on – which in South Africa is going to be quite often. It can get cold in winter, though, so the carpet would be a bonus.
The bathroom was a good size and well designed – I was pleased to see a bathtub too although it could have been bigger (well, not given the width of the room, so it was as big as it could be I guess).
Water pressure in the shower was good and while it took a while for the water to heat up, once it did there was plenty of it.
Plus points for the refillable toiletries that cannot be easily removed by guests – way better for the environment than those small bottles.
All the products were of high quality, too – meaning that if they hadn’t been secured I’m pretty sure light-fingered guests would make off with them.
There wasn’t a huge amount of storage space in the bathroom but enough for a couple even if one or both is rather fond of spending extended periods in front of the mirror applying whatever it is they apply.
So, in conclusion I loved the superior room – and the experience is only getting better because I just learned that the hotel will be refurbishing the rooms and they will be uniquely decorated by local artists.
Of course if you are looking for something really unique right now, the Grand Daddy has you sorted there too.
Just take the vintage elevator (the oldest still in operation in Cape Town) up to the third floor, then follow the signs to the roof…
Your road trip starts here.
Round the corner…
One more turn…
And here we go. You ready? I hope so, because you have never seen anything like this before in a city hotel (or quite possibly anywhere…)
The rooftop trailer park
See, I wasn’t joking about a trailer on the roof. But I got it wrong – there’s not just one, there are seven genuine Airstream trailers, each with a different theme.
They were shipped from America and Long Street was closed while a crane lifted them into place.
During the week an evening reception is held at the roof bar and unoccupied trailer rooms are opened for curious visitors to take a peek.
Next time, I will have to stay in one of these.
How inviting is that?
My favourite is probably the safari-themed one styled on one of the hotel’s sister lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve in the north of the country, Jaci’s.
I particularly liked the outdoor shower – what a great touch.
You can sleep under the stars, too.
Free internet I hope?
Yes – there is an excellent wifi signal throughout the property and I ran multiple devices without any problems. If you don’t have a laptop or a smartphone, first of all – congratulations. I wish I could travel without mine.
But I digress – if you need to get online but lack a gadget with which to do so there is a computer in the lobby for guests.
Bar and restaurant?
Most definitely. In fact there is an eatery on the ground floor opening onto Long Street, a lounge on the third floor and a rooftop bar on the edge of the trailer park.
THIRTY ATE (gettit?!) is the name of the new eatery at The Grand Daddy. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as cocktails, wine, craft beers, coffees and sweet treats.
The menu features modern takes on fast food classics like burgers and sandwiches as well as a mean fish and chips.
Ingredients are sourced locally and all dishes have an authentic homemade style. Much of the menu changes each week so you won’t get bored if you keep coming back for more.
There is also an exclusively South African Gin menu, which is a nice touch. Craft gin is the new craft beer, if you haven’t heard*.
*By the time you read this, that may no longer be true. If indeed it ever was…
This lounge area is on the third floor at the end of a rather spectacular corridor:
Yes, that is a fish tank there on the right.
Anyway Daddy Cool is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays so I couldn’t check it out but it looks like a fun place for a drink.
One floor up, on the roof, is the skybar.
Popular with residents and visitors alike, it’s a great place to relax with a beer or glass of wine. Or something stronger…
In a really nice move, in-house guests are invited to enjoy a complimentary welcome drink in the reception area or rooftop sky bar each evening. As mentioned before this is also an opportunity to sneak a look at the trailers, too.
Neither, but get this – the Grand Daddy has a rooftop movie theatre!
The hotel shows classic films on Monday nights in its Pink Flamingo Cinema. Details are shared on its Facebook page and popcorn, a welcome drink & sweets are included in the ticket price.
The seating area here is transformed into an auditorium on movie nights.
Films are projected here – another experience I missed this time round unfortunately.
Not your average cinema environment.
The breakfast was included, right?
Full breakfast is included. Choose from the menu at THIRTY ATE up to a value of ZAR 75 (more than enough to get your fill) and pay any extra over this if you are really, really hungry.
The English was superb.
I went for a healthier option the next day, mainly for appearances. But it was lovely.
I touched on this earlier but it bears repeating – service at the Grand Daddy is top-notch and all the employees seemed like they enjoyed their work; always a good sign.
Any points/miles to earn?
No – this is an independent hotel, but they do have two safari lodges in the north of the country. One is Jaci’s Lodge in Madikwe and the other is Cheetah Plains in Sabi Sands.
It is possible to book a combination with a few nights in Cape Town then a few in the bush, just add flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Indeed this is such a tantalizing prospect that we are planning to offer this as a small group tour for Grown-up Travel Guide readers – so keep an eye out for news and subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know the details.
Can they look after your bags after you check out?
Yes, they are happy to do so.
Another great aspect of the Grand Daddy is its clear pricing structure. There are two seasons, high and low. High season is January to April and September to December, low Season is May to August.
Rates are as follows:
Standard Room – R2 245.00
Superior Room – R2 520.00
Luxury Room – R2 865.00
The Sugar Daddy Suite – R3 495.00
The Grand Daddy Suite – R3 980.00
Airstream Trailer – R2 995.00
Airstream Trailer Suite – R3 495.00
Standard Room – R1 650.00
Superior Room – R1 925.00
Luxury Room – R2 270.00
The Sugar Daddy Suite – R2 850.00
The Grand Daddy Suite – R3 375.00
Airstream Trailer – R2 315.00
Airstream Trailer Suite – R2 850.00
The verdict please your honour...
Basically everything. The location, comfort, extra touches, food and drink, service…
Nothing really worth mentioning here. A beer in the minibar would be nice though.
You’re joking aren’t you?
The Grand Daddy Hotel is a perfect choice for Cape Town, whether this is your first visit or your twentieth. With a quirky but fun style, a relaxed atmosphere and superb service, you’ll feel at home from the minute you arrive.
I will be back – and you should definitely visit when you get to Cape Town.