Last week we looked at Student Accommodation options for those interested in coming to Cape Town to learn English at the UCT English language Centre. This week we are taking a broader look at Cape Town accommodation options.
There are many options for those looking for a roof over their heads in the Mother City, and with all cities, your options will very much depend on your budget, preferences, length of stay and reason for being here (to learn English, study at a college/university, volunteer, internship, work, visit).
As a general rule of thumb, the closer to the city bowl and some other specific areas in Cape Town, the more expensive the majority of your options are going to be. The further out you go, and within certain pockets of the city bowl surrounding areas, the better deals you are going to find.
Cape Town has a very large offering of hotels available, and these can be found in all price categories. If you do opt for a hotel, then the best way to start your search would be to decide if you want a hotel close to wherever you need to be during the day / close to the sea, or in the city centre, etc. Decide on your location first, in other words. Then, decide what you need/would like in the hotel. Do you want a pool? Do you want to be able to make use of spa treatments and facilities (massages, etc.)? Most hotels will offer the standard price of a variety of rooms, and include breakfast. Some hotels will offer guests a number of different restaurants on site, pool, bars, shuttle services, business facilities and spa treatments (massages, etc.). If you are interested in booking a hotel in Cape Town, you can visit websites like booking.com (here is a great list of their top 30 hotels in Cape Town), compare hotel room prices on sites like trivago.com, or visit tried and trusted sites with authentic reviews and feedback from sites like tripadvisor.com.
Bed and Breakfasts
As with hotels, there are number of options available throughout Cape Town and the Western Cape, and again, this is largely determined by your budget and desired location.
Bed and Breakfasts provide a room and breakfast in the morning only. Some of them may also offer lunch and dinner at an extra price, but this is not always the case, and will require you informing the reception if it’s your intention to eat there for lunch or dinner. They do not have restaurants and menus on offer, as with a hotel. This type of accommodation is also generally smaller than a hotel and very often located in a converted house, which also generally means each room will be furnished with different furniture and not as in hotels where each room will look the same and have the same cupboards The type of bed and breakfast, and the price, will largely be determined by its location and the luxury of the accommodation. Some will be more conventional in their breakfasts, for example, offering standard options while others will offer more lavish buffets, extra soft linen, above average sized rooms and many other extras such as swimming pools, transfers, etc. Parking is usually charged at an extra price in the city bowl due to limited parking space (as opposed to a larger hotel for example, which can cater for this with large underground parking garages). Bed and Breakfasts usually offer a more personal experience than a hotel where staff may know you by name and not just room number. Although bed and Breakfasts are smaller, that’s not to say they will always be cheaper. Some bed and breakfasts will be far more expensive than some hotels. Typically, bed and breakfast listings will divided first according to location and then price and tourism grading stars, whereas hotels tend to be listed first according to price and how many tourism grading stars they have.
Hostels & Backpackers
According to Wikipedia, hotels “provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, and private rooms may also be available”. This is clearly the accommodation for the more budget conscious traveller. Some backpackers will offer a maximum time guests may stay and book with them while others will be far more lenient. There is no real luxury in this type of accommodation, but the environment is far more one of getting to know other people sharing rooms and exploring/experiencing a city/country together. Some backpackers will offer restaurants and bars, while others will cater literally for a guest to sleep, shower and store some valuables.
Self Catering / Renting
In recent years there has been a property boom in cape Town and many owners of properties are able to rent out their apartments or houses either on long or shorter term leases. There is ample choice, but unfortunately, renting in Cape Town is not the cheapest and one could question value for money in many situations. Again, this all depends on where the property is and the size in general. This is a good option for those who will be staying for an extended period in cape Town to work, for example. In South Africa, leases are generally signed for 1 year and rental prices increase annually between 6% – 10%. Unfurnished places will be cheaper than furnished places, and almost all accommodation optiins in this category will request between 1 and 3 months’ rent as a deposit, on top of the first months rental. Sometimes these kids of terms can be negotiated, but as there is adshortage of accommodation in cape Town, there are usually many people vying for the same property if it is good value for money or located in a prime position. Not all agencies/owners are open to renting to international visitors for fear of not getting their rent and then not being able to track or find the people once they have left. This is also something that needs to be discussed with an agent or owner in advance.
Some good sites for finding self catering or rental accommodation which locals use is as follws:
For shorter term rentals, there is always the option of Air BnB.
Not everyone can afford their own place for longer stays, so the next best option is to share a room in a flat or house with others. This is very typical for students, for example, where costs for a property are shared between everyone, including internet/phone/cleaning services, etc. Some popular and not very expensive areas to consider looking are Walmer Estate, Woodstock, Observatory, Mowbray, Rondebosch or Muizenberg. Prices for a room in a shared house currently range between R3500 and R7500 per month. Anything over R8000 per month is probably quite costly and you may want to look at availability for your own bachelors pad, for example.
We hope you find what you are looking for. Please always be wary of paying anything for apartments/houses up front before having looked at the place and established the integrity of the agency or person renting out a place. Make sure a contract is drawn up and signed, and that the other party upholds their side of a deal. Also always enquire with the language school, college, company, family, friends, etc. before booking a place from abroad as not all areas are as safe and secure as others.
We wish you a wonderful time while you are in the beautiful city of Cape Town!