We all know about travel bucket lists, where people itemise all of the destinations they desperately want to visit in the near future. But what about accommodation bucket lists?
Whether it’s a treehouse in a tropical jungle, a windmill or a cabin far away from any form of light pollution, there are some specific stays I’d love to experience during my lifetime. This list has been formulating inside my mind for years, but I know that I can pinpoint the exact establishment that set it all off.
Ever since I first walked by – and subsequently read about it online – I’ve always wanted to stay at The Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel. I used to work on Cape Town’s Long Street – the busiest thoroughfare of the city’s CBD area – and I became increasingly curious about the hotel I’d always pass by on my daily lunchtime walks.
It would take a few years, moving to the UK and then a return for a Cape Town holiday before I’d finally get to experience what it was like to have a room at The Grand Daddy – and, in this post, I’ll reveal why the wait was so, so worth it.
Long Street living – The Grand Daddy’s central location
As mentioned, Long Street is a busy road when it comes to traffic but it also happens to be a popular spot for nightlife, food, shopping and entertainment. In amongst all of this activity sits The Grand Daddy. And it’s been in this spot since 1895. It had a different name back then, with its beginnings as the Hotel Metropole, but, nonetheless, it’s incredible to think that this historical building has been part of the city centre landscape for such a long time.
Its location brings forth many rewards. There’s much to do in the immediate area, but being in the centre of town means that you’re also close to plenty of Cape Town’s other attractions, with Table Mountain to one side and a direct line to the V&A Waterfront on the other. Whether you’re relying on public transport, like the MyCiTi bus network, or have your own car, The Grand Daddy serves as an ideal base from which to explore the city.
If you do have a car, The Grand Daddy doesn’t have on-site parking but can organise free parking for you in a covered parkade around the corner.
What makes The Grand Daddy so special?
Before I go any further, I feel like I need to explain why The Grand Daddy captured my attention all those years ago when I first heard about it. Undergoing a massive refurbishment, this building was re-opened in 2008 as a four-star hotel offering luxury accommodation – along with a few extremely well-publicised quirks.
Local designers Beach House Interiors were brought in to give the hotel and its rooms an original, and overwhelmingly Cape Town-focused, style. The Grand Daddy isn’t simply a hotel either – it’s got two bars (including one on the roof), an outdoor cinema, a restaurant as well as a trailer park.
Yes, you read that last one correctly, and we’ll be getting to that very unusual trailer park soon.
When we arrived at The Grand Daddy ourselves, I could immediately see that this wouldn’t be an ordinary hotel stay. The reception is travel themed with a nod back to the hotel’s historical roots, with old-school travel trunks forming part of the desk, while a grand chandelier is suspended near the vintage elevator. For the historically inclined: This elevator is the oldest operational one of its kind in Cape Town.
On check in, instead of simply being ushered up to our room, we were invited into the adjoining lounge for a complimentary beer or wine. The travel theme continues in the lounge, with more luggage, along with an African twist from the animal skins on the floor.
Each of us relaxed with the drink of our choice. Along with its unique concept, these touches of consideration and attention to detail work together to make The Grand Daddy unlike any other luxury accommodation option you could choose while in Cape Town.
A variety of accommodation options
There are a number of different accommodation types you can book at The Grand Daddy, dependent on who you’re travelling with. There are the straightforward hotel rooms, which are available in the range of luxury, superior or standard. Each of these have a slightly different offering, and you can also request family rooms.
Then there are Daddy’s Suites, which are apartments – ideal for families who are staying in Cape Town for a while. The most memorable – and therefore the priciest – option, however, has to be staying in one of The Grand Daddy’s rooftop trailers. Each trailer is different and, since you get to wake up to one of the best views in the city, it’s worthwhile to splurge on one of these if you can.
Our home for the night was a brightly coloured Superior room, decked out in shades of lime green and hot pink. The room had everything we needed for a comfortable night’s stay: A king-sized bed (that was so soft that I wanted to steal it for myself), a TV, air conditioning, a security safe and a luxurious marble bathroom. There were extra little touches of indulgence too, such as fluffy bathrobes, eco-friendly toiletries from Beautiful Earth, tea- and coffee-making facilities as well as a mini bar.
To top it all off, we even had our own private outdoor area, perfect for enjoying the sunshine.
A rooftop like no other
As tempting as it was, we definitely didn’t want to stay in our room all day; we wanted to explore The Grand Daddy. And we started by going straight up to the hotel’s famous rooftop to finally see The Grand Daddy trailer park with our own eyes.
This particular feature was what first landed The Grand Daddy in news headlines, especially as the seven authentic Airstream trailers were brought over from the United States. Once in Cape Town, they were transported onto The Grand Daddy’s rooftop by cranes; it’s easy to see why the sight of an activity as unusual as this got everyone curious about the hotel.
Each trailer has its own design, while all of them collectively fall under the theme of a South African road trip. That’s why we could see a trailer for the Cape Winelands, as well as the Karoo Dorps. We were lucky enough to be given the chance to peek into the Hermanus Beach House trailer. Since Hermanus is one of my own favourite road trip stops, I loved seeing the playful beach-themed design of this trailer, as well as the whale imagery, a reference to the town’s annual whale festival.
A few of the trailers were booked when we visited the rooftop, and I admit that I was very envious of their occupants’ setup: lounging in their deckchairs in the sunshine on the rooftop, they get to wake up to a view of Table Mountain every single day.
Along with the trailer park, you can also find the Sky Bar up here. Since the people staying in the trailers need some privacy, the Sky Bar usually closes by 20:30. But I’d struggle to find anywhere better in the CBD to catch the sunset – so that’s exactly what we chose to do.
I ordered an extremely pink and refreshing cocktail called the Pink Flamingo and we settled in at a table to watch the sun go down. It was a perfect way to end off another eventful day in the Mother City.
Note: The Grand Daddy’s other bar is called the Daddy Cool Bar, but it’s closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
An indulgent start to the day
But since the next day was set to be just as eventful, with me taking Chris on his first-ever trip up Table Mountain, we were very happy that our room rate included breakfast. The Grand Daddy has an on-site restaurant, called Thirty Ate, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Stepping into the restaurant, decorated with its eye-catching bronze lamps, I was surprised that we had our pick of the whole breakfast menu (as opposed to two or three set options), along with juice and coffee. On the menu, there was everything from muesli to a full English breakfast. But since eggs benedict is easily my go-to breakfast choice, that’s what I went with, along with ordering the largest latte available.
I think I’ve been raving about that breakfast ever since, with the thick and rich hollandaise sauce being one of the best I’ve ever had and the eggs being perfectly poached.
Well rested, caffeinated and fed, The Grand Daddy experience ensured that we had everything we needed before continuing with our Cape Town sightseeing.
Who should stay at The Grand Daddy?
For me, staying at The Grand Daddy was a dream come true – and I finally got to tick off this hotel from my accommodation bucket list. But even if you’ve never heard of The Grand Daddy up until now, I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for accommodation that is simultaneously a celebration of all things Cape Town and different from any other hotel you could stay at in the city.
With its winning formula of a central location, high-quality rooms, excellent on-site facilities and just a touch of eccentricity, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at The Grand Daddy on my future Cape Town holidays. But next time, I’ll make sure that I get to stay in one of those trailers!
A word about water restrictions: Before you go, if you’re planning on travelling to Cape Town in the foreseeable future, I would urge you to read up about the water crisis in the Western Cape. Due to a drought, strict water restrictions are being applied, and, since locals are having to be extremely careful about water use, tourists should do everything they can to save water too, including when staying at hotels.
Do you also have an accommodation bucket list? Would you splash out on a trailer at The Grand Daddy? I’d love to hear from you – please comment below!
Note: Our stay at The Grand Daddy was complimentary in return for a review but, as always, all opinions and genuine nearly decade-long obsession with this hotel are entirely my own.
* Pin it for later: *