The Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town
Did you know?
The late John Lennon once stayed at the Mount Nelson Hotel under the name of ‘Greenwood’.
The Mount Nelson Hotel, the grand dame of South Africa’s hospitality industry, was officially opened on 6 March 1899.
All of Cape Town was abuzz, as moguls and magnates, princes and politicians gathered to celebrate the latest acquisition of shipping king Sir Donald Currie.
Word quickly spread around the world that South Africa’s Mother City had a new hotel that rivalled anything London could offer at the time.
Currie launched the Mount Nelson Hotel (affectionately dubbed ‘The Nellie’ by guests over the decades) a scant 8 months before the 1st shots of the South African War (also known as Anglo-Boer War) were fired.
Within the year, this historic South African hotel, set in the stately Oudtshoorn Gardens, was packed to its elegant rafters with wealthy guests who had fled the goldfields of the Transvaal and the diamond mines of Kimberley.
They were shortly followed by British war lords like Lord Kitchener, Lord Roberts and General Sir Redvers Buller, and military scribes like Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling.
After World War I ended in 1918, the Mount Nelson celebrated by painting itself pink – a colour that has become part of its tradition.
But the legends of ‘The Nellie’ are not confined to wartime.
Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson, which is still a firm fixture today, was always on a world traveller’s ‘bucket list’.
The old grandfather clock in the tea lounge had such a loud midnight gong that, it is said, you could hear it from down at the docks. An upset guest nailed the chimes fast, thus keeping the pesky clock quiet for more than 20 years until it was repaired.
It chimes a little softer these days.
The imposing hotel entrance was built in honour of the state visit of the Prince of Wales in 1925.
The hotel, it seems, has been on a near-constant expansion programme since its inception. Historic buildings and sets of new rooms have been added to the hotel complex, as was the 1st heated swimming pool in Africa.
Staying at the Mount Nelson Hotel these days, you experience a mix of history and modern facilities, like a gym, a spa, a selection of top-class communications services and a choice of formal or more al fresco dinner settings.
And there’s always a good chance you’ll run into someone really famous in the champagne bar...
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Who to contact
Mount Nelson Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)21 483 1000