Last year the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a standstill, but with careful planning and total confidence in your hotel, those with wanderlust are still travelling…
After nine months of living in the UK with pandemic restrictions and knowing that I wouldn’t get much winter sunshine, I was eager to travel to a place where I could unwind, bask in the sunshine and just feel warm again. South Africa seemed the ideal place, to do just that! With beautiful countryside and a rich culture, this country should be added to everyone’s list. South Africa has superb weather, very affordable prices, gorgeous beaches, amazing wildlife, delicious food and wine plus breathtaking scenery everywhere you go.
Whether you want to meet interesting people, enjoy hiking, go horseback riding, join a safari, laze on the beach or indulge your “foodie” side, this country has everything you need – and more.
Choose the top luxury hotel in South Africa
When we started looking for a hotel in Capetown, POD Camps Bay Boutique Hotel immediately caught my eye. Along with being fans of modern boutique hotels, we were drawn to this hotel, when we read the online ratings. It was voted Top Luxury hotel in South Africa in 2019 and the Travellers’ Choice Winner on Tripadvisor in 2020.
The hotel is affectionately known as ‘POD Camps Bay’ and is situated in Camps Bay, which is known as ‘the French Riviera of Cape Town’. From POD Camps Bay, you’re within walking distance of the most important sites in Camps Bay, including the immaculate Camps Bay strip, renowned for its beaches, gastronomy, nightlife, and beautiful people.
With sweeping panoramic views of the amazing sunset from the bar and its stunning infinity pool, coupled with easy access to the city centre (just off the main street in Camps Bay), this stylish boutique hotel, with just 17 rooms, is perfect and staying there will always be one of my most memorable experiences…
Stunning rooftop views
We arrived at the hotel late in the evening. As soon as we walked into this stylish hotel, we were able to watch the sun as it sank over the ocean from the bar and pool terrace. We noticed, others taking a leisurely stroll along the seashore, simply enjoying the moment. My initial thought was: can this be real or am I dreaming? The answer is definitely YES! It’s a stylish hotel in a beautiful location and more reasonably priced than you might expect!
We were given a glass of champagne to enjoy, whilst we checked-in and our bags were effortlessly whisked away to our luxury room…no wonder this hotel is popular with celebs!
A stunning home away from home
Our guest room was located on the ground floor. With 45m², it was wonderfully spacious and individually styled, incorporating plenty of natural wood as a design feature – including tree stumps as bedside tables!. There was a sumptuous king size bed and comfortable sitting area – which would prove perfect for resting our poor tired feet after a day out exploring!
There was also a flat-screen satellite TV, DVD player and Bluetooth speaker. Our luxurious room had tea and coffee making facilities and a mini bar and was kept well-stocked with drinking water and snacks for leisurely moments- and all of these were included in the room rate. The elegant open plan en suite bathroom was styled in black and white and featured a fantastic walk-in rain shower.
Outside the huge sliding picture windows, was our private terrace with large day bed and gorgeous heated plunge pool. We enjoyed partial sea and mountain views- with sweeping views of the coastal hills, stunning mountains, and the traditional white roofs of the buildings in Camps Bay.
Staff are well aware of concerns about the pandemic and go to every effort at POD Camps Bay Boutique Hotel to thoroughly sanitise guest rooms. I have to admit that our apartment in London never achieves the same high level of cleanliness that the rooms at POD Camps Bay do.
Instagram-worthy breakfast in Capetown
With a limited choice of restaurants because of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to plan your meals. Of all hotels I stayed in during the pandemic, only one offered complimentary room service, and yes, it was POD Camps Bay!
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The breakfast was beautifully prepared, and presented for us to enjoy in our room. There were poached eggs on toast, fresh orange juice and some local berries and these were the perfect zingy start to the day.
Pro-tip for my South African readers: When the world opens up, it’s the picture-perfect place for a romantic getaway, a girls’ night out, or just a solo recharge.
So much on your doorstep
The cosy intimate world of POD Camps Bay Boutique Hotel, is just 50 metres from the sandy beach and not much further from a colourful collection of trendy restaurants and bars. Greenpoint Park and the Biodiversity Garden are equally close and if you enjoy horseback riding, so are the Mountain Views Horse Trails.
POD Camps Bay lies just 2.6 km from Table Mountain and is within an easy drive of the historic town centre and the popular Victoria & Alfred waterfront. In town there are excellent fine dining opportunities and what we liked was the fact that fresh, local produce features prominently on the menus. If you are a wine aficionado, the wine farms of Stellenbosch and Robben Island are within easy reach.
COVID-19: POD Camps response
First and foremost, this hotel re-opened right after the first lockdown in South Africa and closely followed the advice given from the World Health Organization (WHO) and guidelines from local health departments. We felt that the staff – who refer to themselves as ‘the family’- took extra precautions to ensure health and safety were always top priority. We saw staff cleaning at all hours, always maintaining appropriate social distancing and wearing masks. This made us feel very safe while we were there.
It was clear that the hotel’s number one priority is the health and well-being of both its guests and members of ‘the family’- which we really appreciated. Once, I forgot to wear my mask while walking around the hotel (I had actually lost my mask). I was pleased and relieved to learn that POD Camps Bay provides an amenity kit that includes antibacterial wipes and a mask if needed.
Additionally, during our visit, there were very few, if any, people in many of the common areas, and we rarely passed anyone in the corridors. The hotel is COVID-safe for one more important reason: it has plenty of open-air spaces for guests to enjoy, including the pool terrace overlooking the ocean, the cocktail bar, and lap pool.
Our stay at POD Camps Bay was mid-week, which made us feel as if the entire hotel and all of its spacious common areas were just for us! We spent most of our time on the terrace simply admiring the view, over a glass of wine and some complimentary snacks.
Above and beyond luxury…
Honestly, I can not praise the incredibly attentive, and personable staff in POD Camps Bay enough. They always made us feel that nothing we requested was too much trouble. Every time we walked past the reception desk, one of the receptionists was there offering us drinking water (or, in my case, litres of coffee) and asking how our day was going. They would offer assistance with choosing restaurants or shops and had great tips for how best to get around Cape Town and anything else we needed.
Everyone who works in POD Camps Bay Boutique Hotel is up-to-date with all cultural, travel, and hospitality trends. I remember having an enlightening discussion with one receptionist about the most trendy and insta-worthy places in Cape Town!
Celebrate in style
We visited South Africa for Christmas and were delighted to see an incredible, twinkling Christmas tree right in the middle of the hotel lobby. The real excitement for us, was to be in such a stunning place, that strikes the perfect balance between relaxation and refinement and this felt almost surreal in the middle of a pandemic.
Luckily, we had managed to escape the four walls of our house, where we have spent endless hours over the recent months. Even for a moment, I could not imagine the alternative, of being locked up in our apartment in London and not being able to meet anyone and go anywhere. Clearly, other guests felt the same, because POD Camps Bay had put together four dedicated packages for travellers. POD Camps Bay is the perfect choice for anniversaries, birthdays, a group of friends – whatever!
As a travel journalist who primarily specialises in hotel reviews, my lifetime has involved making frequent hotel visits. I have to admit though, that the travel landscape has changed dramatically. The global pandemic has made even the thought of leaving our own home unnerving.
As knowledge about the virus has grown, hotels around the world have invested heavily in revamping and enhancing their health and sanitising procedures. The outcome? A new kind of hotel experience that will enable guests to feel safe and to enjoy their stay.
Obviously, spa and gym facilities are likely to remain closed, and one is more than likely not to have a valet, but nevertheless, you’ll still be able to really enjoy your stay. We were lucky with the choice of the hotel, because POD’s facilities such as breakfast areas, mobile spa therapists and gym remain open, so that we could fully enjoy the hotel experience.
Since the beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic, I have stayed in hotels, with my partner, in both the UK and South Africa, with great success. That said, many things were done to make each and every stay as safe as possible.
The ‘hotel experience’ is very different these days. Somehow, though, if you are longing for a change of scenery, as I always do, I have found that it is definitely still worth adapting to the changing requirements. We’ve all been through many challenges in these unprecedented times. Keep up with current travel requirements as these will keep changing and be flexible with your travel dates. As long as we are all careful and smart, everyone can still have the chance to explore our wonderful world.
P.S. Please always wear a face mask and take plenty with you.
P.P.S. When we were in South Africa, we passed some of the other hotels in the area that we had considered and were so happy that we chose POD because it is all you imagine – and more! If you’re interested in booking this hotel, check it out right here!
Don’t be shy to follow your dreams!
Your Darya Yakovleva