From the outset, I must admit that this trip to South Africa was possible thanks to the Marriott Bonvoy points and the many hôtels de catégorie 1 of the country.
Yes, I was flying in business class with my Aeroplan miles but I still had to find lodging, which is often part of the big expenses of a trip, unless I was visiting family or friends, doing a home exchange or babysitting.
There are also youth hostels, but I haven’t been a taker for a long time now.
Five family members were part of this trip. And the budget was limited for everyone. We were looking for the right deal. And it was!
Objective 1: stay 11 days in or around Cape Town since my daughter’s work contract required it.
We opted for the hotel Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray:
- Because it was Category 1 and rated 4 stars. Really.
- Because let’s face it, this “Cape Dutch Manor” had a charming country air in addition to all the desired amenities.
- Because we were renting a minivan anyway, which would allow us to get around the city and elsewhere eight days out of eleven.
So without further ado, here’s my take on this good deal.
The Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray is located halfway between the airport and the center city of Cape Town. Exactly 10.9 km from the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and 13.5 km from CPT International Airport, which can be reached in 15 minutes by the nearby N2 motorway.
However, be careful not to join traffic coming in or going out of the city. We left after 9:30 and came back after 6:00.
At no time did we hear the rumour of passing cars on the highways surrounding the hotel, but we did hear the rumour of crickets in the evening.
And we thought we were in the country!
General information about the hotel
The building’s got a “face.”
It has kept its 1880s charm although the rooms have been updated. This is particularly noticeable with bathrooms.
Its architecture is clearly Dutch-influenced. It offers 70 rooms, all with kitchenette, equipped with a microwave, and a mini-fridge.
All of it:
- 46 standard rooms
- 12 suites with king bed and lounge,
- 6 suites with two bedrooms: king bed, then queen bed or two single beds. Each room has its own bathroom, one with shower, the other with bath and of course, lounge and kitchenette.
- Finally 6 “barn lofts” whose bedroom with the double bed is on the mezzanine.
There is no elevator but the building has only two floors.
There is secure parking for 30 ZAR per night but it was offered to us for free.
In the city, it will also be easy to park: let people with yellow bibs tell you where to park in exchange for a few ZAR or park cheaply in covered areas.
Around the hotel
The driveway to the hotel, passing in front of the observatory, is lined with a few palm trees and a park where people walk their dogs.
We had a wonderful view of the Table Mountain. The neighborhood is safe. We went shopping with the concierge’s transportation service and felt comfortable at all times.
We have inherited a two-bedroom suite and a standard room, as well as all free breakfasts for three out of five people. With Marriott Bonvoy Gold status!
See at the end of the text for the short story.
Bottles of filtered cold water were offered to us at will in the rooms as well as coffee, teas and herbal teas.
There’s a safe we haven’t used. Same for the flat screen TV we didn’t open. But they’re here.
The hotel services
Lunches are taken in the dining room nicely decorated with paintings and objects recalling the history of the manor.
In fact all the interior design of the main building where the reception, the lounge, the conference room and the dining room is period.
Lunch consists of a cold buffet with juice, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, muffins, pastries and a small hot buffet with cold meats, cheese, fish dishes, sausages, bacon, baked beans and various breads.
A cook will then serve you the eggs according to your preferences. The waiter brings you coffee. And all for about ZAR 17.
We enjoyed starting our days there.
However, little variation in dishes from one day to the next and the generous use of palm oil for cooking the eggs slowed our ardour.
It is the only meal served at the hotel but we have repeatedly taken advantage of the restaurant: the Wild Fig 200 meters from the hotel for dinners because excellent, cheap, varied with excellent South African wines and local beers.
In addition, you could charge the expense to the hotel bill and get room service. Well yes, for extra points!
A small swimming pool and a dozen deckchairs allowed us to relax and refresh ourselves.
Enclosed in the hotel grounds, a large green area with tables and chairs in the shade to rest, some sofas with cushions inviting to relax and tables with umbrellas for those who wanted to have lunch there. Nothing fancy but nice.
A beautiful tree provides shade in the parking lot.
We used the concierge service for transportation to the grocery store and into town when two of the family members required the minivan for three days.
Although the prices were acceptable and we felt safe, we believe that UBER would have done better. Our meeting with a Milesopédien who used the service convinced us.
The hotel offers a laundry service that we did not use.
The staff is smiling, courteous and eager to be of service.
However, this is South Africa time and the “Yes Madam, I bring it to you” may be forgotten or postponed. Then you have to ask again or go get it yourself.
We did not take any offence at all given all the other benefits and services provided during those 11 days.
Now, for the record.
We had booked three rooms and I specified that I wanted mine on the ground floor.
The day before our arrival, I received an email from the manager asking me if I would accept a two bedroom suite on the ground floor with family members because the one I had booked had water damage.
Moreover, the hotel finds itself in a situation of “surbooking” and asks for my collaboration, which I answer that I want to do but discuss it on the spot.
Once we arrive, the room visit is quite convenient and the manager to offer us to deduct the points from one room since we end up with one suite instead of two single rooms.
Instead, I ask that we be offered free lunches for the three occupants of the suite for the duration of our stay (11 days).
The gentleman discusses with his director who accepts the proposal, in addition to maintaining the reimbursement of the 65,000 points of one of the rooms and offering us free parking. Let’s just say we were thrilled.
Then it’s time to leave. We misunderstood each other. I cancelled my room (the points came back to me) and the hotel cancelled my cousin and sister’s reservation. Their points also went to them. The hotel confirms that everything is in order. Well!
Believe it or not. This 11-night stay, which initially cost only 65,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per room as a two-night stay free of charge, turned out to be completely free for three of us. Lunch and parking included.
What’s the final word on this hotel? I let you conclude 🙂