It seems hard to believe that it was as far back as 2019 that I booked flights to Cape Town which would be my first visit to South Africa – so long ago I barely remember booking it! The countless rebookings thanks to a certain disruptive virus (!) meant that no less than three years later I was touching down on the southernmost tip of Africa, ready to explore this biodiverse country known for its wildlife safaris, winelands, and lush scenery comprising coast, mountains, forest, lagoons and more. Such a lengthy wait certainly made it feel all the more exciting to be there, and we were greeted with a sweeping aerial view of the iconic Table Mountain in clear sky conditions coming in to land – what felt like a fitting way to kick off proceedings.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, our starting point for the trip was the famous port city of Cape Town, one of the three capital cities of South Africa, We had been looking forward to staying at one of the most historic hotels in the city in the heart of the CBD, the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel. A true urban experience, you really are right in the heart of the city here, and the exterior is certainly striking on approach, its historic facade on Long Street contrasting with the lofty skyscrapers of central CBD. This is a well-known heritage building in the city, operating for over 120 years already a prestigious address and landmark, so it’s unsurprisng that the staff who greet you on arrival have a big smile on their faces and a warm welcome.
As well as having hotel rooms all decorated with local design and flair, the ‘unusual’ area of the hotel is arguably its rooftop, which is home to a designer rooftop airstream trailer park. After checking in with the friendly team, we took the vintage lift (which has been hard at work serving the city for well over over 100 years) to the top floor where our chic airstream was waiting for us to arrive! We “may” have got a bit sidelined by the Sky Bar on our way and their bright inviting cocktails.. It was too easy to get stuck at the bar – such a great spot in the city with views out to Table Mountain and the city skyline, sky bars always offer such a unique vantage point and particular ‘vibe’ that is hard to emulate.
Cocktail finished, we headed to ‘Rooftop Safari’ our designated trailer. Each of the seven airstreams has its own original stamp and themed decor chosen by a different designer, reflecting the South African experience and a road trip in the country Hence the names Rooftop Safari, Cape Winelands, Beach House, Gold Rush, Karoo Drops, Bloomin Daisies and City Flights. We were fortunate enough to be able to inspect five of the seven trailers in total and we agreed it was so difficult to choose a favourite – each had been styled to such a high level and with its own identity that they were equally appealing! Some also came with different features – eg the outdoor bathroom at Beach House, and our quirky outdoor shower cabin at Rooftop Safari.
Inside the airstream, we found all the facilities you’d expect to find in a boutique hotel – think tea and coffee facilities, mini-bar, high speed WiFi, luxury linen and bedding, the most comfortable bed and mattress (ours was a queen bed so very roomy!), satellite TV, air-conditioning and full en-suite bathroom Those thinking you’d have to skip some comforts being in a converted airstream should think again! This was about as comfortable as it gets and proved to be one of the best night’s sleeps we had during our two week trip in South Africa.
The communal space of the rooftop was very relaxing, with sofa spaces and a large cinema screen which is used to screen films/TV, some bar tables and chairs, good nomadic working zones (tried and tested by yours truly!), with excellent Wi-Fi should you wish to stay connected on the road. After a bit of email clearing, we thought we’d go off and explore the area a bit, we were in one of the most talked about cities in the world, after all!
Cape Town and its surrounds have so much to offer and explore, that it makes summarising quite difficult. However our highlights were definitely visiting the penguin colony in Boulders Beach, where you can get up close and personal with these cute creatures, plus the hiking in and around Cape Town, which we loved. Lion’s Head was probably our favourite, with panoramic views over different points of the city, from Table Mountain to Camps Bay, as you slowly wind your way up to the top of the mountain, with a vertiginous ending! Closer to the hotel, we really enjoyed the lively Bo-Kaap area, with its trendy coffee shops, art galleries and brightly coloured houses, making for perfectly vibrant postcard-style photos, and all accessible in just a quick sub-10 minute walk from the hotel.
Back at the Grand Daddy after an actioned-packed day of exploring, we headed to the hotel’s very own Trailer 38 cafe for dinner, whose burgers and margaritas did not disappoint these hungry and thirsty souls. So much so we were back there for breakfast and they had the best coffee we’d had so far in Cape Town (a top requirement for these caffeine addicts!). We also loved the funky copper Tom Dixon pendant lights and diner-style decor of the cafe, and, judging by its popularity, this is a popular morning spot in the city.
Checking out of Grand Daddy, we reflected on our stay which we agreed had been the most exciting, undeniably quirky stop yet, and one we wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Speaking to the team, they are set to make some interesting further updates to the rooftop this year, so it’s set to get even better. Even more reason to plan a return visit – and we’d highly recommend to anyone that they make it their chosen home from home in exciting Cape Town!
Author: Alex Wilson | Host Unusual Co-Founder/Director