You’d be forgiven for thinking that the tourism industry downs tools a bit as we head into the rainy months. But the fact of the matter is that Cape Town enjoys an almost year-round boom as internationals keep flocking to our pretty peninsula.
Historical green spaces within the city are being restored as food gardens and urban farms.
Food markets are becoming big business for many people – and a great way to eat out affordably while having fun and often being entertained as well.
About R16.2 billion worth of investment in property has been committed to the central city since 2012, according to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).
If you take sufficient precautionary measures, motorcycling as a commute alternative can lead to massive savings and less time caught in congestion.
The ongoing decline of Cape Town’s rail service receives insufficient attention on the part of the institutions mandated to oversee it. It is also a case study in how the crisis in national state-owned enterprises is impacting on a city.
The corner of Adderley and Strand Street is held to be one of the worst examples of 1970s town planning, featuring buildings with blank facades and roadways built for vehicles which completely excluded pedestrian walkways. Instead, people were forced underground into a concourse linking the railway station, St George’s Street, the Golden Acre and Adderley Street, while cars raced above.
According to heritage specialist Bridget O’Donoghue, two centuries earlier this corner was only one urban block from the beach and the clear skies above the small settlement were the site of pioneering astronomical observations and research.
In 1751, Nicolas de la Caille set up an observatory in the rear courtyard of a private house and measured the positions and graded the brightness of nearly 10 000 southern stars, primarily as an aid to navigation. This led to the definitions of the southern constellations used to this day. La Caille also measured the distance between the earth and the moon, Mars and other planets; recorded the daily weather and tides; fixed the longitude of Cape Town and measured the height of Table Mountain.
“The developer’s vision is to create a landmark feature”
All of this is long buried underneath concrete and tar, but recognition could yet be given to this early astronomical work within a new skyscraper, Zero2One Tower, which is being developed by FWJK Developments on the intersection, across from the Cape Town railway station. Despite its current depressing state, the intersection is an important one, acting as a gateway to the historic heart of the city, and the “symbolic centre of the city”.
The developer’s vision is to create a “landmark feature” – a mixed-use residential building that takes up the whole city block with a range of housing options for various income groups. The tower will “contribute to the making of an active, vibrant and safe public environment”. It also promotes the use of bicycles, walking and public transport as the primary mode of access for residents.
In a report for Heritage Western Cape, it is recommended that the concourse access points should be closed, and that pedestrian walkways should be provided through and around the new building. There should also be public access to commercial and retail facilities on the first few floors, as well as on the upper floors which could have a hotel or viewing deck for the spectacular views from the 140- metre height.
The report says the building should be approved, because it will reinforce the special prominent location and is in line with the City of Cape Town’s Tall Buildings Policy. It would be situated within an established cluster of tall buildings, which in turn will provide a “visually coherent skyline”.
Looking ahead to a day – far from the 1970s, when the car was king – to a new mobility future, the heritage report also advises that on-site parking be kept to a minimum and is designed for possible conversion into habitable spaces.
Finally, Heritage Western Cape recommends that there should be some form of interpretive centre or area that recognises the astronomical achievements that took place in the small courtyard on the site during the late 18th century. In this way, Cape Town could gain not only an “iconic” building for the future, but also greater exposure for a little-known pioneer of science from the city’s past.
One of Cape Town’s oldest neighbourhoods is also one of its trendiest, and home to a flourishing art and design scene.
Woodstock has undergone major changes from a seaside fishing town with its own beach in the 1800s to a mixed-race, working class industrial neighbourhood that survived the forced removals of apartheid, to one of the city’s hippest spots for food, fashion, art and design. The area offers a unique blend of community life and inner city living with corner cafes and second-hand furniture shops alongside pockets of hipsterdom. World-renowned restaurants, artisanal coffee shops, street art, design studios and art galleries are scattered throughout the area – many in revamped buildings now repurposed after the decline of the area’s once-thriving textile industry.
Situated in a heritage building that was once a bank, Stardust offers theatrical dining at its finest and serves as a launchpad for many an aspiring singer’s career. Singing waiters and quirky design elements, such as an upside down piano hanging from the roof, add to the occasion and furniture is reinforced to encourage patrons to dance on the tables.
Tucked away in the Buchanan Square business park, this restaurant with its relaxed atmosphere serves casual Italian food, tapas and craft beer and offers a welcome respite from the buzz of activity (and traffic) on Sir Lowry Road below. Its comfortable, covered deck area is perfect for lounging.
This busy, energetic family-friendly café is famous for its delicious range of more than 20 salads, light lunches and great coffee. It’s a small room with limited seating, but attracts a dedicated following of locals and visitors from around the globe, most notably Michelle Obama.
Palms Centre and Market
A decorator’s dream, this home improvement shopping centre offers exclusive furniture and décor, including fabrics, linen and upholstery, and is also home to the SMAC art gallery. The centre hosts a Saturday market from 09:00 to 14:00, with more than 40 food traders — free entry, free parking and occasional live music. You can also visit Riot upstairs for your fix of local craft beer.
The Animation School
This award-winning, specialist animation training school offers a three-year fulltime diploma, producing creative talent to compete with the best in the field globally.
A collection of three once-derelict buildings offering small, affordable studio space, free WiFi and shared office services for creatives. It also includes a residency programme for artists, providing them with accommodation (including a pinball machine) and studio space in exchange for selected pieces of artwork.
New Brighton Bakery
Enjoy the aroma of fresh coffee and good eats at this hidden cafe, bearing Woodstock's former colonial name, with a relaxed atmosphere in the company of books, African art and plants.
As the heart of the city's design district there are a number of art galleries in the area promoting works by local, international, emerging and established artists. Don't miss: Goodman Gallery, Stevenson Gallery, Whatiftheworld, Artitis and Blank projects.
A hidden gem, this quirky bookshop specialises in art, design and photography oriented collections of new and classic books.
New on the block, Hollywood Costumes offers costumes and props for the film industry but is also geared to serve locals heading to their next fancy dress party. A wide range of costumes and party accessories are available for rent or for sale, and the shop also includes a specialist steampunk section.
A space to make things, this building rents out space, tools and expertise to help DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists and designers with their projects. It includes a metal shop with welding and finishing tools, a small forge and foundry, as well as a woodworking shop and an engineering workshop.
A once seedy hotel, this restored pink building with a permanent doorman in bowler hat and waistcoat, offers a quirky, sophisticated selection of décor, furniture and art aimed at the fashion-conscious in search of a personalised boutique experience.
Once an industrial space, this building is now a modern, creative hub and home to designer shops and creative services; artisanal coffee shops and eateries; the SAE Institute offering studies in animation, film making and sound production; as well as small business incubator the Bandwidth Barn. You can also start your GPS-based street art audio tour of Woodstock here using the Voicemap app for smartphones.
The Woodstock Foundry
A former cast metal foundry, this building houses a small but eclectic mix of retail offerings that double up as studio and workshop spaces. With a small courtyard featuring cobblestones, bricks and plants, you can find high-end furniture, designer jewellery, a botanical florist, Tribe coffee, a hip hair salon or nachos and margaritas at the Fat Cactus. It’s also home to SmartArt, who specialise in converting any image into a striking, vinyl wallpaper creation at an affordable price.
The Beer Merchant
These are your go-to guys for local craft beer (bottled or on tap), brewing equipment, beer-making courses and a tasting experience dubbed “College of Beer”. If you can’t find your favourite local (or international) brew at the local bottle store, in all likelihood you’ll need to look no further than Beer Merchant.
Woodstock Grill and Tap
This speciality steakhouse not only offers a mouthwatering variety of free-range and grain-fed beef, sourced from farms around the country, but is also home to Woodstock Brewery – so you can pair your food with a beer that’s brewed as locally as it gets.
This trendy boutique shopping mall features quality craft and interior design shops, an eco-friendly furniture shop and a small book shop. Occasional food trucks pop up in the courtyard over the weekends.
Old Biscuit Mill
The Old Biscuit Mill is a magnet for throngs of trendy locals and hungry tourists who descend on the bustling Neighbourgoods food market on Saturdays. It also includes local designer boutiques, antique shops, galleries and some of the best restaurants in the world, including the tapas-style Pot Luck Club with its glass windows and panoramic views of the city. The latest addition is the Virtual Reality Arcade offering immersive gaming and entertainment. Arriving by cab or public transport is recommended on Saturday mornings when parking is in short supply.
As the central city becomes a more attractive place to live and work, what happens when your prized Pomeranian is left alone during the day? Perhaps a pair of Jimmy Choos get chewed on by the Chihuahua, droppings are left in non-demarcated zones by the Dachsund, or the Weimaraner wails in despair.
Owners and pets at their wits end need fret no more as @Frits dog hotel and day-care centre in Buitengracht Street is up to the task of keeping your four-legged companion fit, fed and appropriately socialised as the toils of a nine-to-five day keep you from each other.
While doggy day-care centres are trending all over the world, @Frits is the first five-star establishment of its type in Cape Town, even boasting a hotel that operates around the clock.
There are three main types of accommodation offered to suit different clientele. First up are the dormitory-style multi-dog lodgings, then the creatively named “Sweetie Paw”, “Pupeye the Sailor” and “Jurassic Bark” and “K9 Nkandla” deluxe quarters and the “Dogald Trump” and “Hollywood Room” platinum suites. They range from R250 to R500 a night.
According to co-owner Yanic Klue, dogs that are booked in for the first time are carefully screened to ensure that the “right sizes, temperaments and energies are grouped together” for play in the dog bar. Access to this area is strictly for @Frits employees only but as transparency is one of the cornerstones of the business, there are webcams situated around the premises so owners can keep an eye on their pets via remote access after check-in.
There’s a store packed with canine couture, an on-site kitchen offering a variety of food options to cater for each guest’s specific nutritional needs, as well as a spa and salon that offers wash and brush packages, nail trimming, dental and ear cleaning. There are outings, too. On a daily basis a taxi takes small groups and handlers to nearby Green Point Park for walks and frolicks on the grass, while the hours between midday and 15:00 are set aside for siesta — with calming classical background music to encourage nap time. Males and females share the space, but males that aren’t neutered won’t be accepted as guests as well as females who are on heat.
“There are so many owners who need overnight accommodation for their dogs, such as tourists booked into nearby hotels. So they collect in the morning and spend the day together, while daycare also caters to those jetsetters who fly to another city on a red-eye flight and return home that evening,” says Klue.
Evening care, from 18:00 to midnight, is another popular option, catering for those owners who are fond of going out for a night on the town.
@Frits can accommodate 100 dogs a day, though that usually includes CEO and co-owner, Klue’s Irish terrier, who welcomes visitors and guests alike at the door and can be found on almost all the boutique’s marketing and branding material. He also models the line of dog clothing made exclusively for @Frits by an academy of local seamstresses.
With so many hounds having a run of the premises, hygiene is of the utmost importance. With this in mind, the entire facility is cleaned three times a day with a veterinary disinfectant to actively combat potentially harmful bacteria, fungi, spore and viruses. New guests are also required to produce proof of vaccination against Kennel Cough and Rabies.
There are plenty of package options and services available at @Frits, and they’re also looking to franchise into the Western Cape. Contact them on 021 422 2175 or visit their website www.atfritsdoghotel.com.
As traffic gridlock and lengthening peak hours contribute to Cape Town’s worsening congestion rank, business leadership organisation Accelerate Cape Town believes an answer lies in the use of a rideshare application called uGoMyWay.