Urban Escapes

Cities don’t always spring to mind when thinking of holidays, yet many are worth more than a passing glance on a stopover en-route to your main destination. Stay a little longer and dig a little deeper: you may be surprised by what you find! Here are a few examples.

Cape Town

WHY go:

Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with its stunning ocean-side setting and the towering form of Table Mountain. For all its obvious attractions (sandy beaches, chic boutiques, trendy art galleries, happening V&A Waterfront scene), there are other sides to this city, no less interesting. Learn about life as a 19th Cape Malay at the Bo-Kaap Museum, or take a tour of a present day township, for a humbling yet uplifting look at life surviving amidst poverty and hardship.


WHERE to stay:

Cape Town has everything from high luxury hotels to humble guest houses, and we have some pet likes. Stay close to the action at the Cape Grace Hotel on the famous waterfront, a prestigious address that this elegant hotel with its award-winning restaurant more than lives up to. Alternatively, Four Rosmead is a small boutique guest house with that happy blend of style and homeliness, in a pleasant residential suburb on the slopes of Table Mountain.



WHY go:

For all its proximity to Europe, Marrakech  feels a world away. Snake charmers, story tellers, drummers, be-robed water sellers and the pungent aroma of spices are all on display each evening in the city’s main square, the Djemmaa el Fna. Sitting at one of the cafes is like watching a theatrical performance. Nearby are the thronging alleys and souks, where you can mingle with locals, and unexpectedly secluded patios and tranquil gardens.


WHERE to stay:

Marrakech is blessed with dozens of riads, traditional houses built around inner courtyards, many of which are now hotels. Among our favourites is La Sultana , within the walls of the medina. It is filled with original architectural features and contemporary amenities such as a swimming pool, spa, gym, boutique and free Wi-Fi. There’s a superb roof terrace high above the buzzing streets, just the place to unwind, enjoy a bite to eat and take in views of city and Atlas Mountains.



WHY go:

For a full-out assault on your senses, the Indian capital is hard to beat. The sights, sounds, smells and flavours are all around you as soon as you emerge from your hotel. Delhi provides history a-plenty, too. According to legend, the city known as New Delhi is the 7th on the site, and the many fine buildings and monuments throughout the city bear testament to this rich past.


WHERE to stay:

At Aashiyan Bed and Breakfast  you’ll feel like a family guest, receiving a warm welcome from Kiran and JP, not to mention Cuddles the dog! Their family home has 2 en-suite bedrooms for visitors and is in a quiet residential part of the city with a lovely little garden. Just a few minutes’ walk from a metro station, it’s easy for sightseeing, too. What’s more, Kiran will be pleased to prepare a delicious traditional dinner at your request – recommended!


Rio de Janeiro

WHY go:

Rio’s reputation as a party city is well justified, with a lively music and dance scene, vibrant beach life and an infectious sense that life is to be lived to the full. There’s an undeniable pulse in Rio, and you can’t help but feel it. Sample tasty local dishes, sip a lip-tingling caipirinha, watch locals playing volleyball and surfing, and listen to the pulsating samba beat. A visit to Rio is a life-affirming experience.

Cristo - Brazil

WHERE to stay:

If money’s no object you can stay right by the beach at the iconic Copocabana Palace which has been welcoming Rio’s elite guests since 1923. If you prefer to stay a little further from the action, you can still live it up in style at Hotel Santa Teresa, a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux collection. It’s set in the bohemian district of the same name, high above the city, and has pretty gardens, a lovely pool, excellent spa and a renowned restaurant. With a choice of bars and restaurants in the area, you’re still very much in Rio!


Mozambique Island

WHY go:

Tiny Mozambique Island  may not at first glance appear to merit city billing, but prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the late 15th century this was a strategic Arab port and trading hub, and went on to become the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa. The island boasts an impressive 16th fort, and a chapel dating from 1522, reputed to be the oldest European building in the Southern Hemisphere, among its many historic attractions. Little surprise, then, that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


WHERE to stay:

You can’t better Terraco das Quitandas  for sheer style and ambience. Built 300 years ago this town house has been the home of prominent traders, merchants and businessmen over the centuries. With its arched doorways, flagstone floors and whitewashed walls it has a distinctly Arabic air. The hotel is filled with an eclectic mix of artworks and antiques, making it one of the most atmospheric places you’ll ever stay. After a walking tour of the old town, return to the quiet of the courtyard or soak up some sun on the roof terrace, also a great place to watch the sunset.


I hope that gives you an inkling of what cities can offer and we’ll happily help you plan your next urban escape.