We started booking all of our South Africa travel when we were in Argentina and our budget was hemorrhaging. Since we had a great time staying in apartments for other parts of our stay, we decided that we would explore that option. It’s typically cheaper, so we began looking at Airbnb.
After a little bit of research we stumbled upon a really cute looking studio apartment. The price was right at only $30 a day and the fact that there was a kitchen would allow us to further keep our costs down. We decided to book it and a short while later, our request was accepted.
Throughout the time between when we booked the apartment and when we arrived, we were in contact with our host Lara who was extremely responsive. She let us know that she was not in town but her friend Matt would let us in. We agreed that I would send Matt a Whatsapp when we landed at the airport and we would meet at the apartment.
Since we don’t have data on our cellphones, we have to rely on wifi to use Whatsapp. While this is annoying, it is necessary since an international data plan would have been prohibitively expensive for long term travel. I assumed that there would be wifi at the Cape Town airport but was not able to connect to the extremely weak signal that I found. We figured that we would hop in a cab and figure out how to get in touch with Matt when we arrived.
When we arrived the guy at the front desk said it was an office building, not an apartment building. He said that many times people come there incorrectly and there are some scammers that use their address. I was worried for a few seconds then realized that Airbnb would refund my money fully and suspend the account if the person was listing an apartment which does not exist.
We popped over to a restaurant to connect to wifi where we were able to get in touch with our host. Turns out our apartment was next door to where we arrived. Our host contacted Matt and told us that he would arrive shortly. Her idea of shortly was a little different than ours since we had to wait for 30 minutes for him to show up. Once he arrived we got the run down of the apartment and were left the keys.
We were happy when the apartment doors opened that the place was clean and well decorated. It was a studio apartment so our bedroom was not separated from the rest of the apartment by a wall, but it was tucked away in a corner which made it feel more like a proper bedroom.
When I booked the apartment I did not notice that there was no air conditioning. Normally this would be less of an issue, but when we arrived in Cape Town there was a heat wave and drought caused by El Nino. This made getting sleep a little bit challenging, especially since there was no bed sheet, only a comforter within a duvet which was quite hot. Fortunately the bed and pillows were comfortable which helped us sleep better than we expected.
The bathroom was good, clean and functional. The shower had good water pressure and the water was always hot, our only complaint was that there was no shower curtain or door at the front of the shower. This always got the floor a little bit wet which was a little strange and required us to hang up the rug to dry after our showers.
By far our favorite perk was having our own washing machine in the apartment. While I know a lot of people would love to have their clothes sent out to be washed, we always found that our clothes were never as clean at home, the prices are quite high and everyone kept losing Andy’s socks and underwear!
We did several loads of laundry during our time there, basically washing everything that we could since we weren’t paying by the pound like we had been previously. I set the washer to do a long load which turned out to take 2.5 hours. The soap never fully washed out on the first wash so we did a quick wash afterwards which took another hour or so. While this seemed a little excessive, when the clothes came out they looked brand new. Pieces of clothing that we had just about given up on and were considering throwing out are back into the regular rotation in our wardrobe.
There was a drying rack in the apartment but we don’t prefer the feel of air dried clothes and opted to use the dryers that were in the building. For only 17R or $1 per load we were able to dry a load of laundry.
Even though the kitchen wasn’t very large, we absolutely loved having it. There were great grocery stores in Cape Town with tons of really good, inexpensive produce, something that we had not seen in Latin America and we were dying to eat. We cooked in more than we had thought we would, but were able to make some pretty great meals.
There was no traditional oven in the apartment, just a halogen oven which looked a little complex for us to figure out. Our biggest complaint was that the kitchen island was on wheels which did not lock. A couple of times during our stay we had to move the island back into place since it slowly kept moving further and further away.
The building had 24 hour security guards which was nice from a safety perspective but a little annoying for us. Since we weren’t residents and the owner of the apartment isn’t supposed to lease out the apartment for short term rentals, we had to explain that we were “staying with a friend” whenever we returned to the apartment. After each guard heard our story we didn’t have to explain it again, but there were quite a few different guards that worked in the building.
Like the building, our apartment itself was also very secure. In addition to our front door which had a deadbolt there was also a locked gate as well.
Our wifi at the apartment was not a traditional setup. We had a hotspot which was both good and bad.
It was good since we could take the hotspot with us around town and have wifi wherever we went. It was bad since the host had to pay by the amount of data used. We normally would have loaded all of our pictures to our Google drive but felt awkward about using that much data.
The location of our apartment was perfect. We were close to Long Street which is where all of the backpackers typically stay, not too far from Kloof Street, a nice area with lots of shops/restaurants and a 20 minute walk from the waterfront. It was easy to get wherever we needed to go pretty much by foot. The only time that we had to use the MyCiTi bus is when we headed up to Lion’s Head Mountain to hike one evening.
The neighborhood always felt safe and although there was some noise outside of our window, we expected that being in a centrally located part of town.
We had a really great time at our apartment in Cape Town and I believe it was part of the reason that we had such a great time in the city. We had our own space which was clean and comfortable, were centrally located and felt very secure.
When we return to Cape Town, which we have plans to at some point, we will probably stay in the same part of town and possibly even the same apartment.