Take pampering to the next level at these 3 top Cape Town spas

You don’t have to get out of Cape Town to say goodbye to city stresses. These top-end spas, all located at equally luxurious hotels, provide an oasis of calm in the midst of a bustling metropolis.

1. Librisa Spa

It’s not surprising that the first hotel in Cape Town to offer hot and cold running water — the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel — also boasts one of the city’s best spas. In keeping with the style of this grand hotel, the Librisa Spa, which occupies three late-Victorian buildings, embraces understated opulence with its muted velvets and sparkling chandeliers. Because the spa focuses on natural ingredients, it uses the Kalahari and Africology skincare ranges.

In addition to a Finnish sauna, steam bath and plunge pool, the spa also features a tranquil conservatory where you can sip on herbal teas after your treatment. An unexpected perk for parents is the fully supervised children’s club, where kids are kept entertained while their parents are pampered.

2. One&Only Spa

Taking the notion of getting-away-from-it-all to the next level, the One&Only has positioned its spa on a lush island in the middle of the hotel’s palm-lined grounds. The spa island comes with 12 treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, a fitness centre, sauna and steam facilities, an ice fountain, and two vitality pools. Treatments, which incorporate African influences, are grouped around three themes: unwind, restore and elevate. The relaxation suite, which comes stocked with nutritious snacks, dried fruit, smoothies and herbal teas, makes it easy to buy into the island fantasy.

3. The Heavenly Spa

Set on the 19th floor of The Westin hotel in Cape Town, the Heavenly Spa offers panoramic views of the city and ocean. In addition to 13 treatment rooms, the spa also boasts a Sea of Dreams sleep room, which has four heated cocoon-style waterbeds. If travelling has you feeling sluggish, the Jet Lag body treatment will get you back on track. For something a little more local, opt for the African Breeze spa package, which incorporates traditional massage techniques and wooden massage sticks, as well as marula oil blended with African shea butter.

This bustling market serves up fresh bounty from the Oranjezicht City Farm

With city farming on the rise, the Oranjezicht City Farm and its popular Saturday market is at the cutting edge of sustainable produce in Cape Town.

Set high on the mountain slopes above the centre of Cape Town, the Oranjezicht City Farm transformed a derelict sportsfield into a bountiful urban farm, revitalising urban space and providing employment.

When red tape got in the way of their successful produce market, locals breathed a sigh of relief when new premises were found alongside the V&A Waterfront shopping precinct.

So although the Oranjezicht Farmers’ Market is no longer located at the farm that inspired it, you can expect the same ethos throughout this scenic seaside market. The market takes place every Saturday from 09h00 to 14h00 and offers a wonderful mix of food to take home and dishes to enjoy on site.

Local artisanal produce reigns supreme here, with fresh vegetables from the farm, handmade cheeses and a wealth of pickles, preserves and cured goods to add to your holiday picnic pantry. The fresh artisanal breads are excellent too.

This market attracts a more laidback gathering and is usually less crowded than the Neighbourgoods market in Woodstock, one of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs on the Eastern Boulevard. Plus, the sea views are hard to beat and there’s even free Wi-Fi.

This is a tour that will change your perspective on townships

Townships are the areas non-whites were forced to live in under apartheid, the system which enforced racial segregation in South Africa until democracy in 1994. Tours to Cape Town’s townships have always been controversial, with some tour companies accused of turning poverty into a “tourism attraction”. Iain Harris, director of Coffeebeans Routes, believes there’s an important place for township tours … but only if these areas are approached as what he believes they really are: central business districts.

“The starting point of any tour is: what are you hoping to achieve by taking people on a journey to a particular place? Unfortunately, tourism tends to treat townships as an opposite – you must go to Camps Bay, but then you must also see the other side where the ‘real’ people live, which is a very strange idea.

The reality is that townships are central to the city; by no means are they the outskirts. In fact, the city centre is the periphery – it’s the part where the least amount of people live but the most travel to for work. So, if you want to talk about central nodes, we need to be talking about Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Mitchell’s Plain. Those are central spaces.

You need context, so we take people on a journey that explores how townships were formed and why. And then we look at them as central parts of the city and meet people who are shaping the future. You meet people like Tony Elvin at the Langa Quarter, who is imagining Langa as the geographic centre of the city, and having an experience with him helps you to completely change the way you see the city. We’ll go to the Department of Coffee in Khayelitsha, where three young entrepreneurs are using coffee as a means of opening up a set of economies, experiences and perceptions of a particular place.

Basically, you’ve got a bunch of central business districts – you start in the Cape Town central business district (CBD), then you’re in Langa CBD, then you’re in Khayelitsha CBD. It’s an attempt to unravel the way that people see the city and present a new narrative. Apartheid made the city centre white and hard to get to. This is an attempt to reposition the centres of the city and to see townships as the economic centres and not the peripheries.

We call our tour Township Futures and ultimately we would like to evolve that to be called City Futures, because a township experience generally isolates townships as not part of the city. But it’s absolutely part of the city.”

Up close and personal: City Soiree gigs bring live music home

With City Soiree, Cape Town music lovers pick and choose to see their favourite bands perform in unique venues, or even in their own homes.

It’s easy to see why City Soirée has taken Cape Town by storm. This innovative venture gives you, the music lover, a chance to call the shots and make your selected music event come to life.

Every performance starts out as a campaign, targeting a certain number of fans to ensure that the event can actually take place by encouraging people to pledge.

Pledging means that you pre-buy a ticket to the event – and once the target amount of pre-purchased tickets is sold, the event goes ahead! If, for some reason, the event does not reach its target number of fans, all pledges are refunded in full. It’s a novel way for music lovers to make their own events happen.

Tickets are conveniently emailed to buyers upon purchase, so all you have to do is bring your e-ticket to the performance venue for verification.

An equally appealing offshoot of the City Soiree collective is Cape Town’s more exclusive Secret Soirée, that lets artists and fan connect on a much more personal level. Here, performances can even take place in private living rooms.

However, the popularity of this personal event means that Secret Soirees are capped at thirty people per event to maintain the intimate aesthetic