Condé Nast Traveller guides tourists to Cape Town, with glaring errors!

A ‘Cape Town’ Google Alert two days ago alerted me to an(undated) Condé Nast Traveller  ‘Guide To Cape Town’, a twelve page listing of accommodation and restaurant recommendations, as well as containing suggestions for shopping, what to do, and what to see in Cape Town.  While all publicity is good for our city, it is interesting to read one of the world’s most highly regarded travel magazine’s tourist suggestions, and to note how out of date the guide is, and what blatant errors it contains.  One would have thought that Cape Town Tourism would work with the publisher of such a Guide, to check the accuracy of the content before it is published!

The introduction to the Guide is short and sweet: “With the striking Table Mountain as a backdrop, beautiful beaches and a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, it is no wonder Cape Town is attracting more visitors than ever.  Fortunately, there are enough stylish and affordable places for every visitor to stay in, ranging from chic boutique hotels in the city centre to out-of-town mansion houses.  The city also boasts historical buildings, interesting museums, shopping malls, restaurants, jazz cafés, theatres and nightclubs. On top of this, there are excellent surfing beaches and charming vineyards along the pristine coastline, and the spectacular Cape of Good Hope 70 km south of the city”.  Two observations: This description of Cape Town says “beauty”, long the positioning for Cape Town, but one that Cape Town Tourism has thrown away for the city, now focusing on ‘Inspiration’ for the city!  Second, the first glaring error is made, in writing about the inaccurate distance of the Cape of Good Hope from the city! 

*  Accommodation establishments are recommended across various price levels, denoted with £ symbols, up to 5 for the most expensive.  Interestingly Newmark Hotels’ Dock House, the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, and the One&Only Cape Town are denoted at £££££, but the exact rate range is not defined.  However, Dock House dropped its rates by about 28 % recently, which is not reflected.  The Cape Grace Hotel was the city’s second most expensive hotel in the Cape Town hotel rate survey  we conducted earlier this month, but was given a ££££ rate rating by Condé Nast Traveller, as are No 7 Glen Beach, and the Table Bay Hotel.  Even more oddly, Ellerman House was the most expensive hotel in our survey, yet is indicated at only a £££ rate level, together with Ezard House, The Mount Nelson, the Grand Daddy (clearly not in the same price league), the Twelve Apostles Hotel, and POD in Camps Bay.  The Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel is rated at a ££ rate, odd for this very upmarket 5-star hotel, with the Hout Bay Manor, and the Bishop’s Court.  The most affordable rate recommendations are Head South Lodge, Hemingway House, Ikhaya Guest Lodge, Kensington Place, La Splendida, Les Cascades de Bantry Bay, Rosedene Lodge, The Walden House, and Welgelegen Guest House, with vastly varying rates in this most ‘affordable’ category.  We miss the über-trendy new Queen Victoria Hotel in this list. No ‘World Cup hotels’ are listed at all.

*   Restaurant recommendations are even more interesting, being Beluga, Blues (‘one of Cape Town’s best-known eateries’, says the Guide!), The Codfather, La Colombe (‘considered by many to be South Africa’s finest‘), Den Anker, Haiku, Giovanni’s Deli, La Perla, Mano’s, Noon Gun Tea Room & Restaurant, and Tokara (‘lots of springbok and ostrich, but also pasta and seafood’, probably describing the Tokara under the chefmanship of Etienne Bonthuys, who left almost a year ago.  Also, the restaurant is not in Cape Town!).  The list seems old as well as old-fashioned, and does not capture the exciting new city restaurant openings such as The Test Kitchen, Dash, Hemelhuijs, Caffe Milano, What’s On EateryLa Mouette, and Dear Me, and clearly is dated, based on the Tokara description.  Some of the restaurant recommendations included in the list are odd!

*   Nightlife recommendations are Marco’s African Place (for its jazz, and ‘indigenous and international cuisine with a smile’), and Marimba’s Cigar Bar in the Convention Centre.

*   Recommended attractions to see are Robben Island, the Two Oceans Aquarium, and Jazz at the Winchester Mansions, the latter hardly being a tourist attraction!

*   Recommended things to do are Camps Bay beach (except when the south-easter blows, the Guide qualifies), Clifton, walking, the City Bowl (‘a 15-minute drive from Cape Town city centre’!), Fourth Beach (mentioned again, even though mentioned under ‘Clifton’ already), Green Point, and Sea Point. Oddly, there is no mention of going to Cape Point or up Table Mountain, or even to Signal Hill, nor take the popular Hop On Hop Off bus!

*  Shopping recommendations are Belafonte (men’s clothing), Billie Boutique, African Image, Okha, The Plush Bazaar, Dolce and Banana, Olga Jewellery Design Studio, Peter Gilder, Greenmarket Square, the Waterfront Craft Market, and the ‘Victoria & Albert (sic) Waterfront’ (after 20 years of being in existence, this error is unforgivable)!   One wonders if the outlets mentioned are Cape Town’s finest.  A pity is that none of the lovely design outlets on the Cape Town Design Route are mentioned. 

*  In the section of how to get to Cape Town, the Guide does not even get the name of Cape Town Tourism correct, calling it ‘Tourism Cape Town’, on the basis of its web address!  It encourages visitors to visit the Pinnacle Building and other branches.  We urge Cape Town Tourism to provide correct details of its name to Condé Nast Traveller!  The Guide adds in this section: “avoid the tourist influx during December and January, when accommodation is expensive and hard to find, and stay clear of the gales from September – November”!  This is a very scary sentence, and is enough to wipe out the mainstay of the Cape Town international tourist support, with the inaccurate information about the ‘tourist influx’ (a window of 26 December – 3 January only), and the description of the south-easter is exaggerated and the time period mentioned not accurate!

*  A gross error in the Travel Information section is the reference to the languages ‘most commonly spoken’ in Cape Town are English, Afrikaans, Sesotho (!), isiXhosa and isiZulu(!).  It also lists Ascension Day as a public holiday (long been abolished).  Food that is popular is described as meat, especially sosaties (incorrectly described as ‘curried lamb chops’), ‘boerwors sausage’ (sic), and cuts of ‘springbok, kudu, bush-pig and eland cooked over wood coals’, a joke!  Fish, especially crayfish, is also on the menu, and ‘South Africa produces excellent wines, too’, says the Guide  An ‘interesting fact’ listed is that the country used to have two official languages, and now there are 11, it writes!  ‘Compulsory reading’ for future visitors to Cape Town is “Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Road (sic) to Freedom”!

The numerous errors and out-of-date information contained in the Condé Nast Traveller  Cape Town Guide are not only unforgivable for such a prestigious and influential travel publication, but are also damaging in their reference to the wind and New Year season.  One wonders whether the compiler of this Cape Town guide ever came to Cape Town, based on the geographical inaccuracies it contains!   Cape Town Tourism’s PR department should urgently address the inaccuracies in the Guide, when it has time in-between its incessant Tweeting!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter:@WhaleCottage

26 replies on “Condé Nast Traveller guides tourists to Cape Town, with glaring errors!”

  1. dagmar schumacher says:

    Dear Chris,
    I don’t understand what you problem is? was the guide paid for the Cape Town Tourism? If it is not paid advertising the travel journalists are entitled to have one, even if you don’t agree.

  2. Hallo Dagmar

    I’m not sure if I understand your question.

    I’m sure Cape Town Tourism did not pay for the Conde Nast Traveller guide, but as the custodian of brand ‘Cape Town’, one would expect them to pick up such blatant errors made about information presented about Cape Town.


  3. Paul says:

    A bit low to attack Cape Town Tourism for these inaccuracies. You seem to find any opportunity to have a go at them.

    Out of interest what is the error in saying SA has 11 official languages?

  4. Not at all Paul. Cape Town Tourism is performing particularly poorly at the moment.

    There is no error in the 11 languages, and I did not indicate it as being one.


  5. Annika says:

    I read the online version of Conde Nast Taveller already last year for Cape Town and was equally shocked. Restaurants outdated or even closed down, same for bars and cafes.
    I agree with you that one would hope for such a prestigous magazine they would make an effort to find out what is really ‘hip and happening’ in a city. If a journalist takes his journalistic freedom to name Blues as one as the top city eateries, he must please work somewhere else than Conde Nast!

  6. Deon says:

    Once again South Africa comes of looking amateurish – this article doesn’t just reflect badly on Cape Town but also on South Africa. Thank heavens they didn’t list crocodile as one of our traditional foods!

  7. Paul says:

    What is the point of this sentence, including the exclamation mark?
    “An ‘interesting fact’ listed is that the country used to have two official languages, and now there are 11, it writes!”

    At first I understood that you thought it to be false, but if that is not the case, do you feel it is not an ‘interesting fact’?

  8. Thank you for your comment Paul.

    I don’t think it is an ‘intersting fact’ (their words, not mine) in a travel guide for Cape Town, as this information is 17 years old


  9. Dear Marco

    I would love to post your comment, but need you to remove the disparaging sections please.


  10. Michel says:


    I believe that Cape Town Tourism is doing excellent work. Why are you saying that they are performing particularly poorly at the moment?

    They are the only industry body bold enough to come forward with solid plans to bring tourists to Cape Town.

    I believe in Cape Town Tourism. In their CEO, their Marketing Team and their Membership Team who have all been very supportive of my business.

    Cape Town Tourism cannot possible be held responsible to know whatever is written about the city on every online forum out there – even if it is Conde Naste.

    Do you have an issue with Cape Town Tourism Chris? Maybe you should sit down with them and sort out your differences. It is no use to use a blog to try to address your issues.


  11. Marco says:

    Paul and Dagmar are correct in saying that you find any opportunity to have a go at them and drag them down – it it matters not how low one has to stoop.

    A very good question is raised, how on earth can Cape Town Tourism be responsible for factual errors in an independant travel managzine, with their own independant journalist? What an odd claim to make.

    Sureley you can appreciate that a tourism body cannot be held responsible for what other independant media write?

    Since when is each and every article on Cape Town sent to Cape Town Tourism to proof read?

    Next thing you going to blame Cape Town Tourism for the Stormers poor performance on the rugby pitch!

  12. Maria says:

    Dear Chris

    You know I am your biggest fan but I too start to wonder what gripes you have with Cape Town Tourism.

    What have they done to you ( I am sure it has to be serious) that you have a go at them in just about every 3 blogs you write?

    I love your blog but am starting to yawn a bit at the Cape Town Tourism blogs.

    Love your restaurant blogs though. Please interview more chefs – please just not bipolars like Sonia Cabano.

    love Maria

  13. Welcome back Maria.

    I don’t blog in retaliation to anything ‘they’ have done (I presume you mean Cape Town Tourism?). You should know better, in knowing that this is not how I blog! If there is news, there is a blogpost to be written. There are three more Cape Town Tourism blogposts coming shortly – ‘they’ do make it easy for me to find new material to write about regularly!

    Today’s blogpost was about Conde Nast Traveller in the main, and about Cape Town Tourism at a secondary level.


  14. Dear Marco

    Thank you for removing the disparaging section of your comment.

    You are absolutely incorrect – Dagmar said nothing of the sort!

    You appear to know nothing about Public Relations – in addition to seeking as much media coverage for their brand, PR excutives also have to search for coverage for their brand, and verify its accuracy. If it is as damaging as the Conde Nast Traveller guide is, then it is the job of Cape Town Tourism’s PR department to fix the misinformation and errors.

    I am grateful that Mary Tebje’s, Cape Town Tourism’s Media and Trade representative in the UK, saw my Tweet about the blogpost this morning, and she will contact Conde Nast on behalf of Cape Town. Typically, Cape Town Tourism PR Manager Skye Grove has done nothing about this.


  15. Dear Michel

    Thank you for sharing how well Cape Town Tourism is working for you – I assume that your business is fully booked?

    If you have seen the ‘solid plans’ of Cape Town Tourism for the marketing of Cape Town, please would you forward a copy to me at, as I am still waiting for Cape Town Tourism to share the ‘strategic plan’ with its members?


  16. Jeremy says:

    I see that Cape Town Tourism is not responding to any of your posts. Probably a deliberate move on their side. It is probably the best thing that they can do – savvy PR managers like Skye Grove knows where to spend her attention and effort to get the biggest impact instead of endless responses to blogs that go nowhere and dont say much constructive. No wonder Cape Town Tourism is one of the top tourism bodies.

  17. Thank you for your comment Jeremy.

    When one makes an accusation like you do, one must be careful to first do research before making a fool of oneself.

    Cape Town Tourism is definitely reading what I am writing. Our blogpost about its new Australian ‘strategic marketing’ consultant Ian Macfarlane triggered such a reaction that they wrote a lengthy reply in retaliation! I doubt that Skye Grove wrote it , as she is far too busy on Twitter to do much for Cape Town, like fixing incorrect information about our beautiful city on Conde Nast Traveller, and The Telegraph Travel.


  18. Jeremy says:

    A bit of jealousy I spot in your reply Chris? I am on Cape Town Tourism’s database and receive all their releases, read their blogs and notice what they do on social media. Much of this is the influence of Skye who is rated as one of the world’s top 25 online travel influencers. Do not underestimate Ms Grove – she is clever, highly respected and has huge influence.

  19. What an odd and illogical deduction to make from my reply Jeremy!

    What on earth could I be ‘jealous’ of? I don’t agree with you about Ms Grove’s ‘Klout’, and will be writing about this soon! I am surprised that you have lapped up their ‘influencer’ release – LOL! I note that they have so little to say that they are grasping at straws at the moment – surely they are to promote Cape Town, and not to tell the world how wonderful they are in their personal capacity?


  20. Jeremy says:

    I think what is becoming very apparent to your readers is that you have massive issues with Cape Town Tourism and Mariette and Skye in particular and are using your blog to grind some axes. Of course you won’t agree with me about Skye’s klout. But you don’t have to agree – her influence is wide and speaks for itself – inspite of your disagreement and LOL.

    I don’t see any straws in Cape Town Tourism’s communications. What is straws about the biggest citizen tourism campaign in the city? Where they will reach thousands of Capetonians through their My Cape Town project? Or are there any straws in the eTourism Conference that they are hosting with SA Tourism? No – I have looked carefully and I don’t see any straws.

  21. Dear Jeremy

    You fascinate me, with your ability to jump to wild conclusions.

    I have written about tourism for ten years, in our WhaleTales newsletters, and on this blog for three years. I am surprised that you are suprised that I am critical of what is not happening at Cape Town Tourism (and even more so at Cape Town Routes Unlimited, who do so little, that there is little to criticise!). There is nothing personal intended at all.

    I don’t do axes – maybe you are a new reader of my blog? I was playing on words about Ms Grove’s Klout, which you clearly did not get. Wait for my blogpost on this topic, and then you can send me another missive! You also do not seem to understand the saying ‘clutching at straws’ – if you need me to explain it to you, please send me an e-mail.

    It interests me that I can only find one person with your name on Google, but having no connection to tourism. Perhaps you can explain your defensiveness on behalf of Cape Town Tourism? Are they not able to defend themselves?


  22. Dear Philip

    I like to publish constructive comments. Please can you amend your comment, to make it eligible for publishing?


  23. Marco says:

    You don’t grind axes? Strange comment to make as I am sure that Mariette, Skye Grove and many others would disagree with that comment Chris.

    As for Cape Town Tourism having to “defend themselves” to you, or other being percieved as defending them, this is also an extraordinary thing to document. If someone makes a positive comment, why shoudl this be translated as being defensive?

    Perhaps many, apart from yourself naturally, think that Cape Town Tourism are doing a good job, but if that is seen in your eyes as being defensive, then so be it I suppose.

  24. Thank you for your comment Marco.

    Why are you making this a personal issue – I am writing about Cape Town Tourism.

    You don’t read other blogs and the papers, it seems Marco. Yesterday, the Cape Times ran a story about Cape Town Tourism (“Tourism body under fire from industry players”), quoting Carl Momberg’s demand that Cape Town Tourism must deliver, documenting a 16 % drop in market share since Mrs Helmbold took over the running of Cape Town Tourism, and a 52 % dissatisfaction level with the performance of Cape Town Tourism!

    It also quotes Mansoor Mohamed, previous executive director for tourism in the City of Cape Town, who also is critical of the organisation.


  25. Paul says:

    Is Mansoor the person who got fired from the City for bringing the City into disrepute?

    And is Carl Momberg the person who wrote everybody forgot about? Who did some good work years ago and then disappeared?

    Interesting that it is particularly these two people who share your critical view of Cape Town Tourism.

  26. Dear Paul

    I am allowing your defamatory comment, only to correct it. As far as I know, Mr Mohamed was not ‘fired’ from the City of Cape Town! I don’t get what you are trying to imply about Carl Momberg.

    Do read the Cape Times article, and then you’ll see that it is not just the three of us that are critical. The way you write this comment implies that there is something wrong with being critical – why should that be? Remember there is a huge silent majority who are happy that people like Carl and myself write what they think but are too scared to say publicly. I am not afraid!


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