Looking to book a sunny getaway to beat the January blues? Consider Cape Town. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, the sheer natural beauty of this South African capital will take your breath away – especially if you've jetted in from drizzly, grey Britain.
What's more, with a focus on South Africa since the death of Nelson Mandela and the fact that Cape Town is the 2014 World Design Capital, there is no better time to discover this culturally-rich city that made Lonely Planet's list of top ten destinations for 2014.
It may be a long haul flight, but with a mere two-hour time difference and Virgin Atlantic providing an overnight service, the jetlag is minimal.
Table Mountain is a good place to start – if you go with Roots Africa Tours, they'll provide you with transport in luxury, air-conditioned vehicles led by South African Tourism-registered guides. Towering tall at 1,000 metres, the flat-topped mountain (hence the name) offers stunning, paranomic views over the city, the coastline and even Robben Island, where the late Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life in prison. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and can be seen almost anywhere in Cape Town.
For a relaxing stay in the city, head to Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia. Set in 9.5 acres of expertly manicured garden and just a 15-minute drive from the town centre, this hotel offers a tranquil country escape with beautiful, spacious rooms that'll make leaving somewhat difficult.
Another draw to this hotel is The Greenhouse, one of the city's most critically-acclaimed restaurants, led by Peter Tempelhoff.
The tasting menu consists of various culinary delights including rainbow trout and calamari nero – all individually paired with wines from vineyards in the surrounding hills — but the highlight has to be the camembert cheesecake. In the shape of a whole camembert, it is served with roast pineapple ice cream and compote, pine nut biscotti, melba and sage.
Cape Town is known for its vineyards. A great way to explore wine estates during your stay is with Bike and Saddle, who offer a hugely fun tour on bicycle with copious amounts of top notch wine-tasting and a gourmet picnic to boot.
Another must-visit restaurant is the Harbour House, situated at the heart of the bustling V&A Waterfront. Widely considered the number one seafood restaurant in Cape Town, the daily specials change regularly and you cannot find fresher fish. Highly recommended is the lobster.
Also worth a visit at the V&A Waterfront is the Camissa brasserie at the Table Bay Hotel. Overlooking the scenic harbour, the restaurant offers mouth-watering treats including Rooibos tea smoked Franschhoek trout and Oscar lager braised Karan beef short rib. Complementing the menu is a wine list that captures the very essence of the Cape and its Winelands. The hotel is – very conveniently – linked to the impressive shopping mall.
Camps Bay is one of the best sunset spots in the world. Head to The Azure at the Twelve Apostles hotel, a restaurant that offers breathtaking views of the ocean from its terrace and is a prime spot for capturing the stunning sunset. What's more, its locally sourced gourmet food is top rate. For the younger travellers, a trip to the uber trendy Bungalow is a must-do.
For a travel experience around urban stories, book a tour with Coffeebeans Routes. Tourguide Iain has a wealth of knowledge and insights about the city. On the tour, you can visit Oranjezicht City Farm, a farm that aims to bring together communities through the art of urban farming. You can also visit Langa Quarter – a rundown townshop that is undergoing huge transformations to help bring people together.
If you're after luxury on your trip, book yourself into Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class. With fully reclinable beds, three course meals, a fully-stocked bar and use of the luxurious Club Lounge at Heathrow, it is well worth the pricetag. Virgin Atlantic fly to Cape Town daily until March 29, and then three times a week until the 28th April.