Cape Town Foreshore
Photo Cred: On File | Supplied

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. This year, readers strongly favoured South Africa — the top five city hotels are all in Cape Town and Joburg.


Western Cape, South Africa (26 September 2021) – According to the 2021 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, Cape Town remains such a wildly popular destination with international travellers that it was voted the number one city in the Middle East and Africa. Travel + Leisure is one of the biggest travel magazines in the world with a reach of more than 35 million people worldwide.

“This is the most phenomenal recognition of our city! It’s amazing to see how many international people love Cape Town and all the things it brings, from well-known icons like Table Mountain to the lesser-known gems, such as the dunes of De Hoop,” says Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management.

It is easy to see why Cape Town would be bestowed with this accolade; the city has everything. Visitors can go mountain climbing, spend time on the beach, indulge in some authentic dining, mingle at magnificent cocktail and craft gin bars and stay at world-class hotels – all in one trip. Not to mention, game drives, penguins, Winelands and the world-famous Table Mountain, which makes for making unforgettable memories.

“This city really does have something to offer anyone. It also represents fantastic value for money when you consider that lots of what can do in Cape Town would cost much more in other parts of the world,” adds Alderman Vos.

This is not the first time the home of parliament has made a major splash on the international travel scene.

Last year Cape Town was named “Africa’s Leading Festival and Events Destination” in the World Travel Awards and was dubbed the “Greatest City in the World” by Telegraph Travel Readers Award for the seventh consecutive year.

Dan Plato, the Executive Mayor of Cape Town recently released a statement congratulating the city, and South Africa!

“As Mayor of this beautiful city, it gives me great joy to see the hard work of our residents and business owners rewarded with global recognition.”

The Cape Grace, The Silo Hotel, and Ellerman House took the first, second and third spots respectively, with the One and Only hotel taking fifth place in the World Travel and Leisure’s ‘World’s Best’ awards. Cape Town was rated as the best City in Africa and the Middle East. It was followed by Marrakesh, Jerusalem, Fez, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Petra, Muscat and Essaouira, completing the top 10.

“The City of Cape Town prides itself on good governance and providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Tourism provides major employment and skills development opportunities for our residents and we have always supported this industry wherever possible. In 2020 we helped local businesses bounce back after a tough national lockdown that left almost no business untouched, and we continuously fought for the easing of lockdown restrictions to help businesses and save livelihoods.”

In 2020 the City distributed over 13,000 COVID-19 toolkits to SMMEs, 10,000 kits for informal traders, thousands of masks and sanitisers, signage to help small businesses open safely after the hard lockdown and launched a number of business support programmes.

“To see these hotels acknowledged on the global stage is a testament to the resilience of Capetonians and our commitment to looking after our future and always bouncing back stronger than before.”

Many other independent organisations have acknowledged the good governance and resilience of the City of Cape Town. The Ratings Afrika sustainability survey of July 2020 acknowledged Cape Town as the most financially sustainable metro in South Africa, which was capable of absorbing the financial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. The accolades announced this month is testament to this acknowledgement.

Some of the comments from travellers (listed below) outline why Cape Town is a firm favourite.

“Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities. This year, readers strongly favoured South Africa — the top five city hotels are all in Cape Town and Joburg.” –

“This coastal city has a tendency to make even the most wanderlust-fueled traveller consider settling down. Survey responses provide more than enough evidence for this. ‘One of the most beautiful places on earth,’ wrote one reader, with another saying, ‘I’d definitely retire here!’ A third had a similar reaction: ‘When my husband and I arrived, we both immediately thought…should we move?’ Known for its temperate climate and prime position between mountains and sea, this city is a draw for travellers seeking a mix of urban exploration and nature experiences — with outdoorsy excursions like a hike up Table Mountain or a tasting tour of the Winelands within easy reach before dinner and drinks on the waterfront.” –

Sources: City of Cape Town 
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