I left it very late to book accommodation for a last-minute trip - so late that pretty much the only accommodation available to us for 6 nights was the Best Western Cape Suites. The reason why it wasn't full up too became very evident during our stay.
First off, the hotel advertises a free airport shuttle service, which I booked for our arrival at Cape Town Airport. However, when we arrived there was no one there to meet us and we had no choice but to take a taxi to the hotel. When we checked in at the Cape Suites the receptionist immediately knew who we were but there was no apology whatsoever for them not being there to meet us at the airport, just a "Call Clifford" shouted resignedly to the person over her left shoulder - Clifford presumably being the driver who had just left to pick us up. One wonders just how long were we expected to wait at a new and strange airport for our transfer. I had let them know which flight we were on - what more could I have done?
We were told our room was not ready for us. This was 11 am and we had just got off an 11½-hour night flight from London and had then been forced to travel to them by taxi. The staff were aware of this but we were told that the room would still not be available until 2.30 o'clock. Given that check-out is at 11 am one wonders, even if someone was in the room before us (which I doubt as they certainly were not full), what they were doing in there that took 3½ hours to complete.
We were offered an office to sit in which had a shower room to "freshen up". My husband, who had had a small toilet accident on the way there, was able to take a shower but what they hadn't told us that there was no hot water and the shower was freezing cold. It was the quickest shower he'd ever taken. I was so tired that I lay down on the office floor and went to sleep. I presented no small surprise to the few people coming in and out of the office. We were both completely knackered and just wanted our bed and I repeated this several times to the staff. They checked back on us a couple of times and eventually suggested that we might like to wait in the pool area instead, which we did. 2 o'clock came and as I stood up from my pool sunbed to go and see if there was any news, one of the staff looked at me as if he'd had a revelation. They had been looking for us for half an hour apparently. Unfortunately for us, no one had had the common sense to walk 30 paces from the reception desk and look in at the pool area. It's not as if we were hiding!
Regrettably, this mental slowness and lack of common sense on their part permeated our entire visit.
The story so far would no doubt be just a small annoyance for your average traveller, but if I add at this point that my partner is in a wheelchair ...
The room was adequate for what we needed - plenty of space, on ground level and wheelchair accessible. However, it did look very tatty indeed. White melamine kitchenettes do nothing for me at the best of times. There was a microwave, kettle, hob, sufficient cutlery and pots and all that. The fridge was turned off - why? There was apparently a hairdryer (so the brochure told us) but I was buggered if I could find it. The cane chair in the room was broken and wobbly. The TV was set at a strange angle on some unit so low down that you had to sit bolt upright in bed to have a chance of seeing it. You couldn't adjust it, move it around the room or up to the next shelf on the unit as the aerial connection was too short and kept coming out of the wall. The TV reception was very poor and the choice of programmes appalling.
The bathroom was spacious but tatty. Simple things like the tiled corners not being finished off left a bad impression. There was a huge water stain on the ceiling that made you wonder out loud what had been going on in the suite above. A second door in the bathroom that was no longer required was simply nailed shut and painted over in the hope that no one would notice, but it was glaringly obvious. One press in the corner opened to reveal a gaping hole that went up and down as far as you could see - and we were on ground level.
The room was a ‘courtyard' room. Unfortunately, this meant having strange cars parked 12 inches away from your window on floor level. As there were no net curtains or frosted glass, this meant that with the curtains opened in the room, anyone parking their car outside could see directly into the room and directly at you. The choice was to stay fully dressed or close the curtains. Closing the curtains plunged the room into complete darkness. Really not ideal. And all for the want of a bit of forethought and a few nets.
Housekeeping was not up to scratch at all. The mat in the room was never vacuumed and was in quite a disgusting state. I rolled it up in the end and put it in the corner of the room so we didn't have to look at it. But each day it was put back down again. The situation with the towels became a very unfunny joke. Day 1 we had a shower towel, two bath towels and two hand towels in the room, as you would expect. Day 2 the shower towel, one bath towel and one hand towel were removed and not replaced. After Day 3's housekeeping visit we were left with no towels at all. We were forced to go to Reception to request some and were given some damp towels from under the counter. No apology or explanation was given as to why our towels were taken and not replaced. Excuse me, but is it not a universal thing these days that towels put in the bath are for replacing and ones hung up again are to be reused? It's a pity no one told these people that.
I hid two of the towels in the press before Day 4's housekeeping visit, which was just as well because she took the two towels left in the bathroom away and didn't replace them. Day 5's housekeeping visit saw the end to the remaining two towels. I was forced to go and ask at Reception again and got a full set of five towels sent with a maid. Again no explanation or apology for having removed all the towels from the room. We left on Day 6. Quite what the thinking was behind removing all the towels I don't know, and no one ever told us, but from the talk in the restaurant we weren't the only victims. We were lucky to have towels at all by all accounts.
We were given two toilet rolls for the six days. I wonders what would have happened if we'd got to the end of the second one, but fortunately that didn't happen.
Tea and coffee making facilities were available in the room. Two tea bags, two coffee sachets and four sugars. These were used on the first day but were not replenished for another two days. I had to resort to ‘pinching' tea bags and fresh milk from the breakfast room in the mornings.
Most of the suites appeared to be self-catering but bed and breakfast packages are offered (which we had) and dinner is also offered in their restaurant. The food is hot and the portions good but the service really is quite appalling. On Day 2 we waited 40 minutes to be served our dinner after the waiter had taken down our order and drinks order on a serviette. Our drinks didn't arrive at the table until after the main course 40 minutes later. We'd had to remind them twice. The side orders arrived 15 minutes after we had eaten the main course and we'd had to remind them twice to get them. We left without paying and no one even noticed. Our waiter was nowhere to be seen. But any attempt to charge us for what we had had would have been met with a very loud argument from me. The service was nothing short of appalling. They looked quite busy that night be even so, a 30-table restaurant (or whatever it is) should always have enough staff to cover the 30 tables. There really is no excuse for service that bad.
The concept of customer service is lost on Cape Suites. Reception was very slow, apathetic and very difficult to deal with. They were all very inexperienced and lacked smiles. Pleasant enough, I suppose, but certainly not over-friendly or happy to see you. Their lack of knowledge was laughable. We asked what time the Minstrel's Carnival was due to start that day as we wanted to catch it. Nobody knew. This is one of the biggest carnivals in Cape Town's calendar and no one could tell us anything about it. Unbelievable! I was at the Reception area several times over our 6-day stay and other people were being met with the same blank response to their requests for information and were getting equally frustrated with the staff. Heavens above! How thick and uninterested do you have to be in your job not to know or acquaint yourself with anything going on in the city in which you live?
Cape Suites advertise that they offer a free shuttle service to the V & A Waterfront daily. Yes they do, so long as you are ready to leave at 8, 10, 12, 2 or 4 o'clock on the dot and that there's not more than (I think) five of you going. Outside of those times your only option for getting down to the V & A Waterfront is a taxi (less than a fiver) or your own hire car.
As we had another week to go in Cape Town (thank God not at this establishment but in the lovely Constantia winelands), we needed to get some laundry done. If you get your laundry to Reception before 9 am they will get it back to you by 6 pm that day - so says the brochure. Unfortunately not. I brought the laundry to them at 10 o'clock at night to be sure it was in for their 9 am deadline the next day. It still hadn't reappeared by 6 pm the following night. By mid morning the next day I had to present myself at Reception to discover its whereabouts. The receptionist couldn't get an answer from Laundry on the phone and begrudgingly went down to them personally. She came back with three of my items on hangers. Great, except I had left in 21 items for laundering. No apology and no explanation and apparently this was my problem as the look she gave me could have withered an hibiscus in full bloom. She went off again and returned with the other 19 items in two cardboard boxes. This all took 15 minutes and I was expected to wait there. For this ‘service' I was expected to pay just under 400 Rand. Hardly a cheap service - and hardly a service.
They have internet access available at two PCs, which costs 90 Rand per hour. This is nothing short of extortionate and the connection is poor.
And I don't know which suite ordered a 6 am wake-up call on New Year's Day but they didn't get it - because we did.
And all this for a supposed 4 star establishment ... I don't think so!
I could go on but it's giving me a headache. We had two weeks in Cape Town and I'm so pleased that I didn't book more than 6 nights in Cape Suites. I really couldn't have coped there for 13 nights. They really do have an awful long way to go in terms of customer service. There will be a steep learning curve.
Summary: On the poor side of adequate. Certainly not 4 star and really quite a trial to stay there.