Review: Westin Cape Town

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Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa
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Review: Air Canada International Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Toronto To Frankfurt
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Frankfurt To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways Domestic Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A319 Johannesburg To Cape Town
Review: Westin Cape Town
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Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Cape Town To Johannesburg
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Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
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For those of us looking to redeem points, Cape Town is a fairly restrictive hotel market. My preferred chains are Hyatt and Starwood. Hyatt doesn’t have a property in Cape Town, while Starwood has only one property, which is the Westin.

So that’s what I decided to book, given that the rates were decent. The nightly rate was 3,300ZAR, which is ~210USD.

However, I used the fourth night free hotel benefit available through my Citi Prestige Card, which brought the average nightly rate down to ~160USD. Add in the fact that I was earning double elite qualifying nights and that this stay qualified for Starwood’s current promotion, and this was a no brainer.

As a point of comparison, this is a Category 4 Starwood property, meaning a free night redemption would have cost 10,000 Starpoints, or a Cash & Points booking would have cost 5,000 Starpoints plus $75. Given that I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, paying cash seemed like the best value.

I took a taxi from the airport to the Westin, which took about 20 minutes, and cost ~250ZAR (~$16), which as a relative matter I found to be quite expensive, given how cheap Cape Town was otherwise.

The hotel is next to the Cape Town International Convention Center, which in theory isn’t ideal as a tourist, though I’ll talk more about the location in a bit.

The exterior of the hotel is modern, with lots of glass.

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Westin Cape Town exterior

The lobby is spacious and modern as well, with a long entryway leading to the restaurant, or else you can turn left right towards reception.

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Westin Cape Town lobby

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Westin Cape Town lobby

I was greeted upon arriving at reception, and was able to check-in right away, despite the fact that it was well before the hotel’s check-in time. The friendly associate explained I had been upgraded to a junior suite on account of my Platinum status, that I was entitled to lounge access, etc.

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Westin Cape Town lobby

I took the elevator up to the 15th floor, where my room was located. Each floor has a sliding glass door between the elevators and the rooms, so you have to insert your key in order to enter the hallway.

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Westin Cape Town hallway

My room, 1501, was located at the far end of the hallway after turning left.

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Westin Cape Town hallway

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Westin Cape Town suite exterior

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Westin Cape Town floorplan

The junior suite is advertised as being 592 square feet. Upon entering the room, the bathroom was located to the right, and then the rest of the room immediately ahead.

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Westin Cape Town suite entryway

The living room was spacious and well designed, with a couch and chair facing the wall mounted flat screen TV.

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Westin Cape Town suite living room

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Westin Cape Town suite living room

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Westin Cape Town suite living room

In the far corner of the room was a table with two chairs, right next to a phone and a printer.

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Westin Cape Town suite living room

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Westin Cape Town suite table with chairs

Since this was a junior suite, there weren’t actually two separate rooms, but rather there was simply a console between the living area and sleeping area, with flat screen TVs on both sides.

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Westin Cape Town suite

The room featured a comfortable king size bed, though it didn’t seem to be quite as soft as the Heavenly Beds I’m used to at Westin properties.

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Westin Cape Town suite bedroom

In the far corner of the bedroom area were a couple of closets, as well as the in-room safe (which I used for the first time).

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Westin Cape Town suite bedroom

On the far end of that console was the minibar, which featured quite the selection of candy bars.

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Westin Cape Town suite minibar

Next to that was the in-room coffee machine, as well as a variety of tea.

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Westin Cape Town suite coffee & tea setup

Across from that was a trouser press, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a hotel room before.

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Westin Cape Town trouser press

The bathroom was back near the entrance, and featured double sinks, a tub, a partitioned off toilet, and a walk-in shower.

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Westin Cape Town suite bathroom

The tub wasn’t especially deep, though otherwise looked fine (I never used it).

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Westin Cape Town suite bathtub

The shower was brand standard for a Westin, which is to say that it had a rainforest showerhead, as well as a handheld one. The water pressure and temperature control were excellent.

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Westin Cape Town suite shower

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Westin Cape Town suite toilet

As you’d expect, toiletries were the Westin brand standard ones.

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Westin Cape Town suite toiletries

The room featured incredible views, both of Cape Town as such, as well as of Table Mountain in the background. Stunning!

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Westin Cape Town suite view

In the other direction the room faced towards the convention center, and then in the distance, the waterfront.

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Westin Cape Town suite view

Shortly after arriving in my room I was brought a welcome amenity consisting of many of my favorite things, including sparkling water, sauvignon blanc, fresh fruit, nuts, etc. I sure do love my Starwood Ambassador!

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Westin Cape Town SPG Platinum welcome amenity

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Westin Cape Town SPG Platinum sauvignon blanc welcome amenity

There are a couple of other things I should note about the room.

First of all, my biggest concern prior to this stay was the wifi. Based on what I had heard, the hotel has horrible wifi, to the point that it’s almost unusable. That wasn’t my experience, and I found it to be perfectly acceptable. No, it wasn’t the fastest wifi I ever had, but I had no complaints at all, and I rely on wifi to function.

Second of all, the hotel’s glass windows “crackle” all day. I know this sounds weird, but it’s true. Apparently it’s because the hotel’s facade is constructed of glass, so the structure expands and retracts due to temperature changes. If you’re a light sleeper, this could be enough to prevent you from sleeping during the day. The window just makes a loud popping noise every so often.

As a club guest at this hotel you can choose to have breakfast either in the hotel’s restaurant or in the club lounge. I had breakfast at both venues.

The restaurant breakfast is served at THIRTY7, located just off the hotel’s lobby. Breakfast is served daily there from 6:30AM until 11AM. It’s a beautiful space, and I was there early enough in the morning the first day to be among the only guests.

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Westin Cape Town THIRTY7 Restaurant

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Westin Cape Town THIRTY7 Restaurant

The buffet spread was fantastic. The variety was top notch, the quality was excellent, and there just seemed to be a lot of effort put into the presentation, which I certainly appreciate. Furthermore, service in the restaurant was excellent, with frequent coffee refills, and plates quickly being cleared.

I’ll let the pictures of the buffet speak for themselves.

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town breakfast buffet

The hotel’s executive lounge is located on the 19th floor, and is a beautiful space as well. In terms of the venue, perhaps the big advantage is that the 19th floor has great views of Table Mountain and the city, while the ground floor restaurant doesn’t have any views.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge

In 99% of instances I’d choose to have restaurant breakfast over club lounge breakfast, but this hotel was an exception. The lounge served breakfast from 6:30AM until 10:30AM.

While the buffet spread wasn’t as big, the quality was excellent.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast buffet

While some hotels will let you order an omelet or something in a club lounge, this one has a full breakfast menu, which you can order from to supplement the buffet. The breakfast menu read as follows:

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One morning I ordered the sweet corn and channa drop scones. I had no clue what to expect, but found it to be delicious.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast — sweet corn and channa drop scones

But the highlight was the stem broccoli and egg white souffle, which was spectacular.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge breakfast — stem broccoli and egg white souffle

So while the breakfast buffet downstairs was more extensive, I preferred the better views, more personalized service, and menu options available in the club lounge.

While the club lounge impressed in terms of the breakfast spread, it left me confused otherwise. The hotel technically served canapés from 5PM until 7PM nightly. In reality that consisted of your choice of alcoholic drinks, plus chips, olives, and then a very small plate of canapés.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge evening drinks and snacks

Other than that, the club lounge more or less operated as a restaurant. They’d present you with a menu, and then you could order what you wanted when you wanted, with catering from the hotel’s restaurant. Items were very reasonably priced, and the food quality was excellent.

Here’s the menu, for what it’s worth (1USD=15ZAR):

Westin-Cape-Town-Menu

One night I had the curry dish, which was exceptional, and very reasonably priced, at ~$9.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge dinner

Still, I found the concept confusing, and feel like they should have done a better job describing what guests should expect. For example, I assumed all drinks were free, but with the evening hour got charged when I ordered a cappuccino.

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Westin Cape Town executive lounge cappuccino

The next day I went into the lounge during the day to work for a bit, and I just ordered a coffee and a water. Oddly the coffee was free, while I was charged for the water.

Ultimately it wasn’t expensive so it wasn’t a big deal, but I just like understanding the concept offered, and after four days I still don’t get what exactly their system is.

I was on a terrible sleep schedule this trip due to jetlag, so also once had dinner via room service. Prices were extremely reasonable, which I found to be true across the board in Cape Town, likely strengthened by the weakness of the ZAR and strength of the USD.

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Westin Cape Town room service dinner

The spa was also located on the 19th floor, just past the club lounge. I didn’t have a chance to get a treatment, though prices were very reasonable, with hourlong massages costing $30-40.

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Westin Cape Town Heavenly Spa

I did use the 24/7 gym once, which is located in the back left of the spa. It’s a fairly small gym, though wasn’t crowded when I used it.

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Westin Cape Town gym

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Westin Cape Town gym

It featured great views of the waterfront in Cape Town.

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Westin Cape Town gym view

The hotel also has a pool on the second floor, though it was closed for renovation during my stay.

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Westin Cape Town pool renovation

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Westin Cape Town pool renovation

As I mentioned above, the hotel’s location is convenient to the convention center, though otherwise there’s not much in the immediate area if you’re looking to walk around. The area you really want to walk around in Cape Town is the waterfront, so the hotel has a free shuttle which takes you there every 30 minutes (it leaves at :00 and :30 from the hotel, and at :15 and :45 from the waterfront). The drive only takes 10 minutes, and the service is well organized.

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Westin Cape Town shuttle to waterfront

Would I rather be in a hotel where I can walk out the door and be at the waterfront? Absolutely. At the same time, a frequent shuttle which takes just 10 minutes is a small price to pay to rack up points and get the perks of hotel elite status, at least in my situation.

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The waterfront in Cape Town

Westin Cape Town bottom line

I was very pleased with the Westin Cape Town, and thought it represented an excellent value as an SPG Platinum member.

I got a great room upgrade, the service was consistently attentive and friendly, the club lounge was a beautiful space, the breakfast was excellent, and I earned points.

The hotel certainly does have a few drawbacks, like a non-ideal location, windows which make a weird crackling noise during the day, and an odd club lounge setup in the evening, but those are all relatively minor things.

I might try another hotel next time I go to Cape Town just for the purposes of reviewing something else, but I’d certainly recommend this hotel to any SPG loyalist traveling to Cape Town. It’s a great option.

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Comments

  1. “The area you really want to walk around in Cape Town is the waterfront.”

    Really? There are so many other AMAZING areas of Cape Town, with culture and local flavour. Why would you consider the area that is basically a fake, mini Disneyland with a mall and a bunch of shopping as the area that you really want to walk around? Is that all that you did in CT?

  2. And soon to be a Marriott property !!!! As a lifetime PLT I had to say that. I enjoy Cape Town and always wondered about the Westin. When in CPT I use the Protea North Wharf which gives me a one bedroom apartment and yes it’s a Marriott.

    Try Camps Bay

  3. If you stay in hostels you will meet many many Europeans traveling for more than a year and moving around similar to you. On one hand they have seen more of the world than you have from your bubble like dwellings but on the other hand they couldn’t be able to afford to live the way you do and hence have to make do with hostels and economy tickets.

    So you have done well for yourself but sadly it has taken away from your experiences of having traveled the world. Who knows whether seeing the world even matters. Americans end up electing buffoons and handing them foreign policy matters anyway.

  4. In lieu of waiting for the shuttle, Uber X & Black are $3/5 one way to the waterfront…

  5. @Credit I’ve stayed at hostels and I’ve stayed at Park Hyatts. I’m happy to experience the world from the Park Hyatt every time, especially given that they’ve often been cheaper than the hostels thanks to blogs like this.

    But don’t let that stop you from trolling about politics. My staying at a Park Hyatt is probably why Donald Trump will be president.

  6. I stayed there on Cash & Points January, and I got a free upgrade to an executive room, “as an SPG Gold”. Curiously, I was not actually an SPG Gold at the time, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The room was facing the port and had a nice walk-through closet to access the bathroom. I didn’t hear any of the crackling windows.

    I didn’t like that the club lounge was more of a restaurant then a lounge.

    I actually walked to the Waterfront from the hotel, rather than take the shuttle, and let me tell you, it’s not easy. You have to illegally cross several streets because there are no crosswalks or other pedestrian accommodations in several sections along the route.

    Sadly, this was just published by the U.S. Embassy:

    “The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa informs U.S. citizens that the U.S. Government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where U.S. citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.”
    https://za.usembassy.gov/security-message-u-s-citizens-threats-shopping-areas-malls/

  7. @Lucky, thank you for reviewing this hotel. I’m currently planning a trip to Dubai, Cape Town, Durban, Mauritius, etc. for next year and was debating between this and a boutique hotel in Camps Bay (either POD or Atlantic View). While I’m leaning more towards the boutique hotels due to Citi 4th night free, it sounds like the Westin might be a good choice if SPG has some attractive promotions. Couple of questions;

    1) I’ve read your review of SAA short-haul business class. Have you flown Air Mauritius short-haul business? If so, any thoughts?
    2) Have you stayed at any of the SPG properties in Mauritius?
    3) Have you stayed at any of the SPG properties in Dubai?

    Thank you for all the great advise – I travel a lot for work (100 nights a year, 150k miles, etc.) and your blog has been tremendously helpful in maximizing points.

  8. Hi Lucky, we checked out the Westin while a friend stayed there during our wedding trip to South Africa. We stayed at the Dock House Boutique Hotel near the V&A waterfont, in their suite–which I highly recommend. The whole property is just 6 rooms and the suite. We previously had stayed at the Cape Grace on our first trip to Cape Town, which is the city’s closest thing to a Four Seasons IMO. But the cost/benefit for the Dock House is so good that we’ve stayed there every time since.

    I also agree with other comments that the V&A Waterfont is good for the tourist on a first visit, but it’s not the only place to stay. Camps Bay (the Pod is fantastic) and the area around the Belmond Mt. Nelson are other wonderful locations in the city.

    That being said, the Westin is not badly located…if you are OK with the short shuttle or uber ride into the Waterfront. It is a very nice Westin with better than average service even for that quality brand. Our friend had an amazing stay and has returned may times.

  9. Lucky – I can’t believe you have never seen a trouser press! I think like 80% of the hotels I have stayed in Europe seem to have them.

  10. The trouser press is required by the star-rating agency in the UK. As South Africa used to be British, I’m guessing it’s a holdover of colonial days. The South African hotel rating agency probably has the same U.K. standards.

    As for the breakfast spread, that is very international and un-American for a largely American-centric brand.

  11. I’m a fan of your writing, but this hotel seems like a poor choice. There are many independent, boutique, funky hotels that you could have gotten in much better locations for half the price. And used the Prestige!

  12. @SFS, as a points/miles blogger, Lucky owes it to us to report on hotels we can all stay in using points.
    That’s “the point” of the blog.

  13. The last image in your series of photos is a wonderful shot of Cape Town’s highly regarded Cape Grace Hotel, situated on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It is by far my favorite hotel in the city and certainly one of the very best hotels in South Africa. It is a uniquely African property, whereas the Westin – though very comfortable – is at the end of the day just another big city, chain hotel. It could be in Frankfurt, or Detroit.

    I hope you took the opportunity to get out of that sterile, popping-glass high-rise and stroll up Long Street; meander through the Company Gardens; take a look at the colorful Bo-Kaap; and wander the paths atop Table Mountain, taking-in the incredible views of beach communities far below. Because it would be a real shame to fly all the way to Cape Town – and miss Cape Town.

  14. @ Lucky, something that needs to mentioned for the Executive Lounge breakfast is if you are a Plat staying on points, they will not allow you to order off the menu unless you pay. The GM will only allow the buffet portion of the Exec Lounge. It’s an extremely ridiculous and cheap rule the GM will not bend on.

  15. “As a club guest at this hotel you can choose to have breakfast either in the hotel’s restaurant or in the club lounge”

    So this is irrespective of your platinum status? I’m gold and have an upcoming reservation in a club room. We’ll have access to either breakfast location?

  16. Seeing the Table Mountain on the background and the Waterfront reminds me of my last visit to South Africa which was more than a decade ago.

  17. We are visiting the Westin in a few weeks for 5 nights and your wonderful review enhanced our already high expectations for the trip. Thanks.

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