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Mount Nelson Hotel
Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape

Sir Herbert BAKER: Project Architect 1898
DUNN and WATSON: Architect 1898
Franklin Kaye KENDALL: Architect n.d.
PARKER and FORSYTH: Architect 1922

Date:1897 : 1898 : n.d. : 1922
Client:Union Castle Co
Street:Wilkinson Street


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BAKER was the resident architect for DUNN & WATSON (Greig 1970:69; Radford 1979:110 A).
1897: Baker and Masey added coal cellars (Pryce-Lewis list 3 743).
1899: Baker and Masey - Additions and alterations (Pryce-Lewis list 4 696).
1900: Baker and Masey - Additions (Pryce-Lewis list 5 349).
1900: Baker and Masey - Additions of Hotel sanitary block (Pryce-Lewis list 5 422).
1901: Baker and Masey - Cabmen's toilets added Cabmen's (Pryce-Lewis list 5 736)
1901: Baker and Masey - Additions (Pryce-Lewis list 5 997)
1903: Dunn and Watson - Pump motor Housing and Store (Pryce-Lewis list 6 869)
1911: Trewartha - Motor Garage Added (Pryce-Lewis list 8 371)
1913:Trewartha - Machine Room (Pryce-Lewis list 8 760)
1922: PARKER and FORSYTH - Extensions (PSB:332).
1926: KENDALL - Remodeling (DSAB IV:273; Pryce-Lewis list 15 214)

The Mount Nelson Hotel, which is so conspicuous a feature of the green-clad lower slope of Table Mountain, at the top of Government Avenue, is of novel design. Every window of the building commands a beautiful view, ranging from Devil's Peak and table Mountain on the one side to the Lion's Head and Signal Hill on the other. The garden front faces north, and offers a lovely panorama, with the green expanse of Government Avenue in the immediate foreground, the blue waters of the Bay and the softened outline of the Blaauwberg Mountains in the background, and is therefore so fortunately placed that on the hottest days there is a fresh breeze in the grounds, while the extent of the gardens is a protection against all noise.

The dining-hall, which measures some 80 feet (24.38m) in length by 40 feet (12.19m) in width, is panelled in oak to a height of 14 feet (4.27m), and from the cornice of the panelling springs an arched decorated ceiling representing the arrival of A Dutch fleet In Table Bay in the seventeenth century, This dining-hall is admirably adapted for the great banquets, official and otherwise, which are held within its walls from time to time, Table d' hôte is served here at separate tables. There is a large conservatory at one end, forming a pleasant adjunct to the room.

Private dining-rooms for small parties, and a handsome restaurant in which meals à la carte, add to the convenience of guests.

The service and cuisine are of the most modern and excellent character, and a well-stocked cellar of vintage wines, & etc., all of which have been carefully selected The service and cuisine are of the most modern and excellent character, and a well-stocked cellar of vintage wines, &c., all of which have been carefully selected in the various countries of their origin, supplements a well-managed kitchen.

The drawing-room, handsomely furnished in the Louis XV style, contains a specially designed Broadwood grand piano; and in the lounge, hung with beautifully framed old engravings of famous war heroes and other distinguished men, is a large bust of Nelson carved from the wood of his flagship, the Victory. The lounge, where coffee after lunch and dinner is served, leads to the pleasant shady stoep, 200 feet (60.96m) long and 14 feet (4.27m) wide.

The smoking-room is approached from the entrance-hall or from the lounge, and is furnished with club chairs, sofas, &c. Round the walls are coloured sporting prints by Nicholson.

All the upper floors are reached by two wide staircases, or by electric lift, where private sitting-rooms, suites of apartments, bedrooms single and double, are provided in great variety, all comfortably furnished, and the windows are fitted with green wooden jalousies to keep out the heat during the day.

There is also a hair-dressing saloon situated on the first floor.

Fire appliances are fitted to every floor, and advantage has been taken of every modern sanitary arrangement to secure the health and comfort of guests.

There is a large and well-appointed steam and electric laundry in connection with the hotel for the convenience of its patrons.

The hotel has its own water supply from bore-holes sunk on the estate.

A motor garage, with inspection pits, has been erected in the grounds, where petrol and oil can be purchased, batteries charged, &c.

Uniformed representatives of the hotel meet all the boats and trains on arrival, and every facility is given to visitors to procure motors, carriages or horses.

Inclusive terms, comprising early cup of tea or coffee in bedroom, Table d' hôte breakfast, luncheon and dinner, afternoon tea, bath, and light, are from 15S. per day. Special terms can be made for a stay of a month or longer.

Accommodation can be engaged in London at the offices of The African Lands and Hotels, Ltd., 3 and 4, Kenchureh Street, or at any office of Messrs. Thos, Cook & Son, and The Intel national Sleeping Car Company, Ltd., or by use of a special telegraphic code.

[Playne, Somerset. 1910-11. Cape Colony (Cape Province) Its history, commerce, industries & resources. London: The Foreign and Colonial Compiling Publishing Co. pp 92-93]

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books that reference Mount Nelson Hotel

Bolsmann, Eric H . 1979. THE MOUNT NELSON. Pretoria, Cape Town: HAUM. pg All
Duncan, Paul & Proust, Alain. 2013. Hidden Cape Town. Cape Town: Random House Struik. pg 24-29
Greig, Doreen. 1970. Herbert Baker in South Africa. Cape Town: PURNELL. pg 69
Radford, D. 1979. The architecture of the Western Cape, 1838-1901. A study of the impact of Victorian aesthetics and technology on South African architecture. Johannesburg: Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Dept of Arch. University of the Witwatersrand. pg 110
Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pg 100
Walker, Michael. 2015. Old hotels of Cape Town (1890-1911), The : A history long forgotten, seldom told. St James: Published Privately. pg 45-48 + ill