5 ideas from Cape Town that could work in London

Following our first Ideas from Cities post, 5 ideas from London that could work in Cape Town, today’s post turns the tables on Table Mountain and looks at some practical Cape Town ideas that could work in London.


ct restaurants1

Credit: alcuin

Dining out in restaurant-mecca Cape Town is more lifestyle than luxury for the working population, and rising food prices have only encouraged Capetonian foodies to indulge in their gastronomical explorations rather than eating in.  From a quick week-night catch up over a bowl of Thai, to a lazy Saturday brunch to celebratory splurges, visiting restaurants is a foolproof, weather-independent way of socialising.  London boasts the restaurants, but at a prohibitive price.



ct clothes

Credit: John Steedman

Of course in London, being London, one can find anything one can imagine, including locally-produced items.  But in Cape Town, the popularity of clothes, crafts and furniture, designed (and often produced) in Cape Town is prolific.  This may be due to reasons as noble as the lack of an Ikea or Primark in South Africa, but many Capetonians derive value from bumping into the designer of their favourite dress in Long Street, or having their feet measured for a bespoke pair of leather boots.  The UK places great emphasis on locally-produced food, perhaps they can also support their creatives in the same way – the next Mary Quant may just be waiting in the wings.



Credit: World Bank Photo Collection

Credit: World Bank Photo Collection

Getting the message of safe sex across is a priority in Cape Town.  Free condoms overflow in the restrooms of offices, universities and hospitals; billboards warn against HIV instead of advertising lingerie and it is very easy for anyone to find their closest free HIV testing station.  Perhaps London, an energetic and liberal cultural melting pot, could make use of its ample high-visibility public space (bus stops, Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner, tube stations) for education on STDs.



Credit: MauritsV

Credit: MauritsV

The 24 hour Woolworths has become a Cape Town institution.  Whether it’s to do the grocery shopping after a late night at the office, pick up a bouquet on the way to a dinner party, or find the perfect pie in the wee hours to round off a night on the town, the supermarket-cum-restaurant-cum-petrol station is a hub of convenience at any hour.  Perhaps the kebab shops of Soho could join forces with Waitrose to reproduce this Cape Town idea in London?


Credit: imsickofmaps

Credit: imsickofmaps

Although cellphone banking is not uniquely Capetonian, the city has been dubbed, by some, the Silicon Valley of Africa.  In this capacity, Cape Town may represent South Africa, where cellphone banking has been embraced by all sectors of society.  Being able to make payments, check balances and receive activity notifications via SMS could greatly complement the fast-paced London lifestyle, where ‘disconnected’, otherwise wasted, time on a bus, train or platform might be used to catch up on banking admin.

About Pamela Hellig

Proud Paarlite, Capetonian and South African on a London sojourn. Actuary by day, actuary by night, but a weekend epicurean through and through.

There is one comment

  1. Skippy

    Surprising to hear that London doesn’t have 24 hr grocery stores. Are you sure, FutureCapeTown? In Canada you get full on full size grocery stores open 24 hours in most neighbourhoods. That would be awesome to have in Cape Town. Our one in Cape Town is barely bigger than a Friendly convenience store with prices much higher than everywhere else. It is only as popular as it is because it is the only place! It’s a petrol station, after all.

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