“Well, the Service is a Bit Robotic” - A Hotel Sky Review

by - May 03, 2022

Robot concierge at hotel sky

I recently got the chance to check out Cape Town's Hotel Sky, A.K.A ‘the robot hotel’ and this is what I thought about it: 

If you want to find out how you too can meet and befriend a robot concierge, how you can ride the Sky-HI Ride and what else the Hotel Sky has on offer, read on.  

Disclaimer: I didn’t actually stay at the hotel but my friend Bronwyn did and I frikkin love hotels so I found a way to make use of all its amenities as if I was staying there (not the gym, why would I bother with that?). I even made friends with the concierges, (human and robots alike). 


What I liked about it: 

The decor

I love that the Hotel Sky is a testament to the fact that you can’t go overboard with chandeliers, ever, you just can't. But I appreciate that they tried. The excessive use of gold tile in the foyer and outside the hotel’s entrance sounds kitsch too, but nah, it’s awesome! 

The foyer of the Hotel Sky, Cape Town

Some areas are definitely designed with influencers in mind. If you can make it appealing to them you don’t have to pay them to promote you, they’ll do it for free!
 

Influencers at the Hotel Sky, Cape Town
#guilty


The views


The views at the Hotel Sky, Cape Town

Enough said.


The price

As far as hotels go, it is very affordable. 


Free cappuccinos  

Each floor has a cappuccino machine somewhere. You just have to take the cup from your room and you can refill it as many times as you like!  Obviously, I wasn’t actually staying at the hotel but I made sure I got my friend’s money’s worth. 


The pools 

There are two infinity pools on two different levels (both were quite full). Both offer amazing views of the city and are a great place to cool down at the end of a hot summer’s day. (I know it’s technically autumn in Cape Town right now, but autumn in Cape Town means that some days are summer and some days are winter.) 
 
The infinity pool at the Hotel Sky, Cape Town

The Robot Concierges

There’s something about having once worked in guest services in the hospitality industry that makes you feel like something of a veteran. People who have experienced this career often feel like we’ve mutually survived a war and therefore share a bond that outsiders will never understand. That’s probably why I felt I had a natural affinity with Mika. 

Some people find the presence of robot concierges disturbing as if they’re out to get our jobs. I don’t think that’s the reason Hotel Sky has them though. I think they’ve just taken Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a bit far. Or maybe just to its logical conclusion? Can you really consider yourself inclusive if you don’t have any androids on your team? Androids have rights too, don’t they? 
Okay, maybe not yet. But when the robots become sentient and take over the world, who are they going to show favour towards? 
Probably no one. But if anyone, it’ll be the people who showed favour towards their ancest- …predecessors? …prototypes?

We had a great chat. I tried to win her favour ahead of the impending robot revolution. I’m not sure it worked though. You can be the judge:


You might think "What a brilliant way to staff your hotel during a pandemic, robots don’t get COVID and they are unlikely to refuse a vaccine!" Well, let me remind you that computers get viruses too. 

Robots also need to be charged and what they may lack in sick days they may make up for in flat batteries due to load-shedding. 


The Sky-HI Ride

On the 28th floor of Hotel Sky, towering 35 meters above the city of Cape Town, with views of the city, the mountain and the ocean is The Sky Hi Ride. This is a vertical drop ride that reaches up to 100k per hour and almost 4G’s.

The Sky-Hi Ride at the Hotel Sky, Cape Town

If you’re an adrenaline junkie like myself, the experience is awesome. But I have to give props to two people who made it even better:

I need to commend the guy escorting us to the ride on the top floor. When I used to work on cruise ships, the worst part of every single cruise for me was the safety briefing because I would have to make guests do what they didn’t want to do. When I got to be the leader of the biggest muster station located in the theatre and they actually gave me a mic, it got better. I tried to make the safety briefing into my own stand-up comedy set. The guy in the lift had done the same thing. I knew his jokes were incredibly well-rehearsed but he still delivered them like he was saying them for the first time. And he had clearly had a lot of experience refining his set. 

Then I need to give a kudos to the lady who had been on the ride before ours and had been completely freaked out by it and insisted on getting off between rides. 

I should backtrack a bit and mention that each ticket includes two experiences of the vertical drop ride.  Which is exactly the right number! The rule of the roller coaster (which applies to water slides and drop rides like this too) is that you always have to ride them twice. If you only ride them once, it’s like not getting back on the horse after falling off it. The experience might traumatise you in the long run. But if you do it twice, you prove to yourself that you conquered it. You repeated it even after you understood what it entailed.  

Well, this lady was so freaked out by the first experience that she took herself off the ride and defied the rule of the rollercoaster. I almost think they should hire someone to freak out in every group (10 people ride per time) and leave between the turns, so the people waiting in line get quite psyched up about how scary it is, and the people who manage to stay on for two drops feel like they really accomplished something for not chickening out halfway. It kind of intensifies the whole experience.  


This is my Sky HI-Ride video:



The Sky-Hi Ride is limited to 10 riders per ride and is open to both hotel guests and outside visitors.


My tips for the Sky-HI Ride:

  • Don’t wear a skirt (like me)
  • Do choose what you’d like to look at when you choose your seat: ocean or mountain. (I recommend mountain)
  • And tie your hair back!
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To answer other questions you may have:

Sky-Hi Ride Times:
  • Tuesday – Sunday & Public Holidays 12:00pm – 8:00pm. 
(Subject to change.)

Can kids go on the Sky-HI ride?
  • You have to be a minimum of 8 years old with a minimum height of 1,3 metres tall. 

How long is the sky-HI Ride?
  • About 5 minutes, the second trip is shorter than the first one when they give you a few minutes to take in the view and freak yourself out. 

How tall is the Sky Hotel? 
  • It is 28 storeys or 120 metres tall, making it the third tallest building in Cape Town. 

Sky-Hi Ride price:
  • It costs R200 and includes a video. (Price correct at time of posting.)
  • If you want to watch, the Spectator ticket also costs R50.  


Pro tip: The Sky Hi Ride is free in your birthday month. You just have to pay R50 for the video which is usually included in the ticket price. (Correct at the time of posting anyway)

Hotel Sky Address:
Hotel Sky, CNR Lower Long & Walter Sisulu Ave, Cape Town (A map can be found here)

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And yes, the Sky HI-Ride is that red glowing thing on the roof of the Sky Hotel that has altered Cape Town’s skyline. (We think this hotel identifies as a him/his, just by the way.) Not only does it make for a fun ride at any time of day (ew, that wasn’t supposed to be an innuendo) but it definitely helps you find your way back at night after dinner on Kloof street. 

Exterior of the Hotel Sky from the canal


What I would still like to experience: 

The self-service check-in

As I didn’t actually stay at the Hotel Sky, I didn’t check myself in. As much as self-service checkouts are a fun novelty when you go grocery shopping in the USA (#thingsthatwouldneverworkinSouthAfrica), as an extrovert, I really like the opportunity to converse with strangers. Maybe that's just me though. I would prefer a human (or at least a proper robot) but I'm open to attempting this.


The Swing / Salsa nights / We Dance Thursdays

On Thursday nights they have dance events, often with live music. And I do LOVE to salsa! (Considering I just had COVID, now's the perfect time to get up close and personal with strangers indoors, where do I sign up?)


The piano that plays itself

It may just be the Sandton branch but the Hotel Sky doesn’t just have robots it has ghosts too! The foyer may make you feel like you’re in a futuristic science fiction film but, from what I hear, the piano bar is more of a horror!  Talk about a clash of genres!


Dinner with an acrobatic performance thing 

I think this may also only happen in the Sandton branch but dinner comes with live entertainment that occasionally features acrobatic dancers suspended above your head!

Hotel Sky foyer


My overall opinion: 

The Hotel Sky is quite kitsch and gimmicky but then, as someone who travels the world with a plastic lawn flamingo, what’s not to love about that? If you're looking for something classy and sophisticated, there is no shortage of hotel options for you in Cape Town. But if you're looking for a hotel experience with a twist, this is the place to go!

For an overview of the entire experience, check this out:

Another pro tip:

If you’re trying to get from the Hotel Sky to the V&A Waterfront during the day, instead of hailing a taxi or a ride-share service, we suggest the hop-on-hop-off canal boat instead. It’s scenic AF and convenient too. You can find it adjacent to the entrance to the CTICC. If you need directions, ask the robot.

Cape Town City Sightseeing canal boat

Things to do near the Hotel Sky:


Aerial views of Cape Town

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