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South Africa Hotels

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
AtholPlace
90 Pretoria Avenue
Johannesburg
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 783 3410
atholplace.co.za

It takes an experienced, informed eye to design hotel rooms that are both hardworking and ravishing. Designer Sumari Krige transformed what was originally going to be her family's private residence into this ten-bedroom urban retreat in the heart of cosmopolitan Sandton. Decorated in a palette of cool white and smudgy grays, as if to soothe the senses after a frenetic day, the rooms are enormous with tranquil garden views, sitting areas, glamorously appointed bathrooms, and luxury home comforts (Frette linens, flattering lighting, underfloor heating). Most of the furnishings, a high-style mix of contemporary and antique, were sourced on buying trips for the owner's chic interior design store; African objects, glassware, and natural wood add textural interest. The hotel has a well-stocked library, a lounge cum dining room with an in-house chef, a large pool, and gardens just big enough to stroll in. Stay here if you want finely tuned advice on where to shop and what to do.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Babylonstoren
Klapmuts/Simondium Road
Franschhoek
South Africa
Tel: 27 21 863 3852
enquiries@babylonstoren.com
www.babylonstoren.com

A 500-acre Cape Dutch winery and fruit farm dating to 1692 has been reincarnated way beyond its former glory by former Elle Decoration editor Karen Roos into the Cape's most authentic and comforting farm stay. Located between Franschhoek and Paarl, this meticulously restored estate is anchored by eight acres of formal vegetable, flower, and fruit gardens. The simple, whitewashed exteriors of the 12 suites, overlooking gardens or vineyards, give little hint of the graceful interiors that mingle old and new, rustic and contemporary—from the posy of indigenous flowers in the bathroom, to the bookshelves packed with highbrow South African literature, to the modern glass-walled full kitchens in select suites that enable fantasy DIY farm-to-table cooking (guests can pluck their own heirloom vegetables and organic fruit on-site). For those happy to leave the cooking to the pros, Babel, a restaurant in a converted cowshed, presents a fresh daily menu whose organizing principle is seasonal colors (a red salad—a plate of watermelon, strawberries, beets, radishes, and mulberries—for instance) served in a dining room or under umbrellas in a courtyard. Even the pool's design reinforces the pastoral experience—it resembles a traditional farm dam.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Birkenhead House
Corner of 11th Street and Seventh Avenue
Voelklip Beach
Hermanus
South Africa
Tel: 27 15 793 0150
reservations@theroyalportfolio.com
www.birkenheadhouse.com

Set on a dramatic rocky bluff, this opulent boutique has views over Walker Bay—where southern right whales migrate between May and December and calve during the month of August. The property makes the most of the vantage point, with terraces and an infinity pool (one of three) overlooking the water, and huge windows in all 11 suites. The guest units are decorated with eclectic antiques from France, Russia, and China, and have especially wonderful baths—request Studio 5 for a Zen spa-like sunken tub, or Studio 3 for a claw-foot beauty in the center of the bedroom. The slew of nature-based activities range from the sedate (beach lounging, cheese-and-wine-tasting tours) to the exertive (kayaking, bird-watching hikes on the cliffs) to the heart-racing (cage diving among sharks). Refuel at the end of the day in the guests-only restaurant, which serves fresh-caught seafood, stellar sushi, and homemade focaccia.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Bushmans Kloof
Clanwilliam , Western Cape
South Africa 8135
Tel: 27 27 482 8200
lodge@bushmanskloof.co.za
www.bushmanskloof.co.za

"Riding mountain bikes past zebras is the right way to start the day" at this rehabilitated farmstead. Light-filled contemporary rooms have outdoor showers. Meals at Makana draw from native fynbos herbs and local meat. Affable staff "offer great insight" into the native culture and history—"they elevate the spirit." The 18,500-acre reserve is home to more than 130 tribal rock art sites.

(20 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Cape Cadogan
5 Upper Union Street
Gardens
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 480 8080
res@morecapecadogan.co.za
www.capecadogan.com

The scent of tuberoses fills the air as one steps into the Cape Cadogan, a 12-room boutique hotel in a restored Georgian house. It's a sensual kind of place that feels private, with all-white decor, sparkling chandeliers, and open, travertine-tiled bathrooms. It's a two-minute walk from Cape Town's trendy Kloof Street, where you'll find delis, home design and clothing shops, and restaurants. Book room no. 8: Its windows open onto the treetops, and you won't feel like you're even in the city. Breakfast is included in the room rate and is served in a small, sunny courtyard next to a plunge pool.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Cape Grace
West Quay Road
V&A Waterfront
Cape Town
South Africa 8002
Tel: 27 21 410 7100
info@capegrace.com
www.capegrace.com

Anxious about driving in Cape Town? This hotel's location on its own quay at the V&A Waterfront means guests have pedestrian access to the shops and restaurants there; in addition, a complimentary chauffeur service covers a five-mile radius—which will get you to the beach. Even better, request a packed picnic and get dropped at Clifton Beach in the morning. The 121-room hotel has a somewhat younger clientele than its main luxury competitor, the Mount Nelson, and prides itself on extremely personalized service. Hotel staff try to accommodate every request, so if you're keen on wine, the resident sommelier can accompany you to the winelands, for instance. Complimentary "Café Complet" (tea, coffee, juice, water, and pastries in the morning) as well as port and sherry in the evening are available to all guests in the library. The best views of the water are had from the fourth-floor terrace suites, also the location of the spa. Bascule, the hotel's happening bar, has the largest single-malt whiskey collection in the Southern Hemisphere, and is a great spot for a quayside drink.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Castle on the Cliff
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 807 1800
www.castleonthecliff.com

Built in the 1960s using stones carried by hand from the base of this astounding cliff, the original castle was for years the holiday retreat of the present owners. With the help of a visionary architect and a team of stonemasons, it was recently rebuilt and embellished before opening as a fully staffed villa. Nothing can prepare you for its jaw-dropping location overlooking the Indian Ocean, and once in residence you'll never want to stay in a traditional hotel again. There are four spacious bedrooms, all with vertiginous, in-your-face ocean views and luxurious bathrooms. A fifth, smaller bedroom, halfway up the stone staircase that leads to the Tower Suite, is perfect for children. No detail has been overlooked: Lights can be dimmed to match your mood, fireplaces await only a match, and there is a choice of terraces so that you can eat outdoors regardless of the prevailing winds.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Daddy Long Legs
134 Long Street
Cape Town Centre
Cape Town
South Africa 8000
Tel: 27 21 422 3074
info@daddylonglegs.co.za
www.daddylonglegs.co.za

The rooms are tiny and the setting too noisy, but if you want to be in the heart of Long Street, and you don't mind the sound of late-night revelers in the bars and restaurants below (or plan on joining them at a hot spot like the Waiting Room), then book one of Daddy Long Legs's arty rooms. The 13 rooms are unique, each decorated by a different artist. Ask for a tour before checking in, to make sure you can find a space that suits you. Some, such as BeingMak1One, with its very stark, white 3-D installations by the artist of the same name, are rather unsettling. We suggest Far from Home: Its wallpaper depicts vast expanses of the Kalahari Desert, which is quite liberating in a small room, and it has excellent views of Table Mountain. This property is a popular location for photo shoots, so you'll be rubbing shoulders with models and pushing past wardrobe stylists in the corridors. The small lounge has comfortable leather sofas and an outdoor deck overlooking the action on Long Street below.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa
Helshoogte Pass
Stellenbosch
South Africa 7602
Tel: 27 21 885 8160
lodge.reservations@delaire.co.za
www.delaire.co.za

With wraparound views of vineyards and mountain peaks, ten exquisitely appointed private lodges and a spa have opened at the Delaire Graff Estate, with its cutting-edge winery, tasting lounge, fine-dining restaurant, and boutique all within strolling distance. Architecturally, the hotel is a contemporary take on the local Cape Dutch vernacular, while the glamorous color-saturated interiors are by London-based David Collins. Essentially private villas, each of the lodges has a heated infinity pool, generous living spaces, a kitchen with private butler service, and a Jo Malone-stocked marble bathroom. South African master craftsmen were commissioned to pull together a detailed, layered style with a unique local provenance. Spilling out onto a shady terrace, Indochine restaurant serves light pan-Asian cuisine such as duck tikka masala or Thai chicken broth infused with lime, lemongrass, and ginger. Staff pay attention to the finest detail, but the guest experience is ultimately influenced by the skill and intuition of the butler appointed to your lodge.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Dock House
Portswood Close, Portswood Ridge
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 421 9334
res@dockhouse.co.za
www.dockhouse.co.za

It's location, location, location at this smart city inn overlooking the vibrant Victoria & Alfred waterfront. Excellent shopping, dining, and entertainment options are all within strolling distance, yet the city's famous natural beauty—Table Mountain and the Clifton beach scene—is equally accessible. Local interior guru François du Plessis retained the Victorian architectural features of what was the harbor engineer's residence in the mid-1800s, then added a cosseted, contemporary feel by using natural tones and sensuous fabrics. There are five guest rooms—three with balconies overlooking Table Bay—and a suite that opens onto its own private garden; and all have complimentary minibars. There is an elegant morning room for breakfast and lunch, but if bacon-and-eggs in close proximity to fellow guests sounds too cozy, staff will arrange to serve breakfast in your room or next to the pool. Guests have access to OneWellness, a top-notch gym and spa facility next door.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Emily Moon
Rietvlei Road
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa 6600
Tel: 27 44 533 2982
www.emilymoon.co.za

Many guests ask Mark Valentine if they can buy the objets d'art in the eight suites of this tastefully offbeat hotel, decorated in a funky amalgam of African sculptures, antlers, old photographs, and paintings. As of 2010, when Valentine opens an on-site gallery and shop, the answer will be yes. For now, the clean palette of the rooms—white-on-white textiles, sand-colored walls—keeps the bric-a-brac from feeling overdone. Huge leather sofas crowd the suites a bit, but they face onto a generous porch overlooking the winding Bitou River, about five miles from Plettenberg Bay. Guests can take complimentary kayaks out on the river to spot water birds and flocks of geese. Those who want to delve further into the region can book trips with the whale- and dolphin-watching company Ocean Blue, which Valentine co-owns. At night, locals mix with guests at the popular Emily's restaurant, and all are greeted by Oscar the dachshund, the hotel's friendly mascot.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ezard House
20 Theresa Avenue
Camps Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8005
Tel: 27 21 438 6687
info@ezardhouse.com
www.ezardhouse.com

Backed by the dramatic Twelve Apostles mountain range, Ezard House offers 10 suites, all with terraces and views of either the ocean or the lovely garden, complete with koi ponds. The interiors are spare, stylish, and soothing. The hotel also has a roof terrace with a hot tub, and a small pool. The pleasant restaurant is open only to residents and their guests; every table affords a fantastic view of the bay. Airport transfers and shopping trips can be arranged.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Getty House
Phinda Private Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 809 4300
webenquiries@ccafrica.com
www.phinda.com/Accommodation/getty.aspx

When Getty House is not being used as a vacation home by its owners Tara and Jessica Getty, it's an exclusive-use villa that comes with its own ranger, tracker, butler, and chef, thus allowing for choice in planning every aspect of your safari. Unlike Zuka Lodge, the other private retreat in the 44,400-acre Phinda Reserve, the entire Getty House—eat-in kitchen, living and dining rooms, study, and four bedrooms, each with a private bath—is under one roof. The decor is clean-lined and deliciously cool, with mosquito-proof sliding windows and doors. The elevation means that game sightings can be made from the infinity pool. After a lunch of chermoula-grilled prawns and homemade ice cream, go for an afternoon bush walk with your tracker. 

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Gorah Elephant Camp
Addo Heights Road
Addo Elephant National Park
South Africa
Tel: 800 735 2478 (toll-free)
Tel: 27 44 532 7818
res@hunterhotels.com
www.hunterhotels.com/gorahelephantcamp

The Addo Elephant National Park—home to black rhinos, lions, Cape buffalo, antelope, and the world's densest elephant population—is also home to this luxury tented camp, part of a private game reserve. The 11 thatch-roofed, permanent tents are creamy, cavernous, and cool (though not air-conditioned), with open-plan bathrooms, polished wood floors, and colonial four-poster beds. An impeccably restored 1850s farmhouse with deep wraparound verandas has views over lawns and a sun-drenched watering hole where animals gather to drink. There's also a rock pool for swimming, and a boma—an outdoor firepit and eating area for dining under the stars.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Grand Café and Rooms
27 Main Road
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa
Tel: 27 44 533 3301
www.thegrand.co.za

The name of this central Plett spot may call to mind some sprawling, past-prime behemoth of a hotel. Instead, you'll find a quirky eight-room B&B attached to a boho bistro. The bookshelf-lined reception desk is in the restaurant, which overlooks the sea and what used to be Lookout Beach (until it was ruined by floods in 2007). The decor nods to 1920s café culture with ornate mirrors and chandeliers. Polished concrete floors and high four-poster beds modernize the look. Each room leads to an intimate courtyard, some with plunge pools or water features. The friendly staff often double as tour guides, directing you toward the best after-hours bars and local boutiques.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grande Roche Hotel
Paarl
South Africa
Tel: 27 21 863 5100
info@granderoche.com
www.granderoche.com

With elements dating to the area's Huguenot settlement of the late 1600s, this estate in Cape wine country is "beautifully restored, surrounded by vineyards and magnificent old trees." Rooms, in several buildings, are suite-style—"we loved sitting in our living area, drinking wine from the local wineries." Order shrimp in phyllo pastry or a Grande Roche burger at Bistro Allegro.

(35 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Granite Private Suites, Londolozi Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 280 6655
reservations@londolozi.com
www.londolozi.com

Londolozi owner and big-time conservationist Dave Varty has, after a long stint at CC Africa, returned to this game reserve—famous for its leopards—with his family to run it full-time. Joining the four existing lodges (which have all undergone glamorous makeovers without diluting their original identity) are the brand-new Granite Suites: three spacious sanctuaries that look out on a stretch of smooth granite extrusions along the Sand River, where breeding herds of elephants come to bathe. The suites are understated and contemporary, done in bold textures and sophisticated silver, charcoal, and gray. Luxury comes in the form of space, light, and extreme privacy—in each suite, the living room, bedroom, and enormous bathroom extend outdoors onto a veranda with a pool overlooking the iconic rocks. But it's not about the size of the bathrooms or the champagne served under the stars—features that anyone can duplicate. Londolozi's magic is a combination of the exciting twice-daily game drives, the delightful Shangaan staff (it's hard not to adore someone called Cry with a mile-wide smile and a knack for remembering exactly how you take your coffee), and the Vartys' philosophy of a deep engagement with nature. When you've had your fill of the big five, the wellness center offers a soul safari of massage therapies and open-air yoga classes.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hog Hollow Country House
Askop Road
The Crags
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa 6600
Tel: 27 44 534 8879
www.hog-hollow.com

What started out as a backpacker's retreat with a single room has morphed into 16 suites set on the edge of an indigenous forest, just outside Plettenberg Bay. The suites—split between several houses—have decks with hammocks overlooking the lush greenery as well as fireplaces to keep out the chill on winter nights. Hog Hollow lacks TV, AC, and the razzmatazz of Pezula and the Plettenberg. But what it does have is a distinctly African feel, with excellent artwork and artifacts, as well as a staff composed entirely of locals trained on-site. You're likely to make friends with the other guests during the four-course dinners, which are served at a communal table and might include phyllo pastry filled with artichokes, roasted tomatoes, and asparagus, or roasted duck stuffed with dried fruit.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kurland Hotel
Highway N2
The Crags
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa 6602
Tel: 27 44 534 8082
info@kurland.co.za
www.kurland.co.za

Ten of Kurland's 12 suites have the words "Paddock" or "Rose Garden" in their name, which tells you a lot about the hotel's twin obsessions: flowers and horses. Hyacinth candles and roses freshly plucked from the stately gardens scent the baronial rooms in the 120-year-old main house, which is furnished with large settees and oil paintings. The palatial Relais & Châteaux property, set on more than 1,700 acres, has become one of the prime venues for international polo events, with four fields and a gorgeous white pavilion. Guests can ride 12 of the horses boarded on-site, but the other 100 are reserved for polo players. A wide porch where tea and cake can be taken overlooks the main lawn and pool, one of many water features that dot the property. The hotel sells itself as a family destination with en-suite playrooms and special activities (cooking lessons, pony rides), but those traveling sans little ones will be happy to know that younger children dine in a separate room.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
La Residence
Franschhoek
South Africa 7690
Tel: 27 15 793 0150
info@laresidence.co.za
www.laresidence.co.za

This is La Residence "take two"—a new, flashier version of the original Franschhoek property, built from scratch on a different site but with the same personal vibe—and appeals to those who wish to be close to the action but out of the limelight. Franschhoek Village, with its award-winning restaurants and a wine culture, is ten minutes away, and Cape Town is less than an hour's drive. In keeping with its name, the hotel was constructed on a grand scale: triple-height ceilings, black-and-white marble floors, enormous chandeliers, and vast paintings. Opening onto wide verandas and mountain views, the 11 extravagant suites are layered with French and Asian antiques, fantastic local art, and Persian carpets, and each has its own personality—from a girly boudoir in pink and lime green to a palatial honeymoon suite in white marble. The large pool backed by palm trees wouldn't look out of place at a beach resort but does here amid vineyards. Guests dine alfresco during the day, while dinner is a theatrical event with candlelight, high-backed ruby banquettes, and local wines paired to the simple but well-executed menu. A spa is in the works.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Last Word Sea Five
5 Central Drive
Camps Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8005
Tel: 27 21 4380 743
info@seafive.co.za
thelastword.co.za

A ten-minute drive from the V&A Waterfront is the affluent suburb of Camps Bay, where Sea Five emerged like one of the many private beach houses that cling to the mountainside. Above a curve of white sand beach that is the crowded home of trendy cafés, bars, and shops, it's a best-of-both-worlds location, close enough to hear waves crashing, high enough to relish the stillness. Six guest rooms sprawl out on three levels, and all come with luxurious bed linens by Mungo Design (a hot South African export) and at least one large terrace (the two-bedroom penthouse has four) looking out at the Twelve Apostles, Lion's Head, or the sea. Interiors are simple but chic, sun-bleached in shades of white and stone. The amiable staff are equally adept at leaving you alone when you want solitude, or providing insider tips on what to do and where to go, should you decide to wander beyond the spacious wooden deck, the infinity lap pool, the friendly bar, and the volumes of locally published books on natural history. Lunch and dinner must be booked in advance.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Franschhoek Hotel
1129 Farm Keerweder
Franschhoek
South Africa 7690
Tel: 27 21 876 8900
reservations@lefranschhoek.co.za
www.lefranschhoek.co.za

This contemporary Cape-Dutch property overlooks vineyards and orchards, and is surrounded by "a delightful French garden," hence the perfect design score. Service veers from "a little distant to truly excellent." Rooms "are tastefully decorated" with neutral tones. At Le Verger, dine alfresco in the orchard on perfect-scoring European, Asian, and African dishes. Breakfast at La Pavilion is "the best anywhere, and I've been to all seven continents!"

(63 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Les Cascades de Bantry Bay
48 De Wet Road
Bantry Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8005
Tel: 27 21 434 5209
fontain@mweb.co.za
www.lescascades.co.za

A short drive from both the city center and the beaches, this stylish guest house is located in the chic residential area of Bantry Bay, on the Atlantic. There are rooms in two buildings: six in the main lodge and four in the villa just down the hill. Three gorgeous, black-slate swimming pools are built on different levels between the two houses. The interiors have recently been updated, doing away with the colonial teak furniture for a more modern, European look. The hotel's chauffeured BMW is available for airport pickup, taxi service, and guided day tours.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Lion Sands
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 13 735 5000
www.lionsands.com

The family-owned and -operated lodge occupies 10,000 "absolutely beautiful" acres. Thatched-roof rooms in hues of maize, burnt orange, pale green, sky blue, gold, and ivory "are huge and bright." Outside, on the Sabie River, "animals always wander down to the water for a drink." Traditional boma dinners centered around a bonfire come with "the constant calls of hyenas, elephants, and hippos. It's mind-blowing."

(32 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Londolozi Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 13 735 5653
reservations@londolozi.com
www.londolozi.com/

"The watchman knocked on our door to show us the baby elephant who was breakfasting on our front bushes." Five camps include Pioneers Camp, with silver decanters and crystal chandeliers, and the rustic riverbank chalets of Founders Camp. "Our ranger joined us at dinner so we could continue our conversations about the wildlife we had seen." "Following 11 lions on the hunt was the most exhilarating experience of my life."

(32 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Madikwe Safari Lodge
Madikwe Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 888 882 3742
www.andbeyond.com

A relaxed ambience pervades at this "perfectly designed lodge that feels like a private home." Beanbags and wicker bowl chairs give common areas a cozy feel, while tree trunks are incorporated into the rustic architecture. Suites, all with plunge pools, are "incredibly comfortable and in tune with the wild." The mostly local staff "are eager to share their stories, and listen attentively to yours."

(20 suites)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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MalaMala Game Reserve
Kruger National Park
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 442 2267
reservations@malamala.com
www.malamala.com

Land at the reserve's airstrip and "you fly into a vast expanse of green, pristine nature." Accommodations at the three camps are either in rondavel-style abodes or airy aristocratic buildings with white paneled ceilings. "You shouldn't expect gourmet meals," but the traditional cuisine is "full of flavor." Big Five spottings include "multiple leopard sightings."

(33 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Marine Hermanus
Marine Drive
Hermanus
South Africa
Tel: 27 28 313 1000
marine@hermanus.co.za
www.marine-hermanus.co.za

Part of "The Collection," a group of five-star hotels in the Cape Province from proprietor Liz McGrath (which includes The Cellars-Hohenhort and The Plettenberg), the Marine has a spectacular location above Walker Bay—which makes for some great land-based whale-watching between May and December. The upscale property also has a small but opulent heated saltwater pool, surrounded by a white-arched courtyard, three restaurants, and 43 rooms and suites. These are comfortable, and most have ocean views, but the decor is a bit matronly (blame the heavy use of patterned curtains and matching pillows).

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Melton Manor
Kwande Private Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 888 882 3742 (toll-free)
Tel: 27 11 809 4300
usa@andBeyond.com
www.andbeyondafrica.com/luxury_safari/south_africa/garden_route/and_beyond_kwandwe_private_game_reserve/accommodation/and_beyond_kwandwe_melton_manor

Melton Manor, a villa with accommodations for eight, is the latest addition to Kwandwe, a privately owned game reserve spanning 62,000 acres in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Like the other three lodges on the reserve, the CC Africa–managed Melton Manor has stellar service from a staff who seem to have a telepathic ability to delight guests. Because you have Melton Manor all to yourself, you can plan everything down to the smallest detail, from setting departure times for the twice-daily game drives to placing a standing order for waffles at breakfast. Architecturally, the property is a contemporary take on a traditional frontier farmhouse, with high ceilings and deep verandas overlooking a central courtyard and an infinity-edge pool. Decor is witty and nostalgic—imagine antique claw-foot furniture painted dark pink and Granny's crocheted blankets reworked in funky colors. An open kitchen gives you license to interact (or even assist) the chef as he prepares a constant round of delicious meals, snacks, and afternoon teas. There is a misconception that game viewing here doesn't have the wow factor of other reserves farther north, but lion prides, black and white rhino, buffalo, cheetahs, and many other wild animals are prolific. The reserve is also a sanctuary for numerous bird species, not least the endangered blue crane after which the reserve is named.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Mount Nelson Hotel
76 Orange Street
Gardens
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 483 1000
reservations@mountnelson.co.za
www.mountnelson.co.za

The colonial traditions of the century-old Mount Nelson Hotel will please anyone yearning for a quieter pace of life. The moment guests drive up the palm-lined lane and past a saluting doorman, they are cocooned from stress and noise. Morning and afternoon tea in the lounge, the sound of sprinklers on the lawn, and the pat of tennis balls on the courts in the nine-acre gardens—all form a tranquil backdrop to the busy city. The Mount Nelson has 201 rooms in total; guests who prefer to get away from the large hotel feel of the main four-story building should book one of the eight Garden suites across the lane, with, yes, their own walled gardens. In the same annex, the Green Park rooms are spacious and comfortable, though the decor is awfully flowery, with patterned curtains and botanical prints on the walls. Also, be sure to specify the size of the bed you want: Sometimes they push two singles together. A full, hot English breakfast, included in the room rate, is served in the Oasis Restaurant overlooking the main pool. Located on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, the hotel is a five-minute walk to restaurants and the city center. There is free shuttle service to Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, but you'll need to rent aa taxi car to get to the reach the beaches, 15 minutes away.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ngala Private Game Reserve
Kruger National Park
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 809 4300
www.ccafrica.com

This "intimate camp with outstanding ambience" has tents tucked amid the forest overlooking the Timbavati River. In addition to sightings on game drives, seeing water buffalo, warthogs, and elephants around the camp is "a normal occurrence." "Staff go overboard to make your stay special": Each room's personal butler serves alfresco dinners on the guest's individual deck. "Meals pleasantly surpassed our expectations."

(6 tents)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
One&Only Cape Town
Dock Road
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 431 5800
www.oneandonlycapetown.com/

On the edge of a marina on the buzzing V&A Waterfront, this glamorous newcomer makes the other five-star harbor hotels seem buttoned-down by comparison. While service is still short of being seamless, the hotel raises the bar in Cape Town with its designer dining, luxurious accommodations, and innovative facilities. There's a Nobu doing faultless food with a nod to locally sourced ingredients; the Gordon Ramsay–helmed Maze, known for its tasting-plate menus; and a central bar with a gunshot view of Table Mountain. All of the 91 rooms and suites in the main hotel are smartly done in dark, African-inspired hues and sleek lines. There are also 40 island suites—hot accent colors liven up the decor here—set apart on one of two private islands within the marina that form part of the hotel (the other island has the retreat-like ESPA spa, wisely set away from the hotel's superbly staffed gym and KidsOnly club). Quieter and more spacious but without views, these suites surround a vast free-form infinity pool with its casual, alfresco Isola restaurant (hotel guests only in high season) that serves wood-fired pizza, tapas, and salads.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Oyster Box Hotel
2 Lighthouse Road
Umhlanga Rocks
South Africa 4319
Tel: 27 31 514 5000
info@oysterbox.co.za
www.oysterboxhotel.com

This 1947 hotel set in lush gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean reopened after a two-year makeover as a long overdue luxury addition to KwaZulu-Natal's tropical northern coast. The renovation enhanced its colonial character while adding modern essentials including two pools, a spa (expect angelic staff and a Turkish hammam), a gym, and a 24-seat cinema. Throughout the hotel, handcrafted, decorative tiles and antiques from the original property are offset by contemporary South African art—80 paintings are by emerging KwaZulu-Natal artists. Attention to detail and design extends to the 86 rooms and suites (most of them sea-facing), all richly layered in pattern, texture, and color. Durban's melting-pot heritage, particularly its Indian culture, is reflected in many aspects of the hotel, from the friendly, proud-as-punch staff to cuisine. The Ocean Terrace has an authentic Indian curry buffet; the crisp navy-blue-and-white Grill Room, with old-fashioned dinner dances on weekends, offers a menu of retro classics from crayfish and prawn cocktail to seafood platters, and the colonial Palm Court serves traditional English high tea. Durban's style mavens have practically colonized the Lighthouse Bar, which leaves the breezy Oyster Bar or cozy Chukka Bar for a quiet drink.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Palace of the Lost City
Sun City
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 780 7800
www.suninternational.com/Destinations/Resorts/SunCity/Hotels/palace/Pages/Home.aspx

This property pays homage to Southern Africa trading empires built on ivory and gold. Set in a valley in the Pilanesberg Mountains, this resort has "a unique design" that includes elements of African, Baroque, and Asian architecture in its towers, domes, and rotunda lobby. Try boerewors (South African sausage) at the poolside buffet. The King's Suite has hand-carved maple walls and a sauna.

(338 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa
The Heads
Knysna
South Africa
Tel: 27 44 302 3303
www.pezularesorthotel.com

Pezula's 78 rooms are scattered in groups of four across a headland that overlooks the Knysna lagoon to one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Bordering the property are 2,500 acres, with a golf course, an estate for million-dollar homes, and a "field of dreams" specially constructed to attract 2010 World Cup soccer teams. The excellent Zachary's Restaurant serves what might be called pan-African cuisine, and the nine-room spa, which also offers Pezula's own rooibos tea–based Maruwa products, is a must, even if only for the post-treatment room with hot water beds. The only downside is that the property isn't on the beach. Anyone wanting to laze on the sand will have to take a shuttle to get down to Noetzie Beach, which is dotted with old castles built at the turn of the century for use as vacation homes. The hotel recently renovated two such castles and turned them into ultraluxurious suites (the larger one's first guest was Nelson Mandela).

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Phantom Forest Eco Reserve
Phantom Pass Road
Knysna
South Africa 6570
Tel: 27 44 386 0046
phantomforest@mweb.co.za
www.phantomforest.com

"Eco" and "Reserve" fail to fully capture the richness of the experience at Phantom Forest, a hilltop resort that peeks through the trees to the Knysna River below. The 14 rooms are split between cozy wood-and-glass chalets and newer Moroccan-themed tree suites reached by winding wooden walkways, from which you can also access trails for a hike into the game-filled property. The hotel was constructed with renewable materials like bamboo and thatch in order to reduce its environmental impact. But Phantom doesn't skimp on comfort, with the best African cottons, plump beds, and sumptuous meals often made with organic ingredients. All rooms have massive glass-front baths with sunken tubs overlooking the forest. The vibe is romantic, with intimate treatments at the Body Boma spa, a private hot tub for two in between the trees, a Moroccan restaurant amusingly called Chutzpah and lit by candelight and lanterns, and a nightly fire perfect for post-dinner cuddling.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Phinda Zuka Lodge
Phinda Private Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 809 4300
www.ccafrica.com

This book-it-all-or-nothing camp that accommodates up to eight people in four thatched cottages is in the western corner of the 43,000-acre Phinda Private Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal Province. The reserve adjoins the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, and is 19 miles west of the Indian Ocean's white-sand beaches. One of five affiliated small-scale lodges in the reserve, Phinda Zuka is ideal for family gatherings and for travelers who don't like to follow the herd (or to cozy up to strangers at boma dinners). A private ranger, tracker, butler, and chef—plus your own 4x4—means you can make your own plans, whether for game drives and canoe trips or bush walks and scuba-diving safaris. Guests can view cheetahs, dolphins, elephants, rhinos, turtles, and whale sharks—all in one action-packed day. While meals can be taken anywhere, it's fun to gather in the café-style kitchen, which lies at the heart of a communal relaxation area that has Internet access, a library, and a pool.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
The Pinnacle
1011 Manhattan Place
130 Bree Street
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 556 9984
thepinnacle@exclusive-serenity.com
www.thepinnacle.co.za

The Pinnacle is a single-suite penthouse triplex with 180-degree views of the city's colorful Malay Quarter, Signal Hill, and the sea. Suitably minimalist and sexy, the loftlike layout makes the most of the triple-volume space: a vast living room, a sleek stainless steel kitchen, and a balcony on the first level; a study, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a balcony on the second; and a bedroom with an en suite bathroom on the mezzanine above that. Amenities include underground parking, a rooftop pool deck, a private gym, and a personal butler who is on hand to organize anything from a simple breakfast to a full-scale dinner prepared by a local chef. As in any city center, the location can be noisy—at 5 A.M., you'll want to burrow beneath the Egyptian cotton sheets to dampen the strident sounds of the muezzin's call to prayer from the mosque across the road.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Pioneer Camp, Londolozi Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa 1350
Tel: 27 11 280 6655
news@londolozi.co.za
londolozi.com/en/lodge/pioneer_camp

Similar in concept to Londolozi's Granite Suites, Pioneer Camp, owned and operated by the Vartys (South Africa's first family of safari) has been entirely rebuilt in the shade of a 500-year-old riverine forest, its three thatched-roof suites' decor capturing the romance of safari. Picture windows and sliding doors with mosquito-proof panels bring in the outdoors, a concept furthered by a suite deck with a circular plunge pool and outdoor shower with an elevated perspective over the Sand River, its elephants, and prolific birdlife. Smart sustainability underpins every aspect of the camp, from the power-saving master switch at the front door of each room, to the local mineral water in glass bottles, to the aromatic yet biodegradable bath amenities. Interaction with staff and other guests is encouraged, and centers around a main thatched lodge with indoor-outdoor dining and lounge areas, bar, wine cellar, lap pool, and the show kitchen, where the deceptively simple pan-African dishes are inspired by local ingredients like salmon trout, venison, subtropical fruits, and macadamia nuts. While the service is relaxed, it's orchestrated with military precision to maximize guests' time on safari: Twice-daily game drives to track Londolozi's famous leopards are complemented by bush walks, fishing, sleep-outs, massage, and yoga.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Plettenberg
Church Street
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa 6600
Tel: 27 44 533 2030
plettenberg@relaischateaux.com
www.plettenberg.com

Imagine a California hotel—beiges and pale blues, clean lines, massive windows onto the sea—crossed with an English manor house, and you've got the Plettenberg. Owner Liz McGrath, whose collection of hotels in the region also includes the Marine Hermanus, has put a Laura Ashley stamp on the 37 rooms, which are split between the main building and the Blue Wing. McGrath attempts to make guests feel at home by scattering public sitting areas throughout the property—perfect spots to gather for sherry before dinner at the intimate Sand restaurant. Treatments at the Carchele Spa are a bargain at $140 for day-long packages.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Plettenberg Park
Robberg
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa
Tel: 27 44 533 9067
www.plettenbergpark.co.za

This private home was extended five years ago into a ten-room boutique hotel perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff. From the rocks in front of the hotel, stairs lead down to a small beach and a sheltered rock pool, and glass-walled showers in the corner rooms feel suspended in midair. The hotel, located at the end of a gravel road on the edge of Robberg Nature Reserve, is ideal for anyone seeking seclusion. But the place lacks forethought—for example, the main lounge area is cut off from the rest of the hotel. Still, it's easy to forgive, when you look out at the dramatic views of the ocean in front and the savanna behind you. A word of warning: In lieu of a formal restaurant, there is an on-site chef who takes orders and arranges for you to eat by the pool, in your room, or in the main lounge. While the food is good, it's worth heading into town at least one night to explore Plett's other eateries.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 11 483 3939
res@sabisabi.com
www.sabisabi.com

"The bush at its best" describes this reserve that includes a watering hole popular with giraffes, wildebeests, and lions. Divide your time between four lodges: Selati is "like an English Colonial outpost," while Earth Lodge is contoured into the hillside, has sand and plants on its roof, and "is modern yet in tune with the surroundings." Join the "superior guides" at pan-African boma dinners.

(52 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Safari Lodges at Phinda Private Game Reserve
Phinda Private Game Reserve
South Africa
www.andbeyond.com

"This place will stay with you forever." This camp on former farmland near the Ubombo Mountains earns perfect scores for rooms, service, and design. Accommodations are set on the cliff face, in the dry sand forest, or by the extinct volcano. Interiors range from glass-and-wood minimalist, to Malian, to Balinese. Dinners include banquets in bush clearings and dishes such as minted harissa chicken. On game drives, "guides always get you close to the animals"—rhinos, cheetahs, nyala, and more.

(61 suites)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Samara Private Game Reserve
Graaff-Reinet
South Africa
Tel: 27 49 891 0880
samara.co.za

Located in the remote Great Karoo, Samara Private Game Reserve comprises 69,000 dramatic acres, much of it reclaimed farmland that's been restored to its former glory and restocked with cheetahs, white rhinos, zebras, giraffes, springbok, black wildebeests, and other species. Its six-room luxury lodge has beautifully appointed suites (three of them larger and set apart from the main lodge), all with wide verandas and decorated with antiques, nineteenth-century lithographs from South African artists, zebra skins, and indigenous-wood four-poster beds. The lodge is a stylish interpretation of the original Karoo farmhouse, complemented by gracious service and delicious cuisine—dinner of rack of lamb or venison matched to local red wines and followed the next day by a picnic-style feast in the bush. The usual safari activities are on offer, but in such a remote and exclusive setting, they are light years away from the hyped-up, goal-oriented safaris often associated with top lodges in the overpopulated reserves farther north.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Saxon
36 Saxon Road
Sandhurst
Johannesburg
South Africa 2196
Tel: 800 745 8883 (toll-free)
Tel: 27 11 292 6000
reservations@saxon.co.za
www.thesaxon.com

Located in Sandhurst, "a posh suburb of Johannesburg," this former private home has "the infrastructure and amenities of a much larger hotel." Perfect-scoring rooms are "anything but standard," with contemporary African art, brown-latticed shutters, and minibars stocked with local wines. "Gracious staff" serve European dishes at the eponymous restaurant. Try the signature spa treatment: sound therapy that uses gongs.

(53 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Singita Lebombo and Sweni
Kruger National Park
South Africa
Tel: 27 21 683 3424
singita@singita.co.za
www.singita.com

These two lodges sit on 33,000 acres "full of wildlife" and Euphorbia trees. Lebombo's loft-style suites are perched above the N'wanetsi River, while Sweni's are shaded by the riverine forest, their interiors showing flashes of lime, avocado, and kiwi. Dinners focus on grilled meats and vegetables—"something for every dietary need"—and "amazing singing and dancing" by staff, who "make you feel like family."

(21 suites)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Singita Sabi Sand
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
South Africa
Tel: 27 21 683 3424
reservations@singita.co.za
www.singita.com

Your first experience at this former game farm is arriving at the private airstrip "as giraffes look on from alongside the runway." If not for the game drives, you "wouldn't leave your room, it's that amazing." Ebony Lodge sits under trees on the Sand River, while Boulders has glass walls and private pool decks. "Staff are like family." Dining options "are full of surprises, including a four-course in-room meal replete with candles and flower petals."

(30 suites)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Table Bay Hotel
Quay 6
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 406 5000
naukmea@za.suninternational.com
www.suninternational.com/destinations/hotels/tablebay

The sunshine-hued building is full of windows with views of Table Mountain, the bay, and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The location means "you don't have to travel anywhere by car." In rooms, "the sea air contributes to a wonderful night's rest." Camelot Spa's baobab tree treatment employs a scrub of baobab, sugar, and geranium. Order local seafood at The Conservatory.

(329 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Taj Cape Town
Wale Street
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 866 969 1825 (toll free)
Tel: 27 21 819 2000
res.capetown@tajhotels.com
www.tajhotels.com/Luxury/Taj%20Cape%20Town,CAPE%20TOWN/default.htm

Located in the historic city center on the pedestrian St. George's Mall, this architecturally striking hotel is ideally suited to travelers wanting to tap into Cape Town's cosmopolitan culture—shops, street markets, art galleries, restaurants, and bars are all within walking distance, as are the city's legal and business districts and Company's Garden (part of the city's original fresh produce garden planted in the 1650s). The Taj occupies two restored landmark buildings on the lower floors, of which the central hub is the former South African Reserve Bank's marble-columned main hall (now the lobby, lounge, and bar areas). Atop this rises a new ultra-modern 17-story tower where most of the hotel's 177 rooms and suites are positioned to take advantage of the views of the city and Table Mountain. The lower, historic floors of the hotel house elegant rooms (with limited views and non-opening windows, alas), an Ayurvedic spa, and a fitness center with an indoor lap pool (the hotel's sole pool). The best of the three restaurants is the fine-dining Bombay Brasserie, modeled on its London namesake, focusing on regional Indian specialities carefully matched to local wines. Service here is also the most professional and confident, whereas elsewhere at the hotel staff seem more tentative.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Tintswalo Atlantic
Chapman's Peak Road
Hout Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 7806
Tel: 27 87 754 9300
atlanticreception@tintswalo.com
www.tintswalo.com/atlantic/about_hotel.html

Perched on stilts between ancient milkwood trees, the ten wood-and-glass suites and two-bedroom presidential suite are so close to the pounding waves that it's possible to toss pebbles into the rock pools from your private deck. Each room is inspired by an island around the world; yet given the breathtaking views, themed rooms seem like an unnecessary distraction. Beds are vast, and sea-view tubs and huge showers provide an illusion of spaciousness. Although there isn't a pool big enough to swim in or a private beach directly below the lodge, guests will enjoy whale watching, romantic dinners, and outdoor massages. If you tire of that, a complimentary car service can whisk you to Cape Town.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Tsala Treetop Lodge
Plettenberg Bay
South Africa
Tel: 27 44 501 1111
www.hunterhotels.com/tsalatreetoplodge/

Tsala's stone-and-wood suites are built on stilts at the end of a gorge some five miles from Plettenberg Bay. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a canopy of trees that is filled with birdsong in the mornings, and each suite sprawls from bedroom to sitting room to deck. Private fireplaces, plenty of in-room nibbles (such as fruit kebabs and local cheeses), a plunge pool on the doorstep, and complimentary Tsala wine made by the Villiera estate are only the beginning of the indulgence. A large wine cellar that includes excellent labels like Morgenhof, Cape Point, and Hamilton Russell balance out a sometimes uneven set menu. The hotel is part of the Hunter group, so you can combine your stay with time at the Gorah game lodge or the colonial Hunter's Country House.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Victoria Road
Camps Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8040
Tel: 27 21 437 9000
bookta@12apostles.co.za
www.12apostleshotel.com

This smart hotel is poised above the Atlantic rollers on the beach road between Camps Bay and Llandudno. The rooms, a modern take on colonial decor done in earth tones, are in four low-slung wings, two on each side of the main house. The 24-hour café dishes up a light California-influenced menu around the clock (so jet-lagged new arrivals can enjoy breakfast any time). The Azure Restaurant serves excellent food using local organic ingredients, and the spa has state-of-the-art treatment rooms. The hotel's 16-seat cinema shows movies five times a day, and you can access nature trails around the base of Table Mountain and picnic spots from the hotel grounds. Complimentary shuttle service is available from the airport.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Victoria & Alfred Hotel
On the Waterfront Pierhead
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 419 6677
res@vahotel.co.za
www.vahotel.co.za

A converted 1904 warehouse on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, this pale-blue property is "a charming slice of England in the heart of Cape Town." Interiors mix exposed brick with a modern palette of black, white, and red, softened by leather and crushed velvet. Staff's "constant big smiles" make guests feel "very important." At OYO Restaurant, try the pancetta-wrapped kingklip.

(94 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays
Convention Square
Lower Long Street
Cape Town
South Africa 8000
Tel: 27 21 412 9999
westin.grand.capetown@arabellastarwood.co.za
www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1445

"As you approach the hotel, it's all lit up and looks so buzzy." The streamlined glass tower has floor-to-ceiling windows in every guest room and colors inspired by the wine country and the Atlantic. "Staff make sure you're taken care of." Meals at Thirty7 fizzle: "The ambience is nice, but the food is mediocre."

(483 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Winston Hotel
6 Tottenham Avenue
Melrose Estate
Johannesburg
South Africa 2196
Tel: 27 11 268 3140
Tel: 27 11 268 3141
info@thewinstonhotel.co.za
thewinstonhotel.co.za

Everything about this 30-room hotel is chic and intimate, from the cozy bar off reception to the monochromatic marble bathrooms. A low-rise enclave in the swanky suburb of Melrose, minutes from Jo'burg's business and shopping districts, the Winston is a perfect little urban retreat, especially if you're traveling alone. High-ceilinged, elegant guest rooms have either a veranda or a balcony and one of three themes, including a French boudoir–style on the first floor. The lap pool occupies a courtyard garden where birds chatter in the trees. The streetwise staff deliver tips on sourcing retail heaven or tapping into Jozi culture. A photographic frieze depicts the city's turbulent gold-rush history in the Commissioner Restaurant, where no request is too much trouble, should you not be happy with dishes such as the robust calamari Niçoise salad with warm focaccia. This being Jo'burg, hotel security is top priority.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.