Hot List 2010

Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga Rocks, near Durban 

2 Lighthouse Road

Umhlanga Rocks
South Africa 4319

Tel: 27 31 514 5000

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.
Which room to book: The standard Classic Rooms are snug, so go for a Luxury Sea-facing Room (preferably on the third floor for a more spacious feel thanks to higher ceilings). All sea-facing rooms have a private balcony.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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