Garden Route hotels
The number of hotels along the Garden Route has exploded in recent years, as more and more Europeans have caught on to this scenic stretch, a mix of California's Route 1 and Sonoma County. While the lion's share of lodgings lie in and around the towns of Plettenberg Bay (nicknamed "Plett") and Knysna—including grande dames like Pezula and the Plettenberg)—there are excellent choices along the entire length of the Garden Route, from oceanfront castles to treetop villas, eco-lodges to funky boutique hotels. It's best to select two or three hotels, driving from one to the next to sample the different scenery, wildlife, and eateries along the way.
Hotels along the Garden Route make the most of their surroundings—perching on cliffs, beside lakes, and along rivers and estuaries—making this an ideal trip for nature lovers and sporty types. Most hotels have guides or will help coordinate tours, and on-site activities can include kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and bird-watching. Hotels in the area also tend toward the romantic: Fireplaces are de rigueur, and private retreats like Plettenberg Park and Phantom Forest are tucked away amid lush greenery. Hotel restaurants are some of the best eateries along the route, focusing on hearty fare made with local ingredients, washed down with South Africa's famous chenin blancs and cabernets.