As a travel writer based in South Africa, I have the privilege of visiting some of the country’s finest hotels and lodges. Here’s a short-list of seven of my most memorable stays from the last year, all offer uncompromising luxury, food & wine experiences, and of course set in stunning locations.
1. The Old Rectory, Plettenberg Bay
The Garden Route is a lush and scenic part of the coast enjoyed by many of South Africa’s foreign and local visitors. One of its newest luxury stays is the Old Rectory, in the beachside town of Plettenberg Bay. This beautifully restored heritage property has elegant charm and refined hospitality that will cater to your every need. It’s a one-minute walk to the beach – ask the staff to setup a beach picnic and enjoy views of kilometers of pristine coastline.
2. The Four Seasons The Westcliff Hotel, Johannesburg
The undeniably iconic Four Seasons Westcliff Hotel is a luxe lodging of note in the heart of Johannesburg. Hugging the side of one of the city’s highest ridges, the hotel offers unrivaled views over the world’s second biggest man-made forest. Serene wellness spaces, a range of eateries and world-class service make the hotel a must-visit if you’re passing through Johannesburg.
3. Hartford House, KZN Midlands
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, you’ll find Hartford House. This boutique hotel sits on kilometers of prized farmlands and offers what I feel is the pièce de résistance of dining experiences in the area. Dine in style and only have a couple steps to your room in the gracious country house, or a short walk to the chalets built on the lake. Come for the food and stay for the whole experience.
4. Holden Manz Estate, Franschhoek
If your dream is to stay in 5-star luxury, on a working winery with some of the most beautiful views offered from South Africa’s winelands, then look no further than Holden Manz. With premium wines to taste, a restaurant with killer views and a country house with only 5 luxe rooms you may just be tempted not to leave the property at all. Make sure you leave some space in your suitcase – you’ll want to take home some wine.
5. Queen Victoria Hotel, Cape Town
In the midst of the busyness of Cape Town’s V & A Waterfront, South Africa’s most touristed spot, hides an exclusive and utterly gorgeous 5-star hotel. The Queen Victoria Hotel has beautifully appointed rooms – although you’ll be impressed the minute you walk into the dazzling triple-volume atrium. The afternoon tea is not to be missed.
6. Ellerman House, Cape Town
Since the early 1900s this elegant Edwardian mansion has been proudly casting her gaze over the Atlantic Ocean. Now one of the country’s finest luxury boutique hotels, her guests can also enjoy the unbridled views. If that isn’t enough, the owner’s relentless love for the art means you’ll also be living in one of the most impressive private art collections in the country. Naturally, an incredible gourmand experience also awaits the discerning traveller.
7. The River Lodge Thornybush, Kruger National Park
A quintessential African safari experience, with some of the best service and hospitality you can find in the country. Wildlife abounds in this private enclave of the Kruger National Park, so get your animal checklist ready. A total of only 6 units means it’s an unrivaled intimate experience that will leave you feeling like royalty. The elephants drink almost daily from the lodge pools – one of the wildest welcomes I’ve ever had from a game lodge.