The five coolest places to stay in South Africa
South Africa has it all. Mind-blowing landscapes, world-class beaches, contemporary cities and some of Africa’s most wildlife-rich reserves. It can also boast its fair share of cool and quirky hotels, camps and lodges.
To help give you a taste of what a South Africa holiday can offer, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite places to stay.
If you’re looking for a South African safari with a little extra pampering, you’ll find it at the Royal Malewane. You’ll have more than 12,000 hectares of private game reserve to explore, and the activities include game-viewing from open-sided vehicles to walking safaris. The resident guides are seasoned photographers, many with awards, who will share with you their vast experience of the African bush. You’ll also have access to South Africa’s only surviving Master Tracker.
The spacious, air-conditioned lodges have their own pools and private terraces. And the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Blazon, awarded to only the finest properties, is set high on the wall. To top it off, you can stay in the Royal Suite or Malewane Suite for a complimentary private chef, butler and game driver.
Into the wild
To delve deep into the wilds of Africa, luxurious touches can often be sacrificed in favour of remote, unspoiled surroundings. In the Kariega Game Reserve, the five-star Settlers Drift manages to combine both with impressive style.
This elegant tented safari camp offers spacious living areas, opulent bedrooms, and indoor and outdoor showers. A private viewing deck looks out across the reserve and the Bushman's River below. Here, you’re perfectly situated for boat cruises and kayak safaris, and with such good access to water, this is also the spot to see rare bird species. Head out into the reserve on a game drive or walking safari to witness beautiful, rugged landscapes that have remained unchanged for centuries.
The quirky one
Set high up in the canopy of Tsitsikamma’s pristine forest, the Tsala Treetop Lodge is accommodation with a difference. The name gives it away, but don’t expect Swiss-Family-Robinson-style lodgings. Guests are treated to fantastic service, and each of the exclusive, elegant suites are linked by meandering wooden walkways.
After you’ve adjusted to your lofty surroundings, sink into your private pool and gaze out across the canopy. You’ll also have access to the resort’s library, or you can head down to the well-stocked cellar to select a bottle of fine South African wine to drink back on your terrace. Nearby Plettenberg Bay is home to some of the country’s most spectacular beaches, and the delights of Knysna are close by too.
Located in South Africa’s Northern Cape, Tswalu offers an impressive range of accommodation options. Choose from one of the authentic, stone-walled bungalows, or opt for a little extra exclusivity in the Tarkuni lodge.
A stay here will let you experience bush walks, horse riding and game drives in the largest private game reserve in South Africa. There’s wildlife aplenty, with rare desert black rhino, sable, roan antelope, Cape buffalo and cheetah all living within its borders. Back at the lodge, enjoy talks with the reserve's ecologists, visits to the staff village or fun activities for all ages. There’s ancient history here, too. Follow one of Tswalu’s guides to view the rock paintings and Bushman carvings within the reserve - research suggests some of the remains could be up to 380,000 years old.
Contemporary Cape Town
If the Big Five aren’t a priority for you, or the idea of treetop lodges keeps you up at night, don’t write South Africa off just yet. The Silo in Cape Town should keep even the pickiest travellers content. The latest addition to The Royal Portfolio, this ground-breaking hotel is housed in a former grain store. This iconic building has stood proud on Cape Town’s skyline since the 1920s.
Located within strolling distance of the V&A waterfront, you’ll have some of the city’s hottest restaurants, bars and shopping malls on your doorstep. You’ll also be right above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The Silo commands unrivalled views of Cape Town, from the blue ocean to Table Mountain. The views from your room are breath-taking enough, but head up to the rooftop bar, restaurant and pool for a vista like no other.