When it comes to tourism, South Africa is a nation of variety. Whether you’re looking for the best safari destination or a countryside retreat, you’ll find your pick in our carefully compiled list of luxury hotels. Although, keep an open mind, as there’s more than meets the eye; South Africa’s boutique hotel scene is as booming as any, while their waterfront resorts are every bit as underappreciated. Some of the following destinations and accommodation options truly demand their due diligence.
Formerly the dwelling of Nelson Mandela, this 10-acre estate feels more like a retreat rather than an urban hotel, despite being in bustling Johannesburg. Saxon Hotel is only three miles away from central Sandton and its soaring banks and restaurants, but it owes its secluded feel to the gates and surrounding blooming gardens. Should you want to explore the city, a car or Uber rides are more than necessary.
The hotel’s sophisticated style is apparent right from the get-go. The vaulted reception hall sports neutral hues – a recurring theme throughout the hotel – and the traditional African decor and artworks give it a homely vibe. Photographs of Mandela and other notable former inhabitants are also a testament to the property’s history. The main building is connected to the luxury villas via futuristic skyways indicating a perfect blend of the contemporary and the customary.
The 53 luxurious suites are situated in the main building as well as the separate villas. The villa suites have their own pools, piano lounges, bars, dining rooms, and 24-hour chef & butler services. The main suites, on the other hand, consist of a bedroom, a lounge, and a dining area. Amenities in the suites include minibars, flat-screen TVs, safes, refrigerators, as well as complimentary bathrobes and wi-fi.
The slew of facilities is where the Saxon Hotel truly leaves an impression. The massive outdoor pool is simply majestic, while the Saxon Spa & Studio provides all sorts of massages, treatments, and facials. The sauna and fitness centers are a welcome sight for those looking for an endorphin rush and the manicure/pedicure stations ensure you look good while doing so.
The multiple-course menu of the Luke Dale Roberts X the Saxon restaurant is divine, to say the least. Chef Candice Philip is at the helm of the kitchen responsible for the best in fine dining. Another option is the Qunu restaurant, led by Jane-Therese Mulry, and their alfresco specialities include traditional African and vegan dishes.
Prices start at $560 in low season, while the most opulent suites can be upwards of $1700.
La Clé des Montagnes has only four super-exclusive villas situated in a prime location of the Western Cape winelands. Less than an hour’s drive away from Cape Town, the historic town of Franschhoek is the beating heart of the region’s wine & art culture, featuring many restaurants and art galleries. It’s also worth noting that the town itself is within a walking distance from the lodge.
The surrounding mountains all but accentuate the farmhouse vibe, although the modern design of the buildings and the plethora of luxurious amenities guarantee the utmost comfort. The main building dates back to 1820 and is embellished by strong-colored decor in red and black. African, as well as contemporary art, can be found throughout the four villas, while the high ceilings and fireplaces make for a snug atmosphere.
The suites are incredibly commodious and feature king-size beds, extensive libraries, satellite television, free wi-fi, grand soaking tubs, and walk-in showers. La Clé des Montagnes has plenty in the way of leisurely activities despite being relatively remote. Each of the villas has its own swimming pool and garden, while the staff can book wine tours, horse rides, and yoga classes. What’s more, should you prefer aerial transport, helicopter transfers from the airport to the estate are available upon request.
In terms of dining, even though there isn’t a proper in-house restaurant, master chefs prepare exquisite gourmet dishes served in the villas. Wines and spirits are complimentary. Self-catering breakfast options are available in the upscale kitchens, while butlers can also prepare a wide range of pastries and English breakfasts.
Double bedrooms can go as low as $200 depending on the season.
The first reserve-hotel on this list, Gondwana Game Reserve, is definitely one of the best in its niche. The main issue with resorts such as these is that they tend to be extremely remote, but Gondwana’s strongest point is that it manages to be only 30 minutes away from the nearest town of Mossel Bay. Yet again, it’s a five-hour drive away from Cape Town, so it does retain a sense of isolation.