Today (January 23, 2017): Top 10 most luxurious hotels & lodges in South Africa.
South Africa – one is the planet’s most hauntingly beautiful country – holds a special place in my heart since I spent part of medical training here. The country offers an epic diversity of majestic landscapes, from the jagged peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains and the vast landscapes of the Karoo desert, to the stunning coastal scenery of the Cape Peninsula and the endless savannas of the Kruger National Park. But it’s not only the unsurpassed natural scenery that travelers are raving about. Observing Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), whale watching, the enjoyable climate, delicious food, excellent wines, the world’s most beautiful city, and above all the warm hospitality of its diverse population make Mandela’s rainbow nation a must-see destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. South Africa also harbours some of the finest and most luxurious hotels & lodges in the world that match the breathtaking scenery. To assist you in finding the ideal accommodation, I have compiled a top 10 list of my favorite hotels & lodges in South Africa.
There is more information (with reviews & Youtube clips) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite South African beach hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!
Cape Grace provides the perfect V&A Waterfront setting for discovering Cape Town’s enviable location, which offers both centrality and privacy combined with unrivaled views of Table Mountain, the yacht marina and a working harbor. The essence of Cape Grace is an intrinsic desire to understand guests’ needs so as to ensure truly memorable visits. Each one of the 121 guest rooms and suites is unique and has its own story to tell. Even the standard rooms are spacious here, with separate sitting areas, desks, complimentary high-speed internet, and cushioned headboards. Reminiscent of a glamorous Mediterranean yacht moored in the bay under the watchful gaze of the iconic Table Mountain, guests can also relax in an elegant and distinguished outdoor area that overlooks Cape Town’s acclaimed yacht basin.
- Hotel website: Cape Grace
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a 50 minute spa treatment, complimentary mini bar, and complimentary bottle of wine).
- Review: coming soon
Formerly known as The Westcliff, the iconic hillside hotel closed its doors in June 2013 for an ambitious $56 USD renovation, reopening to the public in December 2014 as a Four Seasons property. Perched on a cliffside, this resort-style retreat offers panoramic views over the neighbouring Johannesburg Zoo and the dense tree canopy of the city’s prestigious northern suburbs. The ambience is like a sun-splashed Mediterranean village laced with courtyards, fountains and gardens. Fully transformed, the hotel’s approximately 114 guest rooms and suites offer cool, contemporary décor inspired by modern Africa. Four Seasons Hotel Westcliff Johannesburg is a lively social hub for the city’s elite, and the first choice for business and holiday travellers – providing a pampering start or finish for a South African safari.
- Hotel website: Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
- Review: read here my review of the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff.
Nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains north of Cape Town, South Africa, lies Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retrea, an ideal refuge to feel the pulse of an extraordinary and ancient landscape. The lodge offers a distinctive wilderness experience among open plains, ancient sandstone formations, and over 130 sites of bush art paintings, some dating back as far as 10,000 years. The breathtaking beauty and timeless tranquility of the wide open plains, majestic rock formations and crystal clear waterfalls, reconnects you with with life’s true essence. As a Relais & Châteaux property, the lodge offers splendid luxury, generous hospitality and all modern amenities. Bushmans Kloof consists of 16 luxurious guest rooms and suites, as well as Koro Lodge, a private, fully-catered villa close to the main lodge.
- Hotel website: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat
- Other accolades: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best wilderness lodges and best places to visit in and around Cape Town.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, branded peak cap per person, and a picnic for two at a private location in the reserve; for 3 night stays: one complimentary dinner).
Set on the banks of the perennial Klaserie River is the flagship five-star lodge of Kapama Game Reserve: Kapama Karula. Meaning “place of peace”, this ultra-luxurious and prestigious lodge exudes calmness and depicts the pinnacle of elegant safari accommodation, with wraparound views of the African bush enhancing the overall sense of tranquillity. Modern whitewashed wood and vast sections of glass, complemented by a neutral colour palette, give Kapama Karula a contemporary African feel. The open-plan lounge and bar are spacious yet cosy, with skylights drawing in natural daylight and moonshine. Kapama Karula has ten superior suites, each exquisitely decorated and with generous private space. Each suite has its own outside deck area, full-sized heated swimming pool and sun loungers for relaxation.
- Hotel website: Kapama Karula
- Other accolades: Kapama Karula also features in my top 10 list of the most exclusive safari lodges in South Africa.
- Review: coming soon
Enjoying the most magnificent location on the Cape Peninsula, the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is a grand contemporary hotel in Camps Bay, just a short drive from the center of Cape Town. Nestled between the unspoiled natural beauty of the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range in the Table Mountain National Park, and the Atlantic Ocean, the award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection. The boutique hotel, member of the prestigious portfolio of Leading Hotels of the World, offers 70 guest rooms, styled with light colors and dark-wood accents that give an eclectic touch through African and nautical twists. Other unique features include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.
- Hotel website: The twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
- Other accolades: The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa also features in my top 10 list of luxury hotels with private helipads.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, free breakfast, tea by the sea for two people, a luxury one way airport road transfer, early check-in and late check-out; for stays of 4 or more nights guests also receive a scheduled helicopter transfer for two to the V&A Waterfront).
- Review: coming soon
Singita Lebombo Lodge is a celebration of cutting-edge design in an African context where everything defers to nature. This dramatic lodge comprises 13 suites and one villa that give guests a front row seat to the Kruger National Park with bold, contemporary open plan suites suspended above the N’Wanetsi River. The exclusive concession is a richly diverse habitat, teeming with game, beneath endless African skies. Other highlights of the lodge include a roof terrace and wine studio (a multi-level retreat which boasts a library, multi-media room, wine studio and rooftop viewing area), an interactive kitchen, and a lovely lap pool. All communal areas of the lodge have been pushed out to ensure that the outside bursts in, offering elegant, calm and meditative spaces immersed in a dramatic landscape of giant euphorbia trees.
- Hotel website: Singita Lebombo Lodge
- Other accolades: Singita Lebombo also features in my top 10 list of the most exclusive safari lodges in South Africa.
Mont Rochelle is a stunning 26-bedroom hotel and vineyard just under an hour’s drive from Cape Town in the town of Franschhoek in South Africa. Franschhoek is a traditional vineyard town in the Western Cape Province famously known as the French Corner of the Cape and is considered to be the food and wine capital of South Africa. Located at the foot of the gorgeous Klein Dassenberg Mountain Range, Mont Rochelle was purchased by Sir Richard Branson in 2014 and is now part of the exclusive Virgin Limited Edition collection which also includes Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The hotel offers its (often famous) guests the ultimate in privacy and relaxation, in addition to a superb culinary experience accompanied by some outstanding wines (the hotel’s vineyard processes close to 150 tons of grapes in a season). Mont Rochelle also has two dedicated spa treatment rooms as well as a Hammam.
- Hotel website: Mont Rochelle
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a hosted vineyard tour, a wine tasting with a Mont Rochelle winemaker, and a lunch at Country Kitchen for two guests).
Ivory Lodge, which was recently completely renovated, offers its guests an African Bushveld experience in lavish comfort. Extraordinarily beautiful in its simplicity and texture, the lodge’s timeless design incorporates steel, wood, thatch, glass, water & sand enhancing the surrounding bush environment. A sophisticated contemporary theme defines the interiors, with bold furniture and edgy décor, ambient lighting, inferences of tribal design and highly textured finishes. Each of the 8 villas include a private rim flow pool, exquisitely appointed bedroom and lounge, and simply more of everything. The more adventurous may want to opt to stay at one of the ultraluxurious treehouses operated by the same management of in the same wildlife reserve, guaranteeing a once in a lifetime experience and the ultimate African bush experience.
- Hotel website: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands
- Other accolades: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most amazing outdoor hotel rooms, the world’s best honeymoon resorts, the most exclusive safari lodges in South Africa, and Africa’s most insanely beautiful safari lodges.
- Review: read here my review of Ivory Lodge’s sister property, River Lodge Lion Sands.
Ellerman House is a superb 5 star hotel in the premier Cape Town suburb of Bantry Bay. The true splendour of the hotel rests in faithful preservation of its historical architecture, combined with discreet hospitality and efficient service reflecting the ambience experienced only in the comfort and familiarity of home. Ellerman House consists of 13 bedrooms and 2 three-bedroom villas, all individually crafted to provide a fabric of fantasy, luxury and pure indulgence. Sweeping views across the Atlantic Ocean are enjoyed from the private balconies and the lawned terraces surrounding the large, heated swimming pool. Exquisite meals created by acclaimed international chefs are displayed to perfection on china, silver and crystal. The hotel also has two of the finest collections of South African original art and vintage wines.
- Hotel website: Ellerman House
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a paired chocolate and South African Brandy tasting with a sommelier, and 10% discount on first spa treatment).
- Review: coming soon.
Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge with only 7 one- to six-bedroom villas, located in Thornybush private game reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. The lodge, which has Bill Gates, Bono and Elton John among its repeat guests, exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort and convenience. Here, the classic safari experience is unsurpassed with unrivaled Big Five game viewing and the country’s most qualified guiding team, who will provide detailed insights into the complex and fascinating ecosystems of the South African bushveld. Guests can also indulge in sensual treatments at the tranquil waters of Royal Malewane’s Bush Spa and enjoy nightly feasts under the African stars.
- Hotel website: Royal Malewane
- Other accolades: Royal Malewane also features in my top 10 lists of Africa’s most insanely beautiful safari lodges and the most exclusive safari lodges in South Africa.
- Review: read here my review of Royal Malewane.