City experiences


Hotels in South Africa

A number of South Africa's top-end hotels feature regularly in some of the best known "world's best" lists, such as the World Travel Awards, Condé Nast Traveller Readers' Choice survey, and Travel & Leisure magazine's World's Best Awards.

These include the Cape Grace, ArabellaSheraton Grand, Table Bay and Mount Nelson hotels in Cape Town; the Grande Roche in Paarl outside Cape Town; The Plettenberg on the Western Cape Garden Route; and the Grace in Rosebank, Michelangelo, Saxon and Westcliff hotels in Johannesburg.

'Rainbow' accommodation

While such establishments cater for business people and the high-end luxury market, there is a diversity of hotels available across the "Rainbow Nation", ranging from family-centred establishments to international chains, and a growing selection of conference hotels, casino resorts and "golf hotels".

There are also spa resorts, numerous options for the budget traveller, and a charming array of bed-and-breakfast accommodation and guesthouses. Facilities range from the ultra-luxury to the rustic, but most are noted for their high-quality, personalised service and warm hospitality. Many have restaurants on site.

Star-graded establishments

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa is responsible for the quality control of hotels in the country. It employs a five-star grading system and, to ensure credibility and independence, a feedback mechanism to monitor customer expectations.

Star gradings are displayed on most advertising material and at hotel entrances. Participation by hotels is voluntary and indicates a commitment to providing good service and regularly upgrading facilities.

Star-graded establishment undergo annual quality checks to ensure that standards are maintained.

More than 8 000 establishments in South Africa have been star-graded.

AA quality-assured establishments

AA Travel Guides offers another quality check for visitors to South Africa. The AA stamp of approval badge on promotional material indicates that a venue is highly recommended. Since 1994, the organisation has also run an annual awards programme based on consumer feedback on some 1 200 AA quality-assured establishments. High-scoring establishments are visited by qualified assessors to verify their scores.

A SELECT LIST OF SOUTH AFRICA'S TOP HOTELS

Note: this is not an official or definitive list.

EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE

The Paxton Hotel
Port Elizabeth
The 4-star Paxton provides superb accommodation and service for the more discerning tourist. It overlooks the stunning Algoa Bay, with vistas of the Indian Ocean beyond, and is five minutes' drive from some of Port Elizabeth's finest beaches, the city centre and popular shopping amenities. There is accommodation for quadriplegic and paraplegic guests.
Website

GAUTENG PROVINCE

The Grace
Johannesburg
The 5-star Grace in Rosebank is a fine, independent city hotel which combines luxury with that personal charm found only in smaller establishments. A child-friendly establishment, it prides itself on being a "gracious home". Set in the heart of stylish Rosebank – a secure, leafy suburb that is both cosmopolitan and tranquil – the hotel is within easy walking distance of shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, an African craft market and other cultural amenities.
Website

InterContinental Johannesburg Airport Sun
Johannesburg
The InterContinental Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport is the only luxury hotel at an airport in South Africa. It draws its inspiration from the African continent, capturing the culture and spirit of Africa through the use of simple shapes and symbolic artefacts to create an African environment in a contemporary setting. It's within walking distance of all terminals at South Africa's biggest and busiest airport and is well geared to host both holiday makers and business guests. The hotel includes a Camelot Health Spa, which offers a full vareity of treatments and massage facilities, as well as steam rooms and a fully-equipped gymnasium. There is a heated indoor swimming pool, which offers a panoramic view across Johannesburg.
Website

InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers
Johannesburg
The InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers is located in the upmarket suburb of Johannesburg and linked to two of South Africa’s most exclusive shopping malls, Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square. It is also right next to the spectacular Sandton Convention Centre, the largest convention centre in the country, which can accommodate up to 10 000 delegates at any one time. The Atrium Restaurant and Bar, has received an award of Excellence from Diners Club, while the facilities include a Fitness Centre, a secluded swimming pool, and a Business Centre.
Website

The Michelangelo Towers
Johannesburg
The 135-metre Michelangelo Towers offers panoramic views of the city and the Gauteng skyline, stretching all the way to the Magaliesberg Mountains. Located in the heart of Africa's corporate capital, the hotel adjoins the Sandton Convention Centre, has its own shopping mall, and boasts A-grade finishes and a range of decor choices. For dining, 8 offers a contemporary take on classical dishes in a convivial atmosphere; Pigalles - the epitome of baroque sophistication - specialises in traditional Portuguese cuisine and seafood; and The Raj focuses on Indian flavours and aromas.
Website

The Palazzo Montecasino
Johannesburg
The 5-star Palazzo Montecasino is a replica of a 300-year-old Tuscan village, complete with terracotta yellow-and-red hues. It is one of Johannesburg's most luxurious hotels, situated in the Montecasino shopping, entertainment and casino complex. It boasts an extravagant ambience, typified by the grand reception area and landscaped gardens. The restaurant offers an à la carte menu with choices of international and South African cuisine, as well as an extensive wine list. A cocktail bar serves pastries and coffee. The hotel is 20 minutes' drive from the glitzy shopping and business area of Sandton, and 42 minutes from both the city centre and OR Tambo International Airport.
Website

Park Hyatt Johannesburg
Johannesburg
The Hyatt Regency Johannesburg is located in upmarket Rosebank, in the north of Joburg. It's a "happening" suburb, with excellent shopping and dining. A health club, saunas, steam rooms, and a 24-hour business centre are among the available amenities. The Phumula Spa offers health and beauty services, including body treatments, massage, facial and skin care, and a beauty salon. A state-of-the-art Business Centre takes care of all business needs, while other offerings include a 24-hour babysitting, as well as health club facilities, which are complimentary to all guests. Should it be required, a butler service will also be provided. By using the E-Concierge Internet service, visitors can plan their upcoming visits to ensure that they run as smoothly as possible.
Website

The Saxon
Johanesburg
The 5-star Saxon is so exclusive that it does not advertise. It is a multiple award winner in the boutique hotel category of the World Travel Awards, and in 2002 won the Harpers and Queen "Best Boutique Hotel on Earth" award. A boutique hotel has a smaller number of rooms, but all with full-suite facilities such as a lounge and kitchen. The Saxon is famed for the peaceful ambience created by its rambling lawns, patios, water features and 920 square metre swimming pool, cushioning its guests from Johannesburg's frenetic pace. All rooms have a balcony and French doors opening onto the six-acre garden. The interior was designed by Stephen Falcke, who opted for an African theme masterfully blended with Eastern decor.
Website

The Westcliff
Johannesburg
Situated in an exclusive residential suburb, the Westcliff's hillside setting, with cascading gardens and opulent accommodation, evoke a bygone era of leisure and refinement. All the packages offer luxurious indulgence, from fine champagne to handmade Belgian chocolates to sumptuous marble bathrooms. Gourmet meals are available in the La Belle Terrasse restaurant, the celebrated Polo Lounge offers drinks, and breakfasts are served on the terrace overlooking the sparkling "infinity pool". Barrel-vaulted ceilings, columned spaces, a large fireplace and dramatic double-height windows entrench the splendour of the Ballroom, which leads out onto a wide alfresco balcony terrace. Business travellers can make use of the Jacaranda Hill conference centre next to the Business Wing, a self-contained, multi-tiered building with its own kitchen.
Website

KWAZULU-NATAL PROVINCE

Lynton Hall
South Coast
The 5-star Lynton Hall was named one of the world's top 80 hotels by Conde Nast Traveller in 2003. An exquisite Victorian building complete with turrets and wide verandas - and an interior decorated in Indian Colonial style - the hotel stands at the head of a picturesque golf course, with grounds that meander through pristine coastal forest down to the Indian Ocean.
Website

Cathedral Peak Hotel
Drakensberg Mountains
Set in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site, this famous hotel is surrounded by majestic mountains with velvety green slopes. Voted "most requested destination" by South Africa's Getaway Magazine, it is luxurious while retaining a warm hospitality and excellent cuisine. On site is a quaint stone and thatch chapel that seats 80 and is often reserved for weddings.
Website

Beverly Hills Hotel
Durban
The reception area of the 5-star Beverly Hills Hotel has an ocean backdrop that sets the tone for a grand old establishment exuding grace and elegance. Situated in the upmarket suburb of Umhlanga Rocks, the hotel is within easy walking distance of numerous galleries, coffee shops and shopping malls. The Sugar Club restaurant opens onto the terrace above the beach, and its breakfasts are highly recommended.
Website

The Royal Hotel
Durban
5 stars. Centrally situated across the road from Durban's city hall, the 5-star Royal Hotel is a long-standing, sumptuous establishment adorned with spectacular African tapestries. The refurbished Royal Grill restaurant offers silver service, the Coffeeshop serves superb cakes and pastries, and the Sunday lunch buffet at the Top o' the Royal is a feast with 360-degree views of the city.
Website

Albany Hotel
Durban
The elegant art deco-styled hotel Albany Hotel is situated within three blocks of Durban's International Convention Centre. It is also close to the yacht marina, the many restaurants and shops of Wilson’s Wharf, the Bat Centre – and arts and culture community centre in the small craft harbour off Durban's Victoria Embankment – and the spectacular Ushaka Marine World.
Website

MPUMALANGA

Walkersons Hotel and Spa
Dullstroom
Just outside of the fly-fishing hotspot of Dullstroom in Mpumalanga lies Walkersons Hotel and Spa on an 800 hectare Scottish Highlands style estate. It boasts 15 dams, including one just metres from the rooms, of which there are 28. They range from luxury suites to a panoramic honeymoon suite. The scenery is spectacular and the rooms are romantic, refined and individually decorated.
Website

NORTH WEST PROVINCE

The Palace Of The Lost City
Sun City
The Palace of the Lost City offers stunning five-star accommodation in the middle of the African bush, bordering on the Pilanesberg National Park, which includes the 'Big Five" on its 55 000 hectares. It features the Valley of the Waves, one of the most advanced water parks in the world, which is dominated by the Roaring Lagoon wave pool, with a palm-fringed beach. There are a number of rides, ranging from exhilarating to gentle, and an island, which boasts an ethinic village. The foliage is magnificent , including the Botanical Garden Trails, which feature rare plant varieties. There are two world class golf courses – the Gary Player Golf Course and Lost City Golf Course – both of which have hosted professional tournaments.
Website

Sun City Hotel
Sun City
The internationally-renowned Sun City is located about two hours from Johannesburg in an ancient volcano, surrounded by rugged African bush. It might be in the bush, but the casino resort offers fantastic luxury and entertainment options, both indoors and outdoors. It has played host to many top singers in the past and continues to still do so. And, although it is bushveld country, the Valley of the Waves allows for a coastal experience in a climate that is ideal for lounging on a beach. Two world class golf courses, including the Gary Player Country Club, home to the Nedbank Challenge, offers tough but eye-catching challenges.
Website

WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE

Arabella Western Cape Hotel and Spa
Hermanus
The Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa overlooks the largest natural lagoon in South Africa, just 20 minutes from the whale watching hot spot of Hermanus. It boasts a wonderful spa, an award-winning championship golf course, and it located in a region of rich bio-diversity, filled with beautiful flora and fauna. The hotel has received recognition by picking up awards in the World Luxury Hotel Awards.
Website

Cape Grace
Cape Town
This sumptuous 5-star hotel in Cape Town's Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is located on a private quay overlooking the yacht marina on one side and Table Mountain on the other. It exudes elegance throughout, with plush reception rooms, handpicked artefacts and a sophisticated atmosphere that retains an intimate ambience. Its restaurant - one.waterfront - offers classical-inspired cuisine with uniquely South African touches. The Bascule whisky bar and wine cellar is famed for its selection of over 420 whiskies of the world and the finest of Cape wines, and regularly features some of the city's top music acts.
Website

The Cellars Hohenort
Constantia, Western Cape
Against a backdrop of mountains and surrounded by wine farms, the 5-star Cellars Hohenort hotel is situated in the heart of the Constantia Valley. It has an understated elegance and charm, and the luxurious rooms and suites offer expansive views across gardens and vineyards, making it a haven of peace and quiet. The hotel is famed for its magnificent restoration of the 18th Century Klaasenbosch wine cellars and the splendid manor house of the Hohenort. On-site amenities include two outdoor swimming pools, one of which is heated, the Carchele Beauty Spa, two restaurants, a bar, a wine cellar, and two conference rooms. It is now "proudly non-smoking".
Website

Grande Roche Hotel
Paarl
Africa's only Relais Gourmand hotel is situated in the Drakenstein valley of Paarl. It is a manor house dating back to the 1770s, in the Cape Dutch tradition. Renovations have transformed the national monument into a luxury hotel. Today Grande Roche is a celebrated international hotel, famous for its plush, cosmopolitan accommodation and award-winning cuisine. It has a sumptuous health centre offering gym and massage facilities as well as an outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room. There is an in-house masseur, and body treatments can be arranged. The Bosman's Restaurant features a fusion of cuisines and, as Africa's first Relais Gourmand restaurant, it will appeal to discerning palates. There are regular culinary events featuring food and wine connoisseurs, and five-course dinners and wines selected by both the hosts and the hotel cellar master.
Website

Hotel Le Vendôme
Cape Town
Hôtel Le Vendôme, a five-star luxury boutique hotel, boasts picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean from its location in Sea Point, Cape Town. It's ideally situated: only minutes away from Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Clifton Beach, Table Mountain and the central business district. Dining may be done at the poolside or overlooking the pool and, for indoor comfort, Le Salon Chantilly, the hotel's classic lounge, offers memorable high teas, and pre-dinner aperatifs or connoisseur cognac and cigar. There are start-of-the-art conference and banqueting spaces, featuring three multi-purpose interconnecting rooms that accommodate up to 220 guests theatre-style – or up to 190 guests for a gala dinner. The hotel's Business Centre offers guests the further convenience of full secretarial services; in-room internet and facsimile connectivity, plus a Guest Link system with on-screen messaging, is ideal for the business executive.
Website

Mount Nelson Hotel
Cape Town
The "Nellie" occupies a breathtaking site on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. It is a member of Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises. Its nine acres of landscaped gardens offer a tranquil setting in the heart of Cape Town, and it is renowned for its afternoon teas with towers of cakes and pastries, as well as its sundowners on the veranda. Its signature Cape Colony Restaurant is sought after for its Cape Malay-influenced dishes, augmented by a classical menu as well as a contemporary menu of Asian fusion. Development of a new spa is due to be completed by December 2007.
Website

One&Only Cape Town
Cape Town
Hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, the man behind the world famous Sun City and Atlantis resorts, has added his style to Cape Town's Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in the form of the One&Only Cape Town. It incorporates a chic island design and African flair. The seven-storey Marina Rise features 91 rooms and suites with superb views of Table Mountain and Signal Hill. In addition, two lushly landscaped islands feature 40 island suites and the One&Only Spa. Dining is a special treat at the One&Only, with two Michelin-starred chefs headlining the choices, with Nobu Matsuhisa and Gordon Ramsay both opening their first venues in Africa.
Website

Table Bay Hotel
Cape Town
Located on Cape Town's working harbour, the 5-star Table Bay Hotel straddles the antique breakwater in the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The gracious building blends Victorian elegance with contemporary flair. The international business centre is fully equipped. The ballroom, with its crystal chandeliers and beautiful décor, is appropriate for formal occasions or conferences. It can convert to cinema-style (with two screens) to accommodate 300 people. A range of dining options are available: the Atlantic Restaurant, the Conservatory with a la carte meals, the Lounge offering teas, light snacks & drinks, the Conservatory Bar, and a Pool Bar for drinks, snacks and health food.
Website

Townhouse
Cape Town
Located in the heart of Cape Town, this 4-star hotel is in a historical 12-storey building. This charm is further enhanced with its 1970s-styled décor, and the ground floor affords a view of the city centre. It's a comfortable stay with good facilities, including a small gym and indoor pool.
Website

The Turbine Hotel and Spa
Knysna
In the picturesque town of Knysna in the beautiful Southern Cape, the Turbine Hotel and Spa is a superb boutique hotel. Formerly a power station (!), it comprises 24 individually-decorated bedrooms and suites which reflect the rich cultural, historical and geographic diversity of Knysna. Its features include the Amani African Spa, Island Cafe and The Turbine Tapas Bar, as well as conference facilities, pool deck, a jetty for motorized pontoon cruises and a host of modern facilities which tastefully complement the refurbished facilities and equipment which have been bought back to life around the property.
Website

Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa
Cape Town
Voted the number one City Hotel and number one Hotel Spa in Africa and the Middle East by Travel + Leisure Magazine for 2009, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa offers a stunning setting. Located almost four kilometres from Camps Bay, with the sparkling Atlantic Ocean on its right and unspoilt fynbos, typical of the Western Cape, on its left, it makes a superb getaway spot that is still within easy reach of the conveniences of Cape Town. As one of Africa's leading spa resorts, The Twelve Apostles offers numerous wonderful ways for visitors to pamper themselves and recharge. The heated infinity pool looks out over the ocean and there is also a smaller secluded rock pool with mountain views. Swimming in the ocean is a short walk away, while golf, fishing, and wreck diving are also available. The Sanctuary Spa offers hot and cold plunge pools, a Rasul (mud) chamber, a sauna, and a hydrotherapy bath. A wide variety of treatments is available in seven treatment rooms. Alternately, treatments can be applied in a shady gazebo.
Website

The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays
Cape Town
The 5-star ArabellaSheraton was rated one of the top five hotels in Africa in the 2006 Condé Nast Traveller Readers' Choice Awards. Situated alongside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, all rooms overlook either the harbour or Table Mountain, both of which can also be viewed from the AltiraSPA on the 19th floor, making for a spectacular accompaniment to the holistic rejuvenation services on offer. The AltiraSPA was voted eighth best overseas hotel spa in the 2006 Condé Nast Traveller Magazine (UK) Readers' Travel Awards. The hotel is within easy walking distance of several restaurants, bars, nightclubs, monuments, museums, shopping centres and the central business district.
Website

WESTERN CAPE GARDEN ROUTE

The Plettenberg
Plettenberg Bay
A five-star Relais & Chateaux Hotel built on a rocky headland, The Plettenberg offers breathtaking views of the sea, mountains and beaches. A mix of ocean colours and textures throughout create a relaxing atmosphere, with dark stained floors and sisal carpeting completing the cosy ambience. There is a range of premier suites and rooms, individually decorated, all with sea views and most with balconies. The Carchele Beauty Spa stocks top-of-the-range beauty products. Dining options include The Sand, which blends a relaxed mood with modern South African food. Keep an eye open for the chef's special "cooked breakfast" selection. The Sandbar offers a more glamorous experience, and is notable for its range of cocktails. The more intimate Wine Cellar boast an award-winning wine list and a resident sommelier to help you with your selection.
Website

Plettenberg Park Hotel
Plettenberg Bay
This is a hotel for the nature lover who appreciates sophistication. Perched on the magnificent cliffs of a private nature reserve, the 5-star Plettenberg Park overlooks an exquisite coastline. Every room has a striking views, and the Lake House with its wall-to-wall windows and wide terraces overlooks the serene lake shore of an inland wild duck sanctuary. The decor understated, using natural materials in neutral earthy tones and crisp whites in an Afro-colonial style. Cuisine is first-class and service is personalised. The hotel has a private beach where you can swim and snorkel in a rock pools and advantage of other marine sports, with walks and trails on offer in the adjoining nature reserve.
Website

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Hotels in South Africa

The Palace of the Lost City hotel at the Sun City entertainment complex, North West province (Photo: Hannelie Coetzee, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com)

The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays  westin, grand, cape, town, arabella, quays, south, africa, hotel, starwood

The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays boasts spectacular luxury on Cape Town''s beautiful Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (Photo: Website)

The Michelangelo Towers michelangelo, towers, sandton, johannesburg, hotel, legacy, south, africa

The 135-metre Michelangelo Towers in the heart of Sandton offers panoramic views of Johannesburg and the Gauteng skyline, stretching all the way to the Magaliesberg Mountains (Photo: Michelangelo Towers)

International and local brands

Top international hotel brands in South Africa include Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton.

Top local franchises, many with a growing international footprint, include City Lodge, Protea Hotels (now owned by Australian firm Stella Group) and Tsogo Sun.

Small accommodation in SA

For information on bed-and-breakfast and self-catering accommodation facilities in South Africa, visit the National Accommodation Association of SA, where gradings are listed and there are links to individual websites. NAA-SA membership assures quality, reputable service and value for money – and recourse if this is not the case. Establishments are inspected by provincial representatives to ensure professionalism.

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