If you’re looking for luxury, boutique hotels - South Africa is a destination that caters for you. Having recently spent my honeymoon enjoying Cape Town, the Garden Route, a safari in the iconic Sabi Sands Game Reserve bordering Kruger and a short stay in Mozambique - here are some of my hotel recommendations that guarantee a stylish break in South Africa.
That said, one of my favourite things about South Africa is that you don’t have to stay in expensive luxury properties throughout. If you have a more modest budget, there are plenty of lovely guesthouses especially along the Garden Route, so you can stay in some of these and intersperse your itinerary with luxury here and there and keep the cost down – just ask us for ideas.
Located in the Camps Bay area of Cape Town and situated right on the rocks with beautiful sea views, the boutique 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa promises 5* service in a comfortable relaxing atmosphere.
From the moment we arrived we received a warm and friendly check-in, complete with a couple of glasses of champagne.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and have everything you need including a fully stocked mini bar – I’d suggest an upgrade to a sea view room for outstanding views across the ocean. I would highly recommend a visit to the on-site spa complete with salt float baths, warm pools and world class spa treatments - I happily lost a whole afternoon in there, it was quite a disappointment to re-join the real world!
The Leopard Bar is a cosy corner where you can enjoy some excellent local wines and pre-dinner snacks alongside a roaring fire and panoramic ocean views. The Azure restaurant is renowned for its top-notch local cuisine and fine dining including oysters.
You can easily get out and explore the area with the hotel’s complimentary transfers to Camps Bay and the Waterfront whenever you need – in fact they’ll go above and beyond to make sure you get home safely. A beautiful place with wonderful staff!
This hotel suits: couples, honeymooners
Throughout South Africa, this was my husband’s favourite spot! A stay at Babylonstoren roots you in the spectacular wine region, staying on a working Cape Dutch farm and vineyard.
On arrival, we were greeted and taken to our farmhouse cottage with our car and bags taken care of in the blink of an eye. Our spacious cottage had an outside terrace and cosy living area complete with a real fireplace and a miniature library.
Despite the pretty rooms, the real joy of your stay is to be found outside. With farm land stretching for miles we spent some time enjoying the huge lake (with free fishing equipment) and strolling through the leafy vineyards. All touring is included in the price and we took full advantage of this!
We took a morning walk and a chance to learn more about the history of the land before touring the gardens. All produce used in the restaurant is grown here and there’s an abundance of flowers, nuts and of course miles of vineyards producing all different types of wine. I would also recommend their 4WD tour at sunset which offers you spectacular views across the property with a nice glass of wine.
From the moment you arrive, your worries drift away and you’re soon feeling closer to nature and being absolutely spoiled. Our 2 night stay was a highlight of our trip and we wished we could have stayed longer!
This property would suit: families, but also couples, honeymooners
Just a short drive from Plettenburg Bay, Tsala Treetops Lodge feels a million miles from civilisation. Located within the treetops, this luxury property is truly stunning and our room here blew me away.
From our balcony amidst the trees to the private pool, roll top bath and real log burner, we were unwinding from the moment we checked in. With two restaurants on site, we decided to eat at the hotel both nights, enjoying very reasonably priced, excellent quality South African menu.
Tsala is also in a great location to explore the area. From here, we visited the Big Cat Sanctuary, Monkeyland and Birds of Eden as well as heading to nearby Plettenburg for a stroll on the vast beach. After a busy day exploring, a nice bubble bath and an in-room spa treatment was the perfect way to relax and unwind.
This property would suit: couples and honeymooners
One of National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the world’, Sabi Sabi has been designed to blend in with its surroundings and offers exceptional game viewing and 5 star service.
This luxury lodge took our breath away from the moment we arrived; our room could only be described as enormous and came with a large bath as well as an outdoor terrace and plunge pool.
With no fences around the property, wild animals can roam around freely and on more than one occasion we woke up to a nosy elephant poking around the bush outside our room. The service and food here is exceptional, but by far the most amazing element was the twice daily game drives around the Sabi Sabi Reserve. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and made sure we all saw everything we wanted, for us that included a very lazy hippo and the elusive leopard! It’s hard to adequately describe how amazing this lodge is, but for us it was the ultimate in both luxury and experience and obviously ideal for a honeymoon!
This property would suit: couples with a good budget!
If you’re interested in staying in Sabi Sabi in more modest accommodation, they also operate other lodges in the same area.
Besides Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge which I visited, there are 3 other lodges within the Sabi Sands Reserve that offer the same safari experience with luxury but at a lower rate.
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is the biggest property here with about 40 rooms. It’s great for families thanks to its social vibe and the on-site ‘Elefun’ centre that keeps kids entertained. There are plenty of places dotted about to sit or wander around so it’s less intimate and more social.
Nearby Little Bush Camp is perfect for honeymooners as it is cosy with a warm, African atmosphere. This lodge has a fence around it and very intimate but you won’t be able to spot game from the room.
Finally, Selati Camp is a small, boutique property with an old colonial feel that’s themed around the old Selati trainline. You’ll be welcomed at the reception which is like a ticket office and the rooms have rail-themed names. This lodge overlooks a giant watering hole with no trees or bush to hinder your view of the animals taking a drink, so you’ll have amazing game viewing from the lodge itself – plus it’s it’s wonderfully peaceful and romantic.
If you’re planning a trip to South Africa and you’re looking for luxury, boutique hotel recommendations in Cape Town, the Garden Route or on safari, we can find something to suit your style and budget. We can arrange every aspect of your South Africa trip and tailor-make your entire holiday.
To start planning, just call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.