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7 unmissable luxury hotels in South Africa

As a travel writer based in South Africa, I have the privilege of visiting some of the country’s finest hotels and lodges. Here’s a short-list of seven of my most memorable stays from the last year, all offer uncompromising luxury, food & wine experiences, and of course set in stunning locations. 1. The Old Rectory, Plettenberg Bay The Garden Route is a lush and scenic part of the  coast enjoyed by many of South Africa’s foreign and local visitors. One of its newest luxury stays is the Old Rectory, in the beachside town of Plettenberg Bay. This beautifully restored heritage property has elegant charm and refined hospitality that will cater to your every need. It’s a one-minute walk to the beach – ask the staff to setup a beach picnic and enjoy views of kilometers of pristine coastline. 2. The Four Seasons The Westcliff Hotel, Johannesburg The undeniably iconic Four Seasons Westcliff Hotel is a luxe lodging of note in the heart of Johannesburg. Hugging the side of one of the city’s highest ridges, the hotel offers unrivaled views over the world’s second biggest man-made forest. Serene wellness spaces, a range of eateries and world-class service make the hotel a must-visit if you’re passing through Johannesburg. 3. Hartford House, KZN Midlands Nestled in the rolling hills of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, you’ll find Hartford House. This boutique hotel sits on kilometers of prized farmlands and offers what I feel is the pièce de résistance of dining experiences in the area. Dine in style and only have a couple steps to your room in the gracious country house, or a short walk to the chalets built on the lake. Come for the food and stay for the whole experience.    4. Holden Manz Estate, Franschhoek If your dream is to stay in 5-star luxury, on a working winery with some of the most beautiful views offered from South Africa’s winelands, then look no further than Holden Manz. With premium wines to taste, a restaurant with killer views and a country house with only 5 luxe rooms you may just be tempted not to leave the property at all. Make sure you leave some space in your suitcase – you’ll want to take home some wine. 5. Queen Victoria Hotel, Cape Town In the midst of the busyness of Cape Town’s V & A Waterfront, South Africa’s most touristed spot, hides an exclusive and utterly gorgeous 5-star hotel. The Queen Victoria Hotel has beautifully appointed rooms – although you’ll be impressed the minute you walk into the dazzling triple-volume atrium. The afternoon tea is not to be missed. 6. Ellerman House, Cape Town Since the early 1900s this elegant Edwardian mansion has been proudly casting her gaze over the Atlantic Ocean. Now one of the country’s finest luxury boutique hotels, her guests can also enjoy the unbridled views. If that isn’t enough, the owner’s relentless love for the art means you’ll also be living in one of the most impressive private art collections in the country. Naturally, an incredible gourmand experience also awaits the discerning traveller. 7. The River Lodge Thornybush, Kruger National Park A quintessential African safari experience, with some of the best service and hospitality you can find in the country. Wildlife abounds in this private enclave of the Kruger National Park, so get your animal checklist ready. A total of only 6 units means it’s an unrivaled intimate experience that will leave you feeling like royalty. The elephants drink almost daily from the lodge pools – one of the wildest welcomes I’ve ever had from a game lodge.

Jared Ruttenberg

Jared Ruttenberg is a freelance travel journalist who enjoys connecting people and experiences through word, image and social media. Read more at www.jaredincpt.com

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  1. I’d stay at The River Lodge Thornybush just for the pleasure of seeing the elephants coming to drink.

    That’s what I like about the best safari experiences in Africa, it’s not just about heading off on the game drives, you see wildlife at other times as well. It’s the surprise of seeing unexpected visitors. I would love to be in that picture with the elephants behind me.

  2. Does it get any better than being a Travel Writer based in sunny South Africa and having to try out all these luxury hotels? They’ve got brilliant locations, great cuisine and I guess that the service ain’t bad either?

  3. For me a stay at Holden Manz Estate, Franschhoek would be bliss. I enjoy spending time on a vineyard, particularly around harvest time, soaking up the relief that there have been no mishaps with weather or blight and that the grapes have made it through to harvest time. Although there’s still a little no way to go until the wine is bottled there’s often a sense of celebration that the grapes are at last being picked. It’s a good way of picking up wine lore and developing your wine knowledge.

    1. What a beautiful perspective! Indeed you are correct that you do learn so much more at that time – and see what stresses the winemakers have to endure – and many hours over time. All so that we can get the best glass of wine!

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