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South Africa’s top 8 luxury lodges and hotels

From ultra-luxurious safari lodges with spas to treehouses under the stars, South Africa offers some of the continent’s most stunning properties and experiences. Perhaps go wine tasting on a private train, dip in the pool alongside elephants in Kruger National Park or relax at a spa retreat overlooking Table Mountain. Here, we’ve rounded up the ultimate luxury lodges and hotels the country has to offer.

1. Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, Cederberg Mountains

Shaded by the dramatic peaks and ancient red-rock scenery of the Western Cape’s Cederberg mountain range lies this spectacular retreat. The ultimate in authentic luxury, Bushman’s Kloof is all timber-beamed rooms, suites and private villas, the likes of fireplaces and four-poster bed a wonderful contrast to outside’s remote wilderness.

It makes for a wonderful base for twice-daily safaris with a difference. Alongside sunset and sunrise game drives, there’s the chance to enjoy guided rock art tours of 10,000-year-old paintings, returning to four garden-surrounded pools and a spa that was voted the country’s ‘Best for Luxury Wellness’. It’s all finished off perfectly with seasonal dishes that are served al fresco among the fig trees, the distant roar of wildlife your accompaniment.

2. Dulini River Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

For adventure, romance and more than a touch of luxury, this eight-suite lodge is ideal for away-from-it-all indulgence. Open terraces overlook the riverbed, home to passing animals like the famous Sabi Sand leopards, alongside private plunge pools, outdoor showers and shaded decks. Then, both morning and afternoon game drives are, naturally, included, as are freshly-prepared, all-inclusive meals.

And, rest assured, your personal butler is on hand throughout, helping to arrange everything from interpretive guided bush walks to wilderness dinners and bush breakfasts.

3. One&Only Cape Town

For the ultimate Cape Town stay, this luxury One&Only property lies resplendent in a coveted location; it’s just moments from the stylish boutiques and chic cafes of the city’s famous V&A Waterfront. Plush, balcony-adorned bedrooms enjoy Table Mountain or pool views, but its crowning glory is its spa that’s surrounded by its own island, vaunting an outdoor-indoor pool and sprawling treatment rooms.

Cape Town is a city renowned for its food and wine, and One&Only is host to a stylish bistro, bar and even a world-renowned Nobu. Of course, further afield, the city is also an excellent gateway to those famous South African Winelands for world-class tastings.

4. &Beyond Tengile River Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

This luxury &Beyond offering is situated in the exclusive Sabi Sand Game Reserve and is the ultimate in sustainable luxury. Private lap pools and floating suites that look over the river provide a stylish base, but what really stands out is its sustainability ethos; the lodge uses environmentally-friendly solar power, and used construction materials to create the al-fresco showers and sunken lounges.

Exploring Kruger National Park is, naturally, top of the agenda, which you’ll visit twice daily on included tours, spotting the Big Five alongside birdwatching trips and bush walks. Then, finish the day with luxe treatments in the spa, the perfect prelude to sundowners and gourmet dining.

5. Great Fish River Lodge, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Head to the remote, malaria-free Eastern Cape and you’ll find the Great Fish River Lodge, one of the region’s most stylish properties. From private decks overlooking the river and thatched-hut suites, reached from private wooden walkways, you’re perfectly placed to explore on twice-daily game drives as you drive through the wildlife-rich Kwandwe, knowledgeable guides on hand throughout.

After days spotting the Big Five, from rhino the elephant, return to your safari-chic indoor-outdoor showers and plunge pools before sundowners along the river and ultra-fresh dining in the outdoor, fireside boma.

6. Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek, Winelands

South Africa’s world-famous Winelands are home to some of the world’s best varietals and this hotel, happily, puts epicureanism front and centre. Excellent dining – think sumac-spiced springbok with creamed spinach gnocchi and lime-cured salmon trout – is paired with the likes of tastings in the wine cellar and vineyard bike rides, and there’s even the chance to indulge with a complimentary, gourmet picnic basket on hiking and horse riding excursions.

Then, soothe any sightseeing aches back at the main ranch, the likes of spa indulgences and poolside cocktails with mountain views on offer. It’s all done with a base in luxe, minimalist rooms splashed with colourful local art that look above the vines, alongside charming lounges and plunge pools.

7. Lion Sands River Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

Part of the prestigious Lion Sands hotel group, the Lion Sands River Lodge is a particularly wonderful choice for a honeymoon or big celebration. Expect gorgeous, safari-chic aesthetics, with standalone bush-view bathtubs and exposed-timber features alongside outdoor showers, plunge pools and private sun terraces.

Head out on expert-led safaris twice a day – encapsulating your memories forever at the lodge’s wildlife canvas printing room – before returning to the all-inclusive, open bar and full-board fine dining right by the river. There’s even the chance to rent your own private treehouse for an unforgettable under-the-stars experience, falling asleep to the sounds of the bush.

8. Rovos Rail

While not technically a lodge, Rovos Rail is one of South Africa’s most stylish and iconic accommodation options, self-styled as ‘one of the world’s most luxurious trains’. Winding along the dramatic scenery of the Karoo – South Africa’s barren, semi-arid desert – guests are invited to dress up for dinner in the private lounges for five-star meals – think fresh, local game – before returning to gleaming dark-wood suites, complete with double bed and ensuite. We recommend starting at Pretoria to experience the mighty rush of the Victoria Falls at the end of your journey – a most memorable finale.

Dave Warne is Product Director at The Luxury Holiday Company. The Luxury Holiday Company offers completely bespoke holidays designed to deliver unrivalled luxury, arranged by specialists who have more than 200 years of collective travel experience.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. There are some gorgeous options. I have no idea how big the Kruger National Park actually is but I’d be interested to know how many game reserves and accommodations are available there. Reading what you wrote on number 5 made me curious – so you can’t catch malaria at all in the Eastern Cape, but you could elsewhere in South Africa? Interesting! That Great Fish River Lodge is so idyllic looking, reminds me a bit of a hobbit house.

    1. It’s actually one of the largest in Africa at 19,485 km²! There are around six private game reserves within Greater Kruger National Park, and hundreds of accommodation options. And that’s right, Eastern Cape is low risk so no anti-malarial medication is needed at all, which certainly gives great peace of mind.

  2. Not sure whether I should forward this to my friend or not. He wants to take his partner on a super luxurious safari.

    He’s one of those obsessional people who research every last detail. For the last month he’s been creating a spreadsheet comparing the top notch South African Safari lodges.

    I don’t doubt that he’s already got most of these fantastic places listed and quantified! I’m not sure if he’d benefit from another deluge of information. Sometimes you can over analyse.

    His partner’s already bored of it, she just wants him to book and to get there.

    1. These lodges certainly tick all the boxes for a super luxurious safari, Kev! Sounds like a most exciting – and well-researched – trip!

  3. I’ve never been very good at settling and putting roots down. I was born with wanderlust. Friends complain that I’ve used up countless pages in their address books with my endless moves. I’m the same when I’m travelling, I don’t think that I’ve ever stayed more than three nights in the same hotel. That’s what would make Rovos Rail perfect for me. I’ve always got to see what’s over the next horizon.

  4. Sorry to focus on interior design when the whole idea of a safari is to get close to nature. These lodges are so tastefully furnished, there must be a small group of highly talented people going around these lodges and creating very distinctive looks, it’s always so romantic. Now I think about it of course that look is carried through to the exterior too with the lit paths and secluded spots.

  5. Some really great posts recently on the website regarding luxury trips in South Africa. I really love all these options on this post. Dining on a train or a lodge on the river sounds like a truly unforgettable experience. That fireplace outside at night looks like something I could really get used to. A private treehouse to see the stars at night! That’s gotta be amazing.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Jeff. And yes, a night in a private treehouse is certainly bucket-list stuff!

  6. Well, it ‘s really good to know which places are malaria-free since we can’t be too careful these days. Although, I’ve already seen many of these properties advertise on their website about being malaria-free. It’s a great concern of mine when traveling to places with known diseases. For that matter, I’m inclined to stay in luxury acccommodatios that can ensure my and my family’s safety. We do love a adventures so, I’m wondering if these lodges on the list are family friendly.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Antwan. It’s certainly great for peace of mind knowing you’re in a malaria-free zone. And yes, all of these lodges are perfectly suited to families, as well as couples!

  7. It’s saying a lot for Rovos Rail that it’s got the clout to push its way into a listing for luxury lodges.

  8. There are some absolutely world class safari lodges here. I never cease to be amazed by the standards these lodges achieve in sometimes remote locations and quite challenging circumstances.

    It really is worth investing in a very good lodge especially when it comes to a game drive. If you’ve got an experienced spotter and a driver working together then you see so much more. Also, if you’ve got a team of vehicles out and about, they usd their radios to share info upping the chances of you seeing rare wildlife.

  9. Two couples we know are huge safari fans whilst we’ve never been, though we hope to soon.

    I’ve never quite believed the tales they tell on their return. I’ve always thought that they are exaggerating the level of luxury. But reading this post makes me think they’ve actually been down playing how good these lodges are.

  10. I think I’m addicted to safaris. I just can’t get enough of them and that is probably why I’ve landed back on this page again.

    I have to say that the standards of safari lodges are stratospheric, to me it seems that they just keep going from strength to strength.

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