Iconic South African hotel design
Did you know?
Legendary hotelier Liz McGrath is best-known for using design to upgrade old South African hotels.
Trying to pin down and identify iconic South African hotel design may be as futile an exercise as herding cats.
Hotels in South Africa draw their influences from this country’s cultures and the world at large.
Take the Mother City, Cape Town, as a prime example. The wildly successful Victoria and Albert (V&A) Waterfront development is a veritable nest of fine hotels designed by local and offshore architects and decorated with touches from around the world.
The popular boutique hotels of Cape Town would not look out of place in central London or New York City. Because upmarket travellers all tend to have high-end needs and expectations, sophistication is the watchword.
Many wine estates have also part-morphed into exclusive country hotels and spas, and as such they have kept their Cape Dutch design in tandem with all the high-tech accessories you’d expect to find in such establishments.
The colonial remnants are still there, in the form of hotels like the Mount Nelson, which bears a proud history. On the quirkier side, you get places like the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, which sports an array of individualised Airstream trailers on the roof. A swish trailer park in the sky, if you will.
In the countryside, resorts like Bushmans Kloof in the Cederberg have incorporated touches of San culture with the Cape vernacular, while the fanciful Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in the North West province still retains its position as South Africa’s version of over-the-top Versailles.
In Johannesburg, South Africa's business capital, boutique hotels like Ten Bompas do good return business. And if you like Tuscan lines, you’ll feel at home in a number of hotel developments in the City of Gold. You could also enjoy the deliciously colonial feel of 5-star establishments like The Westcliff, which sprawls over a hillside and looks down over the Johannesburg Zoo, or The Saxon, where Nelson Mandela stayed for several months after his release from prison.
In the plush suburb of Sandton, 5-star-plus hotels such as the Sandton Sun adjacent to Sandton City and the Radisson Blu, next to the Sandton Gautrain Station, line up like their counterparts in Manhattan. Because it’s all about conferencing in Johannesburg, their executive meeting spaces easily match international standards.
And once you realise how diverse and talented South Africa really is, you’ll understand just how varied and enjoyable the local hotel industry has become.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cape Grace Hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town:
Tel: +27 (0)21 410 7100
South African Health Spas:
Tel: +27 (0)86 1771 773
Steenberg Hotel, Cape Town:
Tel: +27 (0)21 713 2222
Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town:
Tel: +27 (0)21 483 1737
Granddaddy Hotel, Cape Town:
Tel: +27 (0)21 424 7247
Bushmans Kloof Wellness Retreat:
Tel: +27 (0)21 481 1860
The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City:
Tel: +27 (0)14 557 1000
Ten Bompas Hotel:
Tel: +27 (0)11 341 0282
Tel: +27 (0)11 481 6000
Tel: +(0)11 292 6000
Tel: +27 11 780 5000
Tel: +27 (0)11 245 8000