We’ve rounded up our best recommendations for the most indulgent places to eat, sleep, drink and relax your way around South Africa. The toughest choice you’ll have to make this season is where to begin.
Ellerman House, Cape Town
Originally a private residence, this Edwardian-style mansion offers the ultimate in modern interiors throughout its 11 rooms, two suites, two three-bedroom villas and the Ellerman House Spa. Design consultant Nell Harris spearheaded this year’s renovations along with Nica Design Studio, giving the lounges, dining rooms, bathrooms and private guest rooms a clean, fresh facelift. Local designers feature in the bespoke furniture, fittings and textiles, including new servers by James Mudge, a coffee table from Anatomy Design and Nic Bladen sculptures. Plus, one of the hotel’s best-known highlights is its extensive collection of South African art.
The Silo Hotel, Cape Town
When you’ve finished viewing all of the wonderful works on display at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and want some quiet refreshment in the solitude of your Silo Hotel room, turn to the minibar. You’ll find the large armoire stocked with assorted dried and candied fruit, nuts and nougat on the top shelf, a bottle of bubbles on ice alongside ample assorted premium tea and coffee in the middle shelf, and a small fridge filled with the usual suspects at the bottom. Thoughtful touches such as a lemon saucer and paring knife set this minibar above the rest.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg
Joburg, a concrete jungle? Not if the gorgeous urban-forest view from the Four Seasons, which is perfectly perched atop Westcliff Ridge, is anything to go by. Take an Aperol spritz out onto the deck bar and drink in the panoramic views northwards to the Magaliesberg mountain range. From Thursday to Sunday at 5.30pm, enjoy the sweet sounds of the Sundowner Sessions – be sure to arrive early to secure a good spot, especially in the warmer months.
Belmond Mount Nelson Planet Bar, Cape Town
The grand old Mount Nelson Planet Bar serves up both warm and cold snacks between midday and 10pm daily. Fancy half a dozen oysters? A spot of caviar served with potato blinis, egg, chives and sour cream, perhaps? Or some bite-size duck bitterballen with a portion of sticky soya-honey chicken wings? We’ll have it all, thanks. Throw in the fact that the bar has recently been refurbished and reopened with a brand-new look, and it’s a must-visit.
The Oyster Box, Umhlanga
A trip to Durban isn’t complete without a turn at the iconic Oyster Box hotel. Overlooking the Umhlanga lighthouse and with a 180-degree view of the Indian Ocean, the casually stylish red-and-white Oyster Bar is the hub of the hotel and the place to take in its signature Umhlanga Schling cocktail, made using classic Durban ingredients – cane sugar and cane spirit. More cocktail recommendations include Lighthouse Heaven, The Bee’s Knees and an apple mint Cosmopolitan.
Saxon Spa, Johannesburg
The spa at the Saxon is an oasis of calm, with a focus on holistic treatments that combine ancient rituals and luxury products. From the stress-relieving Rasul Spa Ritual and the therapeutic vibrations of the Signature Sound Therapy to a wide variety of La Prairie and Elemis facials, massage therapies, body rituals and a hair spa, manicure bar and pedicure lounge, the Saxon Spa is where you go to restore mind, body and spirit. Each soothing session begins with a milk foot ritual, and you can select your genre of background music, too.
Hammam at Garden Spa, Franschhoek
Open every day between 8am and 7pm, Babylonstoren’s Garden Spa shines for its private hammam water ritual. Whether you choose a full experience with traditional scrub, stretch and massage, or the ritual for two with traditional scrub, soap wash and massage, the steam and warmth from these cleansing, relaxing treatments increase circulation, relieve muscle tension and help eliminate toxins, healing you from the outside in. Both hotel guests and day visitors are welcome.
Babel serves a daily breakfast between 8 and 9.30am, and we’re certain you’ll want to spend your morning here. The menu is defined by what’s freshly available from the farm and region and, weather permitting, you can eat under the trees in the courtyard. For breakfast specifically, the menu focuses on texture and, as with all meals at Babel, is guided by a food philosophy that is simple, honest and generous under the direction of chef Cornelle Minie and food designer and stylist Maranda Engelbrecht.
Greenhouse, Cape Town
Overseen by chefs Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss, every carefully crafted dish at Greenhouse is created using produce from the Constantia Valley and paired with one of the finest wines of the Cape. The flavours and textures of the seasonal tasting menu offer a potentially life-changing culinary experience, and House and Leisure editor Tiaan Nagel suggests that you don’t leave without trying the Atlantic tuna with kimchi, radish and sesame dressing, or the Peking lamb with yuzu gel, tsukudani and Asian pesto.
Gary and Irene Kyriacou longed for a Joburg night out during which they could get really dressed up and have a delicious, memorable dinner while spending quality time together
– and this is how Marble began. Chef David Higgs is at the helm of the fine-dining restaurant for meat and flame enthusiasts, and the elegant establishment is anchored around a grand wood-fired grill and beautiful bar. Marble celebrates food best cooked on fire with flair – think smoked kudu with caramelised pear and Gorgonzola, blackened octopus with paprika potatoes and squid-ink dressing, and Northern Cape lamb cutlets with aubergine and tomato pickle.