Whether you’re looking to relax or go on an adventure, you can always find accommodation that suits your needs. We’ve compiled the 25 best hotels across the continent:
This flamingo-pink hotel at the foot of Table Mountain is on a garden estate. The elegant property comprises five main wings, and the garden cottage suites are set behind a rose garden. Oasis Bistro dishes up Mediterranean-inspired meals, while the fancier Planet Restaurant serves contemporary dishes. Don’t miss afternoon tea, served in the lounge and on the terrace.
More info: 76 Orange St., Cape Town, 1000, South Africa
This 1947 hotel set in lush gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean reopened after a two-year makeover as a long overdue luxury addition to KwaZulu-Natal’s tropical northern coast. The renovation enhanced its original character while adding modern essentials including two pools, a spa (expect angelic staff and a Turkish hammam), a gym, a 24-seat cinema, and business and conference facilities. Throughout the hotel, handcrafted, decorative tiles and antiques are offset by contemporary South African art_—80 paintings are by leading KwaZulu-Natal artists. Attention to detail and design extends to the 86 rooms and suites (most of them sea-facing), all richly layered in pattern, texture, and color. Durban’s Indian, Zulu, and colonial heritage is reflected in many aspects of the hotel, from the friendly, proud-as-punch staff to cuisine. The Ocean Terrace has an authentic Indian curry buffet; the crisp navy-blue-and-white Grill Room, with old-fashioned dinner dances on weekends, offers a menu of classics from curries and prawn cocktail to seafood platters, and the colonial Palm Court serves traditional English high tea. Durban’s style mavens have practically colonized the Lighthouse Bar, which leaves the breezy Oyster Bar or cozy Chukka Bar for a quiet drink.
More info: 2 Lighthouse Rd., Umhlanga (nr. Durban), 4320, South Africa
Overlooking the Atlantic from the slopes of Lion’s Head, walking distance to beaches yet only a 10 minute drive from the V&A Waterfront, this adults-only (14 and up) Relais & Chateaux property houses a fabulous private modern art collection in elegantly furnished rooms and airy public spaces.
More info: 180 Kloof Rd., Bantry Bay, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
At this Dutch-style hotel near Camps Bay, guests have views of the ocean and the Twelve Apostles mountains. Rooms are contemporary decorated with pastel colors and canopy beds, and the spa has glass-enclosed thatched gazebos and treatment rooms that resemble white crystal grottoes. Order oysters at Azure Restaurant and dine on the terrace overlooking the ocean.
More info: Victoria St., Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Located between the Giza Zoo and the Nile in one of the city’s tonier, greener suburbs.
More info: 35 Giza St, Cairo, 12311, Egypt
With its exhilarating cliff-top position overlooking the whale watching paradise of Walker Bay, Birkenhead House offers the perfect luxury Hermanus hotel accommodation for those seeking an extraordinary seaside experience. From its incredible viewpoint, observe surfers carving through the waves, and for several months each year, witness Southern Right Whales breaching just metres from the shore.
More info: 119 11th St., Hermanus, 7200, South Africa
Gibb’s Farm, with its colonial farmhouse on the wooded slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, was built as a coffee plantation in 1929. Looking out onto the Great Rift Valley, accommodations in clustered cottages have wooden floors, wraparound windows, fireplaces, and bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers. After bird watching, hiking or mountain bike trips, enjoy a classic English meal prepared with organic vegetables, fruits, and meats from the farm.
More info: Karatu/Ngorongoro, Tanzania
This former private home of an insurance magnate is where Nelson Mandela worked on his book Long Walk to Freedom. The luxurious hotel is decorated with contemporary African art, brown-latticed shutters, large bay windows, and shams with local motifs. Take a walk around the six acres of gardens with a koi pond, try the sound therapy at the spa, or take a dip in the heated pool with underwater music.
More info:36 Saxon Rd., Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
A 500-acre Cape Dutch winery and fruit farm dating to 1692 has been reincarnated way beyond its former glory by former Elle Decoration editor Karen Roos. It’s now the Cape’s most authentic and comforting farm stay. Located between Franschhoek and Paarl, this meticulously restored estate is anchored by eight acres of formal vegetable, flower, and fruit gardens. The simple, whitewashed exteriors of the 12 suites, overlooking gardens or vineyards, give little hint of the graceful interiors that mingle old and new, rustic and contemporary—from the posy of indigenous flowers in the bathroom, to the bookshelves packed with highbrow South African literature, to the modern glass-walled full kitchens in select suites that enable fantasy DIY farm-to-table cooking (guests can pluck their own heirloom vegetables and organic fruit on-site). For those happy to leave the cooking to the pros, Babel, a restaurant in a converted cowshed, presents a fresh daily menu whose organizing principle is seasonal colors (a red salad—a plate of watermelon, strawberries, beets, radishes, and mulberries—for instance) served in a dining room or under umbrellas in a courtyard. Even the pool’s design reinforces the pastoral experience—it resembles a traditional farm dam.
More info: R45, Simondium, Western Cape, 7670, South Africa
“No matter how many safaris you’ve been on, there is nothing quite as wonderful and unforgettable as having breakfast or tea with the giraffes here. A stunning turn-of-the-century stone mansion with 10 rooms, it is also home to half a dozen friendly giraffes that poke their long necks into the large windows as guests are having breakfast and join them in the front garden for late-afternoon tea. Don’t get too friendly, though–some of the more naughty giraffes like to give the occasional head butt.” G.I.W.
More info: Langata, Nairobi, Kenya
This is La Residence “take two”—a flashier version of the original Franschhoek property, built from scratch on a different site but with the same personal vibe—and appeals to those who wish to be close to the action but out of the limelight. Franschhoek Village, with its award-winning restaurants and wine culture, is ten minutes away, and Cape Town is less than an hour’s drive. In keeping with its name, the hotel was constructed on a grand scale: triple-height ceilings, black-and-white marble floors, enormous chandeliers, and vast paintings. Opening onto wide verandas and mountain views, the 11 extravagant suites are layered with French and Asian antiques, fantastic local art, and Persian carpets, and each has its own personality—from a girly boudoir in pink and lime green to a palatial honeymoon suite in white marble. The large pool backed by palm trees wouldn’t look out of place at a beach resort but does here amid vineyards. Guests dine alfresco during the day, while dinner is a theatrical event with candlelight, high-backed ruby banquettes, and local wines paired to the simple but well-executed menu.
More info: Elandskloof Rd., Franschhoek, 4100, South Africa
On the edge of a marina on the buzzing V&A Waterfront, this glamorous newcomer makes the other five-star harbor hotels seem buttoned-down by comparison. While service is still short of being seamless, the hotel raises the bar in Cape Town with its designer dining, luxurious accommodations, and innovative facilities. There’s a Nobu doing faultless food with a nod to locally sourced ingredients; Reuben’s, a Brasserie-styled spot with bistro fare , and a central bar with a gunshot view of Table Mountain. All of the 91 rooms and suites in the main hotel are smartly done in dark, African-inspired hues and sleek lines. There are also 40 island suites—hot accent colors liven up the decor here—set apart on one of two private islands within the marina that form part of the hotel (the other island has the retreat-like ESPA spa, wisely set away from the hotel’s superbly staffed gym and KidsOnly club). Quieter and more spacious but without views, these suites surround a vast free-form infinity pool with its casual, alfresco Isola restaurant (hotel guests only in high season) that serves wood-fired pizza, tapas, and salads.
More info: Dock Road, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
This sandstone-colored mainstay on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has a backdrop of Table Mountain. Signal Restaurant serves “extraordinary food with amazing service” in dishes like cumin-crusted ostrich and Malay-spiced springbok loin. Bascule bar claims it stocks the Southern Hemisphere’s largest selection of whiskeys. Interiors showcase hand-painted fabrics and custom-made metal, glass, and leather. Lodgings reflect Cape influences and have blue, red, green, and gold highlights. A facial at the top-floor spa comes with Table Mountain views; also offered are massages inspired by the Khoisan people, using one of the first recorded essential oils in Africa and circular massage techniques that mirror tribal dances.
More info: West Quay Rd., Cape Town, South Africa
This is no minor nip-tuck: for the Four Seasons’ first foray into South Africa, the group took a treasured but tired Johannesburg landmark and gave her an utterly modern top-to-toe transformation. The 117 rooms are a standout, but the real stars might be the the brand-new, seasonally-driven restaurants View and Flames, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Dirk Gieselmann, which are upping Jozi’s culinary cachet.
More info: 67 Jan Smuts Ave., Johannesburg, 2132, South Africa
The blue-roofed contemporary-Victorian hotel opened by Nelson Mandela is in “a great location,” connected to the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre. Guest rooms offer water or mountain views, and all have maritime decor. The informal Conservatory serves tapas and has a 6,000-bottle wine cellar. Views of Table Mountain from the lobby come courtesy of high arched windows. Two fireplaces and afternoon tea with music by a harpist or pianist are draws at The Lounge. “Don’t miss the best breakfast buffet ever” at the Atlantic Grill. Phytotherapy, thalassotherapy, and hydrotherapy are available at Camelot Spa.
More info: Quay 6, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
Located along the Zambezi River with views of Victoria Falls, the 17 colonial-style residences are white-walled with thatched roofs and large verandas. Rooms are decorated with handmade rugs and include flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Grab a cocktail at the Sundeck, where you can watch the sun set over the river.
More info: Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd., Livingstone, Zambia
A five-minute walk from Marrakech’s central Jemaa el Fna square, this gorgeous hotel designed by Jacques Garcia combines traditional Arab-Andalusian architecture—wrought iron railings, zellige tiles, geometric open spaces—with contemporary designs like curved plaster walls and hand-painted wood panels. At this luxurious hotel, guests including celebrities and dignitaries dine on French contemporary cuisine at Le Français by Jean-Pierre Vigato and enjoy the 27,000-square-foot spa with three hammams.
More info: Rue Bab Ahmar, Marrakech, Morocco
Spier is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa with a recorded history dating back to 1692.
While rooted in this heritage, Spier has a vibrant and conscious energy. Award-winning wine can be paired with fabulous food, grown either on the farm or by nearby farmers. The winery is one of the most awarded in the country and the four-star Spier Hotel and meeting facilities offer inspiring Winelands getaways in the tranquillity of nature.
More info: R310, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa
Set on a 6,000 acre game preserve, this small hotel is rich with colonial detail and Victorian touches offering guests the best of European flourishes and the adventure of a safari – don’t miss the animal kingdom photo op at the property’s own watering hole! Large rooms, quiet seclusion, modern conveniences are cherished by guests.
More info: Old Ursula Rd., Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Located in the historic city center on the pedestrian St. George’s Mall, this architecturally striking hotel is ideally suited to travelers wanting to tap into Cape Town’s cosmopolitan culture—shops, street markets, art galleries, restaurants, and bars are all within walking distance, as are the city’s legal and business districts and Company Gardens (part of the city’s original fresh produce garden planted in the 1650s). The Taj occupies two restored landmark buildings on the lower floors, of which the central hub is the former South African Reserve Bank’s marble-columned main hall (now the lobby, lounge, and bar areas). Atop this rises a new ultra-modern 17-story tower where most of the hotel’s 177 rooms and suites are positioned to take advantage of the views of the city and Table Mountain. The lower, historic floors of the hotel house elegant rooms (with limited views and non-opening windows, alas), an Ayurvedic spa, and a fitness center with an indoor lap pool (the hotel’s sole pool). The best of the three restaurants is the fine-dining Bombay Brasserie, modeled on its London namesake, focusing on regional Indian specialities carefully matched to local wines. Service here is also the most professional and confident, whereas elsewhere at the hotel staff seem more tentative.
More info: Wale St., Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Idyllically situated on the sea-front of ancient Stone Town, and flanked by an exotic mix of sultan’s palaces, Portuguese forts, ancient dhow harbours, and bright bazaars, the Zanzibar Serena Hotel is a haven of tranquility and opulence amongst the bustle of one of Africa’s most ancient and most enchanting towns. A member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it has been styled to represent the epitome of Swahili style, ethnic elegance and Arabic opulence, setting it apart as one of the finest hotels in Zanzibar.
More info: Shangani St., Zanzibar Town, Tanzania
Located in the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, this privately-owned, small auberge has beautiful gardens, a day spa, and a private screening room. Rooms range from Four Quarters Suites around a courtyard with a private pool to Grande Rooms with double volume ceilings. Book in advance to enjoy the African-inspired menu at the Tasting Room.
More info: Berg & Wilhelmina Sts., Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa
Situated in the leafy Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, the 54 on Bath hotel offers its guests a signature blend of luxury, style, and intuitive service – ensuring the highest levels of comfort for business and leisure travellers alike. Attractions nearby our Rosebank hotel include Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton City, Melrose Arch, as well as the Gautrain rapid rail system and Sandton Convention Centre. Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport is also easily accessible from the hotel.
More info: 54 Bath Ave., Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
A small and exclusive lodge facing the Oldeani Volcano, only 5 kilometers from the Ngorongoro Lolduare gate, was built to offer our clients an original experience reminiscent of the atmosphere of the old days. Ngorongoro Farm House was inaugurated on February 20th 2003, and is offering 52 room cottages, 49 standard rooms and 3 suite rooms, all with ample space inside, built on the style of an old colonial farm and rustically decorated with local materials and full of details of good taste, with the purpose of offering our clients an imaginary journey to the life of the days gone.
More info: Oldeani Rd., Karatu – Ngorongoro, Tanzania
30 cottages, on the foothills of Mount Meru, are surrounded by one of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantations make for a pleasant pre- or post-safari stopover near Arusha.
More info: A104, Arusha, Tanzania