9 Under-the-radar Luxury Hotels In South Africa

Take a peek at some of the best luxury hotels tucked away in South Africa.

Apart from the colourful and vibrant beaches, dreamy tourist attractions and other reasons that compel you; South Africa is known to have one of the best luxurious hotels in Africa (and worldwide).

If your idea for the perfect romantic, family or personal escape is somewhere luxurious, some of the hotels we’ll be looking at here will tick your boxes. This list will highlight the hotel, what they are known for, curated experiences to partake in and most importantly, their accommodations.

1. The Silo Hotel

It has been dubbed Cape Town’s most iconic luxury hotel and celebrates style, architecture, design and art. The Silo Hotel opened its doors to the public on March 1, 2017, after 3 years of construction. It has also been named one of the world’s top 100 places.

It was originally constructed in the 1920s and was the tallest building in Sub-Saharan Africa and was also a symbol of connection to the rest of the world.

Silo Hotel has a vault (The Vault, also known as The Silo Hotel’s Subterranean Private Art Gallery) and is located in the private parking entrance on basement level P3. The Vault is the hotel’s small and exclusive art gallery and serves the purpose of showcasing established as well as up-and-coming African artists.

A great spot for celebrating honeymoons, the Silo is also an intimate destination with a rooftop pool, great views of Table Mountain and you can savour the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

The hotel offers unique experiences that make your stay worthwhile. Some curated experiences include:

EXPERIENCES

a. Tailored Art Tours: Includes a private tour that introduces guests to the African art scene.

b. Dining at the Silo: Includes a Sunday brunch in the Granary Café (Every Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm) and All-Day Drinks and Dining on the sixth floor (Mondays to Sundays from 11:00 am to 11 pm; lunch is served from 12pm)

Other dining experiences include:

i. Dinner in the Granary Café which opens daily from 18:00 to 21:00

ii. The Silo Rooftop is the ideal spot for a sunset cocktail or a casual lunch. It opens daily until sunset (weather permitting).

iii. Royal Tea: You get to enjoy The Silo’s pastry chef’s masterful creations with friends, family and loved ones. It opens Thursday to Sunday from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm on the 6th floor.

iv. Private Dining at the Silo which offers numerous private dining options. The Private Dining holds in the Wisdom Room and sits 22 guests.

c. The Silo Spa located on the 4th floor features five treatment rooms (2 can be made into a couple’s room). A gym, sauna, pedicure and manicure spots are available. The Silo Spa happens to be the only spa in Africa to use the exclusive Ling Products.

ACCOMMODATION

The Silo Hotel has a total of 28 rooms with an additional one-bedroom penthouse. Each room has an individual character and is decorated by Liz Biden. Each room features a private balcony and a unique collection of contemporary African art.

a. Silo Room: The entry rooms follow the unique colour scheme and collection of contemporary African art. It usually sleeps 2.

Book your stay here.

b. Duplex Suite: This is situated across the 6th and 7th floors. They have an upstairs and downstairs and sleep 2.

Book your stay here.

c. Duplex Superior: Situated across the 8th, 9th and 10th floors, the rooms are 18ft and have high pillowed windows that let you marvel at Cape Town’s natural wonders. It has a balcony and a sitting area. Sleeps 2.

Book your stay here.

d. Family Duplex Suite: The 2-bedroom family suite is situated on the 7th floor and lets you take in the old harbour views and the distant mountains. The suite has a balcony, is on 2 levels and has 2 bedrooms upstairs. One of the rooms makes up the kids’ bedroom and it sleeps 4.

Book your stay here.

e. Royal Suite: The 2 bedroom faces the Atlantic Ocean and each has 2 bedrooms, a generous balcony, and a large living and dining area. Sleeps 4.

Book your stay here.

f. The Penthouse: Is located on the top floor of The Silo. It faces Table Mountain. It has a cinema room and a spa treatment room. The main bedroom has 2 walk-in wardrobes and 2 marble bathrooms.

Book your stay here.

2. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Has been voted/listed as The Best Hotel in South Africa: The Gold List 2022 (Conde Nast) and is a luxury eco-reserve.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is built on 3500 hectares and has about 100 endangered plant species, 23 mammal species have been found in the reserve and 907 plant species – 7 species that are new to science have been discovered on the reserve.

To add, about 3 milkwood forests that are over 1000 years old are also on the reserve. The Private Reserve Lounge is in 3 categories:

a. The Garden Lounge

Is surrounded by an ancient milkwood forest and lush gardens. You get panoramic views over the pristine fynbos and Walker Bay coastline. The lounge is wheelchair friendly, has a forest-theme playroom and exciting kids’ programmes, 11 luxury 1 and 2 bedrooms and free stand suites, a wine cellar ideal for intimate dining experiences, and a wellness area with a sauna.

EXPERIENCES

1. Botanical 4 x 4 Tour

2. Marine Safari

3. Scenic Flights

4. Horse Riding

5. Whale Watching

6. Bird Watching

7. Share Cage Diving

8. Southern Tip of African Tour

9. Walks & Hikes

b. The Forest Lounge

Has a restaurant, lounge, boma and barista bar, library and beauty salon, set high onto a hill with 180 degrees view of the ocean and fynbos, 16 luxurious free-standing suites with fireplaces, an infinity pool with spectacular views, magical walkways that lead through an enchanted milkwood forest, spacious and private, contemporary design.

EXPERIENCES

1. Beauty Treatments

2. Living the Future Tour

3. Safari

c. Private Villas

The 5-star eco-paradise showcases the flora and marine life of Africa’s Southern tip. You are provided with a personal chef, nature guides, a butler, your own swimming pool, an office cinema room, a fully equipped gym, and a wine cellar.

The private villa has a landing strip that’s available to guests that arrive in small planes and helicopters.

EXPERIENCES

1. Fatbike Tour

2. Quad Biking

3. Lady Stanford River Cruise

4. Bird Watching

5. Marine Safari

6. Hive to Home

3. POD Camps Bay

POD camps bay has 17 rooms, runs on green architectural principles (and has its own water supply).

It has a cocoon-like ambience that envelopes guests in a warm embrace of luxury and tranquillity. Each of the 17 rooms is characterised by clean lines, green architecture and modern design that are complemented by the splendour of the natural surroundings.

You can choose to stay in the Deluxe Suite, Luxury Room with Plunge Pools, Luxury Rooms, Classic Rooms, Mountain Rooms or the Mini Mountain Rooms.

4. Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

Located 50 minutes from Cape Town International Airport, Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa is wet between the renowned wine regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

The dining experience is said to be sensational; they pair cuisines with award-winning wines with the view of Cape Winelands.

Delaire’s accommodation/lodge are in different categories:

a. Superior Lodges

Has awe-inspiring views that look towards False Bay. The lodge has a living room, a private terrace, a complimentary personal bar & breakfast, estate-wide Wi-Fi, concierge services, art tours and guided estates, laundry service, a daily newspaper on request, a wet bar area with a Nespresso coffee machine and an Estate wine collection.

b. Luxury Lodges

Surrounded by indigenous gardens with panoramic views and elegantly crafted interiors that are complemented by original artworks of some African artists. The lodge has the following amenities – a flower-scented private terrace, private heated plunge pool, Bose personal music station, in-room safes & telephones, flat screen television, dressing room with hairdryer, marble bathroom with rain shower, bathtub and separate water cistern.

c. Deluxe Lodges

Overlooking the private leafy gardens and ancient oak trees, the Deluxe lodge is a tranquil retreat that offers seamless (outdoor/indoor) living. The living room and ensuite bedroom opens out to a terrace and heated plunge pool.

d. Presidential Lodge 1

A 2-bedroom that offers a central living area with views across the vineyards towards Table Mountain and False Bay, a log fireplace, a large dining area and a private 12m heated pool.

e. Presidential Lodge 2

A 2-bedroom that offers an exceptional view of the vineyard and Simonsberg.

f. The Owner’s Villa: happens to be one of the most exclusive private residences in South Africa and has been designed to provide guests with the ultimate Cape Winelands experience. It also has an incredible selection of art from Laurence Graff’s personal collection.

Delaire’s Spa makes use of specialised rituals and therapies. The spa menu is Afro-Asian inspired and comprises a range of luxurious skin treatments, body therapies massages and wellbeing, and journeys delivered by expert therapists.

5. Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel

Has been regarded as one of Cape Town’s top five-star hotels. Mount Nelson offers easy access to everything that happens in the city and has the perfect combination of contemporary buzz and leafy tranquillity.

It has 198 rooms and suites and is 20km from Cape Town International Airport. The hotel has curated the following experiences to make your stay worthwhile:

a. Marine Biologist Experience: led by Justine Blake, this activity (experience) is exclusive to Mount Nelson guests and you get to discover an extraordinary world that lives beyond Cape Town. You may discover some creatures like sea urchins, octopus, nudibranchs, whales, starfish and maybe dolphins.

The experience sees that you have transport from the hotel on a rigid inflatable boat, snorkel gear if desired, dry bags and scientific shark tracking equipment.

NOTE: Come along with your change of clothing, water bottle, sun protection, warm layers & towel.

COST: R23,900 ($1,417) for a half-day tour, consisting of 8 guests, a gourmet picnic basket that costs R420 per adult and R275 ($16) per child.

To book directly, call them on +27 21 483 1000 or via email at concierge.mnh@belmond.com

b. Classic Car Tours: costs from R1550 per person (half day) and from R2400 per person (full day); you are chauffeured in a gleaming classic car to the majestic Cape Wine lands for lunch or tasting. You explore the picturesque Franschhoek Vally, Constantia Valley that’s famous for its white wines or the estates of Stellenbosch.

c. A wild wine adventure: This experience includes 2 nights in a Deluxe room and begins after breakfast which culminates in a farm-to-table dinner back at the hotel in the evening. The wild wine adventure entails that you veer off-piste on a wine-tasting jeep trail from Mount Nelson and plunge into the fabled Constantia Winelands.

On the tour, you visit 3 historic wine estates through a private road rarely open to visitors.

d. Township Farm Tour: Pluck vegetables straight from the soil in Moya we Khaya, one of the most successful township farms in Khayelitsha, to bring back with you to the hotel.

You chat with Mama Kaba on this half-day tour over a cup of tea before strolling the fertile gardens.

e. Cape Town Winelands: Includes a tour of Cape Town’s internationally acclaimed Winelands. You can go for either the half-day or full-day tours as Mount Nelson offers enchanting tours to the major wine trails.

Specific tours like Cap Classique, White and Red are perfect and available to those with an interest in them.

f. Side Car Adventure: Explore Cape Town with a chauffeured vintage sidecar in timeless style. There’s a range of itineraries (two-hour city tours to full-day excursions) to choose from. You can customise your tour and customise your tour.

Complimentary bandanas, helmets, goggles and riding leathers will be provided.

ACCOMMODATIONS

a. Garden Cottage Suites: Each suite sits behind a scented rose garden; they are an idyllic romantic getaway for honeymooners or couples. The rooms have oversized couches, toile wallpaper interiors and Venetian mirrors.

Some rooms that fall into this category include:

i. Superior Rooms – have a turndown service, ensuite bathroom, designer toiletries, in-room climate control tea and coffee station, TV with international channels, premium pillows and luxury linens, and fully stocked minibar. The superior room has an airy ambience, charming views and classically styles.

ii. Deluxe Rooms – Has a walk-in wardrobe, extra bed available, TV with international channels, in-room climate control, turndown service, premium pillows and luxury linens, designer toiletries, tea and coffee station, marble bathroom with separate bath and shower.

Deluxe Rooms have an elegant blend of modern luxury and understated charm with extra space to unwind.

iii. Junior Suites – Some have walk-in wardrobes, a tea and coffee station, in-room climate control, marble bathroom with separate bath and shower, turndown service, premium pillows and luxury linens, and designer toiletries. This room is perfect for leisure lounging.

iv. Deluxe Junior Suites – Same amenities as the Junior suites. These rooms offer gorgeous views, spacious bedrooms and plenty of relaxation space.

v. One Bedroom Suites – Dressing room, some are equipped with a small microwave, sink and hot plate, spacious separate living area, fully stocked minibar, turndown service, premium pillows and luxury linens, designer toiletries, tea and coffee station, TV with international channels, marble bathroom with separate bath and shower. Some have a balcony and kitchenette.

vi. Deluxe One Bedroom Suites - Same amenities as the One Bedroom suites with a few exceptions. The Deluxe One Bedroom Suites has a dining room and a guest cloakroom.

6. 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa

Metres away from the Atlantic Ocean, 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa is set on the slope of the Table Mountain National Park. The award-winning hotel is minutes away from the vibrant heart of Cape Town and offers the serenity and privacy of a country hotel.

It is family owned and offers a complimentary shuttle service that connects the hotel to the city, ensuring guests enjoy Cape Town. 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa has 55 deluxe guest rooms that provide luxurious hospitality, inspired décor and captivating panoramas.

ACCOMMODATIONS

a. Classic Rooms: They are decorated in colours that are inspired by the hotel’s natural surroundings.

b. Milkwood Rooms: These rooms offer easy access to the Atlantic Terrace pool. All Milkwood rooms have private balconies and full-height sliding glass doors.

c. Mountain Facing Rooms: Have sweeping views of the majestic Twelve Apostles Mountain range, has a private balcony and full-height sliding doors. The ground floor rooms offer views of the fynbos gardens and their natural surroundings.

d. Luxury Rooms: Features bespoke furnishings and a host of personal touches that have become the hallmark of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

e. Super Sea Facing Room: Have a sunken lounge with views that scratch over the winding coastal road below. All rooms are open plan with luxurious ensuite bathrooms.

EXPERIENCES

Check the website for more activities (experiences). We will go through some highlighted experiences below:

a. Helicopter Tour: The package includes a one-way flight from the hotel to the V&A Waterfront.

b. Luxury picnics: The Hotel is situated at a dramatic location on the flanks of the Table Mountain National Park and it offers a great spot to enjoy a picnic. Pick up a luxury basket that has been thoughtfully prepared by the hotel chef and filled with tasty picnic fare. The hotel provides the perfect ambience for a romantic date night.

c. Family-friendly: The hotel is also a great and ideal destination for families travelling to Cape Town. There’s an array of activities, facilities and services that can provide and ensure memories for young travellers.

d. Discover the Winelands: You get to discover South Africa’s award-winning wines with cellar tours, vineyard visits and tastings. You discover 12 Apostles’ sister wine estate – Bouchard Finlayson, South Africa’s leading boutique wine cellars.

e. Take a swing at some of Cape Town’s golf courses.

7. Birkenhead House

Among the Royal Portfolio, this luxurious hotel is a chic and intimate beach hotel in the seaside town of Hermanus. It has set the standard for luxury hotels in Hermanus and it's set on an exhilarating cliff top position that overlooks the whale-watching paradise of Walker Bay.

The hotel’s all-inclusive rates indicate that guests never have to leave the comfort of Birkenhead, where all meals and drinks are included.

Birkenhead has 11 rooms that are individually decorated by Liz Biden and they are located in 3 different houses that make up Birkenhead House.

ACCOMMODATIONS

a. Deluxe Superior Rooms: has generous balconies and beautifully designed sea-facing rooms. Has a seating area, flat screen TV, minibar and air conditioner. The bathrooms have a bath and shower.

b. Superior Rooms: located on the side of the hotel, they are air-conditioned and offer majestic mountain and sea views.

c. Luxury Rooms: offer a view of the pool and central courtyard from the patio, with partial sea views. Has a king-sized bed, and a private bathroom that has a beautiful shower and opulent bathtub.

d. Standard Rooms: located in the backhouse, it has a balcony with mountain views. These rooms have a seating area, flat screen, mini bar and is conditioned. The private bathroom has a bath and shower.

EXPERIENCES

1. Surfing: You are provided with wet suites and surfboards and you join General Manager Shane Brummer for a surfing lesson on the beach below Birkenhead House.

2. Dine with a view

3. Mussel Picking: Although seasonal and is subject to coastal conservation rules, the chefs show you how to pick safely from the mussel-clad rocks below Birkenhead House before its prepared with white wine, garlic and cream.

4. Ocean theatre by indulging in whale and dolphin watching

5. Indulge your senses at the Birkenhead Spa

6. Wine tasting

8. Head Over Hills

The 5-star boutique hotel is situated on the edge of the iconic Knysna Heads. It’s a small and exclusive retreat with 8 ensuite open planned bedrooms, and various communal facilities that ensure guests enjoy luxurious comfort.

The boutique hotel can be booked entirely by a group as an exclusive villa, special dinners can also be organised.

Head Over Hills has a good selection of Methode Cap Classique, red, white and rose and the wine cellar is created in a way that allows guests to walk in and pick a special bottle to either enjoy the sunset or a special dinner.

The hotel’s wine cellar focuses on South African wines as some of the finest vineyards, including Cederberg, Simonsig, Kaapzicht and Hardenberg are represented. When in season, lunch and dinner are served daily and can be enjoyed on request.

EXPERIENCES

a. Boat Sailing & Cruise

b. Knysna Activities include trail running, biking and hiking.

c. Golf

d. Beauty and Relaxation as the hotel offers in-house massage offerings

ACCOMMODATIONS

a. Elephant Suite

It's on the ground floor and offers exciting and generous views. The suite is designed in a way to allow the use of maximum space. It's private and cosy.

b. Captain’s Suite

It has a private balcony that allows you to enjoy the sunset and the ocean’s stunning views.

c. Whale Suite

It has a private deck that lets you enjoy and admire the ocean with a drink alongside.

d. Seashore Suite

This mini-suite is perfect for a romantic getaway. It has views of the lagoon and the ocean.

e. Viewpoint Room

Slightly larger than the other standard rooms and it proves to be a welcome escape.

f. Pansy Shell Room

The only room that accommodates twin beds, whales and dolphins can be watched from the balcony with deck chairs. It has a standard bath and a separate shower.

g. Dolphin Room

It faces the ocean and is perfect for enjoying ocean sunrises in bed and sunset on the private deck. It also has an ensuite open plan bathroom.

h. Oyster Room

Located on the ground floor, it has a balcony that faces the entrance of the lagoon. It also has a separate toilet and shower.

9. Morukuru Family De Hoop

A great destination for family travel, Morukuru operates in malaria-free areas only. There are activities for children ranging from their backpacks filled with fun goodies to guided discovery walks along the beach or bush.

During the rainy days, a PlayStation, pizza making, board games and free Wi-Fi helps keep boredom at bay.

ACCOMMODATIONS

a. Morukuru Owner’s House

It has a contemporary European style that blends with African individualism. It has an intimate library, stocked wine cellar and a digital entertainment collection for leisure. It also doubles as honeymoon heaven and is ideal for couples, honeymooners or a small family.

b. Morukuru Farm House

The interior was designed by Sumari Krige and consists of natural palettes and bespoke Afro-chic accents. The lodge is ideal for multigenerational travel or milestone celebration parties. It has bedrooms and has a dedicated team of a tracker, private guide, butler, housekeepers and chefs.

c. Morukuru River House

Similar to Morukuru Owners’ House and has a generous size. It comprises three double ensuite bedrooms that each have full bathrooms with bush views, a romantic gas fireplace, a super king-size bed, outdoor shower, cooking and air-conditioning and a tree-shaded private deck. The rooms have a PlayStation, computer with internet access, DVDs and state-of-the-art satellite TV.

d. Morukuru Beach Lodge

It has 5 bedrooms that can be booked per suite or for exclusive use. There is an Ocean View Suite that offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and has a cosy private balcony that offers to seat, pristine white dunes and beautiful fynbos vegetation. It accepts a maximum of 2 guests per suite.

There’s also a Honeymoon Suite that offers generous views of the rich fynbos and has a large private deck, perfect for the ultimate romantic oceanside safari escape with partial views of the Indian Ocean.

e. Morukuru Ocean House

The innovative off-gride eco-design 4 bedroom maintains an ecological balance with the light footprint possible.

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Charis Raji

I write about Architecture, Interior Design, Food and Travel. Aesthetic lass and nature lover.