We all know the big-brand holiday chains and resorts: they’re tried, tested and trusted. You may even have a favourite self-catering spot on the beach you go to every year. But with 2020 turning travel and tourism on its head and breaking a lot of our other habits, why not be bold and explore some of the quirkier and more unique places South Africa has to offer? Here are my top picks!
What could be more delicious than a holiday on a luxury 32-metre yacht, permanently moored alongside the V&A Hotel in the Waterfront? I’ll tell you… an affordable holiday on a 32-metre luxury yacht!
This gorgeous boutique ‘hotel’ offers magnificent views of Table Mountain and access to as many attractions, restaurants, cafes and shops as your heart could desire. There are plenty of luxurious touches to make you feel like a celeb, including a gourmet Continental breakfast at the V&A Hotel, full-time security, spa treatments, sun-downers on the deck, and even a valet service! And for those who are mixing business with leisure, enjoy free unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi.
If your childhood obsession with treehouses has stuck with you into adulthood, this may be the next holiday for you.
This magical lodge aims to balance nature and comfort, and offers 10 unique treehouses with a personalized experience for each guest. Solid wooden walkways lead to your treehouse, and you can while away the hours on your spacious-yet-private balcony, watching the wildlife stroll by.
If you and your SO are looking for a bit of romance, each treehouse is fitted with an outdoor shower, and there’s a Honeymoon Tree House that is especially enchanting.
Dating back all the way to 1857, De Ark House is one of the oldest and most magnificent buildings in the country. While the exterior may be historical, and each room furnished to represent a different time period, you can enjoy all the amenities of modern times, including kitchenettes, satellite TVs, heaters and fans, and of course electric blankets for the winter nights.
Other opulent features include a Victorian tea garden (hello, Bridgerton, is that you?), a sparkling swimming pool, and a dining room with beamed ceilings and an open fireplace; the meals are wholesome and inspired by the surrounding countryside, ideal for a spot of self-care following the long year of January.
Wishing you were among the royal elite? At the Castle in Clarens, you can finally live out your own fairytale. With décor and artworks hand-picked from around the world, a gothic-style kitchen, a dramatic fireplace adorned with golden cherubs, and a garden designed to make you feel part of a magical fable, this castle is the height of sumptuousness.
Set among two mountain ranges, Clarens is also a paradise for artists, and is overflowing with art galleries and quaint restaurants to re-inspire your imagination.
Not everyone lives near the Kruger National Park, but I’m here to let you know that Kruger isn’t the only place you can enjoy a spot of untouched wilderness and a safari; there are incredible wildlife experiences being offered all over South Africa.
One example is Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve in Citrusdal, famous for its panoramic scenery and one-of-a-kind accommodation. The reserve’s signature ‘cave’ suites are built right into the local sandstone rock formations, and their ‘hut’ suites resemble traditional clan dwellings in the area.
But if you’re looking for a truly incomparable experience, book their Outcrop Open-Air Room, and enjoy a night sleeping under the stars while ensconced in pure comfort.
For those who believe that Hartbeespoort is just for families with kids and doing extreme outdoor activities, think again. Nestled among leafy palm trees, you’ll find The Art Guesthouse, an ‘art haven’ where you can enjoy a spicy weekend getaway for two, or just some alone-time to get away from the world and centre yourself again.
Each room is a one-off, filled with original pieces of art created by the owner of the property and with scrumptious names like Starry Nights, Frieda Kahlo, and Cadmium Scarlet.
Use your time to get stuck into a book on the colourful patio, or laze by the pool topping up on your Vitamin D.
Sleeping overnight on a train is on many people’s wish list, but isn’t always practical once you consider how best to get home again (especially if you’re on a budget), and that’s where Santos Express comes in.
A genuine train turned into a lodge, all the cabins face the Indian Ocean, and there is a cabin to suit any budget and occasion. Most units include a hearty breakfast in the price, and the Santos’ restaurant is well-known for its delicious meals.
‘Disembark’ the Express to enjoy some well-deserved beach time, or explore the huge variety of activities the harbour town of Mossel Bay has on offer.
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