It’s been said that South Africa has some of the most incredible resorts and hotels in the world, and according to the latest Condé Nast Traveler reader’s choice awards, it’s not just all talk!
South Africa (14 October 2022) – For their 35th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey, a record 600,000 registered Conde Nast Traveler voters weighed in on their favourite resorts and hotels in the world.
The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry.
“The numbers prove what we already knew: Enthusiasm for travel has never been higher, as demonstrated by the nearly quarter of a million of you who filled out this year’s survey. This year’s list is a testament to the staying power of perennial favourites, through thick and thin—with some newcomers to consider. Here are the best resorts in the world, as voted by Traveler readers.”
Here are the South African resorts that global trotters most loved resorts this year.
Number 20 – Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
For a long time, lodges in South Africa tended to be geared toward the Big Five. Grootbos, on the fynbos slopes near Walker Bay, south of Cape Town, is different. This 6,177-acre private reserve is about treasuring the smaller, finer things. With 889 plant species, seven of which are newly discovered, it is first and foremost a rare botanical treasure trove, in which owner Michael Lutzeyer has employed some of the Cape’s leading botanists and entomologists. The lodges are glassy and contemporary, but there’s a constant call outdoors—from the outside showers to tracking elusive aardvark and Cape leopard, or having lantern-lit dinners in a 1,000-year-old milkwood forest, all fairy-tale tangles. You can ride horses across the sands, past ancient sea caves; go on flower safaris, tree-planting expeditions, and whale-watching flights to see the calving Southern right whales that migrate inshore between July and December. Most of the food on the carbon-negative reserve is grown on site, and nothing comes from more than 30 miles away, with many of the staff graduates of the in-house hospitality academy. But the main takeaway of Grootbos is that just stopping and looking—at the interconnectedness and mad beauty of life—is the most mesmerizing thing of all.
Number 7 – Singita Sabi Sand
Singita Sabi Sand includes three well-appointed options that provide an elegant base from which to bask in the natural beauty of one of South Africa’s most renowned game reserves. Singita’s founding property, Ebony Lodge, sits surrounded by a grove of its namesake trees, with 12 suites inspired by old explorers’ camps. Boulders Lodge, meanwhile, was named after the ancient rocks strewn along the banks of the Sand River, and the 12 glass-fronted suites have artfully pared-down interiors, featuring fossilized tree stumps and other found objects. And Castleton Lodge occupies the ancestral home of Singita founder Luke Bailes. Its Cape Dutch charm, mullioned windows, antiques, expert safari guides, and longtime family staff remain—but the wine cellar, state-of-the-art kitchen, and full gym are all new.
Condé Nast Traveler also released the list of the best hotels in the world and South Africa took three places in this category!
Number 42 – Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel
This elegant 15-room Georgian-era townhouse is tucked away in a residential street in Gardens, a fashionable, upbeat neighborhood known for its restaurants, bars, and interior design shops. Table Mountain forms a majestic backdrop, Lion’s Head beckons. From the outside, Cape Cadogan looks like a beautiful private home complete with crisp white paintwork, black shutters, manicured garden, and pool terrace. Step inside and you enter a world of Bohemian chic. It won’t be easy to find a smart room in such a brilliant location, as slickly managed, luxurious, or private at this price anywhere else in Cape Town.
Number 38 – One&Only Cape Town
Cape Town’s only urban resort, One&Only has a prime Waterfront location next door to the Two Oceans Aquarium and is within strolling distance of the Water Shed, an indoor market filled with must-have local designer brands. Much more of a resort than a hotel, it has space in abundance and everything is dramatically scaled, including the reception lobby leading into Vista Bar and Lounge, the social heart of the hotel where cocktails, high tea, and light meals are served in great style. Triple-volume glass windows frame views of Table Mountain, and the air is infused with a distinctive woody room fragrance—something you remember instantly as a returning guest. The spa is a destination in its own right, situated on its own island, with 12 treatment rooms, private wet areas, and a yoga pavilion in the garden. Make use of the spa thermal suites, even if you don’t book a spa treatment. His-and-hers hydrotherapy facilities each have a vitality pool, aroma-steam room, sauna, ice fountain and experience showers.
Number 26 – Babylonstoren — Franschoek Valley
What if you could actually visit the Garden of Eden? And what if it was surrounded by vineyards, historic Cape Dutch farm buildings, and a formal French-style potager garden, where you could pick your own strawberries and fragrant herbs? At Babylonstoren, in the Drakenstein Valley, 33 miles northeast of Cape Town, the mythical garden comes to life. Founded in 1690, the 590-acre compound is modeled on the farms that supplied the ships making their way around the Cape of Good Hope en route to India. The cottages and suites are minimalist but stylish. You won’t find a grand lobby or an obsequious concierge here, but the staff, most of whom are wearing T-shirts, aprons, or khakis, combine a genuine eagerness to help with a high level of knowledge about the farm and its long history. Stay long enough and eventually—after a visit to the on-site bakery, the winery, the cheesemaker, the butcher, and the farm-tank-style swimming pool—you may forget that you’re staying at a hotel.