The Best Boutique Hotels to Book in South Africa

The boutique hotels in South Africa come with beautiful settings, whether along the coast or inland
The boutique hotels in South Africa come with beautiful settings, whether along the coast or inland | Courtesy of Compass House / Expedia
Glynis Horning

The southern tip of Africa packs in everything from rugged game parks to golden beaches where dolphins and whales cruise by, mellow winelands and the dramatic Drakensberg mountains. Set among these, sophisticated cities, lively townships, quaint seaside towns and country villages await, with the best places to stay in South Africa.

1. Auberge Burgundy, Hermanus

Hotel

A traditional-looking villa with a rectangular outdoor pool surrounded by sand-coloured buildings and sun loungers
Courtesy of Auberge Burgundy / Expedia

This blue-shuttered, Provençal pad is best placed for taking in the charm of Hermanus – one of South Africa’s prettiest seaside towns, 90-minutes from Cape Town. The family-run auberge sits right on the seafront, above the old harbour and Walker Bay, where southern right whales sail pass by from May to early January and you can smell the salty sea air. All around you are cafés, craft stalls, galleries and trendy boutiques, celebrating local talent – though, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the world outside when hidden away in the hotel’s flower-filled courtyard garden.

2. Dock House, Cape Town

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel

A white bedroom with a double bed and open doors leading to a terrace at Dock House Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Dock House Boutique Hotel / Expedia

For those wanting a secluded stay close to Cape Town’s vibrant Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the Dock House is tucked away in a quiet garden beside the 1894 Time Ball Tower, in what was the Harbour Master’s home. The elegantly refurbished Victorian building has just five rooms and one airy suite, all high ceilings and chandeliers, wrapped in a deep veranda. There’s even a tranquil pool with loungers – not always guaranteed in Cape Town’s city centre.

3. Hartford House, KwaZulu-Natal

Hotel

A bedroom with a double bed and large open window at Hartford House
Courtesy of Hartford House / Expedia

One for foodies, the multi-award-winning restaurant in this gracious old family farmhouse on a stud farm in the lush KwaZulu-Natal Midlands serves a wealth of local produce in understatedly sensational ways. Savour them over relaxed lunches on the deep veranda or a multi-course tasting menu in the grand candlelit dining room. You’ll be hard-pressed to beat just the homegrown harvest salad, with freshly made breads and butter.

4. POD Camps Bay, Cape Town

Hotel, Boutique Hotel, Guesthouse

A stylish seating and bar area with floor-to-ceiling windows at POD Camps Bay, that overlook the ocean
Courtesy of POD

This ultra-cool, hipster-summoning hotel epitomises pared-down green architecture, with naked timber, stone and glass reflecting the granite of the gobsmacking mountain behind it. The white sands of Camps Bay are 50 paces away, as are a slew of trendy restaurants, but there’s no better place to savour the sunset than POD’s own glamorous pool deck, where guests are served complimentary canapés and wine.

5. The Peech Hotel, Johannesburg

Boutique Hotel

A stylish bedroom with a cushioned bed, bedside tables, lamps and carpet at the Peech Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of the Peech Boutique Hotel / Expedia

For those craving an oasis of calm in the heaving heart of Joburg, this 1950s family home-turned-hotel lies in two acres (0.8ha) of tree-shaded gardens in residential Melrose, with two swimming pools to chill around, and suites that reflect eco values in understated African style. The shops and galleries of smart Sandton and Rosebank are just minutes away.

6. Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Johannesburg

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel, Luxury

A bedroom with a four-poster bed, chair, table and a terrace overlooking greenery at Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa
Courtesy of Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa / Expedia

Saxon guests are met at the airport in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and welcomed with a bottle of French champagne, making this one a hit with unabashed lovers of luxury. Suites don’t come plusher than the Nelson Mandela Platinum, with a private glass elevator, bespoke African decor, original artworks and a 24-hour dedicated butler service. The award-winning spa is in a league of its own, with one-of-a-kind indulgences like sound therapy in a glass-walled garden treatment room.

7. Compass House, Cape Town

Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel

An ensuite bedroom with a wooden floor at Compass House, overlooking the sea
Courtesy of Compass House / Expedia

For those after a personalised beach stay, the Compass House places you just two minutes from the protected beach of exclusive Bantry Bay and 10 minutes from the centre of Cape Town. Attentive hosts will arrange everything from free hotel transfers, to bookings at special restaurants, off-beat adventures like sand-duning, and visits to exclusive wine estates, from their Little Black Book. They pride themselves on each suite having a high-tech in-wall sound system, and giving you access to a huge music library.

8. La Residence, Cape Winelands

Boutique Hotel, Luxury

A stylish and spacious bedroom with a chair and desk, a double bed and wooden doors at La Residence
Courtesy of La Residence / Expedia

Ringed by the vineyards, plum orchards and mountains of Franschhoek, La Residence has 11 luxe suites, each created by designer Liz Biden around a different theme: from exotic Tibetan to warm Provençal – whatever turns you on. It’s the ultimate for a romantic break or wedding, when family or friends can book five vineyard suites. This being the Cape Winelands – aka South Africa’s gastronomy HQ – dining is a serious affair, stretching from long, lazy breakfasts to chandelier-lit evening meals in the Great Hall and al fresco nights in the palm-lined Persian Alley.

9. Labotessa, Cape Town

Independent Hotel, Luxury

A bedroom with a blue colour scheme, a double bed in the foreground and a bathroom in the background at Labotessa
Courtesy of Labotessa / Expedia

For those after old-fashioned opulence with ultra-modern conveniences in the heart of the city, Labotessa is a Cape Town landmark in its own right, set on cobbled Church Square. Behind its elegant 17th-century facade, lies six enormous, high-ceilinged European-inspired suites in jewel tones, giving iconic views of Lion’s Head, the Slave Lodge, Groote Kerk and the Company Gardens. The hotel’s Café & Terrace serves sophisticated homemade snacks, all-day breakfasts and seasonal salads, and buzzes with wine and coffee-lovers from morning till night.

10. Tintswalo, Boulders Beach

Boutique Hotel, Villa

A bedroom with a turquoise colour scheme, a double bed and a chair and desk at Tintswalo at Boulders
Courtesy of Tintswalo at Boulders / Expedia

Tintswalo’s airy suites are daubed in the shades of the sea, looking out to the historic naval base settlement of Simon’s Town, 35km (22mi) from Cape Town. The largest penguin colony in Africa is on the beach below you, and from your balcony you can watch the antics of these endearing besuited creatures that mate for life, as they raise their chicks, fish and feed.

11. Royal Malewane, Kruger

Boutique Hotel, Chain Hotel

Villas surrounded by trees and plants at Royal Malewane with thatched roof
Courtesy of Royal Malewane / Expedia

For those after a Big Five safari in high style, Royal Malewane is located on the border of the Greater Kruger National Park. You can drop in by plane on a private airstrip, and on arrival at the main lodge you’ll uncover eight classically-styled, oh-so romantic suites. But our tip? Opt instead for the intimate (and more) modern Farmstead; or, better yet, The Farmhouse – with four subtly sophisticated bedrooms, and its own swimming pool above the bush, a private chef, housekeeper, butler, safari vehicle and dedicated ranger and tracker.

12. The Giglio, Johannesburg

Hotel, Luxury

The white building at The Giglio Boutique Hotel surrounded by trees and plants with lawn in front
Courtesy of The Giglio Boutique Hotel / Expedia

Those hankering after a country feel in the heart of Joburg will find it at The Giglio. Just minutes from the shopping, dining and clubbing of Sandton and Rosebank, you turn down an avenue of giant pin oaks to discover a Cape Dutch home-from-home in a tranquil garden with a fountain. Suites are as quietly stylish as they are comfortable (think solid oak furniture and leather headboards); the service is friendly but unobtrusive; and there’s a pool surrounded by loungers.

13. Angala Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Guesthouse

Angala Hotel next to a tall mountain, with an outdoor pool in the foreground amid manicured lawns
Courtesy of Angala Hotel

The owners of this rejuvenating retreat between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek will tell you that ‘Angala’ was a period when the Earth was being formed in limitless potential, and their hope is you to leave with some sense of that. After all, how can you not, when unwinding under the Cape Winelands mountains, in a simple but luxurious suite? Go hiking, swim in two pools, take a private yoga session, and end with a massage before dining on fresh local produce – or simply sit on the deck sipping local wines while taking in the natural scenery of the sculpted Simonsberg mountain.

This is an updated version of an article originally written by Carina Claassens.
Fancy discovering even more hotels in South Africa? Check out our pick of the best hotels in Plettenberg Bay for every traveller, bookable with Culture Trip.

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