The Best Wellness Retreats in South Africa

A stay at one of the best South African wellness retreats promises a wide range of treatments in a setting made for relaxation
A stay at one of the best South African wellness retreats promises a wide range of treatments in a setting made for relaxation | Courtesy of 21 Nettleton / Expedia

Whether you’re looking for a spa hotel overlooking a Stellenbosch vineyard, luxury safari lodge or a detox retreat in KwaZulu-Natal, book one of these top South African wellness resorts.

Lush vineyards, rugged coastline and cosmopolitan Cape Town all spring to mind when you picture South Africa. Pair this with a top wellness resort, and you’ve got a truly relaxing holiday. Choose from a tranquil spa hotel, complete with mindfulness and yoga classes, or opt for a more active retreat, focused on hiking, golf and safari.

1. 21 Nettleton

Spa Hotel

A green garden area at 21 Nettleton, with two black sun loungers next to a pond, surrounded by trees and a mountain backdrop
Courtesy of 21 Nettleton / Expedia

The vistas of Cape Town below the hilltop roost of 21 Nettleton are incredible, but what really sets this luxury retreat apart is the privacy you’ll enjoy, with only six rooms available. Whether opting for reiki sessions or deep tissue massages poolside – or else selecting from a big menu of other spa treatments – peace and tranquility are built into the foundation of your stay. It’s a sanctuary away from noisy crowds and the stress of modern life.

2. Steenberg Hotel and Spa

Boutique Hotel

An outside area at Steenberg Hotel & Spa, with striped sun loungers on decking looking out onto grass, trees and mountains
Courtesy of Steenberg Hotel and Spa / Expedia
This luxury spa hotel, located along the Constantia Wine Route outside Cape Town, offers a serene countryside setting to soothe your tensions. Rejuvenation is the focus here; choose from exfoliating collagen-enhancing facials to full-body massages and wraps. After your spa time, take a stroll around the gorgeous Steenberg estate, where you’ll discover rolling vineyards and bucolic views.

3. Brookdale Health Hydro

Hotel

Rather than a spa attached to a hotel, Brookdale is an all-encompassing wellness retreat in KwaZulu-Natal. Choose between two-, three- and six-night escapes in the South African countryside. Each comes with guided walks, yoga and Pilates sessions, access to the pool and spa facilities, plus three wholesome meals per day. Add on Swedish massages, facials and more, depending on your budget.

4. Woodall Country House and Spa

Boutique Hotel, Luxury

A rustic room at Woodall Country House & Spa, with three massage chairs separated by grey curtains and a tree-shaped wall art
Courtesy of Woodall Country House and Spa / Expedia

Taking advantage of the surrounding groves (lemon, grapefruit and orange), the spa in this luxurious hotel pampers guests with citrus-infused treatments. It has a focus on cellular facials (with diamond and gold dust), sugar-based body scrubs, detoxifying wraps and deep body massages. You can also indulge in various orchard-themed healing therapies, which will awaken your senses and put you in a relaxed frame of mind. Continue that inner peace with a visit to the neighbouring Addo National Elephant Park, home to lions, elephants and wellness-boosting hiking trails.

5. Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel, Luxury

A stylish outside area at Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, with two sheltered pools and tall trees
Courtesy of Saxon Hotel / Expedia

In the verdant Sandhurst neighbourhood of Johannesburg, you’ll find the Saxon Hotel offering a globetrotting range of treatments. The spa is home to Turkish-style hammam cleansing baths, Himalayan body salt scrub ceremonies and Tibetan bowl sound-healing therapies. Select from an extensive range of signature treatments; go local with the African Opulence Journey, which uses natural ingredients from the continent such as baobab oils and Kalahari seed. Whichever you plump for though, you’ll receive a complimentary (and complementary) herbal tea to end your experience.

6. St Francis Health Centre

Spa Hotel

The St Francis Health Centre in Eastern Cape specialises in stress relief, weight control and natural healing, offering a world-renowned detox programme. For those who want to focus solely on relaxation, the spa includes a range of different hydrotherapies, including steam baths, jet baths and swimming pools. Choose between a six- or ten-day package, which include massages, aromatherapy and reflexology sessions, plus daily aquarobic classes.

7. Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa

Hotel, Spa Hotel, Suite Hotel

A sheltered swimming pool at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa, with ceiling and pool lights and a view of a green garden
Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa / Expedia

The Balinese-style spa at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa in Johannesburg offers a wide range of therapies and signature Asian-inspired treatments, plus the gardens are worth a visit in themselves. The spa features a heated plunge pool, a spa bath, Chinese daybeds and pod swing chairs, as well as steam rooms and a sauna.

8. Karkloof Safari Villas

Villa, Safari Lodge

An outside seating area at Karkloof Safari Villas, with sun loungers and cushioned chairs on decking and green mountain views
Courtesy of Karkloof Safari Villas / Expedia

Karkloof Safari Spa in KwaZulu-Natal is world-renowned and features 17 treatment rooms, all with wonderful views of the bush and surrounding gardens. Facilities include a manicure and pedicure lounge, a flotation pool, therapy pools, an open-air jacuzzi, saunas, steam rooms and more. In addition, enjoy the personal butler service and private safari guides during your stay.

9. Temenos Retreat

Hotel

The lush gardens at Temenos in Western Cape offer a haven for those in need of a break. Enjoy daily yoga classes, meditation sessions or early morning walks. Choose between a Georgian suite (with its own private terrace and fireplace), garden cottage or a cottage near the meditative spiral garden, plus there is a hermitage suite for those embarking on a silent retreat. Workshops – from yoga to mindfulness – are regularly held here.

10. Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa

Spa Hotel

An outside swimming pool area at the Kievits Kroon Country Estate & Spa, with cream parasols and stylish sun loungers
Courtesy of Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa / Expedia

Kievits Kroon is a country estate, just 10 minutes from Pretoria and 45 minutes from Johannesburg. Its Cape Dutch-style architecture fits with its status as the only wine estate in Gauteng. The spa itself features mixed and female-only areas, plus advanced thermae facilities including a heated indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, plunge pool and Swiss showers. Opt for a full-day package complete with three hours of spa treatments, including a fig and pomegranate full-body massage or clay wrap.

11. The Oyster Box Hotel and Spa

Hotel

An outside seating area at The Oyster Box Hotel & Spam with sun loungers, a small pool, white chairs and table and sea views
Courtesy of the Oyster Box Hotel and Spa / Expedia

Located in the coastal town of Umhlanga, just 20 minutes outside of Durban, the Oyster Box is a quiet retreat from the city. It’s set in private, tropical gardens, complete with monkeys, exotic birds and colourful flowers. Dip into the plunge pool, work up a sweat in the fitness centre or indulge in a signature massage, involving crystal-infused oil for ultimate relaxation. Afterwards, tuck into sushi and rolled peach pavlova at the Ocean Terrace restaurant.

12. Wedgeview Country House and Spa

Spa Hotel, Guesthouse

An outside swimming pool area at the stylish Wedgeview Country House & Spa, with green grass, chairs and white parasols
Courtesy of Wedgeview Country House and Spa / Expedia

Wedgeview Country House & Spa is located just outside the picturesque town of Stellenbosch. Here, the five-star hotel experience is combined with the exclusivity of a private country residence. The 18 rooms range from deluxe rooms to courtyard suites with panoramic views across the vineyard. The garden spa is a real highlight here with its sauna, steam room and gym. All treatments use locally produced TheraVine products. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, whilst host Linda can prepare a braai on request for dinner.

13. The Hydro

Spa Hotel

Set high in the picturesque Idas Valley on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, the Hydro offers beautiful vistas in every direction. Mindfulness and organic, fresh produce grown on-site plays a central role in this wellness retreat. In fact, the food is so delicious that the hotel has its own recipe book. The three-day de-stress programme is especially popular, featuring a hydrotherapy session, Swedish massage, ozone therapy and cocoon body wrap. Book a shared room if you’re looking for a more affordable option.

Carl Pettit contributed additional reporting to this article.
For a truly relaxing experience, discover Durban’s best spas.

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