South Africa has so much to offer. You can visit the sights of Cape Town on the coast, for example, or explore Kruger National Park, the country’s largest game reserve and one of the best known safaris in South Africa. There’s also some striking luxury accommodation in both spots – as Expat Living’s own LARA SAGE discovered recently while staying at two properties by boutique hotel group The Royal Portfolio, in Cape Town and Kruger National Park.
Luxury accommodation at Kruger National Park
If you’re wanting to experience a safari in South Africa, here’s a touch of luxury. The newly coined word “glamour-flage” might best be used to describe Waterside, a collection of six luxurious suites that combine those subtle safari tones with the sumptuous decadence that’s a hallmark of The Royal Portfolio. Bringing a scintillating splurge of colour, founder and co-owner Liz Biden has created a spectacular sense of luxury in these safari lodges at Kruger National Park, without forfeiting the authenticity of the African bush.
Waterside is a great option if you’re unsure where to stay in Kruger National Park. For one thing, it’s an effervescent reminder of the abundant colours that exist in nature. The property’s design brings to mind the turquoise flash on a kingfisher’s wing, the saturated yellow of a golden oriole, the rose-tinted pink sky of an African sunset, and the verdant green of new growth after the rains. The more I looked, the more I noticed nature’s multi-coloured splendour amongst the hues of a classic safari. Bold colours were present in the luminous lime-green trunks of the fever trees, the cerise pink of the flowering impala lily, and the lemon yellow of the leopard orchid that grows in the boughs of trees.
We visited in August/September a great time of year for safaris in South Africa. During this time, days are temperate, averaging between 13 and 30 degrees Celsius, bringing about good visibility through the vegetation and grass. It’s ideal game viewing conditions in the dry season. If there was the occasional crisp morning or nippy evening, it also added to the atmosphere, thanks to the fireplace in the suites and the underfloor heating in the luxurious bathrooms. Finally, fleecy blankets and hot water bottles took the edge off any possible chill on the open-vehicle game drives.
The Royal Portfolio’s properties are well-known for comfort, from super-king beds to sprawling bathrooms. Our doors opened from the bathtub onto the deck where antelopes ambled by gracefully, unperturbed by the sight of humans. I relished the indulgent Quercus bath products and enjoyed wrapping up afterwards in plush towels and my gifted leopard-print slippers!
Waterside has opened in with plenty of aplomb. The lodge brought over many skilled and talented staff from The Royal Portfolio’s various luxury accommodations across South Africa. These include highly trained chefs who deliver gastronomic marvels and guides with unrivalled knowledge about the area’s flora and fauna.
I could wax lyrical about our superb sightings during our safaris in Kruger National Park, which boasts such a high density of animals in South Africa. And it’s not only the presence of the “Big 5” that adds to the experience here. There’s extensive birdlife that entertains even down to the humble cisticola. The small brown bird that would be indistinguishable but for its incredible range of sweet-sounding calls: tinkling, rattling, whistling, trilling and bubbling!
My enthusiasm is clearly indicative of how Waterside ignites and stimulates the senses. It’s a place that will enhance a safari experience through a touch of unabashed brilliance and glamour.
Take a domestic flight to Hoedspruit from Johannesburg or Cape Town. Then, it’s just a 45-minute drive to the lodge.
Luxury hotel in Cape Town with eclectic rooms and stunning views
If you’re visiting Cape Town too, why not add a stay at The Royal Portfolio’s iconic property in the city? Imagine 42 vertical tubes of a derelict grain storage complex converted into a decadent hotel atop a world-famous art gallery. Then, let your imagination colour in the interiors, adorn it with mirrors and chandeliers, velvet and paintings, and all the trimmings of a luxurious boutique hotel. Finally, complete it with a bath filled with bubbles, champagne in crystal glasses, and panoramic views through 82 pillowed glass windows that bulge outward as if inflated. That’s what you can expect at The Silo Hotel, which is as synonymous with the Cape Town skyline as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.
Built in 1921 as an industrial harbour facility for grain, this disused building sat deteriorating in recent years. Unlike many other historic buildings that have spaces to be repurposed, this had none. However, industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick had a plan: he would celebrate the building’s “tube-iness”! With advanced concrete-cutting techniques, galleries were carved, exposing the raw beauty of the original concrete and celebrating the industrial heritage, thereby reviving interest in this iconic landmark. The tower still contains large pieces of rusty chains and piping and heavy machinery, which have been artfully incorporated into the refurbishment.
Like Waterside, The Silo Hotel is decorated by owner-founder Liz Biden in her trademark eclectic style. For instance, interiors of all 28 hotel rooms are complemented with exquisite and unusual art from South Africa, setting the standard for luxury Cape Town accommodation.
The Silo occupies six floors above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, and is situated at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront (it stands for “Victoria & Alfred”). There are also endless entertainment options near the hotel! You have easy access to buskers, live music, seafood restaurants, harbour activities and helicopter flights. There are also boat charters – visit between July and October to spot seals and passing whales!
You can also catch an art nouveau movie at the famous Labia boutique cinema, enjoy a late night Irish coffee and music at Kloof Street House, or take a day-trip to the surrounding Atlantic beaches. In short, your visit to Cape Town can be one of countless activities as well as hotel comforts.
We stayed in a Family Suite on a recent visit, and it’s a sure-fire way to entice teenage children to hang out with you! The mezzanine level of the suite also had a loft-apartment feel with stunning views of Table Mountain. Meanwhile, the bedrooms and the living room area offer views of the city bowl and the sea. The rooms were embellished with mirrors, bold colours and striking artworks. There were also fascinating coffee table books on art, film and media, jewellery design and African cultures.
It’s a sensory marvel to stay here. Wallow in the creature comforts of plush sofas, crisp linen, underfloor heating and down duvets. We were there in winter, when the crisp blue skies showed off Cape Town in all her glory. The 360-degree rooftop bar and glass-sided rooftop pools are enticing us for a return visit in the summer!
Visiting other cities in South Africa? Visit here for a full list of luxury accommodation by The Royal Portfolio.
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