The 10 Best Hotels in Durban in 2021
Dubbed South Africa's playground, it is easy to see why Durban remains a favourite holiday destination. Here is a curated list of Flight Centre Favourites: The 10 best hotels in Durban in 2021. 5-star hotels certainly pack a punch when it comes to facilities, amenities, history and character, and it is understandable why 5 star hotels in Durban, for many travellers, is the destination itself.
For anyone looking for luxury, but spending much of their day exploring the attractions and beaches, there are stunning beachfront hotels, boutique hotels and best value hotels that cater to your daily plans around your holiday.
5-Star Luxury Hotels in Durban
OYSTER BOX HOTEL
Imagine for a moment, a real Hollywood glamour scene. Red-and-white-striped umbrellas in a row next to a crystal swimming pool. Beneath them, equally red-and-white-striped, are luxury, well-padded sun loungers. Waiters walk between them, bringing cocktails and refreshments. Above you the sky is clear and a warm steady breeze carries the sound of the constant waves gently crashing on the beach a few meters ahead. Your view is mesmerising. The ocean lying before you. And now … add an elegantly tall and narrow red-and-white lighthouse in the foreground. Unless you see photographs of the Oyster Box Hotel, one of the premium 5-star hotels in Durban, it is hard to imagine that such beauty can possibly exist.
But it does, and it is no wonder that real Hollywood stars have flocked to the hotel since its establishment in the 1950s.
Its history is itself a reflection of charming, casual, glamorous luxury and built on the foundations of a heart-warming love story between two well-respected and loved business-minded individuals who were determined to create a quality legacy through their joy of hosting guests and attending to their every need.
The understated luxury and gracious hospitality are hallmarks of your visit to luxury hotels in Durban, and if you are a frequent traveller, you will notice the finer details in the amenities and staff attentiveness that one can only expect at such an establishment. Each room is uniquely decorated (no room is the same) and the many beautiful spaces are appointed with original collector's pieces from the most renowned contemporary artists. There are over one hundred paintings by twelve artists, all living and working in KwaZulu-Natal province as well as intricate, creative ceramic and mosaic murals by Jane du Rand, a ceramicist based in Australia.
The 86 bedroom hotel boasts 2 large sparkling swimming pools as well as small private pools at some of the suites. Of course, there is the special touch of unlimited sparkling or still bottled water provided to each room.
The Oyster Box Bar serves fresh oysters that are plucked daily. In fact, fresh oysters and sparkling wine are even served at breakfast. At the rooftop Ocean Terrace Restaurant, with a 180-degree view of the ocean, and the Grill Room you can enjoy casual or fine dining respectively. The sunken Wine Cellar is a wonderful space to host small, elegant private dinner parties. The curry buffet that serves 12 different curries, as well as accompaniments, has been voted as one of the best curry buffets in the world.
There is an aptly-named, high-walled Palm Court Restaurant, with its majestic palm trees, chandeliers purchased from the Savoy and a colonial-era feel. It serves an unhurried high (afternoon) tea in 2 sittings, with an assortment of savoury and sweet delicacies.
In the evening, a fun vibe and Umhlanga Shlings (the hotel's signature steaming cocktail served in a carafe) at the Lighthouse Bar, will round off your day perfectly. The Oyster Box enjoys huge patronage of regular outside guests that dine, too.
There are private villas in the garden that are family units and sleep, 4 people.
The hotel offers immersive cultural tours that explore the very best of what Durban has to offer, from a sea and nature trip to discovering a Zulu Village, hanging out at Max's Lifestyle (a must-experience) or embarking on a foodie trip that takes you to the very heart of Indian cuisine.
Each tour starts with a talk about the history of the Oyster Box, and how the lighthouse came to be when in the 1950s the hotel's roof was painted red as a beacon to passing ships.
Undoubtedly, the Oyster Box Hotel is the epitome of pure opulence. But it is the very character of its location, its history and the attention to quality that places it vying for a spot as one of the greatest hotels in the international arena.
BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL
One cannot talk about the history of 5-star hotels in Durban without the Beverly Hills Hotel coming to mind.
It was the first 5-star hotel in South Africa, built by Sol Kerzner when he was 28 yrs old.
The glamorous hotel has hosted royalty, celebrities and captains of industry and has been at the forefront of offering intuitive service to the elite since its establishment in 1964.
It had one of the very first automatic telephone exchanges in South Africa - The luxury of the time being the ability to direct-dial to anywhere in the world.
The award-winning hotel, with its iconic heated swimming pool, takes centre stage on the Umhlanga Rocks beachfront. The 89 beautifully appointed rooms each have a private balcony and the large windows offer 100% uninterrupted views of the sea - perfect for dolphin spotting.
When considering where to stay in Durban, special attention to detail makes all the difference. Luxuries in the rooms include queen-sized beds, pillow choices, black-out curtains, Nespresso machines, en-suite bathrooms, 24-hour room service and selective complimentary garment pressing.
The architecture of the building itself is an art piece of symmetry and perfect lines.
With the enviable location of 1 Lighthouse Road, it is situated in an upmarket area. A walk to Umhlanga village just up the hill will reward you with some of the best nightlife, restaurants and boutique shopping in KwaZulu Natal. The hotel has its own private entrance to the beach, too.
If you prefer to solely relax at one of the luxury hotels in Durban, then the Mangwanani Boutique Spa is a perfect place to do just that. Experienced therapists will treat you with their signature range of natural products, below one of the 2 luxe safari-style gazebos that have sweeping views of the ocean.
Of course, all this works up an appetite.
As a member of the Chaine de Rotisseurs, the cuisine is prepared using fine ingredients with refined techniques and is complemented by an award-winning wine list boasting a selection of Auction Wines.
And if it's casual-chic elegance you are after, there is nowhere better for sundowners than at the Elements Cafe, where the oysters are fresh and the Champagne is chilled. It is certainly the views from the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that provide a breath-taking backdrop to the upbeat vibe.
Beautiful Beachfront Hotels in Durban
It doesn't take a special occasion to visit any of the 5-star hotels in Durban, but for a good holiday in the spot that enjoys almost all-year sunshine along the Durban beachfront, there are a multitude of lovely hotels a stone's throw from the warm Indian Ocean currents.
These establishments are so well-kitted out and the service so friendly and open, 3 and 4-star hotels can also be considered luxury hotels in Durban.
4 Star Hotel
BELAIRE SUITES HOTEL - Right on North Beach
The Belaire Suites Hotel is one of the best hotels on Durban's beachfront because it is located right on North Beach and only 500m from Fun World, Mini Town and the Ice Rink.
It offers 4-star luxury with modern, spacious rooms and marble bathrooms.
The Sky Lounge restaurant is on a rooftop with panoramic views of the ocean.
3 Star Hotel
ONOMO HOTEL - North Beach
Any discerning traveller will appreciate the strong, chic and contemporary design elements of the Onomo Hotel. The architecture is laid like the central square in an African village with the reception and public spaces centred around the lobby.
The rooms are large and comfortable, opting for simple lines and statement pieces.
It, like many of the best hotels in Durban's beachfront, is located only a few blocks from the beautiful Durban North Beach.
3 Star Hotel
THE PAVILLION HOTEL - North Beach
The Pavilion Hotel is a mere 300m away from the golden sands of North Beach. At the edge of the city centre, it's 2.5km from the Suncoast Casino Complex and 3.5km from the Moses Mabhida Stadium and walking distance from The Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and Ushaka Marine World.
3 Star Hotel
CITY LODGE HOTEL - DURBAN - North Beach
The 160-room City Lodge Hotel Durban has a light and cool interior and a warm, welcoming and laid back vibe making it one of the more easy-going places to stay in Durban. This spot feels positively coastal with its lush gardens, tropical palm trees and sparkling swimming pool.
The hotel is a 30-minute drive from the airport and close to major highways. It has a restaurant, sundowner bar, a fitness room and offers same-day laundry and dry-cleaning.
Each room has an electronic safe large enough to accommodate a laptop and a desk with lighting and plug points for easy connectivity.
Boutique Durban Hotels
4 Star Hotel
COASTLANDS UMHLANGA HOTEL AND CONVENTION CENTRE - Umhlanga Ridge
While boutique hotels typically consist of a small number of rooms - often 100 rooms or less - and offer unique, tailored opportunities for guests, this hotel is listed here because its character stands out as something special. This modern, 4-star hotel boasts 136 bedrooms and is one of the best hotels in Umhlanga Durban and is situated on the ridge of the popular corporate and leisure precinct, Umhlanga Rocks. All rooms offer either full or partial Indian Ocean seascapes as well as views of the Kwa-Zulu Natal's North and South Coast.
The sophisticated bedrooms cater to unrestrained luxury with their King Sized beds and individually controlled air-conditioning. The Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which is the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, is a 6-minute walk from the hotel.
4 Star Hotel
ROYAL PALM HOTEL - Umhlanga Ridge
The outstanding comfortable and light apartments have ample sitting areas and are complete with lounges and balconies perfect for magnificent views over the boulevard.
Boutique hotels in Durban offer something different to standard and the design of this one's restaurant is certainly different. It is divided into four distinct areas, each with a unique ambience, and serves a fusion of contemporary dining experiences.
The Royal Palm is equipped with a state-of-the-art workout centre. It has all the latest mod-cons which include treadmills, stationary bicycles, a weight machine, an elliptical machine and a Yoga/Pilates studio. Guests may also relax in the sauna room and take a refreshing shower after their workout. It is, however, the fact that it offers helicopter trips to surrounding places of interest, that really sets this beautiful accommodation in Durban apart.
ROYAL PALM'S HELICOPTER
It is hard to decide which helicopter flip would be the most memorable. To the South, Port St Johns, Umngazi River, Coffee Bay, Hole-in-the-Wall, Wild Coast Sun, Waterfall Bluff and Wavecrest provide the untouched beauty of the Wild Coast and Transkei. Some waterfalls plunge into the ocean, red dunes, sheer rock gorges, sandstone cliffs, turquoise water and plenty of whales.
Alternatively, you could head inland to the Natal Midlands where you can land in any one of these prime, scenic and interesting places of your choice: The magnificent Drakensberg Mountains and the historic Battlefields; Isandlwana, Rourke's Drift, Zuluwaters Reserve, Cleopatra's Mountain Lodge, Hlalanathi, Monks Cowl or Karkloof Spa.
And then there is the North Coast and Zululand. It is home to many Private Safari Lodges and big Game Reserves such as Phinda, Thanda, Mkuze, Tembe, Hluhluwe & Umfolozi, Mkuze Falls and Sodwana Bay. This trip is a must for any wildlife lovers and an hour and a half in the helicopter will get you to the best spot.
Best Value Hotels in Durban
3 Star Hotel
AHA GATEWAY HOTEL - Umhlanga Ridge
The AHA Gateway Hotel is a premier 3-star hotel in Umhlanga, conveniently attached to The Gateway Theatre of Shopping. There is certainly a distinctive experience that goes with being located right next to the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere!
This means that you have all the prime hotspots and hubs for corporate and leisure travel within short distances from the hotel. This, although not on the beachfront, is still one of the hotels in Durban near the beach, and a drive will have you on the Umhlanga sands in minutes.
3 Star Hotel
CITY LODGE HOTEL UMHLANGA RIDGE - Umhlanga Ridge
This 168-room beautiful accommodation in Durban is a wonderful beach and business location. It is directly across the road from Gateway Theatre of Shopping, offering entertainment, shopping and a variety of restaurants.
The hotel's signature restaurant serves a full breakfast, lunch and light evening meals. It has a sparkling swimming pool, a sundowner bar and a fitness room.
(We, who work in the travel industry, require value accommodation that is convenient, comfortable, provides facilities to conduct work and has access to the best attractions in the area. Shopping and restaurants need to be close and access to highways makes it easier to quickly visit surrounding areas. Not only does City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge tick all boxes, but it also has a professional, friendly and intuitive atmosphere …and is a few minutes’ drive from the beautiful Umhlanga Beach. This is why this hotel remains our Expert Pick for anyone with a similar business lifestyle. At Flight Centre, we ask the relevant questions so that we can tailor your holiday around your specific requirements)
Where Will You Stay?
Each of these hotels offers a unique feel and experience. While you can definitely enjoy time spent at the accommodations, it is the attractions in the surrounding area that will add to every memorable stay. For instance, if you are a nature lover, a mere 25 mins outside of the city centre is the magnificent Valley of 1000 hills, and close-by are an assortment of game reserves and safari lodges. There are also 3 dams close to Durban, botanical gardens and green spaces such as the Umgeni Green Hub which incorporates the Umgeni river estuary and mangrove swamps.
The beaches, the sun and surf, the cultural heritage and well-established markets will keep you pleasantly busy throughout the day. There are plenty of nightlife hotspots and restaurants for the evening, too.
So where to stay in Durban?
Be sure to pop into any hotel on the list and try out their dining or cocktail menus and take a look around. Perhaps it will be your next booked accommodation.