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The Best Hotels Tried and Tested By Our Editors

Through design and comfort, these hotels prove better ways to stay

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By House & Garden South Africa | March 22, 2024 | Travel Leisure

In a bid to seek out the best hotels, we've stepped out of the everyday offerings of the usual hotels to put to the test everything from the pillow density to the room service, spa facilities and of course the restaurants and bars on offer.

In no particular order, we’ve found some of the best hotels from London to the Zambezi River, based on their service, style and comfort. Whatever type of hotel you're after and wherever you want to be in the capital, this is where to book.

Ham Yard Residences: Creative by Design

The Ham Yard Residences, part of Ham Yard Hotel in the hub of Soho, offer the ultimate long-stay option for guests. Image: Supplied.

Julia Freemantle writes: The Ham Yard Residences, part of Ham Yard Hotel in the hub of Soho, offer the ultimate long-stay option for guests. Expansive, layered, fully serviced, and individually designed (with the option to even tweak elements to a guest’s liking), these spaces are as comfortable as any beautiful home, and with features like floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious marble bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace, sleek Boffi kitchen – even a terrace with a view – are infinitely more luxurious than most.

Residents enjoy the seclusion and comfort of a home, but the services of the hotel – restaurant, bar, spa, gym, theatre, roof garden, private event rooms and bowling alley. And with a newspaper of your choice delivered to your door daily, the inside track on what’s on in your vicinity, and the hotel’s own cultural calendar of events, you’ll feel plugged in from day one.

Pineapple House Boutique Hotel

The Pink Room features striking wallpaper by Cara Saven Wallpapers, a kathka quilt by India Ink, and seagrass rug from Coitex. Cream throw and headboard by Saba Fabrica represented in SA by Lula Fabrics. Photography by Greg Cox.

From your very first step onto the black-and-white patterned tiles on the patio, you are instantly transported to an idyllic Cape Town staycation in this home away from home. The Pineapple House Boutique Hotel has recently undergone a major renovation to increase its nine-bedroom space to 14, adding not only more accommodation, but a beautiful kitchen, dining and lounge area with the perfect penthouse plunge pool for summer.

Every room has been treated as a mini project and has its own unique colour palette. It keeps people interested in coming back as they know they still have spaces to discover somewhere in the hotel!’.

Zambezi Grande Lodge

Scenes at the gorgeous Zambezi River. Photography by Elsa Young.

When redesigning Zambezi Grande, an intimate family-owned lodge in Zambia, Michele Throssell Interiors looked to the abundant inspiration around it for cues – from the iconic bush and waterscape to the lodge’s architecture.

Transforming what was purely a family holiday home into a five-star fishing and safari destination required elevating the suites to a hospitality level, but the footprint and the lodge and architecture remained undisturbed. “We inherited a lodge built in a Cape Dutch style – which we loved, as it is unique on the river,” said Michele.

The sounds, sights, and smells of the river and its surroundings define the experience of your stay at Zambezi Grande, as well as its design. From elegant dinners on the deck accompanied by a chorus of hippo grunts to the lantern-lit island and bush dinners around a bonfire and sunset river cruises with elephants silhouetted against the sunset or action-packed tiger fishing under the expansive African sky.

The Akademie Street Hotel

With its heritage preserved, the Akademie Street Hotel is one of the earliest structures in Franschhoek, long before it became the town it is today. Photography by Jacob Lund.

The hotel has an impressive amount of history behind it, with its Oortuiging cottage dating back to around 1860, making it one of the earliest structures in Franschhoek, long before it became the town it is today. Thankfully, it embraces these qualities instead of trying to overwrite them, resulting in a much richer and more storied atmosphere to the hotel. The courtyard features a heated pool with plenty of space to lounge and serves as the central hub of the hotel. There’s ample space between each of the 9 suites, or 3 cottages, meaning guests are afforded plenty of privacy.