Text by Francesa Wallace, Vogue Living
If you’ve ever wanted to see giraffes, rhinos and wild birds from the comfort of your own room, private pool or even shower, this hotel is for you. Recently refurbished and now one of South Africa’s most eclectic game hotels, &Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge has struck the right chord between design hotel and safari ground zero.
With an overhaul of both interiors and outdoor areas, the Lodge, which is located in the KwaZulu-Natal region of the country, boasts seriously Instagrammable rooms and even better views outside. And with just six suites on site, the hotel feels more like a chic, serviced house than a standard hotel.
A mix of antique and new furnishings, the interiors are not your usual fare—instead, banana-print wallpaper contrasts against the dark wood, with pops of neon yellow velvet by way of a curved lounge adding to the eclectic, natural-meets-modern style. Once a family lodge, the Chris Browne and Debra Fox-designed space allows for plenty of privacy for its guests, but a communal library and outdoor seating areas provides time for guests to mingle—and maybe spot a zebra.
Bordering on a wetland, the location is one of the best for animal watching. Offering day and night game safaris, the hotel is romantic and adventurous all at the same time, allowing for guests to stay and indulge whilst still exploring the best of the region. Situated between two habitats, the forest and the grasslands, Phinda Vlei Lodge allows for all types of African animal watching—it makes for an impressive camera roll once the safari is over.
With a focus on safari, the lodge is mindful of its place in the ecosystem, so all tours are planned with the utmost respect for the environment. Tours leave the lodge twice daily (early morning and just before dusk) and head to one of the surrounding game reserves: &Beyond Phinda’s private game reserve, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Thanda private game reserve. With the aim to spot one of the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant or buffalo), the tours have a high success rate—and trust us when we say, you will leave completely satisfied.
Back at the lodge, guests can opt to dine inside or on one of the alfresco terraces, making the most of wildlife spotting, which varies depending on the time of day. Back inside your suite, soak up the night time safari noises and enjoy a bath overlooking the wetlands. Add a glass of wine and you’ve got yourself a holiday.
Images: &Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge