As South Africa’s third largest city, Durban has plenty of sleeping options for all budgets, with dozens of hotels, inns, guesthouses and backpackers to choose from. From the ocean to the city center, here we round up five favorite Durban hotels for every price bracket.
1. Oyster Box
Easily the best hotel in Durban, everyone loves the Oyster Box, which combines five-star luxury with fabulous views from its infinity pool and a classic-modern vibe. Originally built in 1947, it underwent a total overhaul recently that added the pool, a 24-seat movie theater, a spa, and business and conference facilities. There are only 86 rooms and suites, most of which face the Indian Ocean, and all are richly decorated in Indian, Zulu and colonial styles that reflect Durban’s ethnically diverse population. Rooms are posh; Wi-Fi and satellite TV come standard, as do comfortable beds, high thread count linens and modern bathrooms. But to truly shine, rent a villa for your own plunge pool experience. The onsite restaurants and bars make it possible to never leave the grounds – head to Ocean Terrace for authentic Indian, the Grill Room on weekends for a nostalgic dinner dance experience, or the Lighthouse Bar to mingle with Durban’s socialites and celebrities. Rates vary, but usually start in the US$350 range.
This popular boutique property in a historic building on Florida Road (epicenter of Durban’s dining and nightlife scene) features colonial country-style rooms (think lots of drapes and floral) around a manicured and green courtyard area that also houses the swimming pool. There is free Wi-Fi and parking on site and the hotel is in the Berea neighborhood, just a 10-minute drive from the beach. It’s a lovely escape from the clutter of downtown. Rates start around US$100 per night.
3. The Concierge Boutique Bungalows
For a different kind of sleeping experience, hit up Durban’s only design hotel, which offers 12 rooms in four pods and has a mid century modern vibe. All are decorated with a mix of wood, stone and glass and have an ultra-modern-meets-country vibe. Sleeping quarters can feel a little tight, but the emphasis here is on shape and texture rather than square footage (all come with free Wi-Fi and perks like iPhone docking stations). The glass walled Freedom Café is where to head for gourmet meals. And at around US$100 per night, this boutique hotel is a great deal as well.
4. Protea Hotel Edward Durban
With rooms starting in the $130 range, this four-star property by the sea is good value as well as comfortable. Done up in Art Deco style, the hotel first opened its doors in 1911 and has been entertaining South Africa’s elite visitors ever since. Rooms are clean and classic, living up to the brand’s reputation – they include old world styling like thick drapes, but modern conveniences like satellite flat-screen TVs and WiFi. The location on the Golden Mile fronting the Indian Ocean is another plus is another plus, as is the panoramic pool on the roof, where you should have at least one sundowner cocktail. For the best views, book an ocean-view room on one of the higher floors. Rates start in the US$150 range.
5. Tekweni Backpackers Hostel
Opened in 1995, Tekweni was one of South Africa’s original five backpacker hostels and nearly 20 years later it is still going strong. Perenially popular with the party crowd who love the social scene, it’s a good place to meet other travelers if you’re on the road solo. Dorms go for around $12 per night, while doubles are in the $23 per person range. There is WiFi in the reception area, a swimming pool in the garden and a sports bar for mingling or watching your favorite team. It’s best to book online, directly through the property.