Port Elizabeth is known for many things — gale force winds, Addo Elephant Park, the friendliest people in the country, and a distinct lack of traffic — but luxury travel is not one of them. Most people don’t spend longer than a night or two in this quiet coastal city.
When it comes to luxury hotels in South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town probably take joint first place. Jozi plays home to droves of business travellers, while Cape Town is a summer playground for both South African and international guests.
However, if its relaxation and pampering you’re after, you’ll struggle to find a better place than PE. It rivals South Africa’s larger cities in terms of high-class lodging, and these five luxury hotels in Port Elizabeth prove it.
No 5 Boutique Art Hotel
Situated in one of PE’s most upmarket suburbs, Summerstrand, No. 5 Boutique Art Hotel (formerly Shamwari Townhouse) is minutes away from the ocean and feels a world apart from the stresses of home. This stylish hotel has only 10 suites, and the relatively small size means that guests feel at home. Each suite features a double bathroom, comfortable lounge and private balcony. Other extra features include a Nespresso coffee machine, DVD player and a full DSTV satellite lineup. If your room starts to feel a bit stuffy, take advantage of the Champagne lounge or the Salon Prive, where a range of cigars and single malt whiskies are offered — the perfect way to wind down. Then of course there is the art: the hotels boasts a privately owned art collection, and the design throughout is an eclectic celebration of 1930s Art Deco style. Tel: 041 502 6000
The Boardwalk Hotel
PE’s newest hotel, opened under the Sun International umbrella, features Victorian styled rooms with balconies opening onto views of the Indian Ocean, where you can be treated to spectacular sunset and sunrise views, if you can wake up early enough! This five-star hotel is is home to an Africology spa and is connected to the Boardwalk entertainment centre, which houses a convention centre, casino, multiple restaurants and shops, plus a ten-pin bowling alley. The room rate includes an expansive buffet breakfast, served in the hotel’s lavish dining room. If you really want to treat yourself, book a suite- these are located on higher floors, making for better views, and come complete with a lounge and dining room area which seats six. Tel: 041 507 7777
Hacklewood Hill Country House
For a taste of suburbia, where manicured, sweeping English gardens replace sandy beach views, head to Hacklewood Hill Country House in Walmer, part of the esteemed African Pride hotel group. The property, an original Victorian Manor house, was built in 1898 and is sprawled across a huge piece of land, retaining the old world charm of another era. The house has a tennis court on the premises, as well as a salt- water swimming pool. The Hacklewood Restaurant is as much of an attraction as the hotel itself, boasting Victorian period pieces, and a complete silver service dining experience. Wine paired dinners are often arranged- wine connoisseurs should pay a visit to the wine cellar, which has a fantastic collection of premium, vintage South African and international wines. Tel: 041 502 3050
Radisson Blu Hotel
Without a doubt the most modern and contemporary hotel in the city, Radisson Blu is the place to see and be seen. Its on site restaurant, the Tabu Grill, attracts PE’s young and beautiful, so reservations are mandatory. Rooms are on the small side, but have floor to ceiling windows with panoramic Indian Ocean views, flat screen tvs and free internet. The on site Camelot spa is a must visit, as is the hotel’s pool, which is a great place to chill out over a cocktail. The hotel occupies prime beachfront location, and is walking distance from some of PE’s major attractions, including Bayworld oceanarium and snake park. Tel: 041 509 5000
Secluded and intimate, Windermere, located in Humewood, is a converted house with nine spacious bedrooms (complete with underfloor heating), Molten Brown amenities, and percale linens. Rooms are decorated modestly but adequately, with a focus on clean, neutral tones. Golfers will love the Windermere as a hotel choice; guests receive a complimentary bag of balls at the adjacent Humewood Golf Course driving range, as well as discounted golf packages. The hotel does a great job keeping guests entertained — the concierge will happily arrange game drives, townships tours, or even a whale watching trip. Tel: 041 582 2245