100 Venice Road, Morningside (diagonally opposite Clifton school acquatic centre), Durban, South Africa
Babysitting, Bar/Lounge, Conference Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Free Parking, Laundry Service, Multilingual Staff, Restaurant, Room Service, Self-Serve Laundry
The St. James on Venice is one of a handful of small, elegant boutique hotels scattered around the leafier neighborhoods of...
The St. James on Venice is one of a handful of small, elegant boutique hotels scattered around the leafier neighborhoods of Durban.
It inhabits a house which was built by a wealthy merchant in 1892, and still retains the Victorian charm of that era. Comprising just 15 rooms on two floors and a restaurant, the atmosphere is intimate, and the service personal and warm.
Each room has a different design scheme, but they all could be classified as “modern minimalist Victorian.” Flocked velvet headboards, plush drapes and deep pile carpets are done in muted tones of grey, violet and gold. Several have an open-plan design where the shower and sink are in the room, with a separate toilet and shower compartment. My bathroom had no shower, but a gorgeous deep claw-foot tub and a quirky silver sun-burst mirror. Aside from the slightly musty smell in the room, it was perfect and supremely comfortable. The bed was massive and just the right firmness, and the elegant furniture and fixtures had a calming effect, which was greatly appreciated after a hectic day. The wi-fi, though unlimited, was slow and kept kicking me off, but this is fairly par for the course in South Africa. Don’t expect to get lots of work done here.
Besides the lovely rooms, the hotel’s other big draw is the onsite restaurant. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating on a cute garden-facing patio, the offerings change every day and tend toward high-end dishes like prime rib with garlic mashed potato, roasted butternut and pine nut risotto, and lamb shank pot pie cooked in osso bucco sauce. The restaurant is quite well-known for its high tea, which is popular with guests and non-guests alike who are tempted by the lemon meringue tartlets, scones with strawberries and cream, and caprice croissants. My only qualm with the restaurant was that my prime rib came with an unpleasant tomato-based sauce, which upon enquiry turned out to be the result of some experimentation on the part of the chef — which I begged her not to repeat. (Tomato sauce should never go on prime rib.) But I was offered a re-do, and all was well in the end.
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