The most stunning boutique hotels in Africa

Southern and East Africa are regions of sublime natural beauty, and hotels have had to up their game to complement the landscape in a way that combines design, comfort and sustainability. From cool city hotels to cutting-edge luxury safari style, we’ve selected some of the best hotels in Africa for design lovers.

The Silo
Art plays a central role in Liz Biden’s hotels, of which we’ve picked two for this blog.

Cottar’s 1920s Camp – Masai Mara, Kenya

Cottar's, Kenya
Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Kenya.

One of the most eco-friendly camps in Africa, Cottar’s was established by Louise and Calvin Cottar in the 1990s. The Cottar family started guiding safaris in 1919, some of the first people to do so, and the camp, located just a kilometre outside the Masai Mara reserve, has been designed to reflect the heritage of the family. There are just 10 tents, all decked out in crisp, cream fabrics, deep red Persian rugs, silver tableware and dark wooden finishings. We love it for the nostalgic design and the camp’s commitment to responsible travel.

Cottar's, Kenya
The camp’s design is a nod to the family’s historic safari roots.

Singita Lebombo – Kruger National Park, South Africa

Singita Lebombo
Singita Lebombo is located in South Africa’s Kruger area.

Singita lodges set the bar pretty high for safari design, with an emphasis on interiors at each one of their camps and lodges throughout South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Lebombo, located in the Greater Lebombo Conservancy in the Kruger National Park, has a more modern feel than many of the others, whilst still ensuring the lodge fits in with its natural surroundings.

Singita Lebombo, Kruger, South Africa
The pool at Singita Lebombo.

Jack’s Camp – Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana

Jack's Camp
The mess tent at Jack’s Camp.

Jack’s Camp is another camp that celebrates its heritage through design. The Bousfield family have been guiding safaris in Africa for five generations and the camp is named after the legendary hunter-turned-conservationist Jack Bousfield, the father of co-owner Ralph. Set in the middle of the Makgadikgadi salt flats of Botswana, the tents are styled in the manner of a 1920s safari camp. There are wooden-framed beds so high you have to climb steps to slip between the sheets; Persian rugs carpet the floors; the bathrooms have brass showerhead and taps; and the main tent features many old photos of the family and the Makgadikgadi Pan.

Jack's Camp
Twin tents at Jack’s.

La Residence – Franschhoek, South Africa

La Residence
La Residence is Elton John’s favourite hotel in South Africa.

Bold and flamboyant, it’s no wonder that La Residence is Elton John’s favourite hotel in South Africa (there’s even a photo of him in ‘his’ room). Though the chandeliers, many artworks and lavish furnishings might look excessive at first, the warm, family-friendly service serves to perfectly offset the grand design. Each of the rooms are different. One standout bathroom is the huge ‘Versailles’ bathroom of the Frangipani suite, so-named because its walls are covered in mirrors.

La Residence
The Versailles bathroom. 

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge – Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa

Earth Lodge
Earth Lodge is designed to blend into its surroundings.

Earth Lodge is one of four camps that make up Sabi Sabi in South Africa’s private Sabi Sands game reserve. The lodge’s design is totally unique, styled to blend into the land – it sometimes fits in too well, as in the past, the local elephants have walked straight over the roof! The suites are like plush, luxurious caves, a sheltered den from the heat of the day. The Amber Suite is the honeymooners’ favourite, with its incredible bed design: the headboard is a whole tree, its branches reaching up to the ceiling.

Earth Lodge
The Amber Suite at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda.

Wilderness Safaris opened Bisate Lodge to much applause in 2017. The eco-friendly gorilla trekking lodge has six suites sitting on a forested hillside, each with domed, thatched roofs in traditional Rwandan style. The décor reflects the jungle setting whilst remaining fresh and modern, using natural materials and white, black and green fabrics.

Bisate Lodge
Domed bedrooms with layers of velvet and faux fur throws at Bisate Lodge.

The Silo – Cape Town, South Africa

The Silo
A room with a view.

One of the most Instagrammed hotels in Africa since it opened in March 2017, The Silo has made bold style choices to complement its building, an old grain silo (also housing the Zeitz MOCAA) reimagined by UK architect Thomas Heatherwick and his team. The huge pillow windows reveal wide-angle views of Cape Town, the harbour, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. Owner Liz Biden has added her personal touch through the many pieces of local art and the various furnishings she has collected throughout the years.

The Silo
The rooftop pool at The Silo.

Want to book one of these hotels for your next trip to Africa? Get in touch

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