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.
Cottar’s 1920s Camp – Masai Mara, 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.
Singita Lebombo – Kruger National Park, South Africa
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.
Jack’s Camp – Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana
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.
La Residence – Franschhoek, 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.
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge – Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
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.
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.
The Silo – Cape Town, South Africa
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.
Want to book one of these hotels for your next trip to Africa? Get in touch!