Who needs long-haul places and distant destinations when you can have world-class staycations right here at home? There’s never been a better time to treat yourself by booking into a well-heeled establishment and reminding yourself of all that Joburg or Cape Town has to offer. To guide you in your search, we’ve road-tested these high-end hotels that provide proximity to the city’s finest restaurants, a wild night on the town and great shopping. Head to our favourite five-star luxury hotels when only Egyptian cotton sheets and 24-hour room service will do.
Get your glam on for an evening or two at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg
Seeking a stay with the sense of a hush-hush retreat, but with landmark views of Joburg? Look no further than Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg to tick that box. In the ritzy northern suburb of Westcliff, you’ll feel the glittering pedigree of Four Seasons hotels, but the distinctive South African character is all its own. With the class and glamour of an international institution, The Westcliff will have you feeling like a royal with its flawless service – and that’s before you set your sights on the extravagantly upholstered bedrooms. Some spill out onto the tree-lined pathways (Garden-View Premier Rooms), while the premium suites have terraces overlooking the Hillbrow Tower. The category to choose is a Panoramic View One-Bedroom Suite. Calm, beautiful and so thoughtfully designed, the sheer comfort of the state-of-the-art suites is what sets this hotel apart from the rest. Aside from the top-of-the-line bed, the marble bathrooms stashed with Bulgari minis were a standout. The only downside? We didn’t want to leave its confines. On-demand dining is the order of the day: Italian burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil pesto, gnocchi swimming in crème fraîche and black truffle cream sauce, and a Klein Karoo lamb burger topped with fried halloumi are delicious odes to locally sourced produce. The fine-dining View Restaurant is where a limited but first-class breakfast menu is served each morning. An afternoon at the spa or leisurely swims in turquoise waters is a holiday in itself. Golf carts can be summoned at all hours, though refreshingly, the walk is pleasant.
Top tip: Make sure you book in for the Signature Brunch at the hotel’s open-fire cooking restaurant, Flames. It’s a celebration of all things luxury, pleasure and party.
67 Jan Smuts Avenue, Westcliff
011 481 6000
Indulge in city life high above Sandton’s busy streets at the Michelangelo Towers
For a taste of inner-city luxury, you can’t beat the Michelangelo Towers. It may be one of the most historic buildings in the Sandton skyline, but that doesn’t mean the glamorous city escape can’t keep up with the demands of modern travellers. For grandeur, plush rooms and suites, an excellent spa experience and a relaxed street-level restaurant that champions African cuisine, you can’t beat it. You’ll instantly feel at home, while service is friendly, capable and breezy. For a really opulent stay – suggestive of a well-travelled way of life – reserve one of the One-Bedroom Executive Apartments or the super-deluxe Presidential Suite. The fundamentals are unimpeachable: An earthy palette with characterful furnishings and lots of blonde wood. Our One-Bedroom Executive Apartment was done up in creams and browns with original artworks, vivid blue accents, a fabulously comfortable bed, a fully equipped kitchen and a big bathroom with a proper tub. Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ brand-new ROAR Bistro & Bar is a notable addition to a city already blessed with more than its share of terrific restaurants and bars. First of all, the name will give you an idea of this restaurant’s playful vibe. Ideal for a hearty lunch or group feast, ROAR serves up a fun, creative menu, including popular African foods, slow-braised meat, seafood, fire-roasted vegetables and tempura. Go on a summer evening and enjoy sundowners with your sharing plates. We loved the flame-grilled octopus, tempura prawns with lime mayo, slow-braised chuck and lamb al asador with pomegranate and yoghurt.
Top tip: Stop in for a splash at the otherworldly Roman bathhouse-style indoor pool that’s waiting for you next to the gym on the first floor.
8 Maude Street, Sandton
011 245 4000
Enjoy ocean breezes and crashing waves at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront
It’s often said that you can’t buy happiness. But when you can book a night’s stay at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront – a hop, skip and a shimmy away from the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town’s best attractions – we’d argue that bliss isn’t far off. It’s fancy, but it doesn’t need to prove itself. The views, service and amenities – a restaurant and bar, a heated rim-flow pool, an Amani Spa, state-of-the-art fitness facilities and meeting spaces for events – all say quite enough. During your stay, be sure to make time for a relaxing treatment at the spa, like a classic Swedish massage or the signature Babor Classic Moisturising Facial. The hotel gives major seaside-chic vibes, starting with champagne at check-in. In each of the 177 individualised rooms, the luxury is low-key – but it’s luxury all the same. Our Junior Suite inspired instant calm with coastal blues and lots of nautical details. It had a relaxed but decidedly upscale style – think streamlined interiors with uncluttered finishes, lovely hardwood floors and the hotel’s signature white shutters. You can’t stay at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront without partaking in the dining at Tobago’s Restaurant, Bar & Terrace – offering diners everything from seafood curry, a tender sirloin steak, grilled prawns and sauvignon blanc-steamed mussels to a dish of seared tuna with sesame fried rice, edamame-wasabi mousse and ponzu dressing. Tobago’s also creates some of our favourite desserts, including the namelaka chocolate tortellini (paired with salted caramel, vanilla ice cream and bananas brûlée, which is lip-smackingly good).
Top tip: If you like space to stretch out and enjoy the fresh air, then splash out and book yourself a 110m2 Suite. The ocean-view room comes complete with a kitchenette as well as a dining room and lounge, all leading onto a central balcony.
100 Beach Road, Granger Bay Boulevard, Cape Town
021 441 3000
Soothe both body and mind at the Queen Victoria Hotel
You’d be forgiven for walking straight past the Victorian-era Portswood Ridge and not blinking an eye. But behind its entrance is one of the most utterly delightful harbourfront hotels we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The gloriously grand Queen Victoria Hotel has everything you want from a luxury getaway to Cape Town – quiet seclusion, decadent rooms, personalised attention and high-end seasonal dining. It’s a paradisiac getaway. Guests can choose between staying in a Deluxe Room, Premium Mountain-Facing Room, Junior Mountain Suite or Executive Suite – all of which have been recently refurbished. The result is marvellous. Should you want a few extra bells and whistles, you can upgrade to the Presidential Suite, a comfy retreat with a private, wraparound balcony paired with stunning views. Our Premium Mountain-Facing Room looking out onto Table Mountain was airy and spacious. Its luxe interiors had been carefully outfitted with velvet sofas and drapes, ornate glass chandeliers and a powerful pop of purple. Luxury touches were spotted in thick fur throws, the marble bathroom and the treats left beside our bed – fudge, brownies, macaroons and Turkish delight. Comfort personified. Breakfast is delicious, room service is prompt and the friendly staff are ready to attend to all whims. The Sanctuary Spa ensconced in beautifully manicured gardens is a major draw. The two-and-a-half-hour Sanctuary Escape – featuring an anti-ageing facial, hot-stone massage and lunch at the hotel – is a sensory journey to help you unwind and destress.
Top tip: Just downstairs from the Queen Victoria Hotel, on the Pierhead you’ll find GINJA Restaurant, which makes some of the best cocktails you can find by the water – and definitely the best flapping-fresh fish.
Moorings 5 & Portswood Ridge, 5 Portswood Road, Cape Town
021 418 1466