10 really affordable summer stays close to Joburg

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 15 October 2018

Sip up a fruity cocktail, soak up the sunshine and and get away from it all with these affordable stays close to Joburg.

After a year of travelling South Africa, these are some of my favourite stays anywhere from 18 minutes to 6 hours drive from the city of Johannesburg – perfect for a chic summer escape. The best part? Almost all of them are under R550 per person a night.

Also read: 24 beautiful budget weekend escapes from Johannesburg

Please note that all prices below are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.


10 really affordable summer stays close to Joburg

1. Lemonwood Cottages, Midlands

Best for: holidays with pooches.
Cost: From R410 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 5 hours
Contact: lemonwood.co.za

Affordable accommodation

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Forming part of the Midlands Meander and just 15 minutes off the N3 highway, these four pet-friendly farm cottages will make you feel much further away from civilisation. Perched on the edge of an indigenous forest in Dargle, there’s hiking in sheltered, fairy-like surrounding and birders will keep particularly busy checking off the 200 species found across the farm. There’s easy accessibility to restaurants, arts, crafts and scenic country drives too. The self-catering cottages have fireplaces and underfloor heating for cold, misty evenings and stoeps overlooking the surrounding picturesque farmlands. If you’d rather eat out, owners recommend Il Postino for the best Italian pizza and pasta, just 5 minutes away.


2. Zwakala River Retreat, Magoebaskloof

Best for: summer swimming
Cost: From R450 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 3h45
Contact: zwakalaretreat.co.za

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Pack your lilos and inflatables to spend a weekend in the water at this magical Magoebaskloof farm. I loved the compact, loft living at the Barn House, which sleeps two (or four if you use the sleeper couch), it has a braai area overlooking the forest, self-catering kitchen and cosy interiors. A short walk away, the Broederstroom River (the source of the Great Letaba River) is perfect for summer splashing or wild trout fishing and the onsite, award-winning Zwakala Brewery offers a delicious range of beers and gin and tonic on tap.


3. Rissington Inn, Hazyview

Best for: unpretentious country hospitality
Cost: B&B from R580 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 4 hours
Contact: rissington.co.za

10 really affordable summer stays close to Joburg

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Staying here is more like visiting a friends farm than checking into a B&B. The atmosphere is relaxed, staff are attentive without being overbearing and the space is slick, but you still feel like you can kick your feet up on the furniture if you want to. There are plenty of board games in the bar area and no TV in the rooms, making it the place to really connect with family or friends. Brush up on your Backgammon, Monopoly, 30 seconds or Balderdash (my personal favourite). It’s a ten-minute drive from Phabeni Gate and the Kruger National Park. If you want to head out on safari early, they can prepare a picnic breakfast for you. Dinner is a feast, with great vegetarian options – beetroof falafel with chilli beans and cashew cream anyone? The Budget Rooms are a smaller, but still comfortable, closest to the pool and housed in the former tobacco barn. These rooms form part of the original inn, which started 24 years ago with just five rooms. If you’re after space, the newest Superior Rooms are more plush with wide verandahs and daybeds overlooking sensational sunset views.


4. NAD Lifestyle Accommodation, White River

Best for: active excursions
Cost: From R400 per person with the December special (normally R550 per person)
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 3h30
Contact: nadliving.co.za

White River

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

The perfect bush-break for city slickers, these beautifully-styled apartments offer the best of both worlds set among indigenous trees on a 40-hectare farm. Just five kilometres from the central White River, these homes are spacious, full of flair, within easy driving distance of exceptional restaurants and just an hour from the gates of the Kruger National Park. This stay is particularly geared towards mountain bikers (or trail runners) with MTB trails starting just outside the gate and cutting through the nearby forests. A central bike wash is available and bikes can be conveniently stored on your own patio. Although there ’s a host of eateries in town, the kitchens are a dream set up with high-quality facilities such as gas stoves, Ouma rusks and filter coffee for breakfast, plus each apartment has a private patio with its own gas braai and romantically-lit outside entertainment area.

Also read: Insider’s Guide: Escape to White River


5. Sima-Kade, Magaliesberg

Best for: an eco-friendly group getaway
Cost: From R580 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 1 hour
Contact: sima-kade.co.za


Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Rustic and off-the-grid, the beautiful Bush Camp at Sima Kade (which means tree of life) is the perfect group getaway. The camp is booked out by one group at a time and sleeps 16 between four treehouses and four regular cabins, with shared bathrooms. It’s set beside a river, with the twittering of busy weaver birds and the gurggling sound of water. There are rock pools for a refreshing dip just a short hike away, two fire pits for soulful evening chats and a covered space in a forested setting for chilling out in the heat of the day (or when it rains). All in all, it’s just a delightful stay that’s thoughtfully designed to immerse you into the natural environment and surprisingly close to Joburg.


6. Curiocity, Durban

Best for: putting the urban in Durban
Cost: From R495 per person for a premium room.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 6 hours
Contact: curiocity.africa

Affordable accommodation Durban

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

You may know Curiocity for its quirky hostel offerings, but this Durban City hotel also offers exceptional boutique private rooms at an affordable rate. The blue hues and industrial design echoes the Rivertown Triangle neighbourhood where its set and the nearby vibey beaches along the Durban promenade. It’s set around the breezy courtyard of a beautiful heritage building and there are plenty of awesome activities to keep you busy during the stay, from yoga mornings to movie nights and surf lessons during the day. The incredibly spacious premium rooms are a bargain with a lounge area, work space, mini bar fridge, tea and coffee station plus free Wi-Fi. Then there’s a bar with balcony views when you’re feeling more social.

Also read: The 5 best B&Bs in Durban


7. Goodland Cottages, Champagne Valley

Best for: hiking or countryside lounging
Cost: From R475 per person, minimum two-night stay
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 5 hours
Contact: thegoodlandcottages.co.za

Affordable accommodation Dakensberg

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

The cosy Milk Cottage is just a little way out from the hub of the Central Drakensberg’s Champagne Valley and perfect for those seeking some country solitude. The decor is chic, but homely with colourful pops of yellow and vintage furniture pieces. There’s Wi-Fi, TV, great linen and thoughtful extras like honey sticks, a Nespresso machine, microwave popcorn, nuts and a nutcracker, plus a record player with a selection of LPs. While away afternoons on the summery stoep beside the braai or take to the mountains. The area is well-known for its various day hikes at Monk’s Cowl and Drakensberg Sun Resort


8. Miz Goozberry, Kaapsehoop

Best for: fervent foodies
Cost: B&B from R480 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 4 hours
Contact: thenestkaapschehoop.co.za

Kaapsehoop stay

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Famous for her cakes and scrumptious food, this homely B&B is decorated in pastel florals and warm wooden finishings, French country style. Overlooking the plantations from the misty peaks of the quaint Kaapsehoop village, there are two cottages to choose from, The Nest and The Birdhouse, plus a third room called The Snug. All are cosy with heaters, filter coffee and rusks, salt and pepper, milk and more. Breakfast is an event – fresh juice, owner Berry’s homemade granola, double cream yoghurt, fruits, with a selection of the homemade muffins or scones, quiches, home-baked bread, preserves, imported Italian cheeses, smoked meats and locally made pickles and curd. If you’re truly an avid foodie, book dinner with her in advance.


9. Pablo House, Melville

Best for: an affordable staycation
Cost: B&B from R625 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 18 minutes
Contact: pablohouse.co.za

The outside area is sheltered from draughts but conservatory-style windows still reveal the epic view

Claiming the highest point in Melvile, this gorgeous stay might even work out cheaper than an uber home from a night on the town. Pablo House is no ordinary B&B. Each room has fast WiFi, compact Nespresso machines, UHD Smart TVs with Netflix (you simply must watch the series Narcos while here), Marshall speakers to play your own tunes and luxurious rainshowers with Charlotte Rhys toiletries. Breakfast means catching a tuk-tuk to the trendy Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar, down the road on Fourth Avenue.

Read the full review about this stylish Meville bed and breakfast here.


10. Switsongo Boutique B&B, Hoedspruit

Best for: Bushveld bliss
Cost: B&B from R850 per person.
Travel time from Joburg city centre: 5h30
Contact: switsongo.co.za

10 really affordable summer stays close to Joburg

Image credit: Melanie van Zyl

Admittedly this one is a bit of a splurge, but the chic surroundings and intimate setup of this boutique B&B made me add it to the list. Switsongo means ‘small things’ in Xitsonga and you can see their dedication to the small stuff in the finer details of the rooms. The toiletries are luxe, locally-made using silk, there’s crispy linen, filter coffee, homemade cookies in the room (that I devoured) and air conditioning for those hot summer days, plus a pool. Situated on a wildlife estate, you might have warthogs visiting you for breakfast and see hornbills hopping around the trees.

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