9 of the best beds in Durban

Posted by Pippa de Bruyn on 16 January 2020

With some of the best swimming beaches right on the CBD’s doorstep, this summer playground has loads to offer. Here’s where to stay to capitalise on the buzz.

1. Best B&B

Holland House
TripAdvisor No. 20 of 295 B&Bs/Inns

‘As my family scaled down, I scaled up!’ quips Kim Tomlinson when I ask how she set about filling her beautiful Cape-Dutch gabled home with antiques and eclectic vintage pieces. An avid collector, Kim decorates in a most luxuriant manner – decor is more five-star boutique hotel than B&B. The other luxury is the sense of space; it’s a rambling home with several places to relax, from the comfortable outdoor lounge overlooking the pool (a marvellous spot to curl up with a book) to the rooftop garden, the perfect sundowner spot with views of the city. There’s an honesty bar and guests are also welcome to use the kitchen or braai facilities. There are feather pillows available, specialised walking tours, and restaurants recommended and booked for you. Despite the level of luxury, this really is about making Holland House your home ‘as long as you don’t mind my three very friendly dogs,’ says Kim, who lives in the house. It’s quiet and peaceful, yet buzzing Florida Road is a five-minute stroll away.

Room Tip My top pick is Suite 7, Kim’s latest. Upstairs, choose Suite 3 or 1. Suite 2 is close to the breakfast room, so not for late-sleepers.

Cost From R600 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 031-303-7156, hollandhousebnb.com

2. Best-value seafront hotel

Belaire Suites
TripAdvisor No. 11 of 52 Hotels

This four-star hotel – classier sister to nearby Blue Waters – is located at the sought-after northern end of the Golden Mile; there’s no pool but it’s opposite great swimming spots on Battery and North beaches, with lifeguards in attendance. It has a fairly unprepossessing exterior, but book one of the newly renovated deluxe rooms and you’ve got the best deal on the beachfront, with smart new furnishings and fittings, a spacious bathroom with tub and separate shower – rare on the 70s-era beachfront. All rooms have a kitchenette; it’s a fairly basic set of tools (fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster) but allows for more flexible catering options than a standard hotel. The public spaces are pretty cool, too: in-house restaurant Jiran is a stylish, cosy sidewalk-style café-bistro, while the Sky Lounge, on the 11th floor (pictured above), has great breakfast views.

Room Tip The deluxe rooms are the renovated ones; the other room categories (two- to four-sleeper) are neat but looking tired. There are only two deluxe rooms on each floor – those ending with ‘2’ have the sea view. There are 10 floors, so the plum choices would be room 1002, then 902, and so on.

Cost From R602 pp sharing B&B; deluxe from R777 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 031-332-4485, belairesuites.co.za

3. Best Backpackers

Curiocity Durban
TripAdvisor No. 3 of 113 Speciality Lodgings

Lit, cool, sick, kiff – whatever your word, Curiocity is it. Located on the first floor of an historic building in downtown Durbs, it provides an authentic introduction to the grittier, urban side of the city. Walls and breezeblocks are painted in crisp white and light greys; the decor vibe is Scandi-Afro, with lush green plants bringing in a tropical element. There is plenty of natural light, thanks to a central open-air courtyard and large arched windows with inset doors leading onto balconies. Staff are super-friendly and well versed in what to do, from pub crawls and food tours to surfing lessons and shark-cage diving. Guests are also entertained with in-house activities that vary from Monday movies and taco Tuesdays to braai Wednesdays and almost-daily yoga. It’s a great place to meet international travellers and adventurous South Africans keen to get under the skin of the city, and cheap enough to stay for as long as it takes to do so.

Room Tip Room 20 is the only en-suite private double – large and stylish, it’s the most expensive but still a steal at R495 per person sharing. If that’s not available, I’d book a private room (with balcony and shared ablutions); some of these have a double and single bed.

Cost Dorm bed from R220 (dorms sleep from four to eight). Private room from R345 per person sharing.

Contact 031-286-0025, curiocity.africa

4. Best Historic Property

St Anne’s Guest House
TripAdvisor No. 69 of 295 B&Bs/Inns

This gracious Victorian mansion in Musgrave was built in 1886 by the Butcher family on a two-hectare site on the highest part of the Berea ridge. The grounds shrank as the house changed hands, but fortunately the buildings remained relatively untouched: an enormous front door opens on to imported Minton tiles, stained-glass windows, high ceilings, wraparound verandas, tall sash windows and a grand staircase. St Anne’s was purchased in 2008 by Leal and Caroline Wright; Caroline, a highly respected interior decorator, dressed their grande dame in a restrained palette of white, grey and taupe, and filled it with white upholstered sofas, antiques, flowers, artworks and books. The palm-filled garden is a beautiful backdrop, and you can see the sea in the distance from the top floor. The Wrights live in a separate wing so guests have the run of the house, but they offer personalised service that includes restaurant bookings – popular Café 1999 is a four-minute walk away.

Room Tip For lovely views, book any of the upstairs rooms – Gora, Ganesh or Mahal (particularly the latter, which is the biggest; it has a meal-prep area and a second room with two single beds – ideal if you’re travelling with children).

Cost R550 per person sharing B&B, two-room suite R1,450 B&B.

Contact 031-207-3458, st-annes.co.za

5. Best on Florida Road

The Benjamin
TripAdvisor No. 2 of 52 Hotels

There are quite a few different accommodation options on Florida Road in Morningside, the city’s dining and nightlife mecca, but none as good as The Benjamin. With 41 rooms, it’s the size of a small hotel (and rated so on TripAdvisor) but still feels as homely as a guest house. The owners have retained the original character of the two adjacent double-storey houses, with several staircases and broad verandas under deep eaves. Every room is different but they all share an easy elegance – pretty bedside lamps and accent cushions; some with Juliet balconies, others opening onto the veranda, small gardens or central pool area. With excellent free Wi-Fi and a desk in every room, it’s well geared to solo business travellers, and the plethora of dining options on the doorstep is an extra boon. But it’s not so much the facilities as the spirit of the place – like being greeted with a ‘welcome home’ drink – that has garnered The Benjamin such a loyal following.

Room Tip Florida Road can get quite noisy on weekend nights, so request a room at the back of the hotel. I particularly liked the ones with Juliet balconies overlooking the central pool courtyard.

Cost R950 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 031-303-4233, benjamin.co.za

6. Best Boutique Guest House

Goble Palms
TripAdvisor No. 5 of 295 B&Bs/Inns

If you find B&Bs a bit too intimate but don’t like the anonymity of hotels, this Morningside ‘guest lodge and urban retreat’ hits the sweet spot. Owner Leanne Gafney, supported by her managers Goodman and Vincent Ndlovu, opened with just two rooms in 2000; today they preside over three interleading properties in Morningside, two of them identical Edwardian homes built at the turn of the last century, and Leanne has integrated them all into a cohesive, classy 20-room establishment. Interiors are English-country style; each room is a unique size and individually decorated, but all feature the usual modern conveniences of air con, TV, Wi-Fi and tea/coffee-making facilities. There are several guest lounges, a pool, an English-style pub (with honesty bar) and deep verandas where breakfast is served. All in all, lovely views, great rates, personal but unobtrusive service, plus Mali’s, one of the best Indian restaurants in Durban, is a block away.

Room Tip Room 8, an entry-level ‘small room’ (sleeps one), has a great cosy ambience. If romance is the aim, and budget no issue, book Room 20 for its jacuzzi on the private balcony with great views of twinkling city lights and the ocean beyond.

Cost From R675 per person sharing B&B; single room R995 B&B.

Contact 031-312-2598, goblepalms.co.za

7. Best For Young Families

Tsogo Sun
TripAdvisor No. 1, 3 and 4 of 52 Hotels

Tsogo Sun has Durban’s beachfront scene pretty much sewn up, with five slick hotels (nine, if you include Umhlanga). Top-end choices are between faux-deco SunSquare Suncoast Hotel & Towers and Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, which is No. 3 on TripAdvisor but is the best hotel by far on the Golden Mile. Book into the quieter Maharani (where all the rooms have sea views) and use the better pool facilities at neighbouring Elangeni (pictured above) –the hotels operate as one unit but have an apartment block between them. Recently refurbished Garden Court Marine Parade is No. 1 on TripAdvisor, and it’s a solid choice (with an enclosed rooftop pool for rainy days). The similar Garden Court South Beach (rated No. 4) is a bit cheaper. Sign up for the Tsogo Sun rewards programme, and the rates drop further.

Room Tip The entry-level standard rooms in any of these hotels are great. Specify non-smoking and ask about a renovated bathroom – many still have showers over tubs (a pet peeve). The ‘standard room double bed’ option (with two doubles) is excellent value if your children are willing to share a bed.

Cost Garden Court South Beach from R615.50 per person sharing; from R1,511 for a twin double. Add about R250 a night for Garden Court Marine Parade. Elangeni & Maharani from R1,  007.50 per person; from R2,410 for a twin double. All rates include breakfast.

Contact 011-461-9744, tsogosun.com

Worth A Look

8. Point Waterfront Apartments
A collection of one-, two- and three-bedroom self-catering flats in the newly developed area at the entrance to the city’s busy port; walking distance to uShaka Marine World. The units are separately owned but well managed by the company, and most have great views of the harbour. Rates vary depending on the number of guests and rooms but are excellent value. From R1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment sleeping two adults and two kids. thepointwaterfront.co.za

9. Burns B&B
Another colonial-era house on the slopes of Berea ridge with a maisonette that is now a four-star guest house (pictured right). Rooms 1 and 3 are best for city views. There is an open-plan kitchen next to the dining area for heating up meals. Great value. R450 per person sharing B&B. burnsguesthouse.com


Photographs: Teagan Cunniffe

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