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Luxury Experiences in Durban, the Heart of South Africa’s Zulu Kingdom

Luxury Experiences in Durban, the Heart of South Africa’s Zulu Kingdom

CNN lists Durban among the world’s most underrated cities and the New York Times calls South Africa’s third-largest city one of the top 52 Places to Go in 2015!

While the city on the country’s east coast is not often seen as being as trendy as Johannesburg or as luxurious as Cape Town, it is by no means less cosmopolitan. The subtropical climate means one can expect year-round sunshine and comfortable sea temperatures when hitting one of the many fantastic beaches.

Durban is home to one of the world’s largest Indian communities outside of the Indian subcontinent. As a result, the city is famous for its excellent Indian cuisine. Indeed, leaving the city without trying their famous curries and bunny chows would be a great disservice to one’s taste buds. 

For the discerning traveller, Umhlanga Rocks, north of the Durban city centre, has plenty to offer in terms of a luxury experience with hotels with a long history of excellent accommodation and service. Some of these hotels are home to the city’s most reputable restaurants and cocktail bars. If you want to kickback and enjoy a sundowner in a spectacular setting or want some of the finest dining experiences in Durban, here are a few options to choose from, all within the Umhlanga area.


Harvey’s Restaurant

Grab a cocktail at Harvey’s Restaurant
Grab a cocktail at Harvey’s Restaurant (Photo courtesy of Harvey’s Restaurant)

Harvey’s first opened its doors in 1993 and for 15 consecutive years, up to and including 2014, the restaurant has been named among the top 10 South African establishments at the American Express Fine Dining Awards. Harvey’s has a constantly changing menu with unusual and innovative food combinations created by head chef, Andrew Draper.

He says of creating food: ‘I change the menu often, to keep it alive. I believe that creating food and menu items is an art, finding the main components, and having the other items complementing and heightening the main act. It’s a performance where textures add complexity, where many other characters like the richness of butter, the chilled wine, the cocktail and the restaurants music and ambiance create a stunning performance.’


Oyster Box Hotel

Oyster Box Hotel: Lighthouse & Ocean Pool
Oyster Box Hotel: Lighthouse & Ocean Pool (Photo courtesy of Oyster Box)

Monaco’s royal couple, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene, kicked off their honeymoon in Durban back in 2011 – and the Oyster Box Hotel is where they stayed. The hotel is situated on Umhlanga’s prestigious beachfront, making its Lighthouse Bar an ideal setting for unwinding with sundowners. A favourite with locals and visitors alike, the Lighthouse Bar hosts live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights and counts the signature ‘Umhlanga Schling’ cocktail (with ingredients that include cane sugar and cane spirits) as one of its best offerings. Should you choose to go from sundowners to dinner, you have no less than three options for fine dining within the Oyster Box Hotel. These include the Grill Room, Ocean Terrace and The Palm Court. Says executive chef, Kevin Joseph: ‘I am emphatic about using the freshest ingredients available and prefer to source ingredients locally, where possible.’


Beverly Hills Hotel

Views at The Beverly Hills Hotel
Views at The Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo courtesy of The Beverly Hills)

With uninterrupted views of the ocean, the Beverly Hills Hotel is perfectly located for all kinds of travel: romantic getaways, family holidays or business travel. After five decades in business, the hotel remains one of Durban’s best. Revered by critics, the ambiance at the hotel’s Sugar Club restaurant has been described by award-winning food magazine Eat Out as ‘understated sumptuous luxury’. The menu offers international cuisine with Eat Out describing their venison tartare, served with avocado salsa and capers, as a ‘triumph’. The chic Elements Café Bar on the pool terrace offers a fine selection of cocktails you can enjoy with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.

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