The Best Hotels
Africa isn’t just about deluxe safari lodges and elegant treehouses made for elephant spotting (although we love a good treehouse). These hotels all over the continent range from cozy riads in Morocco to historic palaces in Egypt to chic beachfront hotels that epitomize barefoot luxury. Whether you’ve come to spot leopards in Kenya, browse markets in Morocco, or discover South Africa’s hippest city, there’s a hotel here for you.
Maasai Mara, Kenya
Perched on a cliff overlooking the spectacular landscape of Kenya’s Maasai Mara, this incredible lodge offers one of the world’s most elegant safari experiences. Tented suites fan out along the cliff, making spectacular views (and even some elephant spotting, if you’ve got good eyesight) possible from your deck, your bed, or even the clawfoot bathtubs. The suites are designed in a more modern and stylish way than you’ll find at other safari lodges—there are no stacks of antique cameras or piles of Hemingway books or anything that evokes Dr. Livingstone. Instead, you’ll find the vibrant reds of traditional Maasai textiles, colorful woven furniture, and beauty products by Africology. It’s hard to want to leave your room here, but the wilderness beckons. At Angama Mara, you can plan on daily game drives to see the Big 5 and other spectacular African creatures, beautiful picnics in improbable places, and best of all, a warm and welcoming staff that will make you fall in love with Kenya and Angama Mara.
Azura Benguerra Island
Benguerra Island, Mozambique
Off the coast of Mozambique, Azura Benguerra Island combines great service, natural seclusion, and local culture for a heavenly five-star experience. Mozambique’s first eco-friendly resorts, with its dramatically peaked thatched roofs, lies inside Marine National Park, and here you can explore or relax among the pristine, untouched coastlines. This idyllic sanctuary was designed by—and with the goal of giving back to—the local community, and beachside villas come with private infinity pools, canopy king beds, and outdoor showers. Beyond the white beaches and sky-blue water, the friendly staff and touches of local art and culture go far to make the experience here so worthwhile.
Dar Ahlam is a hotel unlike any other. Hidden in the remote foothills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, this hotel feels like it was conjured from Aladdin or One Thousand and One Nights. You can tell it’s something special before you even set foot in the door: It’s located down a dirt road with no signage and impossible to find on your own, but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you’ve crossed a dry riverbed and woven through a herd of goats, and suddenly a kasbah appears before you. Inside, dark, candlelit hallways lead you to the reception area, a cozy living room full of books and a fireplace, where tea is always available. The hotel is gorgeous in that timeless Moroccan style—antique furniture, carved wooden details, and richly-colored tiles decorate the uniquely designed rooms, while a gorgeous pool creates the feeling of an oasis. It’s a peaceful and quiet place, but inherently fascinating, with a rich history and hidden rooms and corners begging to be discovered. You could spend a night here or spend a month here and lose track of time, basking in the wonder of this luxurious and mysterious place.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Come to Little Mombo for the wildlife, but stay for the pampering—like the decadent brunch laid out for you after a day of exploring the bush, and a workout facility perhaps unlike any other hotel gym in the world, where you can imagine yourself outrunning the zebras or lions while actually spotting some from your treadmill. Resources here are dedicated to nature conservation, including a project to reintroduce rhinos to Botswana. The camp is fully outfitted (there’s dining facilities, a lounge, and pool), but with only three intimate tents, wilderness far outnumbers civilization here—and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
New & Noteworthy
One&Only Nyungwe House
Nyamasheke Nyungwe Forest Reserve, Rwanda
There’s truth in a name: nowhere else in the world is quite like the One&Only Nyungwe House, a five-star, all-inclusive hotel on the edge of Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, surrounded by the misty mountainous rainforest and the rolling fields of a working tea plantation. Aside from superior accommodations—modern takes on lodge-chic decor, a full spa, and infinity pool—the true gems here are the uniquely cultivated experiences offered by the resort. Choose from a dozen trail hikes; a guided trek in search for chimpanzees, birds, and colobus monkeys; or a nocturnal nature walk. Take a helicopter tour, a visit to a local community, or an educational stroll through the chef’s garden. A serene combination of luxury and rare natural wonder, Nyungwe house is the type of once-in-a-lifetime splurge that is totally worth your while.
Cheap & Chic
Marrakech has no shortage of chic places to stay, from sprawling luxury resorts to historic hotels to cozy riads. But there’s something special about L’Orangeraie. Hidden on a side street in the Medina, this hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside, you’ll find a burst of color, with extravagantly decorated rooms situated around a small pool and a rooftop restaurant serving unbeatable breakfast. It feels both ancient and contemporary here, with decor from Morocco and other parts of Africa. Each of the rooms is exceptionally decorated in jewel tones and rich fabrics—it’s Moroccan maximalism in a tiny package. While you could spend thousands on a hotel here, at under $200/night L’Orangeraie delivers a truly stylish Moroccan experience at a fraction of the price—leaving you more money to go shopping nearby in the Medina.
Weird & Wonderful
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The Shipwreck Lodge, on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, is for those desiring a totally unique aesthetic experience: Instagrammable travel where the experience is actually as phenomenal as the photos. Here, small wooden houses shaped like ships (or rather, shipwrecks) dramatically dot the remote expanses of dunes, and guests experience luxurious, intimate details like wood-burning stoves, fresh-baked goods, and adventurous led excursions among the dunes, water, and Cape fur seal populations. It’s hard not to overstate just how unique and remote the experience inside the park is, and how much you’ll appreciate the care that went into establishing this well-appointed stay among the rough natural elements of sand, wind, and sea.
The Silo Hotel
Capetown, South Africa
Set right atop Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa, which has been heralded as one of the most influential museums on the continent, The Silo Hotel is a poster child for adaptive reuse. London-based Heatherwick Studio transformed the city’s former grain silo complex, which operated from 1924 to 2001, into a stunning hotel that’s at once ultra-modern yet historic, glamorous yet industrial. While retaining elements of the raw-looking concrete structure, the 28-room property appears decidedly contemporary, if not futuristic, with glowing geometric windows that glisten and glow come nightfall. Inside, the boutique address features an exclusive rooftop pool, two restaurants, the endlessly Instagrammable Willaston Bar, and a spa—not to mention more than 300 pieces of contemporary African artwork from luminaries such as Mohau Modisakeng and Frances Goodman. The Silo Hotel even has its own secret gallery, dubbed The Vault, where the hotel displays rotating exhibitions from up-and-coming African artists.
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel
The Cataract Hotel is a rare gem—an over-the-top marble-filled palace draped in velvet and lit by brass chandeliers that is somehow full of warmth and character. This historic hotel feels like hallowed ground, and for many, it is. Countless politicians, dignitaries, and royals have spent time here; most notable (sorry, Winston Churchill) is Agatha Christie, whose writing desk is on display in the lobby. This is where she spent months drafting Death on the Nile, a murder mystery that takes place aboard a cruise (and even has some scenes at the hotel). Though over 100 years old, the hotel is still comfortable and glamorous after a recent restoration—ask for a Nile-facing room for incredible views from your balcony.
Insider Tip: The best time to experience this hotel? After a Nile River cruise with Extraordinary Journeys.
Tried & True
Victoria Falls Hotel
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Distant rumbles of the falls, warthogs scampering across rolling lawns, high tea on breezy verandas…The Victoria Falls Hotel effectively transports guests to the golden age of exploration. Long the hotel of choice among royalty and celebrities alike—and the halls are flanked by old photos to prove it—this grand dame dates back to 1904 when Zimbabwe was known as Southern Rhodesia. Adding to the experience, you can walk to the famous falls an easy 10 minutes and explore in myriad ways—be it by foot, kayak, or zipline. And after you’ve experienced the Natural Wonder of the World? Relax with English-style afternoon tea or a G&T at Stanley’s Terrace while savoring views of Victoria Falls bridge, or pull on your Sunday best for a seven-course degustation menu at Livingstone Room.