The Best Hotels
Whether it’s a safari lodge in the African bush or a luxurious stay in the heart of Marrakesh, Africa’s hotels honor its cultural fabric and wealth of wildlife. This year’s Africa hotel winners include a varied collection of accommodations as diverse as the continent itself. A tented safari camp brings travelers close to the Big 5 while supporting Africa’s wildlife and environmental conservation efforts. Far from the pristine wilderness, a newcomer hotel pays tribute to Cape Town’s downtown heritage with a room decor uniquely combining industrial elements and Victorian style. And in Morocco, an 18th-century palace hotel is so legendarily luxurious that a certain faux socialite made it her mission to book a stay there.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
Within the heart of South Africa’s most distinguished wildlife zone lies the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Here you’ll find Cheetah Plains, a renowned and refined eco-luxury experience offering a once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure. Each of its villas is divided into two parts: private accommodation and shared living space, which are intriguingly named after significant feline personalities who left their pawprints on the property.
All guest accommodation is off-the-grid; their electricity is powered by solar power. Their environmental ethos extends to utilizing Land Cruiser Electric Safari vehicles, which contribute toward zero-emission game viewing.
Beyond Sabi Sand lies an opportunity to discover the tranquil bushveld terrain, a sanctuary for South Africa’s wildlife. This hotel boasts a variety of outdoor activities, including bush walks, safari drives, and bushveld dining at your leisure. You can also wine and dine in elegance; each villa is catered to by a private culinary team that prepares soulful South African food.
On the outskirts of Nairobi in the leafy suburb of Langata, Eden Nairobi opened this year and serves as much as a love story as it does a symbol of contemporary Kenya.
The former home of German-born designer turned Kenyan-raised Anna Trzebinski, today the property has been transformed by the tastemaker into a living and breathing work of art complete with eight-ensuite bedrooms and a converted art studio, all overlooking the treetops of this four-acre estate.
The soul of the property can be found in the pieces of artwork and artifacts Trzebinski has spent a lifetime collecting. By day, guests are invited to roam the grounds alongside the resident peacocks, guinea fowl, and sacred ibis that call this enchanting place home. Come nightfall, enjoy a candlelit dinner overlooking a glittering lake at The Deck Restaurant & Egg Bar before being lulled to sleep by the sound of leopards, hyenas, and bush animals from the neighboring Giraffe Sanctuary forest.
A mythical quality greets anyone who crosses the gates into Eden, a hotel that comes as close to discovering paradise on earth as they come.
Gorgeous George Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa
Plush suites, complex cocktails, and rooftop views all await guests at the Gorgeous George Hotel, a vibrant property located in the heart of downtown Cape Town. A relative newcomer to the Western Cape hospitality scene, this colorful hotel made its debut in March 2019, seeing two neighboring downtown heritage buildings united and restored to form one contemporary hotel. While the property’s 32 rooms range from studios to two-bedroom suites, each accommodation shares a chic, state-of-the-art, and overall gorgeous design, outfitted with exposed concrete, colorful furniture, and no shortage of locally-sourced artwork.
Those in search of top-tier cuisine can make their way to the sixth floor, where the elegant Gigi Rooftop is awaiting thirsty patrons. This open-air hangout spot offers the same superbly-curated ambiance found on the lower floors of the hotel, and seals the deal with a top-tier mixology program and flavorful dishes ranging from Saldanha Bay mussels to venison loin fresh off the braai.
Nambiti Game Reserve, South Africa
Combining sustainability with ultra-luxury, The Homestead takes pride in once-in-a-lifetime adventures balanced with an eco-conscious and ethical approach. While guests can enjoy big game drives in electric vehicles, walking safaris, stargazing, and hiking to waterfalls in the Drakensberg mountains, they don’t have to go far from the 12-suite lodge for curated experiences with a deep sense of place.
The culinary program is particularly world-class. Chef Kamarl John runs two restaurants serving local and seasonal ingredients like ocean-to-plate fish and fresh herbs from the lodge’s roof. Guests can quench their thirst after a hike or spa treatment with homemade kombucha, a traditional tea ceremony, local coffee, or one of the more than 40 whiskeys on site. For those that want to try their hand in the kitchen, John’s team hosts classes in everything from perfecting pastries to honing knife skills.
The Homestead’s sincere desire to create a better world is seen in its relentless intentionality, even when it has caused a delayed opening. The primarily solar-powered lodge features a replanted native grass roof and local ironstone materials, blending into the natural landscape with minimal disruption to wildlife corridors. Local community members on the board of the Nambiti Game Reserve advise lodge teams on vital matters of conservation and employment.
La Mamounia was thrust into popular culture earlier this year when it was featured in the deliciously salacious Netflix series Inventing Anna. But the luxury property was considered an iconic institution long before it played a role in ending fake socialite Anna Delvey’s charade. It was originally built as a palace in the 18th century, and the surrounding gardens were a wedding gift from the Moroccan king to his son, Prince Al Mamoun.
La Mamounia went on to be opened as a hotel to the public in 1923 and soon became a favorite escape for celebrities and politicians. Winston Churchill once called it one of the best hotels he ever stayed at. The hotel’s design is a blend of Berber and Arab-Andalusian architecture, as well as Art Deco style: enormous chandeliers, ornate wooden carvings, and Moroccan zellige (mosaic tilework) all have a place. La Mamounia even has its own signature scent, a blend of cedar, dates, and citrus fruits that fills the lobby and hallways. All in all, it’s hard to blame Anna for wanting to stay here so badly.
Commissioned and owned by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, the Royal Mansour is the definition of opulence. Case in point: it took more than 1,500 local artisans to build this royal tribute to Moroccan architecture.
Rather than rooms, guests stay in one of 53 private riads spread across several acres of fragrant gardens. Every riad is unique and decorated in its own style, but all are adorned with lavish fountains, silk sheets, and a seemingly endless supply of throw pillows. Each riad is also assigned a single butler to ensure its guests receive highly personalized service. The Royal Mansour’s crown jewel is the spa, an elaborate atrium made of white metal lacework that resembles a (very fabulous) birdcage.
Perched just south of Menara Airport, the stately Selman Marrakech serves as a quiet escape from the city’s bustling central medina, offering 50 rooms, five suites, and five villas adorned with rich Arab-Moorish style furnishings and decorations. Though the property’s massive 260-foot-long outdoor pool is the perfect antidote to the hot midday sun, those in need of a little extra relaxation should be sure to book an appointment at the property’s Chenot Spa—one of just six found across the globe.
After a traditional Rhassoul scrub in the hammam, guests can choose between six distinct drinking and dining concepts, with the splendid Assyl offering flavorful Moroccan favorites like tajine de langouste and pastilla de poulet aux amandes. For weekend visitors in particular, be sure to book a spot at the Selman’s lavish Sunday Brunch, a massive buffet that’s served in full view of the property’s award-winning Arabian thoroughbreds.
Within the world’s famous savannahs of the Serengeti Plains, which cover 1.5 million hectares, sits an adventurous luxury camp called Serengeti Bushtops. The camp is located inside Serengeti National Park, a World Heritage Site, near the famous Mara River, offering tourists the experience of witnessing the annual Great Migration of wildebeests between Kenya and Tanzania.
The tents of the camp are larger and display unrivaled elegance. Some have sunken lounges furnished with signature furniture and wooden decks with hot tubs, elevated to provide panoramic views of the passing wildlife. Honeymoon tents are also available but secluded from the camp to guarantee maximum privacy.
A variety of mouth-watering cuisines served in the open-sided restaurants include the finest local and haute cuisine delicacies and superb wines and drinks. Activities offered include game drives, sundowners, private bush breakfast, Klipspringer dinner (named after the antelope that gather among its rocky outcrops), balloon safari, and walking safaris with excellent guides. The camp offers exquisite luxurious massages that include African organic skincare and advanced phytotechnology.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
If ever there existed a hideout with soothing tranquility for vacation on the edge of a volcano, then it is Singita Kwitonda Lodge in Rwanda. Situated on 178 acres, the lodge is positioned at the edge of Volcanoes National Park, home to over a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, the “gentle giants of the forest.” In fact, Kwitonda Lodge is named after a legendary silverback gorilla.
The astonishing views of natural scenery and volcanoes surrounded by high-altitude forests make the lodge an outstanding oasis of relaxation. Its eight deluxe suites have artistically woven ceilings and hand-fired terracotta brickwork and are lavishly furnished. Large timber-framed windows offer iconic panoramic views.
The property boasts a private heated plunge pool, wellness treatment center, and in-and outdoor fireplaces. A variety of sumptuous dishes serve fresh organic food with Rwandan flavors, many of the ingredients are from its farm-to-table vegetable garden. Exciting adventures await during the stay, as you’re guided through a gorilla trek amid Rwanda’s misty mountains.