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Six World Cup-Worthy Hotels in South Africa

Where: South Africa
June 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM | by | ()

If you’ve decided to fly to South Africa and support your favorite soccer team (psst..take a look at Jaunted’s World Cup coverage!), you’ll need a place to stay. We’ve done some homework for fans looking to lay their head down in between matches and copious amounts of South African wine.

The good hotels may already be taken by flashy footballers but there are still plenty of South African hotels to go around. And even if you aren't headed to South Africa for the World Cup, you should store these hotel suggestions for a future trip. After all, the World Cup only lasts a month but hotels last forever.

Out in Cape Town, four new hotels have opened here this year alone, bringing the tally to 14 new properties in the last two years. This means there are plenty of beds, from budget to swank, available during the games.

A road trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is quite doable when you take the scenic Garden Route. Another option, after the games at Nelson Mandela stadium, fans can drive 190 miles south to the seaside town of Wilderness for whale watching excursions on the Western Cape. There are several key towns along the way, all offering a low-key pre-or-post game retreat and a different side of Africa.

· 1. Cape Grace
Cape Grace (above) is a newly renovated property which gets bonus points for its views of Table Mountain and prime (and pricey) position inside the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area. It’s close to the stadium, but doubtful that the hotel’s usual free 12-mile private car transfers will be in effect come game time (doesn’t hurt to ask, tho!)

While the public area feels a little stuffy, employees are all smiles, or at least the free afternoon port makes everyone look that way. Downstairs at the Bascule Whisky and Wine Bar, the scene is a tad clubby with Cape Town’s hip set sipping some of the 400 whiskies on offer and puffing on cigars. Looking for a non-alcoholic alternative? Try the hotel's high tea which is just $3 per pot of tea and from $3-5 each for pastries, sandwiches or quiches.
Room rates start at $620 per night and there is a four-night minimum during the World Cup.

· 2. Taj Hotel
The Taj Hotel, housed in the former South African Reserve Bank, just opened in March and it retains some of its original 1932 architecture, which fits in with its location inside the historic and government district. At four-o’clock, sit in the marble lobby and a waiter will blend some local rooibos or a cup of jasmine whilst you daintily munch tea cakes (pinky up!) and pretend not to people watch.
Room rates start at $439 a night.

· 3. Elangeni
The Elangeni Hotel in Durban is part of the Southern Sun hotel group which has properties all over Africa. This particular 449-room high-rise is within walking distance of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It also has awesome views of the Indian Ocean and easy access to the beach across the road. Rooms are spacious, clean and...curiously clock-free. But the coffeepot, buttery shortbread biscuits and sitting chair makes a great combo for great sunrise and surfer scanning. Our one complaint--despite this being a business-traveler oriented hotel, the WiFi rates are beyond confusing and expensive. The easiest option to understand is $13 for a 24-hours of use (which is expensive for South Africa.)
Room rates start at $134 a night.

· 4. Lion Sands River Lodge
If you’re headed to Nelspruit for the Italy vs. New Zealand game, may as well go on safari while in the nabe. An hour from Nelspruit is the Sabi Sand game reserve area and The Lion Sands River Lodge. We could drop all sorts of "Out of Africa" refs (and they’d be true), but let’s just say this—this is the type of place where a herd of elephants frolicking in the river makes enough noise for the hippos to rubberneck on their way upstream.

Guards walk you to and from your suite at night, but they’re only armed with flashlights (we think!) so the danger level is nil. A 6:00 a.m. game drive might sound nuts at first, but after a glimpse of a lion chowing on water buffalo kill or discovering what giraffe really get up to—no matter who’s watching—even the most jaded city slicker will be up and at ‘em the next morning before the howler monkeys get going.
Room rates start at $1,200 per night ($600 pp) and is all-inclusive with two daily game drives and snacks, three daily meals, all beverages including spirits and wines, plus airport transfers.

5. Pezula Resort & Spa
The French soccer team arrived at the Knysna’s secluded Pezula Resort & Spa on June 5th, turning the 78 room chalet-style haven into their base camp. All 1,512 acres will be closed to outsiders and away from preying eyes and critical tongues of football fans still talking about Thierry Henry’s handling of the ball (a no-no) during their ultimately World Cup qualifying game against Ireland. The league has until their first game on the 11th to adapt South Africa’s high altitude spots. It’s hoped that Pezula’s new football field, designed in their honor, will help with that particular goal.
The French team has this place on lockdown during the games so you can't stay here until around July 3. Rates then begin at $615 a night.

6. Views Boutique Hotel & Spa
This hotel is one hell of a spiffy rest stop on the Garden Route. Hidden behind a gas station in a town called Wilderness, The Views opened last November to a quiet fanfare we suspect might be due to its “Where’s Waldo” location. But once you find it, it’s hard to leave. The 18-number rooms, on top of a bluff, are decked out in blues and beiges to reflect the Indian Ocean scene below. All have a big ‘ole deck to sit and watch the waves (and maybe paragliders? we kid, we kid!) crash against the rocks.

Inside are all the required modern amenities newly built hotels should have—jumbo flat-screens, iPod docking stations, free WiFi and mood-lighting, but the hotel’s much bragged about movie-on-demand device was complicated and sans instructions. We conferred with other guests and they didn’t get it either, so we feel quite justified mentioning it.
Room rates start at $335 a night, including breakfast.

Heading to the World Cup? Where are YOU staying? Let us know in comments below!

All photos by HotelChatter except for Southern Sun Elangeni and Pezula which are courtesy of the hotel.

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