Best hotels and hostels in KwaZulu-Natal

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Durban

    Concierge

    One of Durbs’ most cutting-edge sleeping options, this cleverly conceived spot – 12 cosy rooms in four pods – is more about the design (urban, funky, shape-oriented) than the spaces (smallish but adequate). The bathrooms are open, so best for singles or close couples. For breakfast, roll out of bed and head to Freedom Cafe, also on the premises. As of 2017, the Concierge was under new management. At the time of writing the owners were working on revamping the lobby and adding a cheese and chocolate bar for guests. Also note that the hotel and Freedom Cafe (on the same grounds) no longer serve alcohol.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in iSimangaliso Wetland Park

    Kosi Forest Lodge

    The only private lodge in iSimangaliso’s Kosi Bay region, and surrounded by the sand forest’s Umdoni trees, this intimate 16-bed lodge offers a dreamy, luxurious – given the remote circumstances and limited electricity and wi-fi – experience. Accommodation is in romantic safari tents. They're a blend of Out of Africa (wooden decor and muted furnishings) and natural (the ultimate in ingenious outdoor bathrooms). There are activities (some included in the nightly rate) on tap, and guest transfers are available from nearby Manguzi. If you want to get here yourself you'll need a 4WD vehicle to navigate the sand roads.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Elephant Coast

    Hluhluwe River Lodge

    If you're looking for seclusion you'll find it at this luxurious lodge set deep in the bush overlooking Lake St Lucia. Each chalet is stylish, airy, spacious and private. The communal area features a stunning indoor-outdoor living room with terrace, and the lodge’s chef serves up top-notch fare. It's about 11km from Hluhluwe, on the D540. The indigenous forest has a delightful ‘duiker walk’, and a range of other activities are on offer. It's located off the R22 and near False Bay, which also makes it a good base to explore the park.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Battlefields

    Lennox Guest House

    Set on a picturesque farm about 8km outside of Dundee, Lennox Guest House offers guests much more than the typical B&B experience. Hosts Dirk (a former rugby star) and Salome truly open their home to their guests, cooking incredible meals (dinner R175) and offering wildlife drives on their property. The rooms are a rustic delight, with animal pelts and antique furnishings.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Elephant Coast

    Muntulu Bush Lodge

    Muntulu Bush Lodge is perched high above the Hluhluwe River and has four en-suite bedrooms with verandas. There's a cook on hand to rustle up some grub and guided walks are available.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Elephant Coast

    Mpila Camp

    The main accommodation centre on the iMfolozi side, peaceful Mpila Camp is perched on top of a hill in the centre of the reserve. The safari tents are the most fun, but self-contained chalets are available, too. The accommodation isn't as nice as Hilltop, but it offers a much more peaceful vibe. Note: there’s an electric fence, but wildlife (lions, hyenas, wild dogs) can still wander through. There's a curio shop that sells some canned food, braai (barbecue) supplies, ice cream, beer, wine and souvenirs.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Durban

    Smith’s Cottage

    An excellent budget option within chirping distance of the Umgeni River Bird Park. It's set around a suburban garden and has a couple of free-standing (smallish) cabins, a large 12-bed dorm with attached kitchen, a smaller four-bed dorm inside the house and even a caravan for the ultra-budget conscious. The whole place has a great feel; the hosts couldn't be friendlier. Next door is the sister property De Charmoy, an upmarket alternative with a similarly friendly demeanour.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Elephant Coast

    Hilltop Camp

    The signature resort on the Hluhluwe side; a cold drink followed by dinner on the patio with mountains silhouetted into the distance is a memorable experience. There is a wide range of accommodation, from simple cabins to luxury chalets. If you want peace and quiet, try one of the private and sedate accommodation options. Although described as ‘bush lodges’, they are out of this world: fully equipped and reasonably upmarket. Some come with their own chef – although you supply the food.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Berg

    Hlalanathi

    With a location lifted straight from an African chocolate-box lid and next to the local golf course, this pretty, unpretentious resort offers camping and excellent accommodation in thatched chalets on a finger of land overlooking the Tugela River. Go for a site facing the river and mountains. Prices are substantially cheaper outside high season.

  • Lodging in Southern Berg

    Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse

    If God were to top off the beauty of the Drakensberg with a gourmet treat, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse would be it. Guests enjoy a nightly, innovative seven-course menu of quality produce, and accompanied by rich, creamy sauces. Rooms are decked out in modern amenities and fireplaces, and each has a theme and features quirky touches, such as a picket-fence bedhead and Boer memorabilia. This luxury retreat is owned by renowned South African chef Richard Poynton. It's a long, winding drive to get there, but the serene lakeside setting is worth it.

  • Lodging in Northern Berg

    Amphitheatre Backpackers

    Amenities at this five-star backpackers are superb, including a bar, a hot tub, a sauna and a restaurant serving top-notch food. Facing out over the Amphitheatre, it has a selection of sleeping options from dorms to comfortable four-person en-suite rooms and a great campground. Things get rowdy at night, so request a room far from the common areas if you're a light sleeper. Staff at the front desk here get mixed reviews – some report feeling pressured to do the organised trips (when there are other options around); others enjoy the rolled-out convenience. On the other hand, the bartenders here are legendary for their good service and friendly demeanour.

  • Lodging in Durban

    Mackaya Bella Guest House

    Located near the university, this pretty spot has a lovely indigenous garden (featuring the Mackaya Bella plant) and stylish rooms in a relaxed home-style environment. The owners, Nicki and Mike, are delightful and whip up a delicious breakfast each morning in the sun-drenched common area. Special amenities, such as an airport shuttle service, make this place extra special. The budget single rooms have a minimum three-night stay, but are very well appointed and a great choice for travellers on a budget who want to avoid the backpackers scene. There is also a self-catering family suite. Reserve ahead as it’s popular with university-associated guests.

  • Lodging in Drakensberg & uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

    Khotso Lodge

    After having a less-than-stellar reputation as a backpackers, this local institution rebranded as Khotso Lodge. Gone is the rowdy vibe (though a fun community atmosphere is still fostered in the quaint common areas), and the facilities have been refurbished with upmarket fixtures that add a much-needed sense of modernity while retaining the overall rustic charm. What remains are the incredible horse-riding trips to Lesotho, hikes and tubing at the nearby dam. It's worth it to stay in one of its recently added rondavels, which have unbeatable views and modern amenities.

  • Lodging in The Elephant Coast

    Bushwillow

    Within the privately owned Kuleni Game Park and surrounded by superb forest – flat crown, albizia and, of course, bush willows – is this romantic, relaxing hideaway. Soft wildlife (the likes of zebra, giraffe and duikers) surround the property and there are walking trails. It’s 20km from Hluhluwe village on the Sodwana Bay road; look for the Kuleni sign. Half-board available. Two units are linked by a common area with a kitchen for private use. Watch birds from the plunge pool or laze in the bathroom’s claw-foot bath – it, too, has a green outlook.

  • Lodging in North Coast

    Monkey Bay Backpackers

    Calling all surf-rats. This casual place – made from recycled materials, and painted in funky colours inside – has a pleasantly hippie vibe and a friendly owner. All of the rooms, everything from classic dorms to safari tents, are built into the hill, giving the place an awesome treehouse-style vibe. The common areas foster a friendly, but not too rowdy, vibe. In addition to being one of the more affordable accommodation options in the area, it's within walking distance to the beach and right across the street from several stores and a laundromat.

  • Lodging in Drakensberg & uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

    Sani Lodge Backpackers

    At the bottom of the pass and on a sealed road, Sani Lodge tops the pops in the local-knowledge stakes, offering a range of fabulous tours, activities and insider tips about the region through its company, Drakensberg Adventures. Some rooms do have the sparse quality often found in hostels (the rondavels are nicer), but it's worth it for the communal, ski-lodge-style atmosphere. A kitchen is available for general use, or pre-arranged dinners cost R130. It’s about 10km from Himeville on the Sani Pass road.

  • Lodging in Battlefields

    Three Tree Hill Lodge

    This upmarket eco-friendly house with plush contemporary-meets-colonial creature comforts is a treat for those who want to explore the Spioenkop area. Beautiful setting and views, a delightful open-plan living area, luxury ammenities and an eco focus make for a fabulous stay. Horse riding and battlefield tours are made to order. The lodge is conveniently located near Spioenkop, between Ladysmith and Bergville off the R616, a great location to launch day trips into the battlefields and Drakensberg mountains.

  • Lodging in Battlefields

    Chez Nous

    This centrally located, comfortable place, run by Elisabeth Durham, efficient French madame and tour guide (with a special interest in Prince Imperial Louis Napoleon, who died near Dundee in 1879), is a great choice for those in Dundee to immerse themselves in the battlefield tours. The rooms are comfortable and clean and the breakfasts offer more than just the usual full English. Half-board options are also available. You can book half- and full-day tours of the Battlefields with Elisabeth.

  • Lodging in Drakensberg & uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

    Inkosana Lodge

    Travellers rave about this lodge. Its indigenous garden, rustic swimming dam, clean rooms and lovely rondavels (round huts with conical roofs) make it one of the best spots around. Although promoted as a ‘backpacker lodge’, its range of rooms (from backpackers to en-suite private rooms) would suit any discerning traveller. Centrally located for activities in and around the area. It's on R600, en route to Champagne Castle. Former mountaineer and welcoming owner Ed can give expert advice on hikes.

  • Lodging in Battlefields

    Isandalwana Lodge

    Top marks for location: the lodge is perched in the hills above a village and the stunning rooms have expansive views over Mt Isandlwana, the Anglo-Zulu battle site. Although it is a modern construction, it has the feel of an idyllic wildlife lodge of yore and perfectly blends with its surroundings. Tours, hikes and other actives can be booked through the staff. At the time of writing there was talk of the lodge changing ownership; check the website for the most up-to-date information.