The pick of the pillows…
Tribe is more of an art installation than a hotel. It’s minimalist, modern, alternative and exceptionally stylish. Expect surprises: towering atriums, open-plan bathrooms, mood lighting, cascading water and meeting rooms where you least expect them. The dining is also excellent at the hotel’s Epic Restaurant.
Located just around the corner from the United Nations, Nairobi, Tribe is the UN folks’ local. It’s also on the same compound as the Village Market, one of Nairobi’s finest malls, complete with shops, restaurants, cinemas, waterpark, Maasai market and more.
Check in: www.tribe-hotel.com
2 Polana Serena Hotel
Opened in 1922, the Polana is one of Africa’s colonial classics, located on a leafy boulevard in one of Maputo’s most exclusive residential districts. Known as ‘The Grand Dame of Mozambique’, its pillared portico and fountain-strewn frontage are perfect for gazing at the Indian Ocean. The Polana’s 142 luxurious rooms and suites marry African, Portuguese and Oriental elements. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, the Maisha Spa and a well-equipped gym, plus a range of restaurants and bars.
Check in: www.serenahotels.com
3 The Manta Resort
Pemba Island, Tanzania
This tropical hideaway offers both divers and non-divers a real taste of island living. Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the resort is the James Bond-style private floating island, where the bedroom lies several metres below the surface, allowing guests to enjoy sunbathing and stargazing on the top deck, then lounging and dining on the water deck, before an evening of sleeping with the fishes. The onsite dive team are keen to show off the spectacular diving Pemba Island has to offer, giving guided tours around the local untouched colourful coral reefs or, for the more brave-hearted diver, excursions to North Horn for the famous shark feed, where you can expect to encounter whitetips, grey whalers, silvertips and the occasional hammerhead. Check in: www.themantaresort.com
4 Zambezi Queen
Chobe River, Botswana
Classy cruising, spectacular scenery and wonderful wildlife watching are guaranteed the moment you step aboard the Zambezi Queen. Measuring 45.7m in length and accommodating up to 30 passengers in 14 spacious, contemporary suites, this supremely elegant houseboat operates two- and three-night cruises on the Chobe River between Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and Botswana’s Chobe National Park. Each suite has its own balcony – ideal for spotting wildlife on the riverbanks as you drift sedately past. As well as fine dining and relaxation in the pool, the Zambezi Queen offers a range of activities, from safaris to tiger fishing. Cruises can also be combined with visits to Victoria Falls – just 80km away by road.
Check in: www.zambeziqueen.com
5 Elsa’s Kopje
Meru National Park, Kenya
With a clutch of awards to its name, including Best Safari Camp in East Africa, Best Accommodation in Kenya and Eco Warrior Award, Elsa’s Kopje is a little gem set in a national park that remains one of Kenya’s best-kept secrets.
Named for Elsa the lioness of Born Free fame who was fostered here, Elsa’s Kopje raises the bar for safari chic. Perched on a kopje with spectacular views on all sides, the lodge has a private house, honeymoon suite and several open-plan cottages. The secluded decks, infinity pools and private dining areas, adorned with unique handcrafted furnishings, provide unlimited opportunities for luxuriating in this romantic idyll. On game drives, experienced guides track such rare species as black rhino, greater kudu, African wild dog, caracal, serval, aardvark, aardwolf and honey badger.
Check in: www.elsaskopje.com
6 Raffles Praslin
Raffles Praslin is one of the latest 5-star resorts to open in the Seychelles, and one of the finest on the tiny island of Praslin, home to the exotic and verdant Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Honeymooners arrive in James Bond-style in a Sunseeker Quantum of Solace speedboat or via a 15-minute helicopter ride from Mahé to one of 86 pool villas – each with a panoramic view over the Indian Ocean, private plunge pool and personal butler on hand 24/7. The resort has a ‘Honeymoon in Paradise’ package, which welcomes newlyweds with champagne on arrival. Also included is a private dinner for two under the stars, a 60-minute couples’ massage and a romantic bath for two.
Check in: www.raffles.com
7 Bwindi Safari Lodge
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Sit on the terrace at this ecolodge (with its eight stone bandas, composting toilets and bush showers) and you can hear the exotic calls of primates and birds rising from the canopy of Bwindi’s primeval forest. Tracking mountain gorillas is the highlight of a visit here. You could spend several hours hiking through the forest before encountering the great apes – or you might get lucky and find them at one of their favourite haunts by the river below the lodge.
Check in: www.volcanoessafaris.com
The original romantic retreat on the Upper Zambezi, Tongabezi offers a variety of accommodation options, from the original Tongabezi Lodge, with its sumptuous riverfront cottages and wonderful dining deck, to an exclusive eco-camp a short distance upstream on Sindabezi Island. Tangala House, meanwhile, is a luxurious family home that comes with a safari vehicle and boat, chef, waiters and private guide. Boat trips to Livingstone Island on the lip of Victoria Falls are a must.
Check in: www.tongabezi.com
9 Earth Lodge
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Sculpted into the ground, almost entirely concealed from view, Earth Lodge has 12 opulent suites with stylish interiors that celebrate the richness of Africa’s mineral wealth. Handmade twig chandeliers with gilded copper, bronze and silver branches are just one of the touches you’ll find in this unique property which also boasts an outdoor boma and Amani spa. Expert guides and Shangaan trackers lead game drives and bush walks.
Check in: www.sabisabi.com
10 Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
One of &Beyond’s flagship properties, this wonderfully indulgent lodge has breathtaking views across Ngorongoro Crater. The main building’s dramatic facade of red-ochre walls, tiered decks and giant pots full of Maasai spears leads to an interior of Baroque splendour with chandeliers, ceilings inlaid with gold leaf, leather armchairs and vases crammed with red roses. The cottage suites are equally romantic, with Victorian baths, teak-panelled walls, fireplaces and exotic rugs. The cuisine is outstanding and the service second to none (laundry is returned to you – by your personal butler – wrapped in red velvet with a rose on top). Sustainability is given equal attention. Over 30,000 indigenous trees have been planted in the area, and lodge rangers take groups of Maasai children on game drives into the Crater, while other community initiatives focus on health and education.
Check in: www.andbeyond.com