You pack your bags for the weekend, lock the door, hail an Uber and set off. Ten minutes later you’re checking into a gorgeous boutique hotel, chatting with the owner about local restaurant recommendations, walks and spa treatments. Escorted up to your spacious suite, you take one look at the freestanding bath, view and bottle of bubbles on ice and think you might actually never leave...
Welcome to your staycation. You’re now discovering a part of your own city as a visitor, and all the time and money saved on travel can now be spent on, well, you. The funny thing is that you get the feeling you’re in a new place, it’s just familiar. You’ll find yourself shopping in gorgeous boutiques and eating in great restaurants that aren’t usually on your radar. And at the end, you return home refreshed and relaxed - without the usual transport hassles.
The rules for successful staycation are:
Here are some of our choices for some epic South African city staycations:
No matter where you live in Durban, you’ve always had a fantasy about living in one of those magnificent colonial mansions up on the Berea, Morningside and Glenwood, all palm trees, grand rooms and fans. Walk along tree-lined roads to Durban’s trendy eateries and coffee shops, and then amble back for an afternoon nap. Relax in the sumptuous interiors of the famous and luxurious Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, or enjoy the peace and quiet (and central location!) of the lovely Tesorino B&B.
Joburg and Pretoria
Talking colonial fantasies, The Munro Boutique Hotel is up on the Houghton Ridge where the gold mining randlords built their mansions a century ago. They chose it for its magnificent views and planted grand roads of oak and jacaranda trees. Also in Houghton is The Residence, where you can take in the spectacular views from the rooftop Sky Spa – and when you need some private time, all suites have outdoor showers and baths or a private jacuzzi.
If you live close to the Gautrain in either city, catch the train to Rosebank – across the road from the station is the gracious Monarch Hotel, in a landmark 1930s building which once housed the Saxonwold post office and is now a boutique hotel. Rosebank is Joburg’s gallery district which makes for pleasant walks over a weekend, while the hotel itself has a magnificent art collection.
Or escape the city altogether and enjoy a special lakeside stay at Stornoway Lodge in Lanseria. The main lodge overlooks a natural lake, attracting a variety of birds, including a resident Kingfisher, with tranquil, landscaped gardens set under 100 year old Combretums The views of the distant Magaliesberg Mountains are breath-taking and the cherry on top. Here you’ll also find the popular Fat Olive Restaurant, offering hearty country cooking in a relaxed setting.
Pretoria (Tshwane) and Joburg are almost one city these days, so residents of either can take staycations in each other’s neighbourhoods. The capital city’s gracious Waterkloof suburb is the setting for Waterfalls Boutique Hotel, Enjoy the exclusive, intimate atmosphere and relax around the sparkling swimming pool, in the heated jacuzzi or indulge in a massage in the privacy of your room. Terraced gardens are filled with tranquil koi ponds and waterfalls - it's truly the most serene of properties.
131 on Herbert Baker Boutique Hotel is but 5 minutes from the Pretoria Gautrain station, borders a nature reserve and has panoramic views – and a Presidential Suite! We like Presidential Suites over here. Just think of all the money you’re saving by not flying away for the weekend - a really excellent reason to splurge!
If you’re a shopper, consider the Menlyn Boutique Hotel – across the road from Pretoria's vast Menlyn Park Shopping Centre. Recharge between retail trips at the newly refurbished spa and wellness centre, fully equipped gym and in-house fine-dining restaurant.
At the Portfolio office we’re all secretly a little envious of people who live in PE – they have fabulous coastal towns, mountain retreats and safari lodges all within a short drive. But we can share a little secret: tell your friends you’ve gone far away and check into a fine boutique hotel close to the beach in Summerstrand such as the gorgeous Amery House. Make sure you pop into the original Vovo Telo Bakery on Raleigh St in Richmond Hill for coffee.
Isango Gate Boutique Hotel you can disappear into the spa - try a deluxe jacuzzi, have your muscles massaged by expert therapists, detox in the rasul, or work out overlooking the ocean in the gym. Or at sleek Art Deco No 5 by Mantis, slip into your decadent suite or arrange a private movie viewing in the small cinema, modelled on the one in Prince Charles’ Clarence House residence.
Ah, Capetonians – you live in the world’s most beautiful city, but you never drive to other side of the mountain. This is your chance – book a few nights in that part of town you’ve onl read about in magazines…
If you live in the suburbs, we do recommend a downtown stay. Book dinner somewhere fancy, stroll the streets in the evening popping in for cocktails at hipster bars. Visit galleries in the day, walk the Company’s Gardens, use the MyCiti bus routes for little expeditions to Woodstock or Tamboerskloof. The Grand Daddy couldn’t be better located on nightlife and backpacker centre Long Street – and it’s the world's only rooftop trailer park hotel, featured in design magazines everywhere.
Or head to the Atlantic seaboard – contemporary and sophisticated 52 De Wet is perched high on Lion’s Head (yes, in that sheltered spot where the wind never blows), while Pineapple House Boutique Hotel in Sea Point has nine beautifully appointed and modern rooms and the most delicious breakfasts.
Sea Five Boutique Hotel has a penthouse with 360 degree views of mountain and sea and is just 300m from the Camps Bay beach.
Those are our tips for staycations – they’ll take your budget way further and you’ll return home thoroughly pampered and with a great new perspective of your very own city. And if you’re finding it hard to choose, please don’t hesitate to drop our res team a line and they’ll happily advise you. Cheers to staycations everywhere!