The 3 Best Resorts in Africa

The best resorts in Africa, according to Travel + Leisure readers, help travelers bask in the continent’s natural splendor.

Southern Africa has the continent's best resort hotels, say Travel + Leisure readers. The locations vary from winelands to the coast to the dramatic Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders"), widely known as Victoria Falls. But despite the differences in their settings, these resorts do have some key things in common: scenic views, comfortable rooms, delicious food, and excellent service.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city hotel, resort, or safari lodge based on their locations and amenities.

For the No. 3 spot on our list, T+L readers chose the Royal Livingstone, which occupies a prime position on the Zambian side of the mighty Victoria Falls that straddle the border with Zimbabwe. From the grounds of this classic, five-star hotel visitors can see the mist rising from the water. "Just amazing", said one reader, who noted the "very creative" food, luxurious rooms, "friendly" staff, and the "best sunset view I've ever seen."

Exterior of Birkenhead House
Courtesy of Birkenhead House

South Africa's Cape Town is often used as a jumping-off point for out-of-town retreats. Babylonstoren (No. 2) is less than an hour's drive into the winelands. Set on an old Cape Dutch farm in the Franschhoek valley, the hotel has become firm favorites of both locals and foreigners, whether they're dining on farm-to-fork fare at Babel Restaurant, conducting photo shoots in the gardens (the prickly pears are particularly popular with Instagrammers), or staying in one of the garden cottages, described by one reader as "out of this world — so beautiful and comfortable."

No. 1 Birkenhead House — a "very chic beach house," according to one T+L reader — is less than two hours from the city, in the small coastal town of Hermanus, best known as the whale-watching capital of South Africa. Between June and December, southern right whales gather in the shallows to mate and calve; it's easy to see them from the shore (or from the hotel terrace), chilling on the surface or breaching out of the water.

Keep reading to learn more about the best resorts in Africa, as voted by T+L readers.

1. Birkenhead House, Hermanus, South Africa

Guest room at Birkenhead House
Courtesy of Birkenhead House

A stylish beach resort, Birkenhead House is described by one T+L reviewer as the "best seaside hotel ever." From the property, guests can spot southern right whales or humpbacks. One reader mentioned "enjoying the sea breeze" while "watching whales." Nearby activities also include cage diving with sharks or horseback rides along the beach. The 11 rooms are airy and bright — with "beautiful views," according to one guest — with artwork selected by Liz Biden, fashion investor turned hotelier. Food and most drinks are included in the rates. Guests who want to be more hands-on have the option to forage for coastal produce such as mussels, which they can then prepare under the guidance of the hotel chefs.

Score: 95.73

More information: theroyalportfolio.com

2. Babylonstoren, Simondium, South Africa

Guest room at Babylonstoren
Courtesy of Babylonstoren

Score: 94.46

More information: babylonstoren.com

3. The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara, Livingstone, Zambia

Swimming pool at The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara
Courtesy of The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara

Score: 92.75

More information: anantara.com

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