By Brooke Porter Katz
July 10, 2019
Ellerman House
Credit: Courtesy of Ellerman House

While sub-Saharan Africa may always be best known as a safari destination, its cities are increasingly enticing to travelers looking to spend more time exploring — rather than just one or two nights en route to the bush. With top-notch restaurants and exciting creative scenes, these urban centers provide plenty of reasons to stick around, and a host of beautiful hotels to choose as home base.

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 were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

When it comes to city hotels in Africa, you’ll find nine of the best hotels in South Africa — seven of which are in Cape Town, including four of the top five. Of No. 7 Table Bay Hotel, one reader gushed about the service: “We were celebrating a milestone anniversary, and the staff treated us beautifully. We felt as though we were in the lap of luxury.” But Johannesburg’s Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa — an all-suite property on 10 quiet acres — also earned rave reviews. One reader even wrote that it was “probably one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in,” while another touted it as a “quiet oasis with a feeling of being ‘out in the country.’”

Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor, set on a former colonial-era estate, put Kenya on the list — and for good reason. It’s not every day you find a hotel whose surrounding land is home to giraffes that are known for interacting with guests.

Read on for the full list of the best city hotels in Africa.

10. Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

Victoria & Alfred Hotel
Credit: Courtesy of Victoria & Alfred Hotel

Score: 85.50

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9. Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

Belmond Mount Nelson
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond Mount Nelson

Score: 86.62

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8. Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff, Johannesburg, South Africa

Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg
Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg

Score: 89.26

7. Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Bay Hotel
Credit: Courtesy of Table Bay Hotel

Score: 89.41

6. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffe Manor
Credit: Courtesy of Giraffe Manor

Score: 90.00

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5. One&Only Cape Town, South Africa

One&Only Cape Town
Credit: Courtesy of One&Only Cape Town

Score: 90.45

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4. Cape Grace, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Grace
Credit: Courtesy of Cape Grace

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 94.35

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3. The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town, South Africa

The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Credit: Courtesy of The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

Score: 95.06

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2. Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Johannesburg, South Africa

Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa
Credit: Courtesy of Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 96.63

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1. Ellerman House, Cape Town

Ellerman House
Credit: Courtesy of Ellerman House

Score: 97.60

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Located in the tony Bantry Bay neighborhood and overlooking the Atlantic coast, Ellerman House is set inside a 1906 Cape Edwardian mansion where all 13 rooms have been meticulously designed with a distinctive look and feel. The property showcases the owner’s personal collection, one of the country’s finest; there’s even a dedicated art guide on hand to give tours. Other perks include an ocean-view pool, a pantry that’s fully stocked with all manner of snacks, a beautiful botanical garden, and daily wine tastings led by the hotel’s sommelier. One respondent gushed, “One of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. More like a private mansion, which it used to be, than a hotel. Fantastic service, amazing spa, and the location is gorgeous. If I could award it six stars I would.”