The Top 5 Resort Hotels in Africa in 2017

Birkenhead House Resort Hotel in Africa
Photo: Courtesy of Birkenhead House

When it comes to booking a relaxing resort vacation in Africa, you’re spoiled for choice. Want lush green jungle, white-sand beaches, and turquoise waters? Jet off to the Seychelles, which can go head-to-head with the South Pacific in terms of jaw-dropping beauty. Can’t decide between the wild rolling hills and stellar cuisine of Napa and the old-world appeal of the Loire? Marry the best of both with a trip to the South African Winelands, where you’ll see centuries-old vineyards nestled in the sandstone mountains of the Western Cape. 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. This year, four out of the five winners came from one country: South Africa. Though T+L readers love heading to Cape Town — voted the No. 1 city in Africa again this year — they also enjoy pairing their visits with a stay at a wine-country retreat or seaside resort just outside the urban center. In the coastal getaway of Hermanus, Birkenhead House is an 11-suite, cliff-top former home where guests can watch surfers and whales breaching in the Atlantic waters below. One reader even mentioned that taking a boat ride to get up close to the marine life wasn’t worth it — “we saw more whales from the hotel patio.” The other three South African properties, however, are located in wine country. Coming in at No. 3 is Le Quartier Français, a 21-room inn in the heart of Franschhoek. Here, chef Oliver Cattermole turns out elegant, South African–inspired dishes such as slow-cooked pork belly with black pudding and Granny Smith apples, as well as fish masala with puy lentils, carrot, and coconut — to be paired with an excellent Pinotage from the cellar. At first place, the nearby La Residence continues to impress guests with its vineyard-lined, 30-acre estate and 16 palatial suites, each with a distinct look courtesy of hotelier Liz Biden’s eclectic design vision. One reader’s description of La Residence —“idyllic location, breathtaking views, awesome destination”— is a fitting summation of what the properties on this list have in common. Ahead, five dynamic, diverse resorts that prove flawless service and a plum location are always in demand.

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5. Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles Hotel in Africa
Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

Score: 91.26

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4. Birkenhead House, Hermanus, South Africa

Birkenhead House Resort Hotel in Africa
Courtesy of Birkenhead House

Score: 92.24

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3. Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa

Le Quartier Francais Resort Hotel in Africa
Courtesy of Le Quartier Francais

Score: 92.95

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2. Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa Resort Hotel in Africa
Courtesy of Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

Score: 95.10

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1. La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa

La Residence Resort Hotel in Africa
Courtesy of La Residence

Score: 97.41

Making a luxury resort feel welcoming and homey is no easy feat. But the Biden family, who lead the Royal Portfolio group of hotels, has achieved just that at La Residence, where they pair contemporary design with impeccable service. “We truly felt like we stepped into paradise,” said one reader. The opulent décor (think crystal chandeliers and gilded mirrors) is over-the-top but tasteful, and the staff shines with its thoughtful gestures, like lighting a crackling fire to warm your room at night or drawing a candlelit bath — complete with a confetti of rose petals — to have waiting for you after dinner. Whether you’re heading to the Winelands for a romantic retreat or a family getaway, it’s hard to go wrong with this level of pampering. “The highest form of hospitality we’ve ever experienced,” raved one T+L reader.

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