South Africa,  Hotels

Top 13 of the best atypical hotels in South Africa 

South Africa will certainly amaze you during the day but you can also extend this enchantment for a night in a of the best atypical hotels in the country. Whether one night at the top of the trees in a luxurious cabin or in the middle of the savannah in a safari tent worthy of a king, these unusual accommodations with magnificent design are perfect for spending an unforgettable night. It is ideal if you are on vacation in South Africa for your honeymoon or if you simply want to treat yourself for an evening.

NB : These unusual hotels are quickly full, so remember to book well in advance so as not to be disappointed before leaving for South Africa…

Consulting : For more dream hotels, you will find a list of all the establishments we recommend here: The best dream hotels to stay in South Africa

And here you will find our articles on the different routes to visit the country if you are still unsure: The best routes to visit South Africa

Thonga Beach Lodge: the best hotel in Saint Lucia and what's more, it's an unusual hotel!

Thonga Beach Lodge: the best atypical hotel in St Lucia in South Africa located inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Thonga Beach Lodge: the best atypical hotel in St Lucia in South Africa located inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Thonga Beach Lodge: the best atypical hotel in St Lucia in South Africa located inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Thonga Beach Lodge: the best atypical hotel in St Lucia in South Africa located inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Thonga Beach Lodge has the privilege of being located inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and main attraction of St Lucia (this privilege comes at a rather high price but all meals are included) . The place is quiet and isolated in nature. To get there, the only option is to take the hotel's 4 × 4 which picks you up and takes you to the heart of the national park along a superb sandy track next to the huge beach. Once you arrive, you discover a corner of paradise cut off from the modern world. This is the best unusual hotel in the region from very far away. And it is also part of the top accommodation in South Africa. These luxury cabins are extremely romantic. Perched in the trees, they all have a terrace with a magnificent view of the ocean from where you can observe whales. We would like to live there… In addition, their very wild and always deserted private beach is accessible in 30 seconds and you can snorkel there to admire the seabed filled with fish. The lucky ones may even see a turtle laying these eggs in the white sand. Here, it is not so rare! If you are diving, the lodge offers sea trips to Sodwana Bay which is South Africa's best diving spot. It also offers many activities such as kayaking or 4 × 4 in the park. When you come back in the evening, don't miss out on a massage. They are just amazing! Last tip: book quickly because there are only 12 rooms ...

most : if you are on a honeymoon or if you want to spend a romantic night, we recommend that you book one of their rooms with private pool and outdoor shower. The dream…

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Thanda Safari Lodge: take a safari in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi in the best unusual hotel in the park

Thanda Safari Lodge hotel: the best private reserve and atypical hotel in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi
Thanda Safari Lodge hotel: the best private reserve and atypical hotel in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi
Thanda Safari Lodge hotel: the best private reserve and atypical hotel in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi
Thanda Safari Lodge hotel: the best private reserve and atypical hotel in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

If you chose to do the Kruger without a private reserve (or if you made a private reserve at the Kruger and loved it!), Then why not indulge in a private reserve at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi? We recommend you Thanda Safari Lodge. It's the best of the best (with the price that follows, of course…). The private reserve was even voted Africa's best luxury lodge at the World Travel Awards in 2013. The principle is the same as at the Kruger: the reserve has its own animals which live in total freedom in a large park of 14 hectares. You have a better chance of seeing the Big 000 here than in the national park. This is definitely the only way to see cheetahs unless you are extremely lucky… Plus the rangers are very informative and friendly. The price includes all meals with drinks (very good gastronomy with fine products morning, noon and night!) And two 5-hour jeep safaris (at dawn and late afternoon) with aperitif in the bush ! In the hottest of the day, you can lounge in your (huge) villa which has a private swimming pool and a free mini bar… In winter, the fireplace is lit in each villa and board games like Scrabble or Monopoly are available . In the evening you can relax in the spa with a massage or have a drink on the terrace in front of the small pond where many animals come to be satisfied. In short, the dream! After a day full of memories, you can recharge your batteries in your luxury room in the middle of nature and wake up in a magnificent setting with a view of the savannah in the early morning… Just unforgettable. Do we need to say more to convince you that this lodge is the best unusual hotel in the park ?

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For further: Discover the other hotels we recommend in Saint Lucia in South Africa

To discover the region:

Babylonstoren: the best atypical hotel to stay on the South African wine route

Babylonstoren: the best atypical luxury hotel on the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine routes in South Africa
Babylonstoren: the best atypical luxury hotel on the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine routes in South Africa
Babylonstoren: the best atypical luxury hotel on the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine routes in South Africa
Babylonstoren: the best atypical luxury hotel on the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine routes in South Africa

A Babylon the Great, It's not only the best atypical hotel that you offer yourself but a unique and incredible experience in an exceptional setting. Nestled in the middle of the wine route and surrounded by its vineyards, this luxury hotel is considered the best and most beautiful in the region. Combining the period architecture of the buildings with a contemporary decoration, the design of the estate is magnificent. Many tourists make the trip to visit their gardens, their organic farm or to taste their wines as the place is fantastic. If you do not sleep there, we advise you to eat at noon in their brasserie 'Greenhouse' located in a greenhouse in the gardens. Here, everything is homemade with more than 300 products from their farm. The interior of the rooms can only please you with a huge bathroom and a soft bed. It is ideal for all lovers and those who are on their honeymoon ... In addition, guests can enjoy the indoor and outdoor swimming pools and the spa always at the top of design and quality. In the evening, you can eat on site in their Babel restaurant which is one of the best in South Africa. However, reservations open two months in advance as there is so much demand.

Consulting : If you want to treat yourself to a night at Babylonstoren, book quickly because despite the stratospheric prices they are often full! We also advise you to book the Babel restaurant at the same time as your room if you wish to eat there.

most : you have the right to pick and eat any fruit or vegetable you find in the gardens. We came across the fig season and we had a blast!

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend on the South African wine route

To discover the region: The best tour to visit the South African wine route

The best atypical hotels in Kruger National Park in South Africa 

Here is our selection of best atypical hotels in Kruger Park in South Africa. The list could have been longer but we have only selected THE best unusual hotel for each price category: from the very high end to the affordable good plan.

1. Royal Malewane's private reserve: the crème de la crème of the world for an unusual hotel

The Royal Malewane private reserve: the best atypical luxury hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Royal Malewane private reserve: the best atypical luxury hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Royal Malewane private reserve: the best atypical luxury hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Royal Malewane private reserve: the best atypical luxury hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa

Le Royal malewane is the crème de la crème of the best unusual hotels. But not only from South Africa… It is considered to be THE best safari lodge in the world. Just that. So no need to say more. Go ahead with your eyes closed.

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2. The private reserve of Lion Sands River Lodge: the top of the atypical Kruger hotels in South Africa

The Lion Sands River Lodge private reserve: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lion Sands River Lodge private reserve: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lion Sands River Lodge private reserve: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lion Sands River Lodge private reserve: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa

Lion Sands River Lodge - Sabi Sand is part of the top 3 of the best atypical hotels offering luxury safaris to Kruger National Park in South Africa. We recommend it because it is cheaper than Royal Malewane for a service that is always very upscale: massage at the top of a tree with a panoramic view of the savannah, starred meal under the stars, room with bathtub overlooking the points of water where bush animals drink, etc… The list would be too long to finish. Also, it is located close to the Shukuza gate, so you can get there quickly from Graskop if you are coming from the Blyde river canyon.

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3. Lukimbi Safari Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Kruger Park in South Africa at affordable prices

The Lukimbi Safari Lodge private reserve: the atypical hotel with the best value for money in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lukimbi Safari Lodge private reserve: the atypical hotel with the best value for money in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lukimbi Safari Lodge private reserve: the atypical hotel with the best value for money in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Lukimbi Safari Lodge private reserve: the atypical hotel with the best value for money in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa

Lukimbi Safari Lodge is located in the South of the Kruger (which is very good if you continue your route to Swaziland). It's the best atypical hotel in Kruger National Park in South Africa at affordable prices and it always offers top of the range safaris.

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4. The private reserve of Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge: the best atypical good plan of the Kruger national park in South Africa

The Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge: the best atypical hotel in a safari park at the Kruger National Park in South Africa

Even cheaper, Hoyo-Hoyo Safari Lodge offers all the advantages of a private reserve without breaking the bank. He is by far the best atypical tip from the Kruger National Park in South Africa and we highly recommend it to anyone whose prices at the previous 4 hotels have scared you!

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend at the Kruger National Park in South Africa

To discover the region: Discover the best route to visit Kruger National Park in 2 days

Gorah Elephant Camp: the best quirky hotel inside Addo Elephant Park

Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
Gorah Elephant Camp: the best atypical luxury hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa

If you want to treat yourself to an exceptional night for a honeymoon or other, then we recommend the prestige of staying directly IN the Addo Elephant Park reserve at the end of the Garden Route. The best unusual hotel in the national park Addo Elephant is straight out of the movie 'Souvenirs d'Afrique' (also known as 'Out of Africa'). Gorah Elephant Camp is simply magical: you sleep in a luxurious tent in the middle of the savannah near a water point very frequented by wild animals. When you wake up, elephants pass in front of you… You pinch yourself every 3 seconds because you are sure to be in a dream that takes place in 1900! If there is one lodge that looks like all the images we have of discovering Africa, this is it. If you can afford it, go for it. This will for sure be your best memory of the trip and you will keep memories of this unforgettable experience all your life!

Namely : The price is high but everything is included: meals, drinks and even trips in the lodge's Jeeps with their guides who are mines of knowledge and who make you visit the reserve in VIP mode.

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River Bend Lodge: the best affordable atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa

River Bend Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
River Bend Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
River Bend Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa
River Bend Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa

Much more affordable than Gorah Elephant Camp, the River bend lodge is no less spectacular. It is located in the middle of the reserve and you are surrounded by wild animals who come to drink at the hotel's water point. Who has never dreamed of sipping a mojito on their terrace while watching elephants, zebras, antelopes or even buffaloes pass in front of their nose? The chalets offered are spacious and well appointed. They are ideal for a family safari. In addition, guided trips in 4 × 4 are allowed for children which is not always the case in private lodges. In the evening, you can take a dip in the swimming pool or pamper yourself at the hotel spa. The price includes 3 meals per day, drinks (except some wines) and two private guided Land Rover excursions per day. This all inclusive package is well worth it and by far the best atypical hotel in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa at reasonable prices.

most : you can do a course on wildlife photography during your safari to bring photos of exceptions home.

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa

To discover the region: Go on a safari in the Addo Elephant park reserve

Tsala Treetop Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa

Tsala Treetop Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Tsala Treetop Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Tsala Treetop Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Tsala Treetop Lodge: the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa

Located just outside of Plettenberg Bay, Tsala Treetop Lodge is lost in nature in the middle of the forest. All bedrooms are built on the treetops. They are extremely luxurious “cabins” with private infinity pools. They are equipped with a bathroom with a large bathtub, an indoor and outdoor shower and the terrace overlooks the jungle with often monkeys visiting you. It's just magic… We had the impression of being a luxury Robinson Crusoe! If you are on your honeymoon or just want to spend a unique night high in the trees, then Tsala Treetop Lodge is a must do. It's expensive but besides being the best atypical hotel in Plettenberg Bay it is one of the most beautiful and romantic hotels in South Africa. You will not regret it !

Consulting : Reserve the hotel restaurant for a candlelit dinner hanging at the top of the canopy.

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Emily Moon River Lodge: the top unusual hotels in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa

Emily Moon River Lodge: the best atypical boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Emily Moon River Lodge: the best atypical boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Emily Moon River Lodge: the best atypical boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa
Emily Moon River Lodge: the best atypical boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay on the garden route in South Africa

Known to all South Africans who spend their vacations at Plettenberg Bay, Emily Moon River Lodge is an institution. Many come there for a drink or dinner to enjoy the magnificent setting at sunset, for lack of being able to sleep there ... the top atypical hotels for accommodation in this region of South Africa (and much cheaper than Tsala Treetop Lodge). The lodge is perched on a hill overlooking the river and its lagoon. The decoration is magnificent. The rooms are all different and very comfortable. The restaurant is famous in the valley. We couldn't recommend better… But this hotel is often full! So book well in advance if you've fallen for this idyllic spot on the Garden Route.

The + : The lodge lends bikes and canoes for the day.

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa

To discover the region:

Aquila Private Game Reserve: the best atypical hotel for a safari in Cape Town in South Africa

Aquila Private Game Reserve: the best atypical safari hotel in Cape Town in South Africa
Aquila Private Game Reserve: the best atypical luxury safari hotel in Cape Town in South Africa
Aquila Private Game Reserve: the best atypical luxury safari hotel in Cape Town in South Africa

If you don't have the time, money, or the inclination to go all the way to Kruger National Park or Addo Elephant Park, there is only one option left for you to go on a safari in South Africa. South: Aquila Private Game Reserve. Located 2 hours drive from Cape Town, it is the easiest private reserve to access for tourists in the region. We recommend that you sleep there to make the most of the animals rather than going back and forth during the day (it's tiring). In the evening, elephants, giraffes, zebras and gazelles come to drink at a water point near the lodge. You can watch them while sipping a mojito from your patio! During the day you have the choice between excursions in 4 × 4, quads or on horseback. At the end of the afternoon, you can relax in their infinity pool with a view of the savannah. It doesn't take more to make this lodge the best atypical Cape Town hotel in South Africa.

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend in Cape Town in South Africa

To discover the region:

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: the best unusual hotel to stop over in Swaziland (or Eswatini)

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: the best atypical Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary hotel in Swaziland or Eswatini
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: the best atypical Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary hotel in Swaziland or Eswatini
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: the best atypical Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary hotel in Swaziland or Eswatini
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary: the best atypical Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary hotel in Swaziland or Eswatini

The best unusual hotel in Swaziland (from afar) is the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary! You can sleep directly in the unusual hotel of the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary! In terms of location, you can't get any closer… You can get up and get into the jeep directly if you take the sunrise exit in the park. The setting is very beautiful and gazelles and warthogs come right up to your room. This lodge is in total harmony with its environment. You have the choice between sleeping in a traditional hut (very unusual!) Or a chalet (for families). The hut is very nice and it's a unique experience. The interior is basic but still clean and comfortable. No complaints about the service either. As for the price, it's really cheap.

most : the hotel has a water point near the restaurant where the wild animals drink in the evening.

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For further : Discover the other hotels we recommend near the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

To discover the region:

WARNING : All these unusual hotels are in great demand but have very few rooms. It is therefore advisable to book well in advance.

To find out more about South Africa:

Itinéterre is a travel blog written by a team of expatriates and locals. They share their experiences so that you can enjoy the best tours in their countries. Their advice will help you plan your vacation easily as if a local is accompanying you!