Borders may be opening, but if you can’t — or won’t — hop on a plane anytime soon, you can still scratch that travel itch with a staycation close to home. Try these city escapes on for size:
For the art: Norval Foundation Apartment, Cape Town
Cape Town has staked its claim as Africa’s capital of contemporary art, and the intimate apartment at the Norval Foundation is something of a local secret. Situated on the first-floor of the gallery, it was built to house visiting artists and academics, but is also open to the public on request. The two en-suite bedrooms open onto a spacious terrace, with views over the sculpture garden and surrounding vineyards.
It’s well equipped for self-catering, but why bother? The excellent Skotnes Restaurant and Bar are situated just downstairs. Residents at the apartment enjoy free access to the museum, including the daily tours at 3pm.
For the history: Cape Heritage Hotel, Cape Town
In the heart of the city centre, in a building dating back to the late-1700s, the raw brick walls, creaking staircases and heavy beamed ceilings speak of the history within this intimate boutique hotel. Yet plentiful modern art and a sensitive refurbishment ensures there are few comforts left wanting across the 17 sumptuous rooms and suites.
But the historic charm is only half the reason to book a room here. For foodies, this is the city’s ground zero: Liam Tomlin’s Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen is right downstairs. The nose-to-tail wizardry of La Tête is a short walk down Bree Street. Hipster-friendly Clarke’s Bar is across the road. Our advice? Come hungry, and pack stretchy pants.
For the food: Houghton Hotel, Johannesburg
There are many excellent reasons to make The Houghton Hotel your weekend bolt hole in Jozi, from the contemporary-chic suites to the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Non-golfers can run kilometers of parkland trails, or settle in at the signature swimming pool.
But the latest reason to book a séjour at The Houghton Hotel is, well, Séjour. It’s the latest addition to Johannesburg’s growing fine dining scene, with chef Freddie Dias — formerly of The Pot Luck Club in Cape Town — behind the pass. In a glamorous space with glorious views, Dias departs on a globetrotting menu that offers an adventurous exploration of ingredients, flavours and textures.
For the views: The Leonardo Hotel, Johannesburg
Whatever your feelings about The Leonardo’s contribution to the Sandton skyline, the views are hard to fault, with this skyscaper skewering 234m of fresh air. Across its 55 floors are north of 200 rooms, from comfortable one-bedroom suites to high-level penthouses.
With the restaurants and shopping malls of Sandton on the doorstep there are plenty of diversions, but it’s simple enough to check in and never leave. On level seven you’ll find The Leonardo Spa, as well as a state-of-the-art gym and heated outdoor lap pool. It’s also home to the poolside Octo Bar and Aurum, where a new summer menu dishes up contemporary European cuisine. Wine-lovers will be happy here too, with a dedicated Wine Library offering an impressive selection of older vintages.
For the trend-setters: Hilton Garden Inn, Umhlanga
Hungry Durbanites are loving the foodie options at Legacy Yard at Umhlanga Arch, but why just stop in for African-inspired burgers at Super Smokerhouse or Indian street food at Bachao!, when you could spend the whole weekend here?
The brand-new Arch development is also home to SA’s first Hilton Garden Inn, with 203 rooms catering for everything from solo weekend escapes to family breaks. The sea-view rooms are the pick of the bunch, with opening special rates offering excellent value. There’s a fitness centre and outdoor pool on-site, and the beach at Umhlanga is just two-minutes’ drive away.