Durban: four hotels under £150

With direct flights from the UK, the South African city’s hotel scene is more accessible than ever.

By Julia Buckley
Published 23 Aug 2019, 06:00 BST, Updated 23 Jul 2021, 12:00 BST
Double room at Onomo Durban
Onomo Hotel Durban.

In 2018, British Airways launched a direct flight between Heathrow and Durban, making the South African city seem closer than ever and putting the spotlight on what locals have known for years: that Durban is a fantastic all-rounder. The prime draw here is the beach — the Golden Mile of soft sand is interrupted only by piers, and is edged by a boardwalk on which the locals take their daily exercise. The warm Indian Ocean waters are decent for beginners’ surfing, but are even better for wallowing in.

The city delights further inland, too, with an excellent restaurant and nightlife scene. The food here is as outstanding as it is varied, from bunny chow (a hollow loaf of bread filled with curry) and braai to samoosas and the giant sardines that pop up on menus from May to July. Plus, Zulu specials like pap (a starchy porridge made from white corn maize) and ‘walkie talkies’ (boiled chicken feet) aren’t to be missed. 

And with safari destinations such as KwaZulu-Natal an easy drive away, Durban is truly a prime spot for the ultimate South African experience.

Onomo Hotel Durban
Casablanca-based chain Onomo has properties all over Africa and last year opened the doors to its Durban property, a modern building located on the outskirts of the Central Business District, just a couple of blocks from the beachfront boardwalk. The look in the rooms is urban rather than beachy: faux brick walls, dark parquet floors and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the high-rise skyline. The entry-level rooms are pretty snug; then again, you’ll likely be spending much of your time on the beach or in the pool. The buffet breakfast — complete with omelette station —  is a hit. From £74.

Curiocity Durban
Don’t be put off by Curiocity’s hostel status — as well as dorms, it also has a selection of private rooms, both simple digs with shared bathrooms and premium en suite options. As well as  plenty of art, a popular bar and a courtyard for yoga, there’s also a superb range of well-priced excursions and activities on offer. From £37 (shared bathroom) or £55 (premium), room only. 

This retreat lies just 20 minutes’ drive from the city — although it feels far more remote once you’re in the rambling grounds, complete with sculptures, Japanese garden and labyrinth. The rooms are classy, and you’ll find anything from classic four-poster beds to oversized statement headboards. The emphasis, however, remains firmly on the views. From £79. 

The Benjamin
There’s a homely feel to this swish, 43-room place on Florida Road, housed in one of the city’s historic buildings. The rooms, arranged around the pool, are the epitome of tasteful, with neutral tones spruced up by jazzy cushions and throws. Breakfast is served in the poolside conservatory. From £101. 

Published in the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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