Durban is renowned as a favored destination for beachgoers and sun-seekers, and nowhere is the city's coastal lifestyle more evident than on the Golden Mile. This idyllic beachfront area is South Africa's answer to Miami, and ironically, it offers not one but three miles/ six kilometers of soft yellow sand edged by a sun-drenched promenade. The promenade is frequented by rollerbladers, tourists and Zulu rickshaw drivers, while the adjacent waterfront hosts trendy bars, epic surf spots and the famous UShaka Marine World aquarium.
Predictably, there is no shortage of hotels along the Golden Mile. However, many of them are part of larger global chains, and as such it can be difficult to get a real sense of the city and the people that make it unique. If you're looking for an authentic accommodation experience, consider booking a room at one of the beachfront's more charismatic hotels - all of which pride themselves on adding a touch of local flair to your stay. In this article, we look at a few of the best options for independent visitors to Durban's Golden Mile.
The Waterfront Hotel & Spa
Three star hotel The Waterfront is located within a heritage building that boasts panoramic views of Durban harbor and the Indian Ocean beyond. It's a short stroll from the southern section of the Golden Mile, and an eight minute walk from area landmarks like UShaka Marine World and shark tank restaurant The Cargo Hold. The Waterfront has 83 stylishly decorated bedrooms, each with a satellite TV, a safe, WiFi and an ensuite bathroom.
Air-conditioning keeps the heat of Durban's tropical summers at bay, while the onsite spa allows you to end your day with an award-winning massage. Wodka Restaurant & Bar serves gourmet international and South African favorites and specialises in teppanyaki.
Address: 40 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Durban
Whether you're looking for short-stay accommodation or long-term rentals, Belaire Suites offers 124 four-star apartments within a stone's throw of Marine Parade and the beach.
With some apartments offering up to three bedrooms, this is a great choice for families or groups of friends traveling together. Each one boasts beautiful beachfront views, an ensuite marble bathroom, satellite TV and a kitchenette with basic cooking facilities. If you'd rather eat out, join the local crowd at popular downstairs restaurant Café Jiran. At Belaire Suites, you're a five minute drive from famous Suncoast Casino, and an eight minute drive from Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Address: 151 Snell Parade, Durban
In a former life, The Balmoral was a British colonial homestead, and today, it retains its original façade and some of its antique furnishings. The facilities are slightly outdated - but for those that don't mind less-than speedy WiFi, this hotel offers an interesting insight into Durban's colonial past. Each of the hotel's spacious bedrooms includes a TV, internet and air-conditioning, while downstairs restaurant The Waterfront Terrace specialises in halaal steaks and seafood. You're a few steps from the heart of the Golden Mile, and a ten minute drive from the souvenir shops of UShaka Village. In the evening, stroll down the promenade for cocktails at Moyo, the sophisticated beach bar at the end of the pier.
Address: 125 O.R. Tambo Parade, Durban
Protea Hotel Durban Edward
The Protea Hotel Durban Edward may now be part of major South African hotel brand Protea Hotels, but it deserves a place on this list for its history alone. Opened in 1911, this four-star hotel is made special by its Victorian charm, in turn complemented by striking ocean views. Legend has it that throughout the course of its illustrious past, the Edward has played host to royalty, heads of state and several stars of screen and stage. Today, its luxury rooms offer a balcony and marble bathroom in addition to a well-stocked minibar. Here, you can combine history and location with all the perks of a major league hotel - including airport shuttles, in-room dining and valet parking.
Address: 149 O.R. Tambo Parade, Durban