One of the best things about South Africa is the country's incredible array of independent accommodation. From boutique hotels to quaint B&Bs and tented safari camps, these charismatic establishments offer a taste of local culture that homogenous global chains often lack. However, with so many to choose from and no way of knowing in advance what you're signing up for, finding and booking these one-off accommodation options can be difficult from overseas.
This dilemma inspired the creation of boutique booking service The Portfolio Collection.
Here to Help
The Portfolio Collection is a South African company based in Cape Town. To make life easier for those wanting to book independent accommodation, the company has created a website that groups the best of the best into a single collection. Here, you can browse high quality guesthouses, lodges and hotels, safe in the knowledge that members of The Portfolio Collection team have personally trialled each one. Instead of taking a leap of faith into the unknown, booking accommodation through The Portfolio Collection is like listening to the recommendation of a trusted friend.
Like a true friend, The Portfolio Collection doesn't charge for its advice. Commissions are taken from the featured establishments rather than the guests, meaning that you won't have to pay extra when making your booking. The website also offers frequent promotions, deals and discounts - so it's possible that booking through The Portfolio Collection could save you money as well as time and effort.
If you need assistance with any aspect of the booking process, the travel team is on hand to help - via telephone, email or online chat.
The Portfolio Collection features accommodation options in all nine South African provinces. Highlights include the Western Cape, home to Cape Town, the Cape Winelands and the iconic Garden Route; and Mpumalanga, home of the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Options are also categorised by an impressive spectrum of accommodation types, ranging from tented safari camps to luxury retreats. Whether you're looking for a Durban beach vacation or a stay in a Gauteng township, you'll find what you're looking for on The Portfolio Collection website.
A Unique Experience
South Africa's independent accommodation offers much more than a place to stay. Regardless of the accommodation style that you choose, this is your chance to experience South African culture at its most undiluted. From the breakfasts to the decor, every aspect of your stay is unique. You'll have the chance to meet an extraordinary variety of people, from God-fearing Afrikaans housewives, to local guides with an encyclopedic knowledge of the bush. Many of your hosts will have grown up in Africa and all of them have fascinating stories to tell.
If you need help with planning the rest of your African adventure, The Portfolio Collection also offers bespoke itineraries centered around its featured accommodation.
These itineraries explore the best of South Africa and can be combined with visits to neighboring countries like Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia. Some of the company's suggested routes include trips to bucket-list destinations like the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls, while others transport you to the island paradise of Zanzibar in Tanzania.
If you'd rather plan your own trip, you can seek inspiration on the site, which has a helpful list of attractions collated under its "Things to Do" tab. Here, you'll find information about iconic sights like Robben Island and the Cape Floral Kingdom listed under a range of categories including "Nature", "Entertainment" and "Museums". There's also a section dedicated to South Africa's extensive array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Under each location page, area and city guides also offer useful information on local highlights and activities.
How to Book
The easiest way to book is to go online, where you can search for and select accommodation with a series of simple clicks. If you prefer a more personalised service, you can contact the company directly on +27 21 250 0015, while printed guidebooks give you the retro satisfaction of actually being able to page through your choices. Guidebooks are available for order online, and can be delivered to addresses in South Africa and the UK in under two weeks. Shipment to other countries takes up to six weeks - so if you don't want to wait, consider downloading the App instead.
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on December 2nd 2016.