Last year, the Beverly Hills hotel in Durban celebrated its 50th anniversary. It is a member of the Tsogo Sun group, which has a portfolio of more than 90 hotels in Africa and the Middle East. Brands include Southern Sun and Palazzo. It has eight other properties in Durban – the Suncoast Towers, the Southern Sun Elangi and Maharani, and the Cabana Beach Resort among them.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This eight-floor, pink-painted luxury property is in a prime position on the edge of the ocean, with views of Umhlanga’s iconic red and white lighthouse.
At the weekend it is popular with holidaymakers and locals coming for lunch, while during the week, the majority of guests are business travellers. The hotel looks modern thanks to regular soft renovations every few years, but one of the best things about it is the superb service from hospitable staff. The general manager is always around to meet and greet guests too, which I thought was good.
WHERE IS IT?
On the seafront in Durban’s northerly Umhlanga neighbourhood. Although it has an upmarket holiday vibe to it, the area is becoming the city’s new business district. It’s 15km from King Shaka International airport to the north and about 20 minute’s drive to downtown. There are hotel cars on-hand to provide pick-ups and transfers.
All bedrooms come with sea-facing balconies as standard, along with amenities such as Nespresso machines, Samsung TVs, minibars, safes, free wifi and two items of free pressing per day (there are no irons in the room). Bathrooms come either with separate baths and walk-in showers, or combined units.
Suites have added extras such as decanters of sherry (free to drink), fruit platters, bowls of nuts, biltong and complimentary wine, as well as plenty of extra living space. Décor throughout is quite neutral, with a palette of cream and brown.
My suite was huge, with an open-plan bedroom and living room, a walk-in wardrobe, marble bathroom and two balconies accessed through sliding doors. I liked to sleep with them open to let in fresh air, but the roar of the sea is quite loud so some people might be kept awake by it. (There is air conditioning for those that prefer.)
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The lobby-level Sugar Club serves breakfast and dinner as well as a Sunday lunch buffet. The outdoor sea-facing terrace can seat 65 people. I enjoyed the morning spread when I stayed – there was plenty of choice of fresh fruit, cereal, yoghurt, juices, cheese, pastries and cold meats – as well as a menu of hot dishes such as frittata and fry-ups.
Downstairs, on the pool level, is Elements Café Bar, which serves lunch, snacks and dinner in a nautical setting. Staff are very welcoming, all greeting you with handshakes and smiles whenever they see you.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There is one conference room for 60 people cabaret-style. It has full-height windows facing the pool. On the first floor, is a boardroom seating 12 around an oval-shaped dark wood table, and a musty-smelling business centre with two computers and a printer. It is open around the clock.
Wifi (750MB) is free throughout the hotel although sometimes I had problems getting online or maintaining the connection. If you need an extra 500MB it costs 90 rand (£5).
There is a 22-meter heated outdoor pool (open 24 hours) with manicured lawns around it and enough space for 160 loungers (set up according to demand).
The hotel doesn’t have a spa but can offer al fresco massages by the pool or in one of two nearby cabanas. I had a drink on the grass one evening – it was a glorious spot facing looking out to sea but service was rather slow.
Steps take guests down on to the promenade, which is great for running and provides direct access to the beach (the waves can be a bit big for swimming). A small gym on the ground floor has no natural light but is open 24 hours and has Technogym equipment, free weights and spinning bikes that are put on the terrace every morning at 6am (weather permitting).
Opposite is a boutique open daily from 9am to 5pm that stocks swim wear and souvenirs. The hotel also has a free DVD library (just call down to make a request) – I had mentioned one afternoon that I wanted to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the next day it was in my room. Excellent service.
The Beverly Hills is one of the best hotels in Durban and has a fantastic location in Umhlanga. It’s not quite as glamorous as the Oyster Box next door, but is a very good choice for corporates, with a more modern feel and warm, can-do attitude from staff.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 89 rooms – 73 Standard, eight Deluxe, five Suites, one Executive and two Presidential.
- HIGHLIGHTS The outdoor poor and proximity to beach, the spacious bedrooms with sea-facing balconies, free wifi and exceptionally friendly and helpful staff.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March started from 3,600 rand (£200) for a Standard room.
- CONTACT Beverly Hills hotel, Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga, Durban; tel +27 31 561 2211; tsogosunhotels.com