There were so many cool new hotel openings in Africa in the ’16 and ’17 that we decided to follow our Top Worldwide Hotel Openings 2016 feature with a list focused squarely on this part of the world. The hotels, lodges and safari camps featured here are new additions to our bucket list.
Africa is hot—in more than one sense—especially for the discerning traveler who is on the lookout for a bit of adventure on top of luxury accommodation. That said, our list is not just about safaris. Some fantastic beach resorts are also here, and other head-turners we want to visit ASAP.
Similarly to our Top 60 Luxury Hotel Openings of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the below are not ordered best-to-least: all of the below are equally deserving your attention… maybe with the exception of the first few, which we really thought as “top of the list”.
1 The Highlands Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
We kick off with a truly unique property. This new camp from Asilia Africa comprises only seven “guest rooms”, domed structures of canvas and glass, reminiscent of the creations from Buckminster Fuller’s sketchbook. Each tented accommodation has its own wood-burning fireplace, en suite bathroom and stylish furniture, and other than the guest tents, the lodge also has a lounge, dining room, bar, and a central fire pit—which is a great place to return to after a day of exploring the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro. The Highlands is built on the edge of the crater, at almost 3000m above sea level, ensuring wonderful views over the iconic Serengeti landscape.
Update: We have now visited and stayed at The Highlands Ngorongoro!
Read our review: The Highlands Ngorongoro, Tanzania.
Website: The Highlands Camp. Opened March 2016. Photos © Asilia Africa
2 Time + Tide Miavana, Nosy Ankao, Madagascar
Here is another new destination to explore: Nosy Ankao, the island off the north-east of Madagascar. It’s the location of Miavana: the first ultra-luxury lodge in the country. Thanks to the design from the award-winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the lodge’s launch reverberated across the whole of East Africa. The experience includes heavenly beachfront villas, helicopter adventures, and a world-class spa—as well as a range of activities. Among them is excellent diving and fishing, whale watching, kite surfing, snorkelling, while rainforest trekking is available on the mainland.
Website: Time + Tide Miavana. Opened April 2017. Photos © Time + Tide
3 Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
Wilderness Safaris focuses on ecotourism with this impressive Lodge in Rwanda, constructed on the Albertine Rift, an extinct volcano located in a wildlife corridor, crucial to the conservation efforts of critically endangered mountain gorillas. The exclusive lodge comprises only six villas, admitting a maximum of 12 guests. The Bisate offers beautiful views of the Bisoke, Mikeno and Karisimbi volcanoes, and its design is a worthy match to the beautiful nature.
Website: Bisate Lodge. Opened in June 2017. Photos © Wilderness Safaris
4 Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
The eagerly anticipated Six Senses Zil Pasyon has opened its doors in June 2016, after some delay. Surrounded by the classic Seychellois landscape of huge granite boulders, tall palms and white sandy beaches on the private island of Félicité, Zil Pasyon offers a beautiful experience in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The property features 28 one- or two-bedroom villas and 17 residences, all with private infinity pools. Guests will be ferried by a helicopter from Mahe island, or via a boat from Praslin.
Update: We have now visited and stayed at Six Senses Zil Pasyon.
Read our review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles.
Website: Six Senses Zil Pasyon. Opened October 1, 2016. Photos © Six Senses
5 Jabali Ridge, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
The huge Ruaha National Park only gets a handful of safarigoers, and this alone makes the Jabali Ridge as exclusive destinations as they get, promising an unforgettable safari experience. Set amongst rocky boulders and overlooking a landscape that inspired the lodge’s design, the Jabali Ridge’s 10 suites, an infinity pool, the spa will ensure an ultimate relax after a day in the bush.
Website: Jabali Ridge. Opened September 2017. Photos © Asilia Africa
6 Singita Lebombo Lodge, Kruger Park, South Africa
We count Singita lodges among the most beautiful in Africa, so naturally, we are keen on checking out the re-launched Lebombo. This lodge’s design always reflected its location on a craggy cliff-face and the original construction has been strongly inspired by eagle nests, dens, eyries, and lairs.
Closed from Jan 16 to April 10 for a complete refurbishment, the lodge introduced some exciting updates to its cutting edge design. Both guest rooms and common areas were fundamentally remade, expanded, and enhanced, allowing interiors to have an even stronger connection with the lodge’s dramatic cliff-edge outdoors.
Website: Singita Lebombo. Re-opened in April 2016. Photos © Singita
7 Qorokwe Camp, Botswana
Based on our experiences with Wilderness Safaris, we are confident that this new camp delivers on the promise of refined luxury and fantastic safari experiences. The camp comprises nine spacious tents, one of them a large “family” accommodation that includes a private plunge pool. All are raised on stilts, maximizing views over a lagoon that teems with life. The area is frequented by elephants, buffalo and hippos. Seasonal water surges give guests the opportunity to enjoy the trips in traditional mokoro boats.
Website: Qorokwe Camp. Opened December 2017. Photo © Wilderness Safaris
8 Matetsi Victoria Falls Lodge, Zimbabwe
Following a major refurbishment, the Matetsi Victoria Falls Lodge opened in the vast Matetsi Private Game Reserve on the bank of the Zambezi River. The lodge promises the ultimate safari experience and idyllic accommodation, benefitting from a good location from which to visit the largest waterfall on earth.
Website: Matetsi Victoria Falls. Re-opened in August 2016.
Photos © Matetsi Victoria Falls
9 The Silo Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
Located within six floors above the planned Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), in a converted grain silos complex, this hotel is part of a landmark development. Created by the world-famous Thomas Heatherwick Studio (they designed Thames Garden Bridge and Google Mountain View Campus), this new addition to Cape Town’s skyline is defined by modern geometry and avant-garde spirit. The hotel has only 27 rooms of various categories, plus a spectacular penthouse. Eclectic furniture and accents of strong color are juxtaposed against the industrial architecture.
Website: The Silo Hotel. Opened in March 2017. Photos © The Royal Portfolio
10 andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Botswana
After undergoing a full refurbishment, Nxabega welcomed guests to its glamorous interiors re-made to a creative brief that included light palette and earthy textures. The tents were reconfigured in a way that allowed bedrooms to take in the best of the Okavango Delta views, while the ensuite bathrooms got upgraded with indoor and outdoor showers.
Website: andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp.
Re-opened Summer 2016. Photos © &Beyond
11 Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger Park, South Africa
Singita is one of the most admired brands of luxury lodges in Africa, and with the intimate Sweni Lodge the company brings bold contemporary design, architecture, and cuisine to the remote corner of Kruger National Park. Perched on the banks of the Sweni River, the lodge exudes glamour and refined luxury, and its seven suites, hidden under a canopy of trees, are private and exclusive. Each features open-plan interiors, a generously stocked minibar, two bathrooms and an outdoor shower overlooking the river.
Website: Singita Sweni Lodge. Re-opened in July 2017. Photos © Singita
12 Time + Tide King Lewanika, Zambia
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Luxury at the world's end
The launch of this new lodge heralds the arrival of the first luxury accommodation in the remote Liuwa Plains National Park, a place of the second-largest wildebeest migration in Africa. The acclaimed lodge architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, tasked with creating Time + Tide King Lewanika, were also the creative force behind the North Island in Seychelles. Hailed as Zambia’s most exclusive camp, King Lewanika offers only six luxurious wood-and-canvas villas, furnished in a style that utilizes vintage leather and burnished metal. They are sleek, spacious, and very private, even if most are open in front, to make the most of the views.
Website: Time + Tide King Lewanika. Opened April 2017. Photos © Time + Tide
13 andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge, South Africa
Celebrating 20 years since its original opening, andBEYOND Phinda Rock Lodge reopened its doors with a sophisticated new look. Guest rooms have been redecorated in an earthy soft-grey palette, using a combination of beautiful woven linen, hand-embroidered cotton and exquisite Persian carpets. They have french doors that open onto private decks with plunge pools and beautiful views of the surrounding valley. The lodge’s central areas, meanwhile, were renovated to include a new rooftop terrace, ideal for dining beneath the stars.
Website: andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge. Opened June 2017. Photo © andBeyond
14 Thorntree River Lodge, Zambia
The African Bush Camps relaunched the Thorntree River Lodge, on the banks of the Zambezi River, only a short distance from the famous Victoria Falls. Completely rebuild and designed in an environmentally-conscious style inspired by the local traditions, the lodge blends contemporary design with tented roof architecture. The main lodge includes a lounge with an open dining area, and a communal deck on the river edge has a sunken boma and an infinity pool. Eight rooms and two family units feature private plunge pools as well.
Website: Thorntree River Lodge. Opened in May 2017. Photos © African Bush Camps
15 Duba Plains Camp, Botswana
Opened after a complete refurbishment, the Duba Plains from Great Plains Conservation sits in the heart of the Okavango Delta, surrounded by a landscape of palm-dotted islands, flood plains, and woodlands. The five guest tents are engineered to blend into this landscape, and designed to evoke the classic African safari era of the 1920s. Each tent comes with a lounge area and en-suite facilities. The camp benefits from a wine cellar and library as well.
Website: Duba Plains Camp. Opened in March 2017.
Photos © Great Plains Conservation
16 Chobe Water Villas, Namibia
This boutique lodge is positioned on the banks of Chobe River in the Caprivi Strip. Accessible only by boat, it seduces with beautiful design and unobstructed views of Sedudu island, known for a high density of wildlife. The 16 gorgeous water villas with private terraces are shaded by acacia tree, and Chobe also has lounges, restaurant and bar, infinity pool and an African boma.
Website: Chobe Water Villas. Opened in 2016. Photo © O&L Leisure Hotels & Lodges
17 andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge, South Africa
Nxabega Okavango was not &Beyond’s only renovation project in Africa in 2016. &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge in Kruger National Park (South Africa) also has undergone a comprehensive renovation (to the tune of USD $2m). The lodge’s comfortable thatch suites were overhauled, enlarged and enhanced, while the common swimming pool area was remade to benefit from a new spa and fitness sala.
Website: andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge.
Re-opened Summer 2016. Photos © &Beyond
18 Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Another property renovated that year was the Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, consistently rated as one of the top safari camps in Botswana. Its 12 pavilions had been completely overhauled and almost tripled in size: new additions included a dining area, outdoor terrace, and a private plunge pool. The main and public areas have also received an upgrade, with a library area, an extended dining room, and a bar designed in a chic-safari style. There are even a gym and a fully-equipped children’s club.
Website: Sanctuary Chief’s Camp. Re-opened in June 2016.
Photos © Sanctuary Retreats
19 Entamanu Ngorongoro, Tanzania
Nomad Tanzania manages a small collection of safari camps in the country and Entamanu Ngorongoro enjoys one of the most coveted locations, more than 2000m high on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater (we visited the crater—it’s an absolute must-visit in Tanzania!). The guests enjoy awesome views towards the bowl of the crater, but also the Serengeti National Park. Only eight tents awaited the guests initially, with more added in the following year.
Website: Entamanu Ngorongoro. Opened June 2016. Photo © Nomad Tanzania
20 Loisaba Tented Camp by Elewana, Laikipia, Kenya
Elewana opened this luxury camp in Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy, on the site of the old Loisaba Lodge. The most exciting news was that one of the old lodge’s defining features, the four-poster beds-on-wheels were retained and upgraded (the beds are mobile to allow them being rolled out for guests for a sleep-under-the-stars experience). The new lodge has eight spacious tented safari suites, including a family residence with three en-suite rooms. Guests also benefit from an infinity swimming pool with spectacular views across the Laikipia Plains to Mount Kenya.
Website: Loisaba Tented Camp. Opened March 2016. Photos © Elewana Collection