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Classic but contemporary: The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban, South Africa

The Oyster Box Hotel on the ocean coast of Umhlanga (exotically pronounced Umshlanga) is a colonial but modern, beautiful hotel just outside Durban. Conveniently located for the airport, it is clearly making a name for itself, both as a hotel for visitors, and a destination for locals. The famed ‘Lighthouse Bar’ was packed the evening we visited – overlooking the Lighthouse, with the waves crashing on a summers balmy evening it seemed a far cry from our very cold and chilly London.

Equally busy was lunchtime on the Terrace, overlooking the pool and the ocean. Staff wearing colonial type uniform, beaming away, carrying plates of huge salads, skewers of fish or curries (for which the hotel is famous). Afternoon tea is provided inside and comprises a huge table filled high with cakes, biscuits, scones and sandwiches. So much so this was providing the backdrop for many couples having a romantic and traditional English Tea.

We visited The Oyster Box some 15 years ago – it was a rather sad hotel clearly lacking love or attention. Taken over by Red Carnation Hotel in 2009 it now has both and doesn’t need the beacon of the lighthouse to make it stand out from the crowd. With only 86 rooms and some 600 staff, customer service is top notch, professional and well executed.

There is a separate building for the Spa, individual ‘villa or loft type’ rooms and a Presidential Suite – secluded and offering all the privacy the celebrities or VIPs who stay, need. Weddings are very popular here and the hotel has a special outside area to host these prior to sitting down in splendour in one of the huge dining rooms.

Children are well catered for and made very welcome, with children’s clubs and films, held in the hotel’s very own Cinema Room, complete with popcorn.

If you ever only go to one hotel in Durban, make it the Oyster Box – classic, classy, contemporary and convivial.

www.oysterboxhotel.com

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