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BEST BITS: Southern Sun Maharani Hotel, Durban

The Southern Sun Maharani, along with neighbouring sister property, Southern Sun Elangeni, occupies a choice piece of real estate on Durban’s main beach. But this hotel offers more than just a great location, MARK HARADA discovers.


THE HOTEL: The Southern Sun Maharani

ROOMS: 734 (including sister property next door)




Every room in this hotel has an ocean view. Every room. So whether you’re on the top floor or the first, you can wake to a glorious Indian Ocean sunrise that demands to be photographed. Just be warned that the windows in the room open all the way. So mind yourself and your camera if you get too close.


Inside, the room is a mostly traditional affair, with some modern touches - in keeping with the classically beautiful lobby space downstairs. It’s spacious enough, and clean, but most importantly has a super comfy bed. Wifi is limited to 500MB a day, but is sufficiently quick for most things. 


The view from my room



Arguably its biggest drawcard, the Southern Sun Maharani’s location - right opposite miles of Indian Ocean beachfront - is hard to beat in Durban. And unlike in Cape Town, the water here is warm enough to swim in most of the year. 


Elsewhere, the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) is just a few blocks away, while South Beach and downtown Durban lie just beyond that. As it’s on the northern side of town, getting to the city’s stadiums, including the 2010 World Cup venue, Moses Mabhida Stadium, and cool spots like ultra-hip Florida Road is easy too, as is reaching the airport.


The lobby



Between the two Southern Sun properties, there are six restaurants, bars and lounges. Guests can breakfast either at Maharani’s modern cafe-style Vigour & Verve restaurant, or enjoy the great views next door at Elangeni’s Ocean Breeze Restaurant. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 


Vigour & Verve is open all day until 10pm. Its breakfast comprises your standard English/American hot dishes (with some spicy vegetarian sausages thrown in - a rarity in hotels) and of course, your continental brekkie options. As we’re in Durban, which has a huge Indian population, Subcontinental cuisine features prominently as well.  


The hotels also boast three (heated) outdoor pools, two gyms, the Mangwanani Boutique Spa, salons, business centres and 15 meetings venues.  


The pool at the Southern Sun Elangeni



Whilst not the slickest in the business, the staff here put in a lot of effort, which is nice to see. Their smiles are welcome too, especially at breakfast in the morning.

A special shout out should go to housekeeping, who work hard for little glory yet still manage a sunny disposition at all times.



From sand and surf to vibrant markets, a beautiful botanic garden and a thriving Indian culture, Durban is surprisingly varied. Think a grittier Gold Coast. Much grittier. And cooler.

If you’re staying at the Southern Sun, a walk along the ‘Golden Mile’, a seaside promenade that passes right in front of the hotel is a must. So is a bunny chow lunch, a famous Durban fast food dish of hollowed-out bread filled with curry - I want some now.



An alternative to the township tours, Street Scene will take you to the Valley of a 1000 Hills. Here, you can eat a traditional lunch - with your hands on the floor - in a real rondavel (African home) from ingredients you pick up yourself from one of Durban’s downtown produce markets. Among other things, you can also sit down with a sangoma (healer) and meet a village chief.


Or, you can visit the place where Gandhi lived and worked or where Nelson Mandela cast his vote in the first free elections in 1994.


Traveltalk was a guest of South African Tourism.


Valley of 1000 Hills


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 19 June 2019

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