If you haven’t heard of the Oyster Box, then you’re probably locked in a basement somewhere – I’ll send for help.
With its iconic lighthouse, red stripey pool lounges and detail upon detail of old world charm this must be one of South Africa’s most Instagrammed hotels. This will become obvious, the more you scroll down this post! Elzaan and I have been dying to visit and finally got the opportunity when we found ourselves in Durban at the end of our Rovos Rail journey. A quick 25min uber ride from Durban and we were there.
If you haven’t realised yet, I’m crazy about details and this place was a true visual feast with every detail perfectly in place. From the safari-suited doorman to the individually themed bars and restaurants, everything is exceptionally curated and well maintained. I find hotels generally suffer from aesthetic maintenance, whether its the pool loungers or the staff uniforms, things eventually start looking tattered and worn inevitably distracting from the initial concept. At the Oyster box, this certainly isn’t the case, and although you may not even notice it, it’s definitely what makes you feel like you’re in one of the world’s top boutique hotels.
The Oyster box is steeped in history and dates back to 1863 where it was just a navigational beacon. Since then it has gone from a tea garden to a restaurant and finally a hotel in 1956. However, the Oyster Box we know today was a passion project for its new owner who – legend has it – bought it as an engagement gift for his new wife, and restored it to its original glory. I wonder what he got her for their first anniversary?
The hotel re-opened in September 2009 and while a number of the original landmarks remain intact the hotel was, for the most part, re-built. Updating the hotel to the 21st century with banqueting and conferencing venues as well as the new lighthouse bar overlooking the iconic lighthouse. The result as mentioned before is a true visual feast!
Our room was a pink on pink extravaganza overlooking the Indian ocean and lighthouse. Although not massive, the view certainly makes up for it and every modern amenity is included so you really want for nothing. The towels are big and fluffy, the bedding super luxurious and the little balcony perfect to watch the sunset over a G&T.
Our favourite part (as it often is) were the meals. Breakfast at the Oyster box is legendary, a destination in itself. When a breakfast has it’s own hashtag (#OBbreakfast), you know it’s a pretty big deal. You can expect all the usual continental options of pastries and charcuterie, but it’s definitely the bottomless oysters and champagne that catch your eye. To top it off you have all the fancy a la carte option’s from the kitchen featuring the classics, eggs Benedict, Florentine, Royale, or my favourite, the O.B.H Welsh Rarebit – pretty much the worlds fanciest grilled cheese sandwich! If that’s not enough, you can finish off your breakfast at the pancake and waffle station (though we never had the space).
With Durban being the home of South African curry it’s no surprise that the Oyster Box tops the list for best curries in town. We decided to take on the curry feast one night with a buffet selection of over 11 different curries and every condiment known to man! This is about as authentic as it gets with the team pushing out traditional Naan bread, Papadums and Roti’s all night to accompany your curry feast! Curry is really one of those meals where you want to try a little bit of everything so having a buffet ahead of you is perfect! It’s really hard to pick a favourite but seeing as we went back 3 times for the chicken and prawn curry it’s easy to see why this is the cities favourite!
We were also lucky enough to experience another Oyster Box favourite in the High Tea. This was however too lavish to squeeze into this blog post so keep an eye out for this WMBW Eats post soon ; )
Overall this is the perfect lavish getaway. I say lavish because an experience like this doesn’t come cheap, and nor should it. This is a true 5 star hotel that sets out to make sure your stay is one you don’t quickly forget.
You could easily fill up a couple of days and never have to leave the hotel. Between the 2 pools, 3 bars, 2 restaurants and an internationally awarded spa your time will be well spent. If however (and I don’t see this being possible) you do suffer from cabin fever during your stay, you’re lucky enough to be on one of the most stunning coastlines in KwaZulu-Natal so a trip to the beach is always in order.
The hotel is always running special offers, so maybe pick a weekend and treat yo’ self! While you’re there say hi to the resident cat Skabenga (pictured above) for us, he’s a pretty big deal round those parts!
Okay. Travel safe and stay fancy.