Africa is a continent of primary colours and vibrant song, of vast wilderness and busy metropolises, of laid-back sunsets and active dawns and of ancient cultures that remind you that you are in the birthplace of humankind. It is a continent you will want to keep on returning to, not just for the heart-stopping game drives, the azure oceans, the luxury safari camps and first-class boutique hotels, but for the feeling that you get when you walk on African soil, that a small part of you is coming home.
Morocco, the northernmost African country on the Western edge of the Arab world, is a maze of alleys and colourful souks flanked by long sandy beaches and the majestic Atlas mountains. It is also home to some of the most characterful and charming boutique hotels in the world. Many of them occupy traditional Moroccan houses, built around an internal courtyard or garden, known as riads. You will want to spend at least some of your time exploring the ancient streets of Marrakech and here you will find plenty of luxury riads to rest and restore yourself after a day of bartering at a carpet shop or haggling in the souk. In the historic part of the city, the medina, you will find the luxury Riad Jaaneman
, the 19th-century El Palacio de las Especias
and the elegant Dar Housnia
, while just outside the old town is the newly opened Riad Mena
, which has just six exquisite rooms. As an alternative to a riad, you can try the Hotel Les 5 Djellabas
, a beautiful boutique hotel in the Palmeraie, comprised of 10 African eco lodges. If you plan to travel with a group, then you will adore the Villa Ezzahra
, which sleeps 16 and comes with 17 staff. Further north, the town of Fes is like something out of the middle ages. Here you can base yourself at the architect-styled Riad Fes
, which is built around three distinctive courtyards and fuses baroque opulence with contemporary comfort. In East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are like safari gold. It is here that you can see the great migration of the wildebeests and tick off the big five on exhilarating game drives in the great reserves of the Maasai Mara and Serengeti National Park. And after the dust of the bush you can kick back on the white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean at a stunning array of Chic Retreats and boutique hotels. If you are after a traditional tented luxury safari camp, then you will love Cottars 1920s Safari Camp
, near the Maasai Mara, Elephant Pepper Camp
in the Rift Valley or Joy’s Camp
in the rugged Shaba reserve in Kenya or the Serengeti Migration Camp
in Tanzania. These camps may be under canvas, but you won’t find any sleeping bags here. Instead think four-poster beds with billowing fabric, big comfortable sofas to sink into after a day in a jeep and private terraces with spectacular views of the parks. If you would rather an elegant luxury lodge, then you will be won over by Elsa’s Kopje
in Meru National Park, Kenya and Hatari
Lodge and Arusha Coffee Lodge
in Arusha, Tanzania.
And for an island retreat you should experience the laid-back vibe of Baytil Ajaib
on Kenya’s hidden gem, Lamu, or the upmarket chic of boutique hotel Matlai
on Tanzania’s Zanzibar. And then there’s South Africa, a country of colour and diversity, of dramatic landscapes and dazzling coastline. The Chic Retreats, boutique hotels and luxury lodges you will find in South Africa are among the best in the world. South Africans excel at design and hospitality. Whether you want to be on the edge of the Kruger National Park at a property such as Chitwa Chitwa
, enjoying private plunge pools and a personal butler as you watch giraffe saunter leisurely past your terrace, or in the heart of the lush winelands at a country house hotel like La Cabriere, where you can swim outside with views of the Franschhoek Mountains. We at Chic Retreats are working hard over the next few months to handpick some fabulous boutique properties in stunning loctions throughout South Africa. Soon you will be able to explore this rich country in the Chic Retreats style you’ve become accustomed to.