For nearly 90 years, one of the top luxury hotels in South Africa was nothing more than a cottage along the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal. It served as a beacon for passing ships until 1952, when it began its slow transformation: from family-run tea house, to restaurant, to hotel. Since 2006, the Tollman family has meticulously managed to expand and restore the Oyster Box Hotel to its current state of grandeur.
Upon entering, you'll notice the rooms are light, airy and smell of fresh cut flowers. From a Classic Room facing the Indian Ocean and the Oyster Box's iconic red lighthouse, you'll find it easy to fall asleep each night to the noise of the crashing ocean waves below. Sleep with the blinds open just a touch each night to be awoken by the warm glow of the sunrise in the morning.
When dining at the The Oyster Box, you won't want to miss the lavish curry buffet, the signature Umhlanga Schling drink, and the traditional afternoon tea. Even if you're not in the mood for a movie, sneak upstairs to the small theater and open the glass jars to sample traditional children's sweets: gummy fish, chocolates and apricot puff candies. If you happen to pass resident Skabenga (meaning "vagabond"), you'll see why he's known as South Africa's "Grumpy Cat". The gift shop sells a cute illustrated children's book about him, and is worth a peek.
Umhlanga is about 15-20 minutes north of Durban and slightly closer to King Shaka International Airport. Within safe walking distance, you can reach a small shopping plaza, as well as, the neighboring Beverly Hills Hotel.