Kruger National Park, South Africa

Royal Malewane

Price per night from$1,387.54

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (ZAR25,614.04), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Top of its game

Setting

African bush veld

This boutique safari lodge bordering the Kruger National Park has its own private waterhole and promises Big Five sightings. Royal Malewane is spread over four individually styled lodges (Malewane is classic, Waterside colourful, Farmstead contemporary, and Africa House is the newest in the collection), dotted throughout Thornybush Private Game Reserve, and each room, suite and villa is decked out with a private pool and bush views that mean you're on 24-hour safari. 

 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Your choice of either a 30-minute photography lesson or a local pre-school tour, plus 10 per cent off spa treatments and 15 per cent off in the shop

Facilities

Photos Royal Malewane facilities

Need to know

Rooms

18 suites, plus three villas.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible depending on occupancy. Guests are welcome to use the hotel facilities until their flight leaves. Check-in is 2pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £1251.40 (ZAR29,456), including tax at 15 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of ZAR510.00 per person per night on check-in.

More details

Rates include all meals; house wines, local drinks, and snacks from the minibar; and twice-daily group game drives (guests in a Royal Suite or whole lodge will get private safaris with a dedicated vehicle, guide and tracker).

Also

Unfortunately, this safari stay is not suitable for guests with reduced mobility.

At the hotel

Gym, hair salon, yoga studio, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, and minibar.

Our favourite rooms

There’s no drawing the short straw at Royal Malewane – a private pool, freestanding bath tub, and savannah-kissed sundeck accompanies every suite. We like the paired-down interiors in Malewane or Farmstead Lodge; the rooms in Waterside Lodge offer something more playful for maximalists, and Africa House is a spacious private residence with a boma, spa room and outdoor pool.

Poolside

Running through the heart of the spa’s central courtyard is the heated lap pool, which glows amber come sunset with lanterns lining the pool’s edges. Save the skinny dipping for your own pool – there’s a private one in each room, suite and villa.

Spa

The Waters of Royal Malewane Bush Spa is located in a serene natural setting and offers a wide range of indulgent body treatments and hydrotherapies using local minerals. You’ll find a gym, steam room, hot and cold African baths, and a hair salon hidden behind the pool in the surrounding trees. There’s a second spa in Waterside Lodge – Reflections Spa is decked out with another gym, a yoga room, hammam, and three treatment rooms.

Packing tips

Lean in to the safari cliché – olive overshirts, lots of layers, a pair of Grenson boots – accessorised with a trusty camera and zoom lens, of course.

Also

The team of guides at Royal Malewane has 300 years of combined experience, and is considered the ‘Harvard of the Bush’ for conservation specialists.

Pet‐friendly

It’s wild-animals-only at this South African bush stay. See more pet-friendly hotels in Kruger National Park.

Children

All ages are welcome, with some room-type restrictions for under-10s. Waterside Lodge has a games room and extra beds available; bigger clans should rent one of the lodges. Family-friendly game drives can be arranged.

Best for

Over-eights are best placed to appreciate Royal Malawane’s adventurous surroundings.

Recommended rooms

Waterside Lodge tops the family podium – the two Aloe Suites can interconnect and the Baobab Suite has two bedrooms.

Activities

The Royal Rangers programme involves little Smiths in activities around the reserve, certifying them as mini rangers by the end of their stay. All the safaris are family-friendly and vehicles can be kitted out with secure sides, for added peace of mind.

Swimming pool

Each suite and lodge has a private pool (unfenced), and supervised children can swim in the main pool.

Meals

There are children’s menus and high chairs available.

Babysitting

Royal Malewane staff can look after your little ‘uns for R250 an hour.

No need to pack

Games – Waterside Lodge has a games room to keep you entertained outside of safari hours.

Sustainability efforts

Like the four lodges that comprise Royal Malewane, three sustainability pillars make up the hotel’s Earth-kind approach: community, conservation, and environment. The former two are taken care of through improving and supporting local crèche facilities, plus creating a programme for junior trackers to learn this skill; the latter through energy-efficient devices, an on-site water purification plant, and an integrated system of hydronics and solar energy to run the air-conditioning or heat the buildings.

Food and Drink

Photos Royal Malewane food and drink

Top Table

Open-air dinners under the stars can be arranged on request, normally in autumn and spring.

Dress Code

Subtle safari style – take inspiration from your daytime look of light-weight layers and nature-blending tones, but in less practical forms.

Hotel restaurant

The Afro-Mediterranean menu makes use of local ingredients such as delicious game and freshwater fish. Meals are served in several locations around the lodges, from the main dining room with watering hole views, to Bedouin tents and bomas. And you can eat what you want, when you want (within reason of course) – there are no formal meal times and menus can be tailored to your taste.

Hotel bar

At Malewane Lodge, open-air Masiya bar has a prime creek-side position. The waterfront deck is dotted with hanging egg chairs, ruby woven chairs, and lamp-lit low tables, and savannah sundowners take the form of elderflower spritzes and South African wines from the lodge’s cellar. There is also a communal bar at Farmstead Lodge and an alfresco one at Waterside Lodge.

Last orders

Dine as and when you like – there are no formal meal times, but the kitchen is usually open from about 6am until 9pm.

Room service

The kitchen endeavours to accommodate all guests' wishes.

Location

Photos Royal Malewane location
Address
Royal Malewane
P.O.Box 1542 Hoedspruit 1380
Greater Kruger National Park
1380
South Africa

Royal Malewane’s lodges are set in a 15,000-hectare estate southwest of Kruger, in Greater Kruger National Park.

Planes

From Johannesburg or Cape Town, connect to Hoedspruit, which is under an hour’s drive from the estate. The hotel can arrange 35-minute private transfers on request (for about R1530 one way for up to three guests), and guests can also charter their own flights directly onto the Royal Malewane private airstrip.

Automobiles

When you can touch down at Malewane’s private airstrip or arrange air-conditioned transfers directly from Hoedspruit, there’s no need to bring your own wheels to this upscale retreat, which includes either shared or private game drives in hotel vehicles with a guide, depending on your choice of lodgings.

Worth getting out of bed for

The region has spectacular scenery, with abundant wildlife to match. The southwestern section of the estate, around the Crocodile river, is home to white rhinos and buffalo. The plains further east are favoured by giraffes, wildebeests, impalas and zebras, attracting their predators, such as lions, too. After a few days, you will hopefully spot the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and black rhino. The hotel can arrange excursions to the bushveld golf course, Leopard Creek; canyon cruises on the Blyde dam, and a spectacular flight over the Blyde canyon on a helicopter tour.

Reviews

Photos Royal Malewane reviews

Anonymous review

Ever since I re-housed a pair of newts in a Robinsons jam jar in August 1977, I have been fascinated by wildlife. Unfortunately the only animal magic I normally encounter is on TV, Sir David Attenborough’s reassuring tones transferring me to a world far away from quality M&S ready meals and drizzly England. I can’t get enough of it.

Somewhere like the Seychelles or the Maldives were clearly a non-runner when the soon-to-be Mrs Smith and I came to plan our honeymoon; I was fixated on turning my TV dreams into the ultimate fantasy safari. Thanks to our relationship being at the ‘Yes, honey – whatever makes you happy’ stage, I bounced straight through to booking one of the world’s most celebrated luxury safari lodges: the Royal Malewane in South Africa.

A tiny plane carried us newly-weds from Jo’burg to the Kruger National Park, where ranger Craig and tracker Shadrack meet us at the Royal Malewane’s private airstrip. It’s not much more than a clearing, so I hold Mrs Smith’s hand reassuringly (for me) as we make our landing. Dressed head to toe in khaki, we climb into our open-top Land Rover and the adventure begins. A second welcoming committee scurries past: a sounder of warthogs (the correct collective noun, trivia fans), their little legs going 19 to the dozen and their tails raised vertically like car aerials. Brilliant! I can’t wait to get out there for real.

A series of dusty tracks delivered us to our destination, where we are greeted by RM employees, beaming from ear to ear. Presenting us with beautifully prepared fruit-punch cocktails, staff lead us down to the lodge via a winding teak pathway. As we enter the main building, our smiles grow as big as theirs.

‘Beautiful,’ says Mrs Smith. I’m silent, nodding in agreement as I head to the balcony to see two giraffes drinking at the waterhole right in front of the hotel. Wide-eyed beckoning, accompanied by small grunts of excitement, brings Mrs Smith over, to utter her second word since we arrived. ‘Amazing.’

Duly impressed, as a pair of safari novices should be, we are escorted to our secluded thatched-roof lodge. As soon as we step inside, we embark on a rampage of ‘Oh my God/Look at this/You have to see this/Wow!’ We even have our own plunge pool on the balcony. The discreet member of staff must have witnessed this sort of reaction many times before. As he leaves, I lie back on the mahogany four-poster bed, and sink into enough white fluffy cushions to drown in. This is one of the most beautiful hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in – and I’ve seen a few. The colonial-style decor is impeccable, and there’s an open fireplace (lit for us nightly), a travertine bathroom with freestanding tub, and a glass frontage with views that mean we’re on 24-hour safari.

After following animals around, eating is the second biggest pastime out here, and when we see the food at Royal Malewane, we understand why. This is not bush tucker. This is some of the finest cuisine we’ve been served in any hotel – and it’s only lunchtime. The sun is shining at full strength, and it’s perfect T-shirt weather (not bad considering this is their winter). We sit in a sheltered corner on the verandah and place our neat little digital camera on the table, in case we see any animals to snap. Another couple then walk in. Mrs Smith whispers to me: ‘Have you seen the size of that guy’s camera?’ I discreetly turn around and see (and I’m not kidding) a 30-inch lens flopped gently onto their table. Size clearly matters on safari, and I am helpless with lens envy. I wonder what car he drives back home. Be warned, male readers: it’s a jungle out here and you’d better have the right equipment if you are to survive.

3pm: Shadrack sits on the front bonnet of the Land Rover, identifying animals. Obviously, we pick up on the elephants and giraffes, but I’m talking about a blended chameleon in a tree 50 yards away, a red hornbill, or a mongoose that briefly pops its head out of his burrow; this guy really does have eyes like a hawk. We then hear over the radio that there are cheetahs about 20 minutes away – a rare sighting in these parts. We arrive to find three sitting on a termite hill, in triangular formation so they can survey 360 degrees for game and predators. Just five metres away, we watch them do what cats do – very little, the odd stretch or yawn. It’s not like TV: I start to appreciate the time and effort that must go into capturing wildlife footage.

Sundowners are a civilised affair: a white-clothed table is conjured up, and ranger Craig turns into a barman while Shad (we’re old friends by now) passes around the bush snacks. For dinner, we’re driven to the middle of nowhere, to a temporary tent surrounded with fires and candlelit tables. Romantic isn’t the word: Mrs Smith, glowing in the firelight, looks more beautiful than ever. Blankets over our knees, we talk about the day’s sightings with our fellow adventurers. As happy as you can possibly imagine, we’re escorted back to our room (you’re not allowed to walk around at night on your own, since there is a genuine threat that something might make a meal of you). It’s straight to bed; the next day starts City-trader early.

After a couple of strong coffees at 5am, we were greeted by a cheery Craig and Shad then, an hour in, we are treated to a brief, exhilarating lion hunt. If you see a kill, you are extremely lucky. Although we don’t, we do find a pride of lions just after they’ve taken down an impala. We get so close we could almost stroke them (not advisable, even though they can look really cuddly after a glass of wine at lunchtime). We needn’t worry about whether we’ll tick off the Big Five (lion, Cape buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard); we go on to have a close encounter with a herd of elephants who destroy everything in their path, and some Cape buffalo that just eat grass and raise their heads occasionally to look at you as though you owe them money.

The Royal Malewane’s spa is as stylish as the rest of the lodge, with treatment rooms set around a rectangular swimming pool. Mrs Smith unwinds with a couple of beauty treatments while I opt for an hour and a half’s massage, which prepares me for a siesta before lunch. We round off the perfect day with a night drive that is every bit as exciting as we’re hoping. As well as meeting more wonderful creatures, we learn how to navigate by the stars, courtesy of Craig.

All the staff here are people whose care for their guests, and passion for the bush, is completely genuine. We had been warmly taken in and made to feel part of the family, and it was with sadness that we took our leave of this elegant safari lodge. As the four-seater revved up and I held tight to Mrs Smith’s hand, I wondered: is it too early in our marriage to already be planning a second honeymoon in this magical place?

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Price per night from $1,387.54