Whenever I see a magazine listing top hotels, I peruse the list to see if I have stayed there. For Travel & Leisure’s 500 top hotels, the list is derived from the 2020 World’s Best Awards survey results.
On this list, I found three hotels where I had stayed: one in Turkey and two in South Africa.
In Istanbul, situated on the Bosphorus within an Ottoman imperial palace dating back to the 18th century, Çırağan Palace Kempinski offers elegance and excellence in service.
Throughout late-Ottoman history, the palace was home and host to several sultans. A stay here offers a chance to experience the luxury and opulence that made up a sultan’s daily lifestyle.
The Sultan Suite, for example, is one of the world’s most extensive and most expensive suites with 4,000 square feet and 24-hour private butler service. I, of course, did not stay in the suite, but my beautiful room overlooking the Bosphorus was beautiful and certainly made me feel special.
Public areas are grand with crystal chandeliers, marble pillars, and thick carpeting. Wide hallways are lined with museum-quality statues, golden urns filled overflowing with exotic plants, and an array of flowers.
This year marks the hotel’s 30th anniversary, and special packages are being offered at 30 percent off.
Unlike the Çırağan Palace Kempinski, The Silo Hotel in Cape Town is modern and hip. It is located above the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and built in the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex.
From the outside, the most significant visible change to the building’s original structure is the addition of the ingenious glass windows inserted into the hotel floors’ geometry. These multi-faceted structures glisten like diamonds during the day, while at night, the building transforms into a glowing beacon in the Table Bay Harbor.
The hotel occupies six floors above Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The museum houses Africa’s most extensive collection of contemporary African art.
My room was a wash of vibrant color, unusual design, and the hotel’s famous geometric windows. I could see the city’s famous landmarks from here, including Table Mountain. All the public areas are bright and welcoming, as is the rooftop swimming pool. From the rooftop, you can also see the waterfront.
The Silo Hotel is a celebration of art, style, architecture, and design. A tribute to the glamour and contemporary luxury of a fine hotel.
In Johannesburg, the contemporary Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa welcomes guests from all over the world. It is relaxing and elegant and surrounded by 10-acres of peaceful gardens; it is quiet here—a place to relax.
Just off the lobby is a gallery of Dean Simon sketches celebrating the hotel’s most celebrated guests, including Nelson Mandela, who stayed at the hotel while writing his book “Long Walk to Freedom.” Other notable guests include Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
I stayed in a villa suite nestled in the peaceful gardens adjacent to the hotel. My suite had a private deck leading out into the lush gardens.
The hotel, in addition to its beauty and serenity, offers professional and friendly service.
As a travel writer, I have many fantastic opportunities and experiences, including staying at some of the best five-star hotels in the world. I hope I can add to my list of fine hotels in 2021.