Part of the Royal Malewane property, Africa House is a superb, self-contained private lodge available for private rental for up to 12 people. Unlike any other camp in the bush, this shabby chic affair is the perfect place for a special family celebration or an occasion to bring groups of friends together for the most personal of safari experiences. Of course this type of luxury has a price tag to match but you certainly get your money's worth: some of the finest décor in the bush, service of the highest order, unparalleled discretion and excellent food. A unique experience to be tried at least once in a lifetime!
The camp is located in a private reserve which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. As this area gets more rain than the Sabi Sands further south, the vegetation is thicker meaning that it is sometimes a little trickier to spot animals. In order to get to the lodge you can either take a flight from Johannesburg's O. R. Tambo International Airport to Hoedspruit from where a road transfer can be arranged (around 35 minutes). Alternatively, there are flights from Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport from where a charter flight to Royal Malewane's private air strip can be organised. If arriving by car you should enter through Orpen Gate.
The Royal Malewane and Africa House are part of the Royal Collection which includes five star properties Africa House (on the same site as Royal Malewane), Birkenhead House and Birkenhead Villa (just southeast of Cape Town) and La Residence, east of Cape Town. The group supports the local community not only by employing and empowering those from the villages surrounding it but also by putting money into projects such as the Sigagule Nhluvuko Creche. In May 2010 the facility had just one classroom for 86 children, no running water, no kitchen and basic toilet facilities. Royal Malewane has built them new classrooms equipped with educational material, toilets, a kitchen, a water supply, a jungle gym and playground as well as vegetables gardens and fruit tress meaning they are largely self-sufficient. This is an ongoing project which is paid for monthly and which guests can see for themselves as part of a community tour which is strongly recommended.
The square shaped fortress-like building that is Africa House has an entrance befitting of an ancient defensive structure. The pair of beautiful wooden North African doors open onto a courtyard at the centre of which is a simple fountain with multiple spouts surrounded by four sections of lawn. This is the heart of the house and along the four edges are the bedrooms and various living spaces. On one side of the quadrangle are two casitas, alcoves with a mattress rested on an untreated wooden frame where guests can lie down out of the sun but still enjoy the beautiful light of the bush without being confined to their room (however attractive these latter are). At the opposite side to the entrance is an undercover space from whose roof hang dinky red oriental lamps above two chunky dark wood tables with carved legs, with a lighter coloured bowl atop each one. Two cream and turquoise chairs with leather seats are pulled up on one side of each table while on the other side are two couches upholstered in faux python leather. There is an open working fireplace with plenty of spare logs at its base while opposite at the other end of the space is a bar/counter under which is a minibar. There is also a barbeque installed for traditional braais while above is a huge gilt mirror alongside some animal watercolours.
Step inside and you'll enter the stunning living room. At the entrance stands a full umbrella stand just before a solid wooden sideboard with Chinese lamps and a beautiful carriage clock below another mirror. Over to the left is the seating area featuring another sideboard with complimentary tipples, leather wing back chairs, a cream sofa, a Chesterfield ottoman with reading material, an elegant occasional table and a fireplace flanked by crammed drinks cabinets and a flatscreen television above. The art (paintings, canvases scrolls), intricately carved furniture and decorative objects scattered around come from all over the world including Ghana and Bali. A dining table for eight people is used to show off more Chinese porcelain while another buffet contains plates, bowls, cups and vases. Then around the corner if the fully-equipped kitchen with all the mod cons where your private chef will prepare your meals (see 'Food and Drink'). Such a complete and tastefully and thoughtfully living space is to be found nowhere else - Kit Kemp would have been proud of this one!
Out the back of the house is the lengthly terrace which boasts a collection of both modern and antique furniture, sun loungers, dining table and most importantly a private swimming pool.
The ensemble of the living areas are without a shadow of doubt the finest we have seen in the South African bush. An air of serenity reigns over the property and when the light falls on both the building itself and the various colours that compose Africa House, it is something to behold. What's more, the service is second to none with up to 10 members of staff available including a host, a chef and waiters.
Africa House can accommodate up to 12 people (plus a pilot/translator) in four double rooms, two twins and a pilot room. There are three rooms on each side of the property, each one next to the other, with one master bedroom per side. The first master bedroom, which has the best of the views and from where you can see game from your window, has a red theme, set by the high carved four-poster bed from Mombasa. Other hints of red are to be found in the ceiling lamps, the coiffeuse, the bedside tables and one of the wingback armchairs which makes up the seating area at the foot of the bed. As with all of the other rooms, this room enjoys a private section of the terrace which borders the property as well as all the amenities you'd expect from a lodge of this standing such as air conditioning, a telephone, a safe, anti-mosquito products and bathrobes. The bathroom which also features red touches (the faded wooden vanities, the tall mirrors, the painting of a traditionally dressed gentleman), has his and hers sinks, a free standing bathtub in the centre of the room and Molton Brown toiletries. The second master bedroom has a pink and turquoise colour theme and has a fresh and contemporary edge with some classical elements thrown into the mix. It shares exactly the same amenities and features as the other master room.
The other rooms each have their own palettes (always with green, plus another colour) and are all slightly smaller than the master bedrooms, although they have the same amenities. Two of the four have two single four-poster beds pushed together, one of which seems to have an Asian theme going on. Each room also has a mosquito net around the bed as well as its own unique set of art and decorative objects.
Of a superlative quality, the food at Africa House is organised on a bespoke basis. Of course, guests have the option of enjoying three full meals throughout the day in addition to afternoon tea and pre-game drive snacks and more treats during the drives, although these are not compulsory. Meals can be served wherever guests desire, the options being the terrace just off of the central courtyard, the dining table next to the kitchen or indeed in their rooms. At lunch time the same options will be open while for dinner two extra venues come into play with either a traditional boma dinner (the lodge has its own) or a bush dinner. With a dedicated team of staff for Africa House, you can be sure that the service and attention to detail are both top notch.
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