by Brian Berkman

Epicurian epicentre

Durban's delights all at your doorstep

Epicurian epicentre.jpg

There is a wide choice of accommodation options in Durban’s seaside always-on-holiday Umhlanga, but the Protea Hotel by Marriott Umhlanga is at the epicentre of the food and drink scene.

At first hearing that the hotel doesn’t serve dinner and that the standard rate does not include breakfast is a bit of surprise, until you realise that there are so many and varied food and beverage offerings directly on the hotel’s doorstep, it is an advantage rather than a drawback.

Happening spots abound, from the more recently opened and already very popular Mythos Greek restaurant to the vibey and casual Rocomamas. There are good stops with people coalescing during the day time around the Vovo Tello and upscale 14 on Chartwell and, as the sun sets, the crowd at The George, a popular neighbourhood pub, grows ever larger as the beer flows. All these options are less than three minutes away on foot from the hotel, and the beach and much photographed lighthouse are within five minutes.

Your lodging in the three-star graded hotel will be very comfortable and on trend especially if you are in the 15-floor tower block completed in October 2016. Most rooms have views of the sea. Many rooms, especially corner ones, are designed to convert into two bedroom-family suites with an outer passage door.

Most useful in the room is a drawer-concealed electronic safe which is large enough for your laptop computer and the separate bathroom has a powerful walk-in shower and plenty of space to store toiletries.

This is a no-frills offering but it really does have everything you need and, when you consider the room-rate saving compared to its five-star neighbours. For many, the choice to head to the Seattle Coffee Co. for a good early morning Java more than makes up for the in-room instant coffee/tea offering.

If you’re planning just a few days in Umhlanga you may find that an airport pickup for around R350, only about 20 minutes’ drive away, will be more cost effective than hiring a car as there is so much to explore on foot and parking costs R55 a day. There is a taxi rank at the exit of the hotel so you will hardly ever have to wait for a ride.

When we visited in July, the hotel’s pool and conferencing facilities were shuttered for refurbishment but once all improvements have been completed this property will be among the largest in the area with 120 existing rooms plus 130 new ones in the tower block.

Although having various dining options on your door step is great, perhaps the most useful and essential for an incident-free holiday is the 8am to 8pm, upscale pharmacy and clinic facility that is open daily, where you can stock up on everything you need, from suntan lotion to beachballs and more. Oh, and if you’re missing the joys of a luxury hotel spa, have no fear: there are two day spas within easy reach.

Brian Berkman

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