WHO RUNS THE WORLD?
ESSENCE Festival®! Our big event, long a summer tradition in New Orleans, will be expanding to the international stage with the first-ever ESSENCE Festival® in Durban, South Africa Nov. 8-13.
ESSENCE Durban®, the sister festival to our Fourth of July weekend extravaganza in NOLA, will showcase international perfomers, world-famous speakers, and local artists and experts. It will also pump up small businesses through empowerment seminars, career-guidance workshops and other programming.
"New Orleans and Durban are sister cities, and we are thrilled to present these sister festivals—both in 2016," said ESSENCE® President Michelle Ebanks. "As ESSENCE converges on Durban during South Africa's beautiful summer season, we are creating a week-long experience that will inspire women globally and convene our communities across the diaspora."
Mayor Nxumalo of the eThekwini Municipality says the City of Durban is ready for its global close-up, continuing on its international surge. "This partnership will have a host of benefits for residents, starting with the Durban Business Fair program, which strives to connect local businesses globally," he says. "We have no doubt that through the Festival jobs will be created and our cultural economy enhanced."
Where to Stay?
Durban is not a sprawling city. From the quiet Western suburbs to its central areas to Umhlanga up north takes only about fourty minutes to drive across the city. Between those three areas you can’t really stay too out-of-the-way. The best hotels in Durban are the old ones. From city centre all the way north, the shore is dotted with old glamorous hotels that set the Durban skyline apart. BnBs and Guest houses are a popular choice for accommodation across the country. If they look clean and comfortable on their website they generally always are, and offer a tasty home cooked fry up as an included breakfast.
Be careful when booking private accommodation online, especially when booking independently of an accredited rental agent. Try not to hand over credit card details until you arrive or to pay in full up front.
Staying in a district built around a mall means you’re never at a loss for options to eat, cabs and any supplies you may have forgotten to pack. The Palm Boulevard at Gateway Mall, Umhlanga is a buzzing stretch of eateries and take-aways. All Gateway hotels are within walking distance of the Umhlanga beach and its adjecent village populated with bars, restaurents, gyms and yoga studios.
Three Cities Urban Park Hotel & Spa 60 Meridian Drive, Umhlanga. www.urbanparkhotel.co.za
The Gateway Hotel Centenary Boulevard and Twilight Drive, Umhlanga. www.aha.co.za/gateway
Three Cities Royal Palm Hotel Gateway 8 Palm Boulevard, Gateway.www.the-royal-palm.co.za
Summerhill Estate Guesthouse
Twenty minutes west of central Durban, in the leafy suburb of Cowies Hill is Summerhill Guesthouse. Dinner at Summerhill’s restaurant is so popular that booking is essential, even for those staying at the guesthouse. The 17 rooms on the property are named after legendary performers such as Gcina Mhlope and Jimmy Dludlu who have played shows at the restaurant. With wine tastings and live shows hosted regularly at Summerhill, a stay there will mean an unforgettable taste of South African culture.
9 Belvedale Road, Cowies Hill. www.summerhillguesthouse.co.za
A backpackers strictly for those who love a party and communal living, Tekweni embodies the vibe of the Florida Road party district right around the corner. The bar, pool and braai aare never quiet and solo travellers wion’t struggle to find a fun party crew to join. Even if you’re not booked into one of their sharing or private rooms, drop by Tekweni to hang out and drink with backpackers from all over the world.
169 Ninth Avenue, Morningside. www.tekweni.co.za
Olwandle Guest House
South African guest houses are a great way to experience the warm local hospitality in an intimate setting. Often more affordable than hotel rates, the price does not at all mean a compromise on comfort. Olwandle Guest House contains only 9 bedrooms and a terrace for braaing (barbequing).
6 Glenashley Avenue, Glenashley. www.olwandle.co.za
The Concierge Boutique Bungalows
The Concierge Boutique Bungalows are nestled amongst the narrow lanes and low verandah cottages in Greyville Village. The area is an architecturial heritage site and each of the eight boutique bungalows is a listed building with an original 1920s façade. The interiors are modern and luxurious, with a distinctive quirky style. They say their outdoor showers feel like jungle rain.
Freedom Café, the restaurant attached to the hotel is where Durban’s creative, freelancer types hang out for lunch and afterwork drinks.
37-43 St Mary’s Avenue, Greyville. www.the-concierge.co.za
AirBnb and other online rental agencies feature pleny of seaside apartments for rental in Durban. The Pearls of Umhlanga and The Sails in Point are two luxury buildings with holiday apartments for rent. South and North Beach in between are full of apartments at every price point. Be careful when booking accommodation online, and don’t hand over credit card details or payments directly to individuals not affiliated with a rental agency or whose bank details are in their own name instead of the rental agency.
The Pearls 12 Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga. www.thepearlsofumhlanga.com
The Sails 14 Timeball Boulevard, Point. www.pwaccommodation.co.za
The Spinnaker 180 Mahatma Gandhi Road. www.tysonprop.co.za
Southern Sun Maharani & Elangeni Hotel
The 450-room Southern Sun Maharani & Elangeni Hotel dominate the Durban skyline. Fun fact, it was the first hotel with an outside elevator in Africa and used to accept black guests during apartheid. Basically, this hotel holds many fond memories for many South African families. One of its four restaurants, Daruma, is one of the best in the country. If the ocean across the road is looking too rough, one of four pools should suffice.
63 Snell Parade, Durban. www.togosun.co.za
Beverly Hills Hotel
Since the Beverly Hills Hotel opened its doors as Durban’s first five star hotel in the 1950s, its hosted a number of prominent guests including heads of state, Cliff Richard and Snoop Dogg. It’s 88 seafront facing rooms are the height of luxury and the Sugar Club hotel restaurant is an award-winning fine-dining establishment with an award-winning winelist. A few steps in one direction is Umhlanga beach and in the hotel’s backyard is the pumping Umhlanga Village with shops, banks, restaurants and gyms.
54 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks. www.togosun.co.za
The Durban Manor Hotel
The Durban Manor’s sweeping staircases, fireplaces and ornate mouldings hark back to its opulent colonial hey day. Still well kept and quiet, the hotel is now more of an option for those who want to live in closer proximity with locals outside of the tourist areas. The Margaret Mncadi Embankment infront of the hotel is a palm tree-lined avenue, with a yacht marina on the other side and the harbour visible in the distance but the area still has a rather gritty side. It’s on the edge of the CBD, street children hang out in its parks and its many students are outside at all hours. All of the elements add to the charm of a prime stretch of city property that is still available to ordinary people who live in it.
1 Durban Club Place. www.durbanmanorhotel.co.za
Happy Hippo Backpackers
A quieter budget travelling option than Tekweni, Happy Hippo’ Common is across the street from uShaka Marine waterpark. The common areas including a kitchen, dining area and lounge are roomy and sweetly decorated. The rooftop bar upstairs has a pool table and often hosts parties and special events. With secure, free parking and a hip location new urban regeneration precinct of Point, Happy Hippo will please travellers after a simple, quality experience.
222 Mahatma Gandhi Road.
What to Do?
Durban, the largest city on the lush, tropical Kwazulu-Natal coast enjoys the best of all the delicious bounty grown right in our backyard. Some of the perks include cheap avocadoes year round and the sweetest summertime bananas, mangoes and pineapple. Just like the weather, Durbanites like their food hot and add chilli to any and everything including our fruit. As you taste your way through the city, you’ll come to appreciate its cosmopolitan character and history, and relax into the laidback social energy of Durban’s eateries. The service might not always be the quickest but it will be with a warm smile. South Africans enjoy their alcohol and Durbanites are no exception, Phuza (“Drink”) Thursdays generally accepted as the first day to ease into the weekend by heading out for some drinks and a meal.
Bunny Chows, rotis and masala pineapple…. You haven’t eaten like a local if you haven’t sampled our Indian food. The best takeaways in Durban are definitely from the Brittania Hotel in and Sunrise Chip n’ Ranch in Sydenham. Sunrise, fondly known to locals as Johnny’s Rotis, is a Durban institution. They’ve been serving up the biggest, cheapest bunny chows (a hollowed out half bread loaf filled with curry) and rotis for over 40 years! Open 24/7, Johnny’s is loved by the lunch crowd and relied on by late night revellers.
For a sit-down dinner, Mali’s extensive menu offers authentic Indian dishes alongside local favourites. It’s a family-run restaurant that just feels like the real deal, around closing time you’ll see the staff share a nightly meal.
Britannia Hotel, 1299 Umngeni Rd, Durban.
Sunrise Chip n’ Ranch, 93 Moses Kotane Road, Sydenham.
Mali’s Restaurant, 77 Smiso Nkwanyana Road, Windermere.
Food With A View
A 20-minute drive north of Umhlanga is the seaside town of Umdloti. The rough, rocky beach isn’t ideal for swimming but offers a beautiful backdrop for good food and drinks. Enjoy exquisite ocean views along with your fine dining and cocktails.
Beach Bums is just a few kilometres north of Bel Punto, but worlds away in style. Make sure to wear sandals so you can kick them off and get comfy at tables arranged right on the beach sand. Catch a rugby game on a Sunday or just enjoy their pub fare (wing/rib baskets) and giant colourful jam jar cocktails.
Bel Punto, 1 S Beach Road, Umdloti.
Beach Bums, 65 Casuarina Rd, Genazzano.
Durban’s colonial history includes the integration of European, Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Our architecture and food tell the story. The best known and loved Italian eatery is Spiga D’Oro. Spiga opens for breakfast, closes late and serves fuss-free Italian in a family atmosphere.
True to Durban’s cosmopolitan character, don’t be surprised if you end up enjoying your njeera and coffee to salsa music at Habesha café. It’s a casual, intimate Ethiopian and Eritrean food spot that hosts weekly salsa dancing nights.
Daruma has been open on the Durban seashore for over two decades and is a well-established favourite amongst visiting businessmen, dignitaries and tourists. The Japanese restaurant serves teppanyaki stir fried theatrically while you watch. Request a private booth for floor seating behind a Japanese screen.
Spiga D’Oro 200 Florida Road, Durban. / 5 Mackeurtan Avenue, Durban North.
Habesha Café 124 Helen Joseph Road, Glenwood.
Daruma 63 O.R Tambo Parade, South Beach.
It’s a national Sunday tradition to wash your car before enjoying music, drinks and a meal with friends and family. If we don’t have a braai (barbecue), we’ll eat “7 colours” a meal named for all the colours on the plate that include vegetables, meat and a starch such as pap or samp n’ beans. Over the last few years big “Shisa nyamas” (literally translated to “burn meat”) have been mushrooming across kasis (townships) across Durban and South Africa. They’re known for an awesome vibe (they book the most popular local artists and DJs) and delicious marinades that are unique to each establishment. Select your meat cuts and have them braaied for you while you enjoy an ice cold local cider like Savannah or Hunter’s Dry. Café Skyzer serves a particularly hearty “7 colours.”
Max’s Lifestyle 328 Mbe Rd, Umlazi.
Café Skyzer 69 Gardens Road, Cato Manor.
After a morning yoga session at Tree Natural Yoga, treat yourself at their café. Tree Natural Café whips up an array of fresh breakfast, smoothie and salad bowls. You can also drink your smoothie the regular way and grab an organic, GMO free muffin or wrap to go with it.
Vegans, raw “foodists” and enemies of gluten unite! Earth Mother will feed you. Their pastas, quesadillas and salads can be prepared in a variety of styles to your preference and their desserts are worth leaving extra room for.
Tree Natural Café 21 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga.
Earth Mother Organic 482 Lillian Ngoyi Road, Windermere.
Dinner and a Show
For about two years, The Chairman was a well-kept secret and a hole-in-the-wall jazz bar in the heart of Durban’s Point harbour. Then word got out about the eclectic décor, live jazz shows and excellent wine cellar. Owner Ndabo Langa is an architect and collector of beautiful things so The Chairman is a never-ending work in progress. Some exciting developments have included the addition of a wood-fired pizza oven and espresso machine. Be sure to try the mfino (a local type of spinach) pizza.
The Chairman 146 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Point.
Rise early and dine with Durban’s surfers at Surf Riders’ on the South Beach promenade. Surf Riders’ prides themselves on “just good chow” and all are welcome including dogs and beach bums with sandy feet. Bring your laidback, surfers’ attitude and the slow service won’t detract from the atmosphere and oysters.
Surf Riders’ Food Shack 17 Erskine Terrace, Durban.
“Taste freedom” at this quirky café built in a bright red shipping container. The stylish, off-beat décor and the fusion dishes served at Freedom are fun and contemporary. Lose track of time over mimosa’s and chakalaka (South African homemade salsa) eggs benedict while checking your mail or chatting under the wild fig tree. Freedom Café shares a quiet courtyard with the equally cool Concierge Boutique Bungalows hotel.
Freedom Café Greyville Village
There’s nothing quite like enjoying the taste of fresh seafood with the smell of the sea in your nose. The deck of Jack Salmon Fish House overlooks the Indian Ocean and the seafood platters are excellent.
South Africans love a local fish called snoek, it may be bony but it’s big, juicy and perfect for throwing on the braai. Battered, fried snoek wrapped in newspaper from the local takeaway is also a treat. At the Fish Plaice be sure to ask for salt n’ vinegar on your snoek and slaptjips (fries).
Jack Salmon Fish House, Shop 15, Glenore Centre, 1 Aubrey Drive, Glenashley.
The Fish Plaice, Tinsley House, 219 Musgrave Road, Durban. / 47 Ashley Avenue, Durban.
Distillery031 is Durban’s very first artisanal local distillery that produces ‘031’ absinthe, vodka, gin and tonic water. Owner and distiller Andrew Rall has opened a trendy, industrial-style restaurant in the distillery that serves modern pub food and creative cocktails. Distillery031 also hosts great live music acts and events on the first Thursday of every month. Just downstairs, local ales are brewed at That Brewing Co. S43, the attached restaurant and bar, is a guaranteed good night out. Unity Bar & Brasserie is under the same ownership as S43 and takes their beer very seriously. Unity pours a selection of craft beers from the rest of the country and world. Their first love is definitely all things local however. Even DEW, the water sold at Unity, is locally harvested from water vapour.
Distillery031 The Foundry, 43 Station Drive, Durban.
S43 Home to the Brewing Co. The Foundry, 43 Station Drive, Durban.
Unity Bar & Brasserie. Silvervause Centre, 117 Silverton Road, Durban.