Voted one of Conde Nast’s Top 20 Resorts in the World, the ultra-luxurious Royal Malewane is a secluded luxury retreat that exudes old-world charm in impeccable, graceful and refined colonial style, and sits perfectly in harmony with its natural surroundings.
It feels incredibly intimate, with only six luxury one-bedroom suites and two royal suites.
Set inside the Thornybush Private Game Reserve, the Royal Malewane is part of a reserve created by a consortium of landowners, that is open to the Greater Kruger National Park. The closest airport is Hoedspruit, Hoedspruit a 45-munite drive away and Royal Malewane also has its own private airstrip, the Jackalberry Airstrip.
The Royal Malewane team greets us warmly like old friends, introducing themselves as we sip our welcome drink.
The lodge is a spacious open-plan pavilion on a raised deck overlooking a large watering hole— where we are told the elephants come to drink. We soon find out how very true this is, an absolutely incredible sight! Persian rugs line the floor, comfortable armchairs in leather and plush fabrics add a pop of colour. It’s all very cosy and luxurious; definitely, a place for lingering. An open fire flanked by drinks cabinets is a particularly intimate and inviting corner—the dining room, the shop, and the library lead from the living area. Steps down to a deck with seating and a boma, with further steps to the bar, and a broad walk to the suites and the spa.
Very excitingly, animals roam freely throughout the property. Walking from the reception area to our suite was especially exciting. Kudu, Impala, and Nyala lined the raised curvaceous wooden boardwalk.
The villa is quite charming in a traditional colonial style, ready and waiting for its guests to step in and enjoy.
A bottle of bubbles sits chilled in an ice bucket. Sherry also awaits on a silver salver by the fire, a lovely touch that will, I’m sure, be most welcome after our game drive. Taking center stage is the fabulously romantic safari’esque mosquito-netted mahogany four-poster bed that is deliciously and temptingly dressed in pure white linen. It looks incredibly squishy and luxuriant. As tempting as it is, we have much to do and explore.
A white love seat and more Persian rugs and armchairs upholstered in a bright floral print, with richly patinated wooden furniture, everything and more than you could need, including a fully stocked bar with lime and ginger ready to zing up our tipples of choice. With views to the private outdoor terrace and the lush greenery—you know you are in the bush. The bathroom, as the rest of the suite overlooks the raised deck, the plunge pool, and the bush- where once more, we find our furry friends dining below us. The huge windows mean you’re on 24-hour safari. We are hoping for an elephant or two to come and sip from our pool! We are shown indentations made by the elephants coming to drink from our pool!
It’s all rather heavenly. I could relax here for days, but my massage awaits. The Spa is voted Best Safari Spa in Africa, and Mary, my therapist, fully intuits my body’s needs. I leave feeling restored and re-energised and raring to go. It’s safari time.
The Royal Malewane is renowned for its master trackers and rangers. They have the most qualified and experienced guiding team in Africa, led by Master Tracker Juan Pinto. Malewane has three of seven living Master Trackers in the world and the only three in the entire Greater Kruger National Park.
Together with our ranger we drove into the bush in search of lions and leopards. Sadly the leopard remained elusive; but the lions more than made up for it! Just to be in the bush with the sounds of the wildlife is magical on its own. Then the clouds darkened, thunder rumbled ever closer, lighting streaks flashed across the sky. We could see the rain lashing down behind us and made a dash to the lodge; the rain poured down just as we stepped over the threshold.
Other guests are not so fortunate and arrive drenched but exhilarated. We missed our sundowners in the bush so instead we cosy up at the fireside with a delicious Cabernet. And what a magical evening we had.
We had a heavenly stay at the Royal Malewane. There are no fixed times and no fixed menus; you can have what you want, when you want, where you want. It is incredibly indulgent and relaxing, with the added excitement of the ever-present wildlife on your doorstep plus of course, great food, an Afro-Mediterranean menu makes use of local ingredients, and sublime service that is relaxed and friendly.
Here it’s all about the extreme landscapes outside and the cosy, homey atmosphere inside.