The famous Hilton brand made Durban its home 20 years ago. Its towering glass building can be seen almost anywhere in the Durban Central district. It’s perfect spot for business guests, couples and families wanting a slice of city life, while still enjoying the pleasures of five star excellence.
General Manager Markus Fritz recently sent me an invitation to spend a night at the hotel to mark their 20th milestone this year. I was greeted by Obed Mbatha, a long serving staff at the hotel. Obed has a series of badges on his uniform, which he collects from guests who visit. The badges weigh around 7kgs. Obed ushers me to the reception area where check in awaits.
Hilton’s abstract beauty allows for creative interpretation of its decor and art forms.
Catering to a local theme, the hotel tries to innovate their looks to allow guests to experience the beauty of the city and its culture.
Using South African designers, the hotel maintains a local feel. My personal favourite is the Nelson Mandela black and white artwork on the ground floor. Mandela was the one who officially opened the hotel in 1997 and it was decided after his death that there needed to be something to honour his work in South Africa.
My sea facing room was on the 11th floor. Known as the executive level, rooms are generally aimed at the working professional.
My room was cosy. Inside was a fully equipped marble bathroom, twin beds, a giant TV and a work desk.
The amenities are set around luxury. If you get a sea facing room, you experience views of the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban beachfront and may see local faces on their patio at one of the flats nearby. If you are a foodie like myself, you will enjoy the great dining options. The high tea at Coral Lounge on Saturday is a must try if you looking to indulge in an afternoon treat. I tucked into their tempura prawns, basil and cheese croissants and their chocolate mousse delight.
The Big Easy is great for after work cocktails or special dinners. During my night though I found the staff a bit abrasive, but the food made up for it.
Newly launched Vascos serves up a mean breakfast buffet with health and coffee shots on offer.
One of my favorite spots at the Hilton is its Business Lounge. It's facilities cater for some great business networking while catching up on some much needed work. The fresh food on offer is an added perk. Hilton staff are great spirits, checking in with guests from time to time. The personalized service is one to remember.
During an interview with Fritz, he said the hotel will have accommodation specials, with rates dropping to the price they were in 1997, sometime this year.
“People have expectations when they hear the Hilton name and our aim is to exceed it. The Durban brand is unlike any other Hilton. It incorporates KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu culture and its beautiful beaches.
“We want people who visit to experience a local and authentic experience,” he said. So as my time at Hilton came to an end, I poured myself a glass of red to celebrate this iconic hotel.
PS: Hilton plans to set up more hotels in Durban, but no official dates have been set.