Re-visiting a bygone era at Selborne Hotel , Spa and Golf Estate

Given a choice of vacation destinations and activities, my children would choose to go to the beach, my husband would rather play golf and I would prefer to spend my time in a nature reserve or a spa. Fortunately for us, Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate, offered all of these.

Selborne Hotel Private Beach House

Private Beach House

The location

Based in the coastal town of Pennington in the beautiful South Coast of KwaZulu Natal, less than an hour away from Durban, the estate lies within one of only two privately-owned coastal forested areas in South Africa. As with most of the coastal areas in KwaZulu Natal, they are home to troops of vervet monkeys but also to various species of antelopes and birds. We saw an antelope lurking in the trees, observing us, as we were en route to our room one evening.

Selborne Hotel Lobby


Some history

Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate has its roots in South Africa’s colonial history. Built in 1954, it was named after Lord Selborne, the first owner, who was the Secretary for the Colonies. Originally a private residence, it was later purchased by Denis Barker, a dairy farmer, in 1979. He first used it as a stud farm. A few years later, after playing golf at a residential golf estate in the United States, he decided to transform it into the first residential golf estate in South Africa. This idea was then replicated many times throughout South Africa and these days, we have an abundance of golf estates around the country.

The hotel is now managed by First Hotels and Resorts, which is better known for its timeshare resorts. This is the first hotel in their portfolio and they have beautifully restored it to its former glory while still retaining the elegance and charm of a bygone era.

Selborne Hotel

The staircase in the lobby

The estate

The estate consists of a golf course, a residential golf estate and a hotel. The rooms are spread out over the vast property, amid the landscaped sub-tropical gardens and water features. Rooms are in the Manor House (the original building), the gardens or on the fairways. All have great views. The Presidential Suite is where special guests and honeymooners stay and is on the top floor of the Manor House. A wellness spa, also in the Manor House, offers a wide variety of treatments and has a sauna and a beautiful relaxation room. Selborne often hosts weddings and conferences and has a chapel and adequate reception venues.

Selborne Hotel Spa

Relaxation Room at the Spa

There is an enormous pool which is beautifully lit at night for those fancying a night time dip during the summer evenings as well as a floodlit tennis court.

Selborne Hotel Swimming pool

Swimming pool

The public areas

I adored the opulent lobby with its beautifully crafted staircase, and fine oak panelling, window panes and flooring originally imported from England. The grandfather clock in the corner chimed periodically adding to the old-world ambience. The lobby leads into the elegant Hunter’s Lounge, another nostalgic place to relax in, where high tea is often served. The piano in the corner of the lounge evoked images of lords and ladies gathering in days gone by. When we arrived at the hotel, my husband and children wasted no time in making themselves comfortable there, while I was shown around the hotel. I arrived to find them engrossed in a game of chess with the hotel’s quirky chess set.

Selborne Hotel Hunters Lounge

Hunters Lounge

Our rooms

Our rooms were in a garden bungalow on the far end of the gardens near the pool. We had two inter-leading en-suite rooms for our family – one for the kids and one for us. It was perfect as we could have our privacy while keeping an eye on them too. The rooms were large and had balconies overlooking the lush gardens. Each bed was big enough for four people and we had dressing tables, wardrobes and sitting areas too. We also had a TV again, after four days in the bush. Pillow menus lay on our bedside tables. The bathrooms had showers and bath tubs, which the kids were quite happy to have bubble baths in.

Selborne Hotel Room

Our room

We were welcomed with a generous platter of cheese and crackers, a fruit platter and a hand written note from the General Manager. I loved the personal touch and my kids wasted no time in attacking the platters. In the evenings, we would return to our rooms to find that our beds had been turned down and luxurious towelling gowns, slippers and night time treats had been laid out on them. The hotel is graded 4-stars although after experiencing it, my travel-savvy children proclaimed that it should be graded 5-stars.

Selborne Hotel room

Welcome treats

The food

The hotel offers fine dining at The Lord Selborne Restaurant and casual dining on The Terrace overlooking the gardens. We had a delicious breakfast at the restaurant, consisting of eggs, creamy mushrooms, fresh juice and freshly-baked pastries, before setting out in the mornings.

Selborne Hotel terrace

The Terrace

The golf

The championship golf course at Selborne, is known as the Augusta of South Africa as it was designed along similar lines to the Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, USA. My husband played golf here while I took the kids to the beach. He was suitably impressed and found it to be a stunning course offering a great combination of challenge and picturesque beauty.

Selborne Hotel golf course

The Golf Course

The beach

The hotel is 3 kilometres away from Pennington Beach, a Blue Flag beach. Selborne Hotel has its own private beach house with restrooms and a swimming pool at the beach. I took the kids to the beach for the day where they had great fun playing in the water and building sand castles. In between playing, we took breaks at the beach house.

Pennington Beach

Pennington Beach

In conclusion

As you can see, Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate has a lot to offer. But one of the main things that stood out for me is that management was actively involved in the running of the hotel and the staff look motivated and happy – something that I don’t always experience. And happy staff = great service!

For more information, visit Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate or book here.

Here is a short video on Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate

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16 comments on “Re-visiting a bygone era at Selborne Hotel , Spa and Golf Estate”

  1. This is quite contrary to our experience 1 week ago. Hardly a 4 star! I think the economy has bitten hard here, Very disappointing🙁

  2. What a beautiful hotel, I would love to stay there. The golf does not interest me but I would love to spend time in the pool or on the beach 🙂

  3. I am a big fan of Heritage Hotel stays and Selbourne Hotel with its colonial architecture is just that. Loved the interiors of the Hunter's Lounge and also the Bedroom, definitely takes you back in time. It's great that the hotel offers a little something for everyone, the whole ambience of the hotel is perfect for a family retreat and the beach nearby is an added bonus :).

  4. That place has a nice ambiance. With touch of class and luxury, this place makes for a perfect holiday retreat. A golf estate is something new to me, however this place looks charming and elegant and place to stay even if you don't play golf.

  5. I'm sure I read that you saw an antelope observing you from the trees whilst walking to your room! I'm not sure if that is good or bad! I wouldn't like to hit the ball into the rough whilst playing! I'm not sure I'd be confident enough to go get it. The estate looks like a great getaway, I'll consider it next time I go on a golf holiday with my brother. We'll have to be playing well though, to avoid too many trips into the rough!

    1. Haha, I did see an antelope observing us from the trees but it looked too nervous to come nearer to us. Even if you don't want to play golf, this will make a great getaway.

    1. The great thing is that the area in which the hotel is situated has been voted the best value for money destination in South Africa so the price is surprisingly reasonable for such a nice hotel. The weather is great all year round too. And the restaurant does have good vegetarian food. You can see current prices here: .

  6. That place has a nice ambiance. With touch of class and luxury, this place makes for a perfect holiday retreat.

  7. There is nothing more relaxing and breathtaking than golf estates like this. It looks so relaxing and a great place to unwind for the weekend. The beautiful decor and the relaxing pool look so inviting!

  8. Beautiful! I am big fan of classy style in general and this hotel looks really impressive. In combination with this beach - just perfect! Also it doesn't really look so crowded there, would be perfect kind of vacation for me.

  9. Great you found a place that balanced both of your travel needs. I'm not into golf, but I'd love all the wildlife and nature. The beach looks absolutely gorgeous and how nice to have access to a restroom when you are traveling with kids 😉 I love the decor of the hotel -- it's lovely, but comfy and inviting.

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