FIVE SEXY SAFARIS BRINGING HIGH DESIGN TO THE SAVANNAH

After an epic day of game drives out in the bush, sometimes sleeping in a tent just won’t do. Here we round up a bunch of sensational retreats where well-considered design comes first.


SINGITA LEBOMBO
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

Leading South African design studio Cécile & Boyd is behind the stunning new look of this lodge, which re-opened last summer after a carefully considered revamp (the studio has designed the rest of the group’s lodges, too). The 13 low-slung contemporary suites are perched on the cliff-top overlooking the N’Wanetsi River. Each has wooden floors, thatched roofs and glass walls that invite the outside in, and a complementary unfussy colour palette of calming shades of grey. It’s homely too, thanks to the smudged inky artworks, glazed earthenware, stone-washed linens and soft, gauzy drapes that hang from the ceiling.

All photos courtesy of Singita Lebombo.


SEGERA RETREAT
KENYA

When LIFE Interiors Architecture were tasked with transforming an existing Wilderness Safaris property in Laikipia into Segera Retreat for entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz, finding the best way to display his extensive collection of African art was critical. Much of the collection is spread across the 50,000 acre private reserve in the six stilted timber and thatch villas (which come with sunken outdoor baths on the deck, wooden floors and huge, wooden four-posters), as well as the restored stable-cum-gallery. To add drama to the flat landscape, two mud-clad totems and a wine tower with a glass oculus were also built.

All photos courtesy of Segera Retreat.


SABI SABI BUSH LODGE
SABI SAND RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA

A stay at Bush Lodge is quite literally like journeying through Africa. Fresh from a recent re-design, it has been filled with unique pieces collected by founders Hilton and Jacqui Loon on their travels across the continent and visualised by Jo’burg-based Derrick Tabbert Interiors. There’s an ornate, carved desk reminiscent of Arabic traders from Northern Africa; an oversized Chesterfield sofa on the monochrome tiled floor of the reception; huge brass and canvas lamps that illuminate the high thatched ceiling and original African paintings hanging on the walls.

All photos courtesy of Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge.


FOUR SEASONS SERENGETI
TANZANIA

Life at this 77-room lodge centres around the main two-storey house, which has been decorated in contemporary African style: there are leather armchairs and artworks in the lobby, plush suites with four-posters, huge walk-in wardrobes and elevated open-air sundecks with wicker furniture. Here, it’s all about neutral colours and materials, which have been pepped up with the odd brightly woven rug or cushion and black and white wildlife photography on the walls. There’s also a natural watering hole beneath the swimming pool, where herds of elephants often turn up for a drink and a spa – ideal after a day out spotting the Big Five.

All photos courtesy of Four Seasons Serengeti.


ZULU CAMP
SHAMBALA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA

Rustic French antiques might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to furnishing a lodge in the African bush; yet somehow, when paired with lavish en-suite bathrooms, they work wonderfully well in the eight honeycomb-shaped huts at Zulu Camp – sister property to The Saxon hotel in Jo’burg. The huts themselves are constructed in traditional Zulu materials to blend seamlessly into the landscape; while the bedrooms have been kitted out with wooden ottomans, French armoires and the finest linens.

All photos courtesy of Zulu Camp.


London-based freelance journalist Emma Love specialises in writing about interiors, design and travel for titles such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller, where she is a contributing editor. She also writes for publications such as the Financial Times and the Guardian.