Hotel check: Docklands Hotel

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Background

The Docklands Hotel on the Durban Waterfront is one of the newer developments on the rejuvenated Point Waterfront, and is part of the Signature Life Hotels group. It’s been open since May 2010 and sells itself as a contemporary, urban property, perhaps more suited to the business, rather than the leisure traveller.

Where is it?

The hotel is a wharfside industrial building across from Durban Harbour, on the corner of Mahatma Gandhi (formerly Point) Road and Browns Road. It’s a couple of hundred metres from uShaka Marine World, which has a number of bars and restaurants, and plenty of entertainment for children, in the form of water activities. There’s also a hotel shuttle that runs to uShaka. The hotel is approximately 10 minutes drive from the Durban CBD and about a 30-minute drive from King Shaka International Airport.

What’s it Like?

From an appearance point of view, the hotel is clean, chic, contemporary and urban, with stark, minimalist décor. The staff are helpful, the food is good, without being outstanding, the rooms are adequately sized and the location is convenient, if conducting business in the CBD. Alternatively, the hotel is well situated if you’re looking for something close to the Durban Harbour or beaches.

Room Facilities

There are 83 air-conditioned rooms and the one I stayed in I’d describe as ‘medium sized’, with not too much extra space for additional furniture, besides the large, comfortable bed, work table and chair in the corner. However, the rooms do make use of their limited space, with a simply-designed hanging space and shelves for clothing and an open-plan bathroom that leads off the entrance passage. The contemporary feel is most prevalent in the bathroom, with some funky finishings and a large ‘power’ shower, which was definitely one of the highlights of the accommodation. Besides that, nice, crisp linen on the comfortable bed, along with flat-screen TV (with selected satellite channels), Internet connection, tea/coffee-making facilities and a view of either the harbour or the Indian Ocean, depending on what room you get.

Business & Conference Facilities

The hotel has three large conference venues – Dockside, Shoreside and Harbourside – and can cater for small groups to larger groups covering 600 delegates.
Dockside – Schoolroom style (70 delegates); Banquet (100); Cinema (140)
Shoreside – Schoolroom (250); Banquet (250); Cinema (400)
Harbourside – Schoolroom (70); Banquet (60); Cinema (100)
The hotel offers secure undercover parking and the large central courtyard provides opportunities for breakaway groups and tea breaks.

Restaurants & Bars

The on-site restaurant is called Wodka and is punted as a ‘New York-style bistro’ by the hotel. Again, there’s the focus on the contemporary, chic feel, although the table settings were more ‘old school’ and classic. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, such as lamb dim sum, five spice duck and Cantonese pork belly, as well as light lunches such as lamb burger, prawn wrap and teppanyaki selection. I didn’t have lunch or dinner at the restaurant, during my stay, although I did have breakfast, which, whilst tasty and comprehensive, was a little disappointing, in that my eggs were cold. Guests can also eat or enjoy evening drinks in the adjacent courtyard, which is situated in the middle of the hotel complex.

Verdict

A nice addition to the rejuvenated area in Durban and I was actually quite taken by the urban, industrial design and feel. Besides my cold eggs, the menu looked pretty impressive and extensive and the general contemporary feel made for a relaxed stay, without feeling pretentious. Most importantly, the accommodation was extremely comfortable and the emphasis on a nice, big shower space and ‘power’ shower will certainly be well-received by the business traveller.

Fact File

Address: 40 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Durban Waterfront,+27 31 332 8190, signaturelifehotels.com

Dylan Rogers