Hotel check: Protea Hotel Hilton

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Backgroun

While the Protea Hotel Hilton is actually still in the process of being refurbished, I was invited to visit it and experience the new rooms which had been completed, along with a few other areas, in the first phase of the hotel’s refurbishment. In the first phase, 60 new rooms were added to the hotel. The second phase will see the 38 old rooms being upgraded.

What’s it Like?

Considering that I had just driven for about an hour through thick mist and bad weather from the King Shaka International Airport (after my flight had been delayed by almost two hours), seeing the lights of the hotel’s sign from Hilton road was like a dream come true, and I hoped that I wouldn’t be disappointed once the dream became reality. I wasn’t. It was about half an hour away from midnight, yet the staff were polite and energetic. The hotel is spectacular both inside and out. The exterior gives an old world, almost country-home feel, but the interior is both chic and sophisticated.

Where is it?

As the name so aptly describes, the hotel is in Hilton – in fact, Number 1 Hilton Avenue. It is easy to find as it is a short distance from the highway. It is about 12 km out of Pietermaritzburg and serves as the gateway to the Midlands Meander Arts and Crafts route. While the location adds beautiful scenery to the backdrop of the hotel as well as tranquil surroundings, it is also quite convenient for business travellers and conference attendees. It is also close to a number of shopping malls and, of course, the many arts and crafts attractions in the area.

Room Facilities

The rooms follow the same style and configuration as other new Protea properties, like the Fire and Ice! in Melrose Arch, and have all the basics you would expect from one of these hotels. However, there is no mini bar in the room, but room service is available. The bathroom is a bit different from other hotels that I have stayed in, in the groups’ portfolio, in that it is actually totally separate from the bedroom. It has a bath and shower (and the shower head is one of the top features.). While the layout of the room is similar to other hotels, the decor is very different. It dates back and has a bit of a colonial English look, but somehow manages to incorporate a modern, witty twist that you would find throughout the group’s hotels. A new feature in the newly added rooms is supposed to be temperature control, but I must add that despite turning the air-conditioner to the lowest temperature possible and putting the fan on high, the room was still warm and quite stuffy. The weather was quite cold outside, so I would imagine that this could become really uncomfortable on a hot summer’s day. There was also a flatscreen TV with selected satellite channels, a safe, and Internet connectivity.

Restuarants and Bars

The on-site restaurant was where we enjoyed breakfast and dinner buffets. The breakfast was a real treat, and a full spread was on offer, but I was not as excited about the dinner buffet and found the choice to be quite limited. The restaurant is elegant and the staff very helpful. Outdoor seating is available, but rainy weather made it impossible for me to experience alfresco dining. There is a bar at the hotel, with an English pub look and feel to it. It is the perfect spot for drinks after a long day or to watch an important sports game. The bar also sells beer from the nearby Nottingham Road Brewery.

Meeting Facilities

The hotel’s conference facility has also been renovated and can now cater for up to 250 delegates. The venue can be divided into three separate rooms if necessary for breakaway areas.

Leisure Facilities

There is a pool in the centre of the property, and some rooms, including mine, look out onto it. There is also a tennis court on site.

Verdict

The hotel really impressed me. It manages to give off that ‘home-away-from-home’ vibe, at the same time as being a professional and stylish property. It has a breathtaking and convenient location, and will surely be a popular choice for both business and leisure travellers.

Contact

Tel: +27 33 343 3311

Website: proteahotels.com

Chana Boucher