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How does the South African Accommodation industry work

There is no international grading system. This does make it difficult for international travellers. To make it easier to understand, we have tried to put together some important points for you to note.


Most reputable accommodation establishments in South Africa are graded from one through to five stars and, if they are formally graded, they will show the TGCSA (Tourism Grading Council of South Africa) star logo. The local grading system iis well managed and quite stringent. Graded establishments are inspected annually; pay an annual renewal fee and have to maintain strict standards. Four and five star establishments generally offer everything a visitor could wish for and, in my own personal experience, visitors will find that a four-star establishment in South Africa offers similar facilities to a five-star establishment in Europe. Three-star accommodation is more than adequate for business and leisure accommodation. While perhaps lacking a few minor luxuries, three-star accommodation establishments are usually adequate and comfortable. Two-star and lower are recommended for those visitors who are quite happy to lower their standards in order to keep to a budget. These are still graded and required to meet certain standards.

Accommodation types

The type of accommodation establishment is usually indicated by the name. Starting with Hotel; Boutique Hotel; Game Reserve and Country Lodge, it is recommended that visitors visit the establishment’s web-site to understand the differences. For example what is a Guest House and what is a Bed and Breakfast? At a Guest House, like Riverbend in East London, one is assured of separate access and dedicated guest facilities whereas, while exclusive facilities are common, this is not always the case when one books at a B&B. Some smaller establishments might not offer room service or lunch and evening meals, some do, and some might not advertise this but will assist guests with full meals on request. Again, it is important to clear this up. The last thing a visitor want to happen is to find himself in a small town, with no restaurants and an accommodation establishment which doesn’t supply meals or perhaps something to drink.  


Address, location and safety

Travellers should be concerned about safety and security at all times, particularly when travelling abroad. East London and South Africa is no different from anywhere else in the world. Visitors are advised to avoid unknown places, particularly at night. Your host will gladly give you advice on where to go and what to do. Keep your valuables in a secure place at all times. Good quality accommodation establishments generally offer a lockable safe in each room or will offer to keep your valuables for safekeeping.

Google maps and other online services should be used to ensure that you book your accommodation at an establishment which is located in a safe area or one convenient to the sites and attractions which you would like to visit. Planning is half the fun of travelling. The advantages of the internet are there to assist you with your travel planning.

Travel guide