Chain Hotels, Local Guesthouses, and Camping
South Africa has a variety of different accommodation options and you will find many western chains throughout the country. There is a very organized star rating system for hotels in South Africa, so you can generally be very confident in the level of facilities you can expect during your trip. The system is voluntary, but most hotels choose to submit themselves to this system. If you're interested in experiencing more of the natural environment you will find many campgrounds throughout the country. They're a great, budget option for travelers looking for a different type of experience. If you're interested in staying at a western chain, you will find many in South Africa including Best Western and Holiday Inn. National chains include African Sun and Protea Hotels, both of which are generally reliable options.
Options for Every Budget
There are a variety of budget accommodation choices throughout South Africa. If you're interested in traveling on a budget you can find many ways to strategically save money in this country. Backpacking lodges are one option. You'll find these facilities sprinkled throughout the country. They generally cater to the budget conscience and are a good place to book a budget tour if that is your interest. These hotels typically cater to a younger crowd, and if you're in a remote area they may also include meals with the price of the room. Ask ahead of time to confirm this. They often come equipped with kitchens as well so you could cook for yourself.
If the backpacker lodge isn't your style, camping is a great way to save some money and truly experience the country's environment. South Africa has a descent amount of facilities for campers so this is a realistic option for many people.
The Rating System
South Africa has a very well organized rating system for its hotels. There is a voluntary system run by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Hotels submit themselves to the grading system where they receive a score as follows:
1 star - Clean, comfortable and basic.
2 star - Good: Descent furnishings, service and guest care.
3 star - Very good: Nicer furnishings, service and guest care.
4 star - Superior: Excellent comfort and very high quality furnishings, service and guest care.
5 star - Exceptional: Top of the line quality and luxurious accommodation to match the best international standards. Flawless service and guest care.
Because the system if voluntary, some hotels may not have a star rating, but the system is quite popular so most hotels have chosen to participate.
In addition to hotels, South Africa also has options including bed and breakfasts, backpacker lodges, guesthouses and camping. The variety of options in South Africa means you should do some research ahead of time to ensure you're staying in the type of facility that most meets your needs.
Cape Town is a beautiful, modern city with a lot to offer travelers. Because of it's popularity with all types of travelers you will find plenty of sleeping options. There is no shortage of hostels sprinkled throughout the city. Bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, and luxury hotels are all available as well. If you choose to stay in the city center you will be conveniently close to most of the main attractions. Many visitors find that, although the price of the room may be slightly more, ultimately they pay less to stay downtown because the cost of transportation is at a minimum. If you still want that convenience, but want to pay a little less then you can stay in a neighborhood just outside of the city. This will also be a much quieter and peaceful option. If you're looking for a trendy area with a lot of cafes and a young atmosphere head to Kloof Street in Gardens/Tamboerskloof. Other popular options include some of the suburbs to the south such as Muizenberg, Fish Hoek or Simon's Town. If you head to the western seaboard you will find the prices to be substantially higher.
Some travelers find Johannesburg to be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. It's great to find a hotel or hostel that you are comfortable with so you have a peaceful retreat to come home to. Research your neighborhood to make sure it's a safe and good option before you make a reservation. Also consider paying a little more if it will give you some peace of mind.
There are plenty a great hostels spread throughout the city. Some are located near the airport if you're flying in and out quickly. Others are more conveniently located for those visitors who hope to spend more time in the city. Many places offer airport or train station pickup for a small price. Consider going with this option because it will give you peace of mind and will make your arrival much smoother and enjoyable.
You'll find any type of accommodation you could want in the city. If a place seems too good to be true, do some research and make sure it has positive reviews. There are some great value options available, but question anything that seems too cheap. In general, you are likely to be very satisfied with your choice in Johannesburg though, as most people are pleasantly surprised upon their arrival.