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Sunday 1 October 2017

A trip back to my youth - done in style

I spent a considerable slice of my youth hanging around the Durban beachfront.

I had many friends who were surfers (I wasn't) and at night I was a habitué of several of the bars on the "glamour strip" overlooking the Indian Ocean.

The Cat's Whiskers at Claridges, upstairs at the Malibu, dancing to Irish showbands, or the exotica of drive-in dining at the Cuban Hat. Durban was a great place to be young, single and the soccer writer for a local paper.

The chicest venue in town back then was the Elangeni Hotel, which opened in 1971 and had a distinctly European vibe. It was our Monte Carlo.

It was here, I believe that I first tasted cocktail spare ribs, the start of a life-long love affair with sweet, porky goodness. I developed a bit of a taste for wine, as well. Couldn't find those ribs on a menu this time around.

When I visited a few months back I found the Elangeni has been merged with the next-door five-star hotel, the Maharani, and the high-rise complex remains a key address for anyone visiting South Africa's third-largest city.

Durban remains an engagingly chaotic and intoxicating mixture of Indian, Zulu and European cultures.

The hotel is close to drawcards including the Golden mile of the beachfront, uShaka Marine World, a water theme park and one of the largest aquariums in the world, and the striking Moses Mabhida Stadium, used for the World Cup.

For those wanting sea views, and to be based within walking distance of several eateries and attractions, the busy and bustling Elangeni-Maharani complex remains a major drawcard.

Completely refurbed a few years ago, it offers comfortable accommodation with ocean views and a choice of three heated swimming pools along with 734 rooms, a spa facility and those essentials, free wifi and secure parking.

There are six cosmopolitan restaurants, bars and lounges with engaging African service. I was in a hurry, spending only one night, and opted to go to the soccer (Kaizer Chiefs were in town) rather than re-visit some of my old KwaZulu-Natal haunts. Next time.

Elangeni Maharani Hotel, 63 Snell Parade, North Beach, Durban, 4001, South Africa. +27 31 362 1300. 

South African Airways (SAA) has daily flights from all Australian cities via Perth to Johannesburg with direct connections to 29 African cities including Durban and all other major airports in South Africa. For more information see

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