Urban Enticements
Reaching Africa’s remote safari destinations is an exercise in patience and stamina. The attempt to link international carrier flight schedules with those of domestic bush planes is likely to mandate an overnight or two in safari gateway cities like Nairobi in Kenya, or Johannesburg or Cape Town in South Africa. Use these long layovers to embrace exceptional spa experiences beyond the bush.

Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg

An oasis of calm in South Africa’s largest city, this hilltop bastion looks out to sweeping views over the city and surrounding forests. Courtyard fountains and flower gardens cover the sprawling property, which includes a world-class spa idyllic for recharging—both physically and mentally—between the long haul to and from Africa.

Within the nearly 13,000-square-foot spa complex, find a sleek lap pool flanked by transitional indoor-outdoor relaxation spaces, a hot-and-cold hydrotherapy circuit, and an outdoor lounge for hillside après spa (the only one of its kind in Johannesburg) where fresh juices and libations are delivered to umbrella-capped chaise loungers. Book the signature 90-minute Uplifting Journey, rooted in African traditions and designed specifically to combat jet lag by using invigorating Marula herb–infused body oils, soothing gentle strokes, and a tension-relieving pressure point foot and scalp massage. For pre- or post-safari, try the Journey Through Africa, which commences with a botanical body buff, followed by a herb-rich poultice massage to promote a deep state of relaxation. fourseasons.com

Giraffe Manor

Along the wooded outskirts of Nairobi, this boutique property is best known for granting its guests intimate face time with the Rothschild’s giraffe. The grounds of the classic, English-style manor are home to a resident herd of the subspecies, part of a breeding program to repopulate Kenya’s national parks. A whirlwind overnight stay here is underscored by afternoon tea and breakfast with the giraffes, during which guests can hand-feed the gentle giants and take countless selfies.

The only downside to a stay here is the no-exceptions, strict check-out time (10 a.m.), effectively capping the hours of giraffe rhapsody. But thanks to the August 2021 debut of wellness complex The Retreat at Giraffe Manor, guests can linger longer. Open exclusively to Giraffe Manor guests (and those coming from The Safari Collection’s three other properties in the Kenyan bush) are a 70-foot infinity pool, rooftop garden, lounge, café, complete spa facility (inclusive of treatment rooms plus a steam room, sauna, and hot tub), gymnasium, and four day rooms, each tastefully decorated to honor all things giraffe. The small but excellent treatment menu ranges from deep-tissue massages to traditional facials with products by African spa brand Healing Earth. The local family enterprise, Cinnabar Green, produces oils and serums from herbs grown in the foothills of Mount Kenya. thesafaricollection.com

Ellerman House

South Africa’s hip coastal metropolis, Cape Town, promises enough city-style excitement (and access to wine country) to merit a multiple-day visit. But it also impresses as a restorative layover destination, where gentle ocean breezes and sheer natural splendor soothe the mind, body, and soul.

Guests will find this refined, 15-key boutique property overlooking the Atlantic Ocean rooted in history, art, and wellness. Located in the picturesque residential neighborhood of Bantry Bay, mornings begin outdoors with a complimentary yoga session (suitable for all levels) followed by a swim in the heated, ocean-view lap pool. Book a session in the small-but-mighty four-room spa, where massage treatments range from Swedish to Bellabaci to lymphatic drainage and facials using the medical-grade skincare line QMS. For travelers in transit, the spa recommends the Ellerman House Signature Facial by QMS, which revives dehydrated and jet-lagged skin using a three-step process: a skin-restoring mask, a firming massage with a collagen-boosting serum, and an oxygen infusion for skin cell renewal. ellerman.co.za