Although there are green shoots of renewal emerging, a fully fledged renaissance of SA’s third-most populous city is far from assured. I stayed at Curiocity, on the first floor of Ambassador House, an Art Deco beauty on Monty Naicker Road just a few minutes’ walk from the Durban International Convention Centre and the central business district (CBD). It is roomy, clean and classy, an effortless overlaying of the old and grand with the young and hip. While it had spacious dorms (R225 a bed per night), single rooms from R690 feature a double bed and desk. It’s great for business people on a budget who are sick of cookie-cutter corporate lodgings. I liked working in the airy, parquet-floored lounge, tapping away under a naked incandescent bulb with a symphony of street sounds flooding in from huge sash windows. Pulling pints of local craft brew Poison City from behind the brise soleil bar, the friendly staff bantered with the foreign backpackers lolling on Scandi-style sofas. That morn...

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