Umhlanga is a zone of continuous construction these days, so it’s hard to imagine that, not so long ago, the area around the de facto business centre of Durban was just kilometre after kilometre of emerald-green sugarcane.

These verdant hills and valleys are what hotel magnate Sol Kerzner would have seen — along with the odd beach cottage and one or two small hotels — when he decided to build the Beverly Hills Hotel on the Umhlanga beachfront in the early 1960s. This was his first resort and, as we know, it kicked off a bit of a run.

The old gal opened her doors in 1964 and has since then been swamped by a slew of flashier and trashier hotels along the promenade.

But the Beverly Hills is still the classy, peachy-pink dame of yesteryear. She’s got the mid-century exterior, a pool and views to envy, and staff who adore her. Some of them are lifers, having worked there for more than 30 years. It’s their home and they make you feel it could be yours too.

We have it on good authority that heads of state, kings (especially the local kind) and influencers love to take over the gigantic penthouse. We’d rather choose Cabana 10, a spacious apartment at the very edge of the hotel. It’s got a big balcony and is rather chic, with a more contemporary interior than the rest of the hotel. We’re not too enamoured with the high-shine fabrics and overzealous use of brown elsewhere in the building.

Dinners at the hotel’s Sugar Club are excellent and retro — you can even have prawns flambéed at your table. This is also where the hotel’s killer breakfast buffet is served. Banish the thought of sad, spongy scrambled eggs; there is everything you could imagine on offer — including an actual block of honeycomb to pick from.

The Bev is an SA icon and the ideal weekend-away splurge.

* The writer was a guest of the hotel. For more info visit