The Bel Aire is in a converted building of flats designed in the 1950s by the noted Durban architect Reginald Charles Buck, who died earlier this year. The building's modernist facade incorporates mosaics patterned on Zulu bead work, one of the few modern buildings of its time to incorporate traditional African design (and one of the few even now that does it effectively).
If this building were in Miami Beach, it, along with the rest of the beachfront, with its many Art Deco gems, would get a lot more attention and respect that it currently does.
The owners have done a modest renovation but have kept the essentials of the building in place. The rooms are functional, with utilitarian and inexpensive furnishings.The tacky and peeling blue film on the windows for sun control should go and a different solution sought. The rooms themselves need repairing. For instance, the bolt lock on our door did not work because the wooden latch that the bolt goes into has been broken away.
The owners do themselves a disservice by listing this as a a 4* property, because it raises expectations beyond what is currently delivered. The hangars in the closet are of the 2* variety (the hanger detaches form the hook so they cannot be stolen) and the TV channels offered are heavy on sports and the free or least expensive news channels (Chinese government channel - CCTV but no BBC, CNN, or Al Jazeera. The room is clean but basic.
Staff are friendly and helpful.The manager Bradley was particularly helpful in finding out details of surfboard lessons
The free breakfast was in a room in back, rather than the vibey streetside Cafe Jiran, where the action was. With investment this could be a 4* hotel.
The hotel is right across from the Beach, and within walking distance of uShaka Marine World and other beachfront attractions.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Belaire Suites offers Luxury Furnished Self Catering Apartments and is located on Durban’s Beachfront between Battery and North Beaches. We are situated right on the beachfront with the majority of our rooms enjoying panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and Golden Beaches. The side facing rooms have side sea views of the north and south respectively. On a clear day Umhlanga Rocks in the north to the Bluff in the South can be seen. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Belaire Hotel Durban