Port Elizabeth is a bustling multi-cargo port city, whose economy is diversifying and the city rapidly transforming. Here’s how to do the Friendly City in style.

PE Beach Front
PE Beach Front
Image: Bridget Hilton-Barber

BEST BOUTIQUE STAY Definitely No 5 Boutique Art Hotel in Summerstrand, possibly the most chic in the bay, and fully geared for VIPs and A- listers. The hotel has luxurious Art Deco décor and is designed to feel like a salon privé from those heady days in Paris in the 1920s. There is a Champagne Bar, a Piano Lounge and a Jazz Restaurant that looks out onto a slender pool and gracious courtyard. The rooms feature exquisite period glass ware and furniture and South African artworks. The collection is impressive: William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, SamNhlengethwa, Henk Serfontein. Of course there’s a cigar bar and a private 16-seater cinema. no5boutiquehotel.com

BEST STRESS-FREE BUSINESS STAY The grand and efficient five-star Boardwalk Hotel is the queen of the general Boardwalk hub, which includes the casino, restaurants and shopping area. Everything you need is right there, along with palm trees and ocean views. And the hotel is fully geared for executive travel. The suites are grand, there are extensive business facilities and the sunken lounge in the main reception area is a popular spot for local and visiting business people. suninternational.com/boardwalk

BEST RESTAURANT TO IMPRESS A CLIENT Head for Hacklewood Hill, one of the bay’s most notable eateries. Hacklewood has won a string of awards for its legendary cordon bleu cuisine, and has an impressive wine cellar housing a selection of imported white wines and champagnes, as well as a rare collection of vintage reds. Expect magnificent chandeliers, cut glass, crystal goblets, starched linen and full silver service. Booking essential. hacklewood.co.za

A FEW HOURS TO KILL Charter a helicopter and see Port Elizabeth and the bay from above. Look out for landmarks like the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Fly over the busy port of Algoa Bay, see the ships entering and leaving the harbour. If you head further up the coast you’ll see the glorious beaches of the sunshine coast and may even see whales or dolphins. helicoptercharter.co.za

Chopper Flight
Chopper Flight
Image: Supplied

BEST PLACE FOR A PRIVATE POOL PARTY Definitely the Boardwalk Hotel & Casino pool on the second floor. It’s determinedly old-fashioned and nautical but is a very popular spot for private functions, business or pleasure. There is a private bar and catering spot right there next to the pool. The Radisson Blu infinity pool on that hotel’s second floor, next to the bar, comes a close second. suninternational.com/boardwalk

Boardwalk Pool
Boardwalk Pool
Image: Bridget Hilton-Barber

BEST COCKTAILS AND JAZZ Head for the second floor of the sleek and modern Radisson Blu Hotel on Marine Drive. You can sit indoors in a private lounge or outdoors on the deck overlooking the ocean and infinity pool. The mirrored bar serves a range of interesting cocktails and you can also dine at the adjoining Tabu Grill which is popular on Sunday evenings when there is live jazz. radissonblu.com/en/hotel-portelizabeth

BEST WORKING COFFEE WITH A VIEW Ye Old Port Captain’s House has great harbour and ocean views and a selection of coffees from Kenya, Colombia, Sumatra and more. Sit outside on the deck or inside next to a fire in winter. Their restaurant cuisine is Mediterranean meets French and their presentation is innovative. portcaptainshouse.co.za

BEST EXOTIC SEA FOOD Fushin Sushi and Eastern Cuisine. Try the tempura prawns or Asian tapas; go exotic Australian eels, salmon from Norway, Alaskan snow crabs, and Peruvian scallops. Chef Mark Oosthuizen began his career working in various kitchens in Cape Town, receiving a thorough grounding in Japanese cooking methods from master chefs before opening Fushin. Located in Richmond Hill, the atmosphere is relaxed and the décor elegant and contemporary. fushin.co.za

BEST ART EXPERIENCE The finest art gallery in the Eastern Cape is the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum which has an impressive collection of South African art, with a special focus on art from the region. It has notable collections of British art, international printmaking and Oriental art, as well as Indian miniatures and Chinese textiles. The permanent collection has works by Berni Searle, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor and Nicholas Hlobo, amongst others. artmuseum.co.za

BEST WEEKEND ESCAPE A few hours drive from the busy port city and you could be sitting on the deck, drink in hand, gazing into the gorgeous wilderness. The five-star Bush Lodge in the Amakhala Conservancy is set at the top of an open valley and each suite overlooks a watering point with big sky views. There are secluded private viewing decks with plunge pools, and an indoor fireplace. The bathroom has a large oval bath and romantic alfresco double showers. Enjoy game drives, fine dining and solitude. amakhala.co.za/lodges/bush-lodge

Bush Lodge Amakhala
Bush Lodge Amakhala
Image: Supplied

HOTTEST ECONOMIC NEWS The existing port is being upgraded and there is a bold vision to transform the marina into a vibrant busy port that attracts domestic and international tourists. The establishment of a waterfront development in the harbour is viewed as critical to the growth of the bay’s economy and tourism. Major upgrades are also on the cards for the Port Elizabeth International Airport as it looks to double its business in the next decade.

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