It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect setting than the Oyster Box on Umhlanga’s beachfront overlooking the iconic red and white lighthouse. The luxurious hotel has a charm and nostalgia built up over the years. It is loved by both international and local visitors. As a local who jumps at any opportunity to have lunch or dinner at the Oyster Box, I wanted to share some of the history, inspiration, colours and spaces of the Oyster Box that has made it one of my favourite places for so many years.
The Exterior colours of red and white – including the red roof which serves as a beacon to passing ships – link it to the Lighthouse. The red and white stand out, but compliment the lush green gardens and blue Indian Ocean.
The interior decoration was done by Toni Tollman and her mother Beatrice Tollman (President and Founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection). Their goal – when they acquired the charming but run down hotel in 2007 – was to restore it to its former 1950s glory. The challenge was to do so in a way that was authentic to the period but brought the hotel into the 21st century. Toni also wanted to highlight the Durban lifestyle as it was, and as it is now.
After two years of extensive renovation the hotel was reopened in October 2009. The reception is one of the few original parts of the hotel still remaining. The revolving wood doors, black and white terrazzo tiles and sweeping staircase were a source of inspiration for the interior decoration. The eclectic collection of period furniture, artworks and style were sourced both internationally and locally. It has a welcoming, hospitable feel and is a favourite spot of Skabenga the cat.
While a soft white colour creates a calm and elegant ambience that runs throughout the building, different moods and atmospheres were created in the various spaces within the hotel through the clever use of colour and furnishings.
The contrast of the navy walls and white furniture, with quirky paintings by Durban artist Rene Rutgers, creates a striking and elegant look with a bit of frivolity in the Grill Room. Upstairs in the Lighthouse bar, exotic reds and bold designs create a warm and sociable space.
The colour and decor in the various function rooms were carefully considered along thematic lines. For example the Durban July and Union Castle rooms, reflect the journey of the Durban July over 50 years and the Union Castle Line.
The bedrooms all have their unique colour schemes and are decorated in a way that makes you feel at home.
What is evident in the various spaces and a key factor in the furnishings, is the importance of the design suiting the purpose. The spaces are not only aesthetically beautiful but also comfortable and practical.
The Oyster Box is a member of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative where visitors can assist the local community with much needed supplies.
If you are visiting Durban but not staying at the Oyster Box, I can highly recommend lunch on the terrace, my husband is a fan of the curry buffet. Just make sure you book in advance.
Hope you have a beautiful week