Knysna, pronounced ‘ny-znah,’ is the most famous town on South Africa’s famed Garden Route. Overlooking the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, Knysna is all about tranquil lagoons, ancient forests, and sparkling coastline. The surprising bit is that this 18th-century gold rush town boasts a wonderful gay friendly vibe. In fact, Knysna is so LGBT friendly that it’s known as Africa’s gayest town! So, it’s only natural that there are many choices for gay accommodations and hotels in Knysna. What’s more, they range from traditional hotels to forest lodges that the country is famous for.
Despite the city not having any exclusive gayborhood or bars like the gay friendly Johannesburg, it brims with an inclusive vibe more than any other South African city. Even Mr. Gay World South Africa 2019 happens to hail from Knysna! Besides a fabulous Pride parade, Knysna hosts the mother of all gay parties in South Africa, the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival. It’s clear that the Garden Route and South Africa’s funkiest town is a great gay destination too. To that end, here are the top 11 gay accommodations and hotels in Knysna.
The Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa
The Turbine Hotel & Spa is one of the best gay accommodation in Knysna. Housed in a former power station, the gorgeous hotel overlooks the Knysna River and the Indian Ocean, as well as the famed Knysna Heads. There are many things to love about this hotel, beginning with the spacious sun deck. You can lounge by the heavenly turquoise pool that’s fringed with daybeds and foliage. In fact, the pool also has views of the Knysna lagoon and is the perfect spot to read a book or listen to music. Begin your day with a fantastic full English breakfast, and in the evenings, the tapas bar is ideal for a sundowner. What’s more, the hotel even arranges for hot-stone massages, sea, and lagoon cruises, and transfers too
The sun-kissed rooms, or rather suites at the hotel are elegant with parquet floors and light fabrics. Moreover, they feature modern creature comforts like extra-long beds, LCD TVs, iPod docking stations, as well as modern bathrooms. Some suites even have separate seating areas and kitchenettes. Nevertheless, they all feature an exposed brick wall that lends historic charm to the modern digs.
Villa Castollini might not be gay-owned, but the owner is a huge supporter of LGBTQ people. That’s what makes it one of the best gay hotels in Knysna. The villa lies on the other side of the Knysna Lagoon near Brenton-On-Sea and enjoys spectacular views of the city, Knysna heads, and the ocean. If you’re looking for a romantic gaycation in Knysna, then this is where you should be. The five-star Tuscan-styled villa blends comfort and luxury with privacy in its 10 spacious rooms. They’re sophisticated and comfortable at the same time and have fabulous views of the pool or the gardens. Moreover, they feature all high-tech modern flourishes that you’ll need for a comfortable holiday.
Despite being more or private accommodation, the Villa does not do away with amenities, which are rather spectacular. The standout is the cyan-colored swimming pool with loungers and umbrellas directly overlooking the Knysna Lagoon and the city. It’s one of the most exclusive places that you’ll find in all of Knysna to sit back and relax. The library is another great indoor place to relax, especially during afternoons. The open-plan lounge, dining room, and kitchen area is the ideal setting for sumptuous breakfasts and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Moreover, the villa even arranges for home-made dinners, if you’re planning to enjoy a quiet night in.
Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa
Located right by the famed Knysna Heads, the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is one of the most luxurious gay accommodations in Knysna. The resort lies on a dramatic Eastern headland and is the perfect upscale gay getaway you’re looking for on the Garden Route. It’s surrounded by beaches, lakes, and forests while offering an award-winning spa as well as a Championship Golf Course on the property. Now, what more could you want? You can choose from 83 modern African-style suites, which further lie in villas of four suites each. Besides the flourish of mod-cons, they feature a bevy of thoughtful touches. These include the likes of tree-trunk side tables that are an ode to Knysna’s past as well as cozy fireplaces. The standout is the million-dollar views.
What’s more, there’s so much to do on the property that you might never want to leave. You can choose to lounge at one of the two pools, of which the indoor one is adults-only. After a swim, you can head for an indulgent session to the decadent spa. During hot afternoons, kick back with a drink or a coffee at the library or the cigar bar, where you can also enjoy a sundowner. Finally, the in-house restaurant, Zachary’s, takes care of all food cravings and serves some delicious local food.
The Mount Knysna Boutique Hotel
If you’re an intrepid LGBTQ adventurer, then the Mount Knysna Boutique Hotel is perfect for you. It’s one of the best gay hotels in Knysna’s East head, lying just half-a-km from the East Head View Point. Hence, you have access to a whole lot of thrilling activities in the area, right from windsurfing to snorkeling to golfing. Coming to the hotel, Mount Knysna Boutique features a year-round (heated) outdoor pool and sun terrace. With once-in-a-lifetime views of the Knysna Heads, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind on the property. The in-house restaurant serves all meals from breakfast to dinner, as well as delicious cocktails befitting a Garden Route vacation.
That said, it’s the rooms and suites that are the highlight at this hotel, each of which is equipped with a slew of high-tech mod-cons for a comfortable stay. The private ensuite bathrooms are plush and come with bespoke toiletries and even slippers and bathrobes. What’s more, some units even have seating areas, while others enjoy the comfort of a patio or balcony with stunning views. If you can splash, then go for rooms with views of the Knysna heads.
Amanzi Island Lodge
We’re yet to see a better located gay accommodation in Knysna than the Amanzi Island Lodge. It sits right on the edge of Leisure Island, overlooking the Knysna Lagoon, and Heads, and the Indian Ocean straight ahead. Besides a stunning location, there’s a lot to like about this stunning hotel. To begin with, the Amanzi Lodge boasts a stunning terrace in which sits a decadent-looking swimming pool. The wooden deck is sprinkled with cushy sun loungers and rattan and wicker furniture, allowing you to lounge and even enjoy a drink or a light bite by the poolside. The spacious lounging and dining space is perfect to relax, read a book, and dig into the excellent food from the hotel’s bistro. If you’re itching to explore the surrounding region, then the hotel even offers free canoes and bikes.
So, it’s no surprise that even the rooms and suites at Amanzi are lovely, and which feature a distinctly nautical theme. An element of shabby chic lends the rooms a sense of homeliness. Modern, ensuite bathrooms, a bevy of high-tech mod-cons, and sun-kissed patios and balconies with sweeping Knysna and sea view complete the picture of perfection.
Moontide Guest Lodge
The Moontide Guest Lodge on the banks of the Touw River is one of the best gay accommodations in Knysna’s vicinity, a mere 30 minutes to its west. In fact, it’s the best base for exploring the famed South African Wilderness as well as the Garden Route. Moreover, the value-for-money thatched lodge accommodation is also a mere five-minute stroll from the beach.
A laidback, peaceful atmosphere permeates the sprawling place that features discrete cottages in a lush, tree-filled garden. All spaces are filled with interesting objets d’art, rugs, and other curios from the owner’s personal collection. Despite there being a pool on the property, we’d recommend swimming in the refreshingly clean waters of the Touw River. In fact, you can even grab a boat or a floating sun deck to lounge on the river! The sumptuous breakfast buffet of croissants, toast, cheese, yogurt, and fruit salad is a great way to start the day. During good weather, the hosts will even arrange for picnic baskets.
All rooms radiate a distinct character, but they’re all comfortable and spacious with even outside seating areas. TVs, milk and coffee, and well-stocked minibars complete the offerings.
The Lofts Boutique Hotel
Are you looking for unique and offbeat gay accommodation in Knysna? Then consider the Lofts Boutique Hotel on Thesen Island, overlooking the Knysna Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Even though it lies right on the tip of the island, the Knysna Waterfront and Golf Club are a mere 5-15 minute drive from the hotel.
There’s a lot to love about this hotel, right from its amenities to the accommodations. To begin with, it features a stunning outdoor splash pool with unobstructed views of the Knysna Lagoon and the lush surrounding greenery. After a dip, the best way to unwind and relax completely is a session at the Le Spa Tranquil, which features everything from hot stone therapy to shower scrubs. Right next to the splash pool is a towering atrium with lots of comfy areas to lounge as well as a service bar. You can even order poolside drinks from this bar, and make a day of relaxing on the property. If you get one of the higher rooms, then there’s even a fabulous complimentary breakfast that awaits you in the morning.
When it comes to the accommodations, you’re going to be impressed and delighted in equal measure. The contemporarily designed rooms feature wooden beams, plush, extra-long beds, tea/coffee makers, and flatscreen TVs. Furthermore, some rooms even have sliding doors that open out to a private patio or balcony.
Thebloem Guest Suites
There’s more than one reason that the Thebloem Guest Suites are one of the best gay suite accommodations in Knysna. Firstly, it’s a mere 20-minute walk into Knysna Central, as well as its great nightlife. Secondly, it offers excellent all-suite accommodation at a wallet-friendly price. Finally, it also offers an entire bunch of amenities too, despite being a budget suites accommodation. Firstly the place boasts an outdoor pool, which is a rarity for a suites hotel. Even though it doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, it offers a superb full Irish/English or an à la carte breakfast. However, it does have a bar, with spectacular views of Knysna Lagoon and the ocean. Both the terrace and the garden are also excellent places to relax, with a drink in hand/ Free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour front desk complete the facilities here.
Rooms, or rather suites, at Thebloem suites are plush and come with soft beds, a litany of mod-cons, as well as seating areas. Private, modern bathrooms and kettles and desks complete the comfortable space. If you want to splurge, then the best suites have patios with alfresco seating.
Emily Moon River Lodge
There’s no better nature lover’s gay accommodation in Knysna’s vicinity than Emily Moon River Lodge, around 30 minutes east of the town. The 16 cottage-suites lies on a ridge overlooking the Bitou River, gorgeous green wetlands, and the Keurbooms lagoon, eventually emptying into the cerulean Indian Ocean. With excellent facilities complemented by Afro-chic décor, it’s the best-value gay luxury lodge on the Garden Route.
Despite the views being the main draw here, the owners have left no stone unturned to make this a place to reckon with. The entire place is filled with Polynesian, Asian, and African pieces like door frames, masks, and even artwork. Overall, it’s the perfect barefoot-chic ambiance you want for a truly African holiday. If you want to explore the area on your own, there are both canoes and bicycles available. Moreover, the place offers you the luxury of enjoying your meals on your room deck and even unwinding with spa treatments in the room. There’s even a striking pool with sun loungers, and two restaurants taking care of all meals. Breakfast is a particularly grand affair with a hot breakfast complemented by cold cuts, cheese, breads, pastries, yogurt, fruit, and more.
All spacious rooms have separate lounging areas that open onto a private deck, with two of them overlooking the wetlands and the river. The best part? All bathrooms feature bathtubs for you to enjoy a relaxing soak, and some even have outdoor showers. 21st-century mod-cons and African artifacts are everywhere, but the best of the lot is the newer Deluxe rooms.
Roseroc Boutique Guesthouse
The Roseroc Boutique Guesthouse offers serenity smack dab in the heart of Knysna. One of the best gay hotels in Knysna, it lies overlooking both the Knysna Heads and the Lagoon. It’s surrounded by the gorgeous lush vegetation of the Knysna forest, and you can’t find a better romantic ‘nest’ for a gay getaway in the city. Since it’s a boutique guesthouse set in an elegant Cape Colonial home, the service levels are impeccable, despite being no hotel-like amenities. Get ready to explore Knysna by tucking into a full delicious breakfast in the lovely dining area overlooking the Lagoon. The highlight is the heavenly saltwater pool fringed by lush bougainvillea shrubs and lush gardens.
The best part about the rooms at Roseroc is that they all feature private balconies, complete with wrought-iron furniture. Large windows in most of them overlook the Lagoon, while others overlook the gardens and the pool, ensuring lots of natural light. Mod-cons, comfy robes, eco-friendly amenities, and luxury Egyptian cotton linen make your stay here as comfortable as it gets.
Madison Manor Boutique Hotel
The Madison Manor Boutique Hotel is the overall best gay accommodation in Knysna, with magnificent views over the Knysna Heads as well as Knysna Lagoon. The hotel sits on a hill facing the city and is a mere 10-minute walk into the city center. To begin with, the place has a lovely L-shaped outdoor pool on the terrace. It’s peppered with orange sun loungers, complete with blue umbrellas. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax on the property, complete with views of Knysna Lagoon and the heads. The restaurant, which is open for both lunch and dinner, even serves a superb continental or full English breakfast in the morning. The shared lounge is perfect to unwind with a book, or you could head to the spa for a leisurely massage session. During evenings, enjoy a sundowner on the terrace.
The rooms at the Madison Manor Hotel blend modern conveniences with antique, vintage furnishings. They all also feature coffee/tea-making facilities, satellite flatscreen TVs, separate seating areas, and bathtubs in the modern bathrooms. If you want to splash, go for the suites that have balconies with unobstructed views of the Lagoon and the Heads.
Just So You Know:
- Another lovely little gay piece of paradise in Knysna is the Rexford Manor Boutique Hotel. It’s gay owned and has King and King pillows on the beds!
Get Some Culture in Knysna:
- Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival – This is one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the whole of South Africa. It includes an art festival, a bear fest, and a drag queen festival, culminating in a vibrant pride parade.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Knysna:
Even though Knysna doesn’t have exclusive gay bars and clubs, these places mentioned below are extremely gay friendly:
- The Project Bar Knysna – One of the freshest cocktail bars in town, it also offers unobstructed views of the Indian Ocean.
- Vinyl – When it’s late at night, that’s when the party gets going at Vinyl. Moreover, it’s got a great terrace area for lounging.
Best Gay Saunas in Knysna:
Knysna doesn’t have an exclusive gay sauna yet. However, the Garden Route is home to some of the most fantastic, pristine beaches in the world – take your pick!