Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

South Africa's 'slum-themed' luxury hotel slammed worldwide

By Frances Cha, CNN
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)
At this controversial South Africa hotel, guests stay in a re-creation of the shacks inhabited by the poor. Each shanty sleeps four and goes for $82 per night. At this controversial South Africa hotel, guests stay in a re-creation of the shacks inhabited by the poor. Each shanty sleeps four and goes for $82 per night.
HIDE CAPTION
'Luxury Shanty Town,' South Africa
'Full African Experience'
Themed living
Private game reserve
Donkey geysers and long drops
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Emoya Luxury Hotel offers "the only Shanty Town in the world with under-floor heating and wireless Internet access"
  • Hotel re-creates millions of shacks of South Africa's poor
  • Media response has been incredulity and outrage

(CNN) -- Emoya Luxury Hotel in Bloemfontein, South Africa, has been all over the blogosphere in recent weeks.

But the exposure might not be the type that the "unique accommodation experience" had bargained for.

Gizmodo called the hotel "A Fake Slum for Luxury Tourists Who Don't Want to See Real Poverty."

Steven Colbert coined the word "glumming" -- glamorous slumming -- in his on-air dressing down.

Christiane Amanpour examined it in the context of "poorism," or poverty tourism.

The hotel does sound like something out of a Saturday Night Live sketch.

At Emoya's Shanty Town, guests stay in a re-creation of an "informal settlement" -- shacks made of corrugated iron sheets.

Is poverty the new luxury?

"Millions of people are living in informal settlements across South Africa," reads the Shanty Town homepage.

"Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve," continues the website.

"This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!"

Read: Underwater hotel room opens on remote African island

Each shanty in the "town" goes for 850 South African rand ($82) a night, sleeps four people and has electricity and running water.

In a clumsy play for verisimilitude, rooms are equipped with donkey geysers (water heaters) and long drops (outdoor toilets).

Scorn and outrage

The hotel promises to deliver "the full African Experience."

The concept hotel launched in March, according to the Emoya Estate's Facebook page, but the backlash is recent.

"What were the creators of this thinking?" wrote commenter Whitney Trotta on the hotel's Facebook page on December 4.

"Have they ever seen poverty? Or lived in it? This is such a slap in the face to anyone who actually lives in a shanty town. Emoya Hotel & Spa you should explain yourselves. You are getting a horrible reputation worldwide for this."

Emoya Hotel declined CNN requests for an interview or official comment for this story.

Read: 10 things to know before visiting South Africa

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Where to pay homage to the cutest local celebrities you'll ever stalk.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Cream cakes from the Ruszwurm bakery in Budapest, Hungary
Proving they're what's really important, the world's best pastry shops have survived survived sieges, revolutions and World War II.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Lois Pryce ignored naysayers and traveled 3,000 miles via motorcycle to discover the real Iran.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
Built at a cost of $442.2 million, Universal Studios Japan hopes its new Potter attraction will bring in $55 billion over 10 years.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
A scene in Marrakech
The gateway to Morocco's Atlas Mountains is becoming a photographer's paradise -- but capturing it on camera isn't easy.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 2136 GMT (0536 HKT)
Cathay Pacific was pronounced the world's best airliner of the year at the industry's leading awards ceremony in Farnborough on Tuesday.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Britain has stolen a march in the space race with plans for the world's first spaceport outside the U.S.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
In the hunt for the world's best amusement park, the people have spoken -- and it seems the people like mixing with creatures who eat a lot of fish.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
An Hellenic Seaplanes aircraft
Seaplane network set to open up far-flung destinations to affordable jet-setting tours.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
A man who took a dangerous selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, with the half-ton beasts right behind him, is still on the run -- but this time from the police.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Its cramped rooms and retro lobby are dated, but its charm and devotion to customers are worth preserving.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0553 GMT (1353 HKT)
A young girl sits on a bench decorated with an image of Paddington Bear.
As part of a scheme to encourage reading, 50 benches designed in the style of popular novels or kids' stories have been scattered around London.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
To all the locals who have been hoarding the following beaches, please forgive us.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Jason Hullinger, a computer security architect in Los Angeles, went to Joshua Tree National Park in December to catch the Geminid meteor shower.
CNN iReporters from across the globe share their incredible images of the skies above us.
ADVERTISEMENT