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
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
This once-a-year luxury cruise visits untouched islands and never-snorkeled reefs.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
Peter J. Goutiere was just shy of 30 years old when he piloted a Douglas C-47 from Miami to Kolkata, India.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Breathtaking scenery, championship design -- many of the courses dropped into the Canadian Rockies are among the most memorable in the world.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
A floating hippo in the Thames river designed by artist Florentijn Hofman
Why Florentijn Hofman is sending a giant beast into London's River Thames.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
September 6, 2014 -- Updated 0042 GMT (0842 HKT)
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
At these fun Los Angeles bars, the the drinks come with a chaser of kitsch.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
From dining next to massive predators to drinking atop a rock in the middle of the ocean, Africa boasts some of the most interesting places to eat.
September 7, 2014 -- Updated 0921 GMT (1721 HKT)
Just weeks after Bill HIllman, known as a veteran, expert bull runner, was badly gored in Pamplona, he's back at other smaller bull runnings in Spain, but walking with a cane.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Why not create your own, as many people have done. We uncover the parallel world of "micronationalism."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
A CNN producer experiences China's poor on-time flight record firsthand as his plane takes off eight hours late.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
New Yorker Kerrin Rousset's exploration of Swiss city aims to lure cocoa fans over to the dark side.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0347 GMT (1147 HKT)
Some things are just better after dark. These experiences around the world prove it.
ADVERTISEMENT