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 30, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0749 GMT (1549 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT