Two days into her retirement, Liz Biden, with the unwavering support of her husband Phil, decided to turn their private bush home into a hotel for guests. The result is the glorious Royal Malewane, situated in the greater Kruger National Park and has been the favored foothold of dignitaries, celebrities, and enamored guests for over 22 years.

Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane

Following a stay at The Farmstead in 2019, I secretly wished to return for a stay at Royal Malewane, having read about the fascinating history of the property in their beautiful coffee table book, A Perfect Stay – Inside The Royal Portfolio. My daughter and I arrive at the stately entrance to Royal Malewane with greetings of ‘welcome home’, making us feel embraced by the warmth of hospitality experienced here.

The Royal Portfolio

Out on the main deck adjacent to the waterhole, our table has been set for lunch and the personalized menus present a lovely touch. Smidgens of color enliven the dark wooden dining table and leather chair. A soft cherry red throw doubles up as a knee blanket while sprightly shades of green equipoise the glorious silver service. 

The most delectable lamb shank. Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane
The most delectable lamb shank. Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane

Scottish-born Executive chef Archie comes over to introduce himself and with over 15 years of culinary prowess in England, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, diners are in for unrivaled cuisine at Royal Malewane. We dine on exquisitely prepared lamb shank, perfectly prepared beef fillet, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownies, and my daughter’s favorite “best pizza ever”.

The opulent suites at Royal Malewane. Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane
The opulent suites at Royal Malewane. Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane

We are staying in suite number 7, and the resident nyalas momentarily look up from grazing as we meander past them. Handcrafted doors open to an exquisite haven, with all the opulent furnishings handpicked by The Royal Portfolio’s illustrious interior doyenne Liz. Not conforming to the norm of ‘safe’ safari colors that include beiges and creams, the imitable use of pure cotton bedding makes you feel like you’re sleeping under the fluffiest cloud. 

The Royal Portfolio

Persian carpets are carefully placed next to the bed, under the couch in the lounge, and in the glorious bathroom. Slide the doors open to let that bush feeling permeate or take reprieve under the pergola while luxuriating on your daybed under the watchful eyes of the passersby that include giraffe, elephant, and in our case, the most adorable nyala.

Photo courtesy of Royal Malewane

Subsequent to a leisurely afternoon spent on our private veranda, we are met in the lounge by ranger H.J. and tracker Selby for our game drive through the renowned Thornybush Game Reserve. Amidst a cloud of dust, we see them – a pack of seven African wild dogs. One of them has an injury to his back leg as well as a broken jaw and cannot keep up with the rest of them, falling behind until they stop and ‘nurse’ his wound by licking it. We spend time with two elephants feeding, stripping the leaves off-dry tree branches.

After our sundowner stop, the night is starting to fall, and on our way back to the lodge, H.J. gestures to Selby to fine-tune where he needs to go, as a once-in-a-lifetime sighting has just been reported. In all our years on safari, this is a first for my daughter and me – setting eyes on a pangolin in its natural habitat. We are informed that we may exit the vehicle to take a closer look and the intricate detail on this scaled mammal makes us distraught that this is the most trafficked animal in Asia and Africa. We leave her to go about her business, exuberant in being able to have seen something so phenomenal.

Overindulgence leads to a round belly for this lion cub. Photo by Heléne Ramackers

Returning to the lodge, we dine on the finest food in the Masiya Bar before retiring for the night. The following morning, we find a mating pair of lions on our game drive, as well as a large lion pride feasting with some uncomfortably round bellies. It is time to head home after another wonderful meal and as we wait for our Airlink flight at Hoedspruit Airport, my daughter and I wish we could have spent a few more nights at Royal Malewane. Boarding the steps of the Airlink Embraer E-Jet, we take comfort in the kindness of the flight attendants, the plane’s ample legroom, wider seats, and landing at Cape Town International Airport ahead of schedule. Just another reason we prefer to enjoy The Freedom of the African Skies with Airlink.


*** Views expressed are the author’s own

How to Get There By Air: Airlink is a privately owned premium full-service regional airline offering the widest route network in Southern Africa, offering more flight choices and more connectivity. Experience More –

With more than 50 aircraft in the fleet, Airlink’s on-time performance is consistently better than 95%, this is a clear indication of their determination and commitment to remain synonymous with customer centricity, punctuality, service excellence, and reliability.

How to get there:  Direct scheduled flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Hoedspruit.

Book direct on, the FlyAirlink app, or your favorite Travel agent. 

How To Get There by Road: Take Me There Today Travel & Tours was established in 2020 in the heart of the South African Lowveld and with 21 years of experience in the travel industry, have a passion for connecting guests with their dream destinations whilst offering a personalized service that is tailored to their unique requirements.

Services include private transfers, airport shuttles, day tours, and accommodation while ensuring safe, comfortable, reliable, fun, friendly, and no-fuss travel. 

Tel: +27 (0)83 415-8571