Villa Adalbert in Somerset West.
  • Only two guest houses in SA have a perfect 10/10 rating from users of the online booking agency
  • Up to 75% of travellers say online reviews from previous guests are important in choosing a place to stay.
  • The attentiveness of staff is seen as a more important category than cleanliness, valueand location.
  • This is how SA's top-scoring guesthouses achieved perfect scores.
  • For more stories go to

In a survey of 20,000 global participants, the world's largest online travel company,, found that when deciding on a place to stay, travellers see the attentiveness of staff as more important than value, location, or cleanliness.

In the same survey, three out of four travellers said the reviews of previous guests affected their decision to choose a listing or not, while one out of two users said that they’d decided to not book a place due to negative reviews about the host.

Maintaining good reviews is hard in hospitality, though. In South Africa, only two guest houses, one in Somerset West and one in Knysna, have maintained perfect 10-out-of-10 reviews on, excluding those with fewer than 50 reviews.

Business Insider South Africa spoke to the owners of these guest houses to find out what sets them apart.

Villa Adalbert, Somerset-West

In the shadows of the Helderberg, you’ll find Villa Adalbert with its Victorian-style garden and three uniquely designed cottages. The interiors of Lavender Cottage, Ivy Cottage, and Pomegranate Cottage each reflect the care and attention to detail applied by its owner, Mario Adalbert.

Users of have nothing but praise for Mario and his estate, with Sue, a traveller from the UK saying: "I've never given a 10/10 as there's always room to improve. However, on this occasion, I can’t possibly give any less!"

Adrian, a local, praised Manole's kitchen staff, saying: "It’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had – in South Africa or overseas."

We asked Manole about the exceptional feedback Villa Adalbert receives. He simply says his priority is to give a unique hospitality experience to every visitor.

"I pay close attention to their individual needs and avoid false formalities – I try to engage with each guest in a meaningful way."

He added that "perfection is in the detail.

"I actually aim to exceed my guests' expectations."

One on Bollard, Knysna

One on Bollard in Knysna
One on Bollard in Knysna.

Set on the picturesque Leisure Isle, with no fewer than 316 reviews, One on Bollard also boasts a perfect 10/10 rating. Guests are quick to point out that it is the generosity of the owners, Diane and Robert Wright, which sets this listing apart.

Madelein, a South African user, says she's never come across such warm and welcoming hosts.

Mel, a German, says that One on Bollard was their best experience yet, while Zuzana, from Slovakia, says that the hosts went as far as helping them find tickets for a concert.

In speaking to the owners, they mention that overseas stays during their corporate careers were key to creating the unique and special experience that One on Bollard offers.

Diane Wright says their hospitality philosophy is to offer each guest more than they would expect.

"Every guest must feel special and cared for. By the time the guest arrives, we have reached out for info about their preferences. We create personalised welcome letters, find out about dietary requirements, and their sight-seeing interests in and around Knysna. So too, we give them personalised departure letters as a thank you and follow-up to find out if they’ve reached their next destination safely."

The ultimate compliment, she says, is that guests leave as friends, and book return stays.

While these are the only ones with a perfect rating, there are quite a few others who come very close to it. Some other stays boasting a 9.9/10 with at least 50 reviews include:

Gull on the Bay Boutique Guest House, Bloubergstrand

Gull on the Bay Boutique Guest House. (Supplied)

Escape to the Beach, Wilderness

Escape to the Beach, Wilderness.
Escape to the Beach, Wilderness.

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