If we told you that the architecture of Hemingways Casino was based on the Floridian Key West home of a certain American author, you probably wouldn't need too many guesses to figure out who we're talking about.
It may be loosely based on the home that Ernest Hemingway occupied back in the 1930s, but this venue is anything but old-fashioned. Hemingways Casino, also known as the Southern Sun Hemingways, isn't the biggest casino in South Africa but it's certainly capable of providing a gambling holiday to remember.
With a little over 500 slot machines and 12 tables (hosting games of Blackjack, American Roulette and Poker) – spread across the main casino, smoking area and the exclusive Salon Privé – there's plenty of action to be had.
Hemingways boasts coinless slot machines, so there's no need to carry around a pocketful of change – just insert a card that you've loaded up with credit and you're good to go. There's a decent range of bets to be had too, with slot machine denominations running from 1c to R25.
Obviously, Hemingways is on the smaller side of land-based casinos in SA but it has a certain charm that still enables it to compete with bigger venues. Plus, there are regular "cash and cars" giveaways and "winner takes it all" bingo competitions, so it's not like they don't work hard to keep things exciting.
Restaurants & Bars Given the compact nature of Hemingways, you might be surprised to learn that there are several different dining options. Key Largo serves up buffet breakfasts as well as buffet and a la carte lunch and dinner options, with a Cuban and Caribbean influence, depending on what day of the week you visit.
For sushi, braai and buffets, kick back in the rustic Felix Bar & Restaurant and enjoy peaceful views of the garden while you eat. Or, if it's beer, bar fare and big screen sporting action you're after, try Latitudes Action Bar.
There should be enough variety on the menu to keep even the pickiest of eaters satisfied but, if you're getting itchy feet, there are several other restaurants within easy travelling distance as well as various restaurants and fast food outlets in the nearby Hemingways Mall.
Set in tranquil grounds, the 4 star Southern Sun Hemingways Hotel has over 100 beautifully appointed rooms (including 7 suites and a presidential suite). There's also a communal lounge with a view of the Indian Ocean.
With a nearby mall, cinema and indoor adventure centre, not to mention the casino itself, the hotel makes a fantastic base from which to explore the area. Or, if you're not in the mood to explore, just hit the on-site gym then lounge by the swimming pool.
As the top rated East London hotel on TripAdvisor, it's easy to recommend Southern Sun Hemingways to potential visitors. And, if you're planning on spending a lot of time in the casino, booking a room here really is a no brainer.
With on-site bars that close at 11pm and midnight, Hemingways isn't exactly a hub for clubbers who want to dance into the early hours of the morning. But, with its laidback island style vibes, it doesn't exactly pretend to be so.
Of course, you can always turn to the casino which is open 24 hours a day or hop in your car and drive to one of East London's nightclubs. But to be perfectly honest, after a few hours in the tranquil environment of Hemingways, we can't imagine that you'll be in any rush to leave so you can go clubbing!
It's far more likely that you'll end up taking in some live entertainment at Key Largo or enjoying some sport on the big screens at Latitudes Action Bar, and we think that most patrons will be more than happy with this arrangement.
From an indoor adventure centre and swimming pool/fitness centre to cinemas and a shopping mall, Hemigways has it all. You could even work on your boss to plan your next conference here, since they have the facilities for that as well.
With some of the most evocative architecture of any casino we know, conjuring up visions of the Florida Ernest Hemingway himself enjoyed almost a decade ago, it's a joy just to wander the grounds and explore. Be sure to pack a notebook in case you end up working on that novel!
Hemingways may be pretty compact as casinos go, but it's surprisingly well equipped for a casino of its size. The beach, shopping and retail parks, hiking and plenty of restaurants are all within easy distance, making this a surefire hit for South African (and international) gamblers looking for a destination for their next trip.
Land Casino Review by: Casino.co.za