Upstairs, Back Yard has the views and the vibe


Upstairs, Back Yard has the views and the vibe

Durban’s new rooftop bar, Back Yard at Umhlanga Arch, is a tropical triumph

Candice Botha

It’s long been a Durban complaint that we don’t have enough spots to have a drink and enjoy views of our gorgeous coastline, so the excitement about Back Yard (, the rooftop bar at the newly opened Umhlanga Arch ( development, is palpable.

Situated upstairs from the innovative Legacy Yard food and retail area of the Arch, Back Yard ticks all the boxes for a sophisticated summer cocktail spot. With a distinctive Tiki bar feel, the space nods to the tropical location with murals of palm trees, fluorescent strip lighting, loads of botanical motifs and bright colours. Instead of fighting the heat, they’ve embraced it and the already heady sense of island escapism distinctive to Durban is cleverly foregrounded here.

Large-scale murals by local graffiti artist That Damn Vandal beckon you upstairs where the city spreads out 140m below, and in the neon glow of the signage against a bamboo ceiling you get to choose from an array of seating options from swing seats and daybeds to bright-legged tables flanked by bougainvillea-filled planters, around a firepit or at the bar. Leafy-patterned tiles and banana-leaf fabric umbrellas echo the waiters’ aprons, and at night bare-bulb lights hanging from the pergolas flicker to life while pink flamingos greet you from the bathroom wall. Despite the potential for kitsch, the design is stylish and will make a great background for selfies, which is essential to social-space design these days, let’s face it...

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