The top historical hotels in South Africa is a collection of utterly iconic properties which offer more than just a place to rest your head. To make a holiday truly memorable it needs an injection of culture and heritage; a chance to immerse yourself into the traditions of the past and trace the roots of a fascinating social narrative. A stay at any one of these stunning accommodations is a wonderful way to enjoy a holiday to South Africa. Thanks go to www.southafrica.net for the original top ten list.
This granddame of Cape Town was founded by Donald Currie in 1899, with the origins of the estate dating back as far as 1741. The Mount Nelson is inexorably interlinked with the early history of Cape Town and has become a favourite escape for countless visitors to South Africa's most vibrant city. Set in the bustling heart of Cape Town overlooked by the iconic Table Mountain, The Mount Nelson has become synonymous with quality, luxury and prestige.
The Dullstroom Inn, Mpumalanga
Situated in the homely township of Dullstroom-Emnotweni, this historic hotel very much represents the beating heart of this close community. The story of the inn can be traced back to 1912 and was the region's best-kept secret until relatively recently when the very first ‘finders keepers prize of a million rand (a famous South African treasure hunt run by the Sunday Times newspaper) was hidden at the inn.
Recognised as a leading luxury property in South Africa, The Lanzerac represents one of the country's most celebrated examples of Cape-Dutch architecture. The building has nestled amongst the verdant grounds of its private Stellenbosch estate for over 300 years, and in doing so has preserved a little slice of elegance from a by-gone age.
The Victoria Manor, Cradock
The Manor was first established in the 1840s and is set on an estate in Cradock, just 2 kilometres away from Queenstown. Victoria Manor is one of the oldest hotels in South Africa and famously (or rather infamously) during the Second Boer War the cellar of the hotel functioned as a prison for captured soldiers, but thankfully has since been converted into a much more welcoming gastro pub.
The Drostdy Hotel, Graaf-Reinet
A beautifully sculpted hotel, the Drostdy's impressive facade was the brain child of famous French architect Louise Michel Thibault who in 1806 was commissioned to design the district 'drostdy' meaning magistrate's court in Dutch. Today though, the only disputes which take place in the old court room are those concerning what to have for dinner; the impressive space since converted into a magnificent candle lit dining room.
Houw Hoek, Grabouw
Dating back to 1779 this former toll gate house, along with D'ouwe Werf, claims to hold the title of the oldest hotel in South Africa. Only 90km from Cape Town but completely detached from the hustle and bustle of the big city this beautiful property provides the ideal retreat. A short drive from both the Kogelberg and Groenlandberg Nature Reserves guests have the opportunity to enjoy one of the many on-site activities such as tennis, squash and hiking or explore the stunning surrounding area.
If it's a room with a view you are after then look no farther than the Cathedral Peak Hotel. Built in 1939 the Van der Riet family still insist upon the same standards of service and hospitality today as were first set down over 70 years ago. Situated in the shadow of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains world heritage site, guests are afforded an unrivalled panorama of the dramatic landscape.
The Royal Hotel, Pilgrims Rest
An oasis of calm nestled up in the mountains of Mpumalanga, this quiet and unassuming hotel remains one of the best kept secrets in South Africa. You may have to travel a little of the way to get to this little gem, but then so did the hotel itself. The Royal originally functioned as a chapel and was in fact built in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique before being bought, disassembled and transported by ox-wagon to its current residence.
The Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein
A piece of living history the Lord Milner Hotel has become renowned for its dedication to high standards and unswerving service. Originally constructed in 1899 by the enterprising Jimmy Logan, the building today remains one of Matjiesfontein's most impressive standards of architecture. A popular way-point for train travellers who historically flocked to the area because of the supposed curative powers of the air, the town continues to welcome visitors from the famous Blue Train twice weekly.
The Kimberley Club Hotel, Kimberley
The hotel was founded in 1881 by the renowned mining entrepreneur Cecil John Rhodes, one of leading figures in the early diamond mining industry. It stood as the social of the Kimberley community- or at least it's great and its good- made up of ambitious men looking to make a fortune in diamonds. Such was the integrity of the club to its patrons they were described as being men who would 'rather live on bread and butter than drop out of that great institution.'
Claimed to be the third oldest accommodation in South Africa, the Queens Hotel was originally constructed in 1880 built of stone and thatched roofing. Oudtshoorn is found in the Klein Karoo area of the Cape region and is remarked for its natural beauty particularly the Swartberg and Gamkaberg Nature Reserves. Although the size of the building limits space within the rooms a little this remains a stylish, airy and popular spot for visitors to Oudtshoorn in search of a comfortable stay and personable service.
Welcoming guests since 1802 DOuwe Werf has been defining standards in Stellenbosch ever since. The hotel stands on the grounds of a former church which had been the first established in the area before burning down in 1702. Beautifully appointed with a light and open aesthetic D'Ouwe Werf still retains much of its classic character, the walls and furniture adorned with antiques and monuments to the history of the hotel.
Tudor Hotel, Cape Town
Old does not necessarily have to mean old fashioned and Cape Town's Tudor Inn is certainly a testament to that. Claiming to be Cape Town's oldest existing hotel the Tudor is situated right in the heart of the action on Greenmarket Square; perfectly poised for guests to explore local sights such as the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain. Despite now enjoying a largely contemporary design, a sense of the building's heritage still prevails all around the hotel not only in the 19th century architecture but also the thoughtful adornment of antiques and furnishings.
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