Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel has long been regarded as one Cape Town's top five-star hotels | Courtesy of Belmond Mount Nelson
South Africa is a country with an extremely diverse history, and some of its hotels date as far back as the 1600s. From South African war hospital sites, to elite clubs and Victorian architecture gems, here are our top ten historic hotels to stay in.
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town | Courtesy of The Mount Nelson Hotel
The Mount Nelson Hotel officially opened in 1899 just before the South African War erupted and was a popular meeting place for the elite. The hotel is famous for its afternoon tea and, of course, its pink exterior.
Dullstroom is a quaint countryside town that comes alive over weekends, as locals and tourists flock there to take in the scenery and relax. The Dullstroom Inn opened in 1912 and is the oldest hotel in this quaint town. The hotel was the first hiding place of the first Sunday Times‘ “Finders Keepers” treasure hunt prize of one million Rand. The English pub in the hotel is, to this day, a popular meeting place for locals and visitors.
Graaff-Reinet has over 220 heritage sites, more than any other South African town, and showcases some of the best examples of Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture. Completed in 1806, The Drostdy Hotel was originally the residence of the local magistrate.
City, Cosy, Family Friendly, Historic, Relaxed, Traditional
Houw Hoek Hotel, Grabouw
The hotel’s veranda and garden are relaxing spots to retreat in when visiting | Courtesy of Houw Hoek Hotel
The Houw Hoek Hotel, previously known as the Houw Hoek Inn, is one of the oldest hotels in South Africa, and its history is traced back to 1779. The hotel was originally an overnight stop for travelers from Cape Town, until demand became extremely high and a proper inn was opened.
Casual, Cosy, Countryside, Family Friendly, Historic, Romantic
The Kimberley Club, Currey Street
Bed and Breakfast, Hotel
Founded in 1881 by Cecil John Rhodes, many historic decisions have been made at the club impacting the diamond industry, which flourished in this Northern Cape town. The club was a haven for wealthy governors, sovereigns, princes and princesses, however, residential accommodation was only later added to the club.
Steeped in a history dating back to 1692 and nestled in the foothills of the idyllic Jonkershoek Valley of Stellenbosch, the 325-year old Lanzerac Wine Estate is synonymous with old-world charm and rich Cape heritage.
Cosy, Countryside, Fine Dining, Historic, Romantic, Traditional
The Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein
The Lord Milner was also used as a hospital during the South African War as many troops were camped close by | Courtesy of The Lord Milner Hotel
The hotel, named after Lord Alfred Milner, governor of the Cape during the South African War (Anglo-Boer War), was completed in 1899, and served as the Headquarters of the Cape Western Command. If you can’t stay over, popping in for breakfast when passing through the Karoo town is highly recommended. The dining room, from a bygone era, is an experience in itself.
The Royal Hotel, built in 1894, has been restored to its former glory and reflects an elegance typical of the late Victorian era. One of its most fascinating features, The Church Bar, was originally a school chapel brought to Pilgrim’s Rest by ox wagon.
In the 1800s, Cradock was a bustling town set in the ox wagon route, and was home to carpenters, harness makers and other handymen. The Victoria Manor, built in 1848, was claimed by British forces during the South African War and the cellar was used as a jail for Boer prisoners. The hotel was renovated in 1994 but still reflects its original Victorian magnificence.