Historical hotels to escape to this Heritage Month

The Winston Hotel, Johannesburg. Picture: INSTAGRAM

The Winston Hotel, Johannesburg. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Published Sep 4, 2023


As Heritage Month sweeps across South Africa, the nation’s vibrant history weaves through its landscapes, architecture and culture.

And for those explorers hungry to dive into SA’s captivating past, there’s a plethora of historical hotels just waiting to whisk you away on a time-travelling adventure.

Matjiesfontein Lord Milner Hotel, Karoo

Matjiesfontein Lord Milner Hotel. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Matjiesfontein Lord Milner Hotel is the granddaddy of all heritage hotels. In the middle of the Karoo, this place is a time machine. It has been around since the late 1800s, back when Queen Victoria was strutting her stuff.

And guess what? It’s held onto its old-school charm like a boss.

The rooms are decked out with all those fancy antiques that make you feel like a proper lord or lady. But that’s not all. The town itself is like a living history book. The buildings are so ancient they practically whisper tales of days gone by.

The hotel spills all the tea on South Africa's colonial past. Back in the day, when trains ruled the land, this place was a hot spot. It’s like a sneak peek into the railway history of the country, but with all the swankiness of a Victorian bash.

History enthusiasts will find themselves engrossed in the Transport and Victorian museums.

Explore the beauty of the Karoo through veld walks, hikes and mountain biking, or venture to the nearby Boer War British Army remount encampment site for a glimpse into the area’s historical significance.

For those seeking activity and relaxation, the hotel offers a tennis court for friendly matches and the chance to unwind in opulent lounges or by the residents-only pool.

Oude Werf Hotel, Stellenbosch

Oude Werf Hotel, Stellenbosch: Picture: INSTAGRAM

In Stellenbosch, a town steeped in heritage, the Oude Werf Hotel stands as a haven that effortlessly captures the essence of the past while offering a modern and comfortable retreat.

Oude Werf Hotel’s history dates from 1686, making it one of South Africa’s oldest continuously operating hotels.

With the town renowned for its well-preserved Cape Dutch architecture, the hotel stands as a testament to centuries of tradition. From the moment you step onto its cobblestone courtyard, you’re transported to a bygone era.

Additionally, Oude Werf Hotel transforms into a living tribute to South Africa’s cultural diversity. The interior is adorned with artefacts, artworks and decor that celebrate the nation’s vibrant heritage.

From traditional textiles to historic photographs, each corner tells a story of the country’s journey through time.

The ambience is carefully curated to immerse guests in an atmosphere that’s as enriching as it is relaxing.

Hartford House Hotel, KwaZulu-Natal

The main building, known as the Manor House, is a national monument. Picture: INSTAGRAM

The boutique hotel is on a thoroughbred stud farm, with a history that traces back to the colonial era. The main building, known as the Manor House, is a national monument.

Nearly 150 years ago, the Moor family stumbled upon the captivating beauty of Hartford, a landscape that lay unoccupied in the early 1870s.

Once a haven for the family of John and Sir Frederick Moor, the latter being the final prime minister of historic Natal, the property has seamlessly integrated into the expansive Summerhill Estate.

The estate was once under the stewardship of Colonel Richards, a notable figure in the initial Union government.

Hartford isn’t your run-of-the-mill spot; it has a style that’s all its own; architecture that’s the talk of the town, views that’ll make your jaw drop, dining that’s a one-way ticket to flavour town, not to mention horses that redefine elegance.

The Nottingham Road Hotel, KwaZulu-Natal

The Nottingham Road Hotel, Picture: INSTAGRAM

The hotel offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the past. The origins of The Nottingham Road Hotel can be traced back to the late 1800s, a period of transition and transformation. It was built as a trading post in the 19th century.

The renowned Notties Hotel commemorated its centenary anniversary a few years ago, solidifying its position in the annals of history as one of the most esteemed hotels in the Midlands region.

Local lore says an inn has occupied the site since 1854, though the present-day structure is of more recent origin.

It is plausible that an establishment, named "Notties" or the tavern, catered to the soldiers stationed at Fort Nottingham, tasked with safeguarding the locality against Bushmen engaged in pilfering livestock.

Positioned at the juncture where the road leading to the interior intersected with the route to Fort Nottingham, the inn probably provided respite to horse-drawn coaches traversing the region before the advent of the railway line.

Through the decades, the hotel has stood as a silent witness to various events, societal shifts and the evolution of culture. Additionally, what sets the Nottingham Road Hotel apart is its meticulous preservation of architectural elegance.

Booking a stay in one of the hotels allows you to enjoy modern comforts while stepping back in time to explore the history and heritage of South Africa.

The Winston Hotel, Johannesburg

The Winston Hotel, Picture: INSTAGRAM

The Winston Hotel is a place where history and modern luxury merge. What sets Winston apart from most places is its unwavering dedication to preserving its heritage.

From the grandeur of its elegant lobby to the warmth exuded by the staff, every facet of The Winston reflects a commitment to maintaining the essence of its past.

From the outside on Tottenham Avenue, it might seem pretty normal but once you’re inside, you are transported to a whole different era of hotel vibes.

Guest will notice the place is all spruced up in fancy decor that’s one-of-a-kind, including authentic artwork. Guest can embrace the sophistication that’s complemented by a genuine warmth that makes guests feel at home.

The Winston Hotel doesn’t just tell a story; it lives and breathes it. The meticulous attention to detail is evident at every turn, adding an extra layer of richness to your experience.

The personalised service, a hallmark of The Winston, ensures that your stay is nothing short of exceptional, where every need is met with care and finesse.