Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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The only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world!

A place at the same time comfortable beyond dreams, yet innocent of pretence.
— Hartford House

We are lucky to live where we do, in a boundless, unconquered world, where the plains roll away to the great skies beyond. There are those who will tell you there is no other place quite like it.

But we are equally fortunate in the people who came before us. Their footprints are everywhere at Hartford. The old manor house built by the family of the colony’s last Prime Minister, stands alone among the best homes of a splendid era. Built at a time when great wars were being waged by great nations for the spoils of our region, anybody who was anyone, knew the portals of this grand old dame.

Yet long before the intrusion of these well scripted events, an ancient people lived here in quiet serenity among the plants and animals of our kingdom, and they built their abodes with the materials of the neighbourhood.

These are the people that gave birth to Ezulweni, a reversion to the methods of old, and a sensual interpretation of the way things were. The juxtaposing of Hartford House with Ezulweni provides our travellers with an insight into our colonial past, and a glimpse of the imaginations of our Zulu craftsmen, whose creative hands are embedded in the finishes.

In so many ways, Hartford stands apart for its originality. Its architecture, views, dining, sounds, scents, its racehorses and its people, are all exhilarating surprises, unique to this Zululand, to this property, and to Africa.

Hartford has gained and regained from the cultures it celebrates. It is life’s exception.

Nhlanhla Suite 16 at Hartford House

Hartford House Nhlanhla Suite 16
(Photos : Sally Chance)

Nhlanhla Suite 16

Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language's most wonderful words. It really means "good luck", but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.

This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni ("in the heavens") eco extension to Hartford House's colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region's colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what's possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.

In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820's and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban's "grand old dame", the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl's introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal.

The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another "tough" day in Africa!

Nhlanhla has become the suite of choice of His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, ruling monarch of the Mountain Kingdom, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he keeps several horses which feed his and his nation's passion for the equine species.

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Emanzini Suite 11 at Hartford House

Emanzini Suite 11 / Hartford House (p)

Emanzini Suite 11 / Hartford House (p)

We are blessed on our farms with an abundance of water, with numerous underground springs spread across the length and breadth of the property. The word Emanzini means “at the waterside” in Zulu, and this suite takes its name from its proximity to the swimming pool, the Wellness Centre and the springs. . “The Springs” was also the name of the farm in East Griqualand on which Pat Goss snr. founded his renowned racehorse breeding enterprise in the 1930’s.

Emanzini was one of the first exercises in building with bricks and mortar for our previously unskilled Zulus, who in our opinion, made an excellent job of what seemed like an impossible task when we first set out.

This suite fronts onto the old wisteria pergola, which dates back to the foundation of the Manor House, in 1875. The Moors, who were the first occupants of Hartford as we know it, initiated a habit of giving to each other a plant or a piece of garden statuary or ornamentation on wedding anniversaries, and the pergola was one of the first of these. Since then, the Ellises and the Gosseshave perpetuated this rather quaint habit, and most of what you see in the garden today came about as a result.