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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Siyabonga Suite 15 at Hartford House

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

In Zulu the word Siyabonga means “we are grateful” or “give thanks to”, and this suite is part of the Ezulweni (meaning “in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford’s own colonial styled origins. The suite was named that way by our Zulu building team once complete, as much echoing their own relief at having accomplished what was for them in the nature of something unique in architectural style, as it was for the natural beauty and ambience which the suite exudes.

Built with materials harvested largely off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or otherwise acquired in the near vicinity, Siyabonga is characterized by its collection of African artifacts and its stunning sleeping quarters, clad in local Drakensberg sandstone. The bathroom features romantically aligned twin tubs, and the suite is rendered with a combination of mud and locally harvested river pebbles, all of which has withstood the ravages of our summer thunderstorms and occasional winter snowfalls with surprising resilience. The Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss while she was overseeing the renovation of Lynton Hall, which she decorated in Colonial antiques, recalling the arrival of Indian indentured labour for the colony’s fledging sugar industry.

In recent times, Siyabongahas become the suite of choice of HisRoyal Highness Sheikh Mohammed of the Ruling Family of Dubai, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he stands several stallions and mares of world renown. Another visitor of fame whose name has become embedded in the lore of Siyabonga, is Angus Gold, a celebrated reveller, who is also associated with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

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 Siyabonga.

In contrast to the natural materials with which the suite was erected, 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!

Inkanyezi Suite 14 at Hartford House

View from Inkanyezi's private deck / Felicity Hayward (p)

View from Inkanyezi's private deck / Felicity Hayward (p)

The word Inkanyezi means the first or the morning star in Zulu, and this suite was christened in that calling by the Zulus who built it. Most of our Zulu staff come from rural environs, and almost all of them have grown up in rondavels built of mud. Yet those that were engaged in building Inkanyezi marvelled that people of European descent should be building with materials of mud, timber and thatch, while most of our African brethren these days have embraced the materials used by Europeans.

To them, this example of a rondavel resembled a shining star, hence their selection of the most prominent star to portray their emotions. Most of the materials used in the suite were sourced either off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or from the immediate vicinity, with raw mud bricks forming the basis of the walls and a mud and straw rendering applied instead of plasterwork.

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 Inkanyezi.

There are two especially interesting pieces in the suite, namely the 1820 convent linen press acquired from the old Orange Free State (as we used to know it), while the painting on the wall, depicting a North African market scene, is by an unknown but obviously talented African artist.

The main entrance door is from India, and was chosen by Cheryl Gosswhile she was busy remodeling what is now Lynton Hall, where the antique furnishings echoed that property’s colonial past and its association with indentured Indian labour. The verandah columns are of Rhajastani origin.