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.

Filtering by Tag: General Botha


ezulweni lake suites, hartford house, kwazulu natal, south africa

Ezulweni Lake Suites, Hartford House
(Photo : Felicity Hayward)


The Gosses, owners of Hartford House, humbly refer to themselves as "custodians of one of Africa's most treasured legacies". General Botha assumed command of the Boer forces here in 1899, and it was also home to the family of Sir Frederick Moor, the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal.

The deputy prime minister, Colonel Richards, established the world-renowned Summerhill Stud on the property, which today hosts stallions for the Rulers of Dubai. Aside from all this history, the Gosses also rightly revel in the beauty of this spectacular place... and so will you.

Spread across seemingly endless landscaped garden, the 14 rooms have been decorated with dark wood antiques from India and West Africa. Scraping my jaw off the floor, I surveyed the four lakeside suites which are nothing short of spectacular. I was especially taken with the aptly-named Siyabonga Suite ("thank you" in isiZulu) with its twin egg baths and private pool. The beaded chair, the wooden cow heads on the wall and the building materials are all locally sourced.

An emperor-sized round bed dominates the Inkanyezi Suite, while the Nhlanhla Suite ("good luck") combines Burmese antiques with bold green and rich red furnishings and a bright copper bath glints in the bathroom. Made entirely out of hay bales, this amazing example of sustainable luxury accommodation is so close to the lake it is practically floating.

Oh, and by the way, the restaurant I dined in (after my Swedish massage) was in the top 10 at the 2009 Dine Awards. Just go.

Rooms : 15 - four lakeside suites all king with bath and wet room; four garden/pool suites all with bath and shower; three standard kings with bath and shower and three twins with bath and shower.

Prices : R840 - R1555. Meals : Full three-course breakfast included. A la carte lunch and five-course set dinner.


silver spoon


I’m sitting in what is about to become my wife’s new bedroom, in a new house. “Hers” it became when we passed the budget for the third time!

The fold-away doors, all 8 metres of them, have given way to a World Heritage site. To my left lies Ntaba Nquno, where General Botha took command of the Boer forces in November 1899. His predecessor, General Joubert, hero of the first Anglo Boer War, had been wounded the day before at the Battle of Willow Grange, hence the change in O.C.

In the foreground lies one of the planet’s most enchanting valleys, and right here beneath this great hillside, lies the nation’s Champion Racehorse stud. Now I know what the British, the Zulus and the Boers were fighting so furiously about. This is God’s own, and they fought more ferociously for this territory than they did for any other.

Think about that. The British at the time, held dominion over two thirds of the earth’s surface, yet here is where the Empire engaged itself so earnestly, for its greatest military moments, as well as its worst. Since starting this note, I’ve had to walk across the courtyard at the rear of this house, and besides realising my wife got carried away with the size (our plans are simply jotted on the back of exam pads in this part of Zululand, so it’s easy to miscalculate), I also know that, for once in my life, I got really lucky. I married a genius.

The lakeside suites at Hartford House have long borne testimony to her creative talents. The occupancies tell us that, and the admiration of both the architectural and the decorating world confirm it. But “her” house is surely her finest moment.

That said, it really is larger than it should be, and perched beautifully as it is, it’s also a bit on the conspicuous side for a Zulu farmer who still comes to work in a Corsa bakkie, clad in khakis and veldskoens. So I’ve spent the morning planting trees to “hide” it a little!. Equally, this was not the time to be building, though it’s been a 2.5 year project for all the interruptions my management have brought on my builders in the time. You never want to be “splashing out” on a personal indulgence when there are others in pain. The timing was not good, though it might’ve been, had we completed it in 2007 when we first started. My team keeps saying, “purge your conscience, you’ve slaved for it”. I’m consoled only slightly. But it’s to them that Cheryl and I turn with our thanks. In our time here, they’ve run the hard yards with us, they made the sacrifices and at last, they’ve too, reaped their rewards.

Siyabonga, Bakhiti