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: Inkanyezi Suite

Inkanyezi Suite 14 at Hartford House

Hartford House Inkanyezi Suite 14
(Photos : Sally Chance)

Inkanyezi (Morning Star) Suite 14

The word Inkanyezi means the first or the evening 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 Goss while she was busy remodelling 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.

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Mbulelo Suite 13 at Hartford House

Hartford House Mbulelo Suite 13
(Photos : Sally Chance)

Mbulelo (Thanksgiving) Suite 13

One of the "eco" suites making up Hartford's Ezulweni ("in the heavens") collection, Mbulelo was fashioned almost entirely from locally sourced materials. The mud bricks were harvested from the clay foundations on the site on which the suite stands today, mixed with horse dung and shredded horse bedding, and then sun-baked (as opposed to "kiln" baked) for the purpose. Almost all the timber, as well as the stone and slate, has come from the estate itself or its immediate environs, while the doors and shutters were imported by Cheryl Goss from India while she was busy remodelling what is now Lynton Hall, where the furnishings echo that property's colonial past, and its association with indentured Indian labour.

These pieces were "leftovers" from that project, and there are other recollections of them to be seen in the columns around the neighbouring rondavel suite, Inkanyezi and the other with the "garden" roof, Siyabonga. Mbulelo means "thank you" in Xhosa, the language Mick Goss grew up with. It's as much a gesture of thanks for the fact that this building, with its local materials, built by our Zulu staff and possessed of a flat roof with all the potential for "leakage", hasn’t disintegrated after several years in existence, as it is for the gratitude we owe for the environment in which we live, and the remarkable people among whom we live.

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 Mbulelo.

hartford house logo

For more information please visit :


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.


Hartford Restaurant KZN Midlands

Hartford House Restaurant


It’s always gratifying to receive feedback from guests who stay at Hartford House, as an enormous amount of effort goes into making every guest’s stay a memorable one. It was therefore with deep appreciation that we received these reviews via the Tripadvisor.com website.

We spent only 24 hours at Hartford House, but the memories will last a lifetime. From the moment we arrived and were offered a complimentary cocktail, we knew we had arrived somewhere special. The location was beautiful, tranquil and instantly relaxing.

We stayed in the Inkanyezi suite, which was a very impressive rondavel, built by locals, which was situated overlooking the fishing dam, with our own private plunge pool.

The accommodation was very special, from the 8 foot circular bed, to the bath for two (in which we drank champagne from the mini bar!) and the views and the sunloungers, all of which made us feel very special! We also had treatments at the wellness centre which contributed to our overall feeling of well being.

The food was out of this world, with the five course dinner a highlight. The restaurant was voted best Restaurant in South Africa in 2009 and this honour is well deserved. It was without doubt the best meal we have ever eaten. Save room for breakfast though, as this is equally impressive!

As you probably realise, we were impressed with this place, but quite apart from the quality of the accommodation and food, what impressed us most was the courage and determination of the owners and their Zulu staff to make a success of Hartford House and in an area of enormous unemployment and poverty, they are creating an amazing success story. Go there, support their efforts and have an experience you won't forget.



hartford house siyabonga suite lounge

Siyabonga Suite Lounge

We spent one night at Hartford House in the Siyabonga suite for a special celebration, our stay was absolute bliss, from our drive to the hotel passing beautiful green scenery to our departure after breakfast on Sunday morning. From the minute you enter the gates absolute silence and beauty greet you, everywhere you look you see evidence to detail, the grounds are in pristine condition, the gardens a gorgeous riot of colour. The main house is well maintained and has beautiful furniture and exquisite mouldings and even stained glass on the ceilings. Check in was smooth, we were given a refreshing drink, while a few details were filled in.

The Siyabonga suite is one of the stand alone cottages at the dam edge, it has its own little splash pool with a water feature and an outdoor area, including 2 hammocks, overlooking the dam. The suite itself is big with a separate lounge area, lovely bedroom and dressing area, the bathroom has 2 stand alone baths as well as a separate wet room with a rain shower. The suite was clean and well maintained. The walks through the property were amazing, being able to get so close to the horses was very special.

Saturday dinner is an event at Hartford, with live entertainment by Zulu dancers, however unfortunately for us there was a problem and the dancers could not turn up, but Mick’s beautiful story telling made us proud to be South African and we learned more about our country’s as well as Hartford’s rich history. The food was sublime, Jackie is truly a star, she accommodated us with our dietry requirements, so we were able to enjoy a gastronomic feast. The staff were friendly and attentive.

When we got back to our room, the staff had been to turn down the bed, the chocolates were delicious and the rose petals on the bed and in the bath made us feel very special.

Sunday breakfast was not the usual buffet but another gastronomic feast.

Sadly we had to leave, but the peace and tranquillity of the place refreshed our souls.

Marsh Shirtliff, Mike and Carol Bass make the Pilgrimage

mike and carol bass with marsh shirtliff at hartford house

Mike and Carol Bass with Marsh Shirtliff pictured awaiting their famous
Hartford salmon omelettes
(Photo : Leigh Willson)

With the 2009 renewal of Africa's greatest horserace, the Vodacom Durban July, now just a few days away, we have already welcomed an array of racing's eminent personalities through the gates of Hartford.

One of whom is Marsh Shirtliff. Marshis not a superstitious man, not as far as we know, yet he does know that there hasn’t been a July winner in the past twenty years whose connections have not made it to Summerhill for the July, or at the very least, for our Stallion Day on the Sunday afterwards. The trick is either to make it beforehand or to make sure you’ve accepted the invitation in advance for Stallion Day, otherwise you risk taking on history. So Marsh dragged Mike and Carol Bass to the farm on a spectacular Sunday morning, and they took up their lodgings in the Inkanyezi and Nhlanhla suites while the Bass stable was cleaning up in the big events in Cape Town.

Logic tell us Pocket Power is a shoe-in for the big race, but Mike Bass (and you’d better be listening, if you intend having an interest in the big event next Saturday) thinks River Jetez is twice the filly she was last season. Let’s not forget what a big race she ran in the 2008 Vodacom Durban July, and if she’s twice as good as that, Pocket Power himself will need to have made some improvement to keep her out. And that he undoubtedly has, having had a trouble free “prep” for the first time in his life.

Of course, with three of our own in the line-up, it would be uncharitable of us not to wish them everything of the best, but we really hope that if either of them fluff their lines, the gates will open for Thandolwami, Outcome or Catmandu.