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: Siyabonga Suite

Siyabonga Suite 15 at Hartford House

Hartford House Siyabonga Suite 15
(Photos : Sally Chance)

Siyabonga Suite 15

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, Siyabonga has become the suite of choice of His Royal 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!

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.


The Summerhill / Hartford Estate / Robyn Hodson (p)

The Summerhill / Hartford Estate / Robyn Hodson (p)


Following is an article which appears on the travel website, Trufflepig : The Sounder, written by the ever so eloquent travel writer and editor for justtheplanet.comRobyn Hodson. Trufflepig describes Robyn as a writer, who when not eating like a horse or riding off into African sunset, takes the time to write for The Sounder.

"Sweeping up the driveway toward Hartford House and looking out over the undulating emerald pastureland you know you’re in for something special. The history of the farm dates way back to Queen Victoria, and the British Royal Family famously accepted their copy of the Treaty of Vereeniging (ending the Anglo Boer War in 1902) on its balcony in 1922. It’s the colonial country house equivalent of one of the magnificent champion thoroughbreds sired on its property: a thing of beauty and grace… standing proud under big African skies ‘neath the shade of the dramatic Drakensberg Mountain Range.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Hartford House is for adults. Especially affluent ones who love eating. If you’re on a diet I’d suggest driving right on by as it’s all about the food and people come from far and wide to sample their home-grown cuisine. It’s where you really get to test your inner ‘Mr Creosote’ and it would be wrong to pitch up and not partake of every last mouth-watering morsel on its sensational menu.

As you’ll need to be fork-lifted out of the restaurant, it’s a good thing Hartford House boasts 14 luxury suites – I stayed in one by the lake named Siyabonga (‘give thanks to’ in Zulu). And yes, I promptly gave thanks all over the show for my private pool, under-floor heating, luxurious linens and bathroom with not one but TWO enormous tubs!

There is so much to do in the area. A truly Hartford experience includes a ride or wander around the famous stud farm, a treatment at the wellness centre, trips to Giant’s Castle, drives through the Midlands Meander (a local art-and-craft route)… or curl up with a book in the sunshine on the rambling, wrap-around veranda just like a lazy pussycat.

My view: get there fast… it’s only a matter of time before the racehorses wise up to their inferior stable accommodation and you find one soaking in the bathtub or sneaking into the pantry."

trufflepig link


wedding at hartford house kwazulu natal south africa

A Hartford Wedding

Durban, South Africa

 It’s always gratifying to receive feedback from guests who stay aHartford 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 theripadvisor.com website.

We booked Hartford House for my daughter’s wedding.  We took over the whole hotel for two nights. What an unbelievable experience! All the guests from the United Kingdom and South Africa thought it was a very romantic location for a wedding. 

The food we had at the reception was, as expected, excellent. The accommodation in the suites which overlook the lake was out of this world.  I do not think I have stayed in a room anywhere in the world as large as the one at Hartford House.  We also took advantage of the guided tour of the stud farm which was very interesting and informative. 

My daughter could not have had a better wedding experience. The staff could not do enough for us during our stay.  A highlight was the performance by a local group of young Zulu dancers which the hotel arranged for the evening before the wedding.  They were the best we’ve seen.

London, England

hartford house south africa ezulweni lake suites

Ezulweni Lake Suites

During our stay I mentioned to the manager that they should put Hartford House on the TripAdvisor site, and I’m glad she did!

This is a fabulous place for ambience, countryside views, peace and tranquillity and excellent food.  We were lucky that, while we were there, a top South African jockey and his family were staying and, together with them, we had a guided tour of the stud farm with Mick Goss, the owner. They look after and breed for many of the top owners in the world. The horses are amazing! There are just fields of mares and foals.

They have several rooms, the best definitely being the suites which overlook the fishing dam which is quite good for fly-fishing. My husband also went on a fly-fishing trip on the small trout rivers nearby which were demanding but, apparently, very good.

I would thoroughly recommend Hartford House.

Cape Town, South Africa

hartford house south africa siyabongo suite bedroom

Siyabonga Suite 15 Bedroom

We booked at Hartford House in Natal for 2 nights, due to the fact that the on-site restaurant was voted as one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa.

The Siyabonga Suite we stayed in is completely separate from the whole estate, overlooking the dam. The suite itself was massive with a complete lounge with fireplace, entrance area, and a big bedroom with seating space. The bathroom was the cherry-on-top with 2 freestanding baths next to each other for bathing. A massive shower room with separate toilet and dressing area completed the suite. Everything in the suite was in neutral earthy colours and our suite even had a grass roof. The materials used to build the suite were made by the locals with their local building materials.

The main building is absolutely beautiful. The building is still the old original sandstone farmhouse. Inside, portions of the ceilings are even stained glass, which lets light through during the day and is absolutely amazing. The main building houses the restaurant, lounge, porch and breakfast area. Everything has old world charm, yet is updated with modern style and done tastefully. It is a beautiful house.

The estate itself is on a working stud farm and apparently breeds some of the best horses in the world. We did see some horses and it's understandable why. The estate is massive with every inch of ground manicured to perfection.

The highlight of our stay, however, was the restaurant. Being avid “foodies”, the dinner and breakfasts during our stay were mouth-watering sensations each time. I'm not going into detail, but each course was made with fresh ingredients from the estate and had a perfect combination of tastes. Even breakfast was a three-course meal, and not the normal buffet with a selection of everything. The three-course breakfast was a refreshing experience with exquisite combinations.

All in all, this estate combines everything perfectly. The proximity to the Drakensberg is also very nice, as it's only 50kms from Giant's Castle.

We loved our stay here and will be back again and again.