How bet­ter to cel­e­brate Hal­loween next month than by hun­ker­ing down with a ghost or two at an at­mo­spheric (but thor­oughly comfy) ho­tel for a week­end?

Good Housekeeping (South Africa) - - T R AV E L - By Gly­nis Horn­ing


WHERE: In Matjies­fontein on the N1 be­tween Touws River and Laings­burg, 250km from Cape Town. WHAT: This stately her­itage-site ho­tel on the fringe of the Great Karoo was built by Scots­man James Lo­gan in 1899, the year that the An­glo-Boer War started, and named for Lord Al­fred Mil­ner, gover­nor of the Cape from 1897 to 1899. It served as head­quar­ters of the Cape Com­mand and a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal, giv­ing rise to some of its leg­endary ghosts. To­day it has 49 guest rooms, some set in the gar­den (one with its

Matjies­fontein Ho­tel own swim­ming pool), oth­ers in the main ho­tel, which has been care­fully up­dated to pre­serve its Vic­to­rian feel. Floor­boards still creak, the plush main lounge has a harp and 100-year-old pi­ano, and the sweep of scar­let stair­case is straight out of The Shin­ing. The el­e­gant din­ing room serves break­fast and din­ner from an à la carte menu, with the fa­mous Karoo lamb chops not to be missed. The Laird’s Arms pub pre­pares a va­ri­ety of English-style dishes. THE HAUNT­ING: Be­sides the sounds of sol­diers tread­ing the stairs (the av­er­age age of those who died was 25), lis­ten for Kate, a nurse who played cards with her pa­tients un­til she died mys­te­ri­ously at 19. She can re­port­edly be heard shuf­fling her deck in what is now Kate’s Card Room. Watch for a glimpse of the mous­tached Lo­gan, founder of the town and a mem­ber of the Magic Cir­cle, who is said to fre­quent the back lounges, and Lucy, a guest who died and never left, wan­der­ing the pas­sages in a pale night­gown. There have even been re­ported sight­ings of the ghost of Olive Schreiner, au­thor of The Story Of An African Farm, who lived in a rented cot­tage nearby for sev­eral years. INFO: From R475 shar­ing on week­ends, ac­com­mo­da­tion only; chil­dren aged two to 12 pay 30% less. Call 023 561 3011 or visit www.matjies­fontein.com.


WHERE: Not­ting­ham Road Village, KZN Mid­lands, about a three-hour drive from Dur­ban and four hours from Joburg. WHAT: Not­ties, as lo­cals af­fec­tion­ately call this at­mo­spheric ho­tel and its cel­e­brated pub, dates back to 1854, when an inn was built to serve the sol­diers sta­tioned at nearby Fort Not­ting­ham to pro­tect farm­ers from Bush­men cat­tle rustlers. When the rail­way was laid, the present stately two-storey build­ing went up in 1891 as the Rail­way Ho­tel. To­day it has 14 cosy en suite rooms and 10 new gar­den suites with pa­tios, all with DSTV, tea and cof­fee fa­cil­i­ties, and heaters. The din­ing room serves fine coun­try fare à la carte, but be sure to in­dulge in tra­di­tional pub grub by the fire in the leg­endary Not­ties Pub, es­pe­cially on Fri­day nights, when lo­cal farm­ers descend on the pub. THE HAUNT­ING: On misty Mid­lands evenings, it’s easy to imag­ine the ghosts of dead sol­diers pa­trolling the grounds, or the clip-clop of the horse of Christo­pher Groom. This early farmer was rid­ing fu­ri­ously to reach the ho­tel in a vi­o­lent storm when light­ning struck near the ho­tel’s first ten­nis courts, killing his horse and leav­ing a hole through the sad­dle. Groom was knocked un­con­scious, but was un­harmed. Not­ties’ favourite ghost, how­ever, is Char­lotte, ru­moured to roam the rooms, es­pe­cially num­ber 10, mov­ing vases, straight­en­ing bed linen and tidy­ing clothes. She is said to have been a woman of easy virtue or a cham­ber­maid, who jumped to her death from the bal­cony of room 10 when spurned by a lover. Some say she was pushed…. INFO: Mid­week: R640 per per­son shar­ing. Week­end: R690 per per­son shar­ing. Kids in beds: R380; kids on ex­tra mat­tresses: R275. Gar­den suites: from R800 per per­son. Rates in­clude break­fast. Call 033 266 6151 or visit www.not­tieshotel.co.za.


WHERE: 13 5th Street in Houghton, Joburg. WHAT: One of the first houses in this plush ’burb, Foxwood House was built in 1924 in two-and-a-half acres of gar­den. Its soar­ing ivy-clad façade and bal­cony set the tone for grand in­te­ri­ors with wooden pan­elling and stone walls, fur­nished with fam­ily heir­looms. To­day Foxwood is a bou­tique ho­tel with ev­ery amenity, from bar fridges to free Wi-Fi, but re­mains a haven of old-world tran­quil­lity, where you can re­treat from the bright-light bus­tle of the city and let your imag­i­na­tion roam. Dine in style in the à la carte restau­rant, or re­quest a pri­vate ta­ble in the gar­den. You may even be able to catch a stage show or mu­sic per­for­mance in the in­ti­mate Foxwood House Theatre. Then re­tire to your suite, turn off the DSTV and lis­ten…. THE HAUNT­ING: Guests have re­ported strange foot­falls and creak­ing doors, and sight­ings of a ghostly woman and her young child. Some say they’ve seen the fig­ure of Paul Kruger, in­spired per­haps by a visit to the SA Na­tional Mu­seum of Mil­i­tary His­tory, a 15-minute walk away. ‘There’s no omi­nous pres­ence. If any­thing, it’s felt as be­nign and even com­fort­ing,’ says co-owner Pi­eter de Vos. ‘The Earth’s mag­netic field is said to be strong in the area in front of the house, and most peo­ple feel at ease in the house and on the grounds.’ INFO: From R945 per per­son shar­ing, in­clud­ing break­fast; kids un­der 10 shar­ing with par­ents stay free. Call 011 486 0935 or visit www.foxwood.co.za.


WHERE: 12-14 Glen Road, Glencairn, about 5km north of Si­mon’s Town. WHAT: The ho­tel was built by ar­chi­tect John Parker in 1904, and the first peo­ple to stay were a Ge­orge Scott and his wife, Renée, and son, David, who seem to have used it as their home. The place changed hands af­ter the mys­te­ri­ous death of Mrs Scott and her son. Now new own­ers have lov­ingly re­stored it with a retro, quirky twist, play­ing up the high ceil­ings and glossy wooden floors and ban­is­ters. Seven en suite rooms fo­cus on dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of South African cul­ture and his­tory. The à la carte restau­rant and Stoep and Swing pub are pop­u­lar with lo­cals for de­li­cious sea­sonal food, drinks spe­cials, live mu­sic, quiz nights, beer fes­ti­vals, com­mu­nity mar­kets and old-school vinyl par­ties. Best of all, friendly staff will fill you in on the ghost sto­ries. THE HAUNT­ING: Glencairn has long been ru­moured to be one of the most haunted sites on the south­ern penin­sula. There have been many sight­ings and un­ex­plained en­coun­ters, and para­nor­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tors filmed in the ho­tel last year. Ru­mour has it that Renée and David met their un­timely deaths in the ho­tel stair­well. There have been re­ports of a dark-haired woman in a white gown ap­pear­ing in mir­rors in var­i­ous ho­tel rooms, and of a boy aged about five run­ning in front of the hot pass of the kitchen. He plays pranks by mov­ing things and break­ing glasses. It’s be­lieved an­other three en­ti­ties haunt along­side them. INFO: From R450 per per­son or R600 for two per room per night (ac­com­mo­da­tion only); kids un­der two stay free. Call 021 782 0314 or visit www.hotel­glen­cairn.co.za.


WHERE: 72 Du Toitspan Road, Kim­ber­ley. WHAT: The ven­er­a­ble Kim­ber­ley Club was founded in 1881 by Ce­cil John Rhodes, af­ter he formed De Beers Con­sol­i­dated Mines at the age of just 28. As one early vis­i­tor ob­served, ‘the place was stuffed with more mil­lion­aires to the square foot than any other place in the world.’ Vis­i­tors down the years have in­cluded King Ge­orge VI and Queen El­iz­a­beth, who fa­mously left a di­a­mond ring in the bath­room. In 2004, the club was opened to the pub­lic, and is now a four-star ho­tel, with 17 en suite bed­rooms and lux­ury suites blend­ing the Club’s orig­i­nal fur­ni­ture with mod­ern pieces. The Rhodes Grill Restau­rant is renowned for its fine din­ing and wines, while the Café Vitello of­fers more ca­sual fare on the front ve­randa – but watch for fire balls. (See be­low.) THE HAUNTINGS: The old min­ing town is said to have about 150 haunted houses and more ghosts than any­where else in South Africa. They range from the spirit of its first li­brar­ian in the his­toric Africana li­brary, who took arsenic when caught tin­ker­ing with the ac­counts, to a phan­tom Scots­man who plays the pipes on the nearby Magers­fontein An­glo-Boer War bat­tle­field when the moon is bright. The Club it­self is said to have a ghostly waiter who haunts the din­ing room, an old man who wan­ders the up­stairs pas­sages, and a woman in Vic­to­rian dress who stands on the beau­ti­ful wooden stair­case un­der a stained-glass win­dow. Guests have re­ported lights sway­ing mys­te­ri­ously in the old De Beers board­room, a ghost dog howl­ing on the ve­randa and balls of fire fall­ing from the ve­randa ceil­ing. INFO: From R870 per per­son shar­ing on week­ends, bed and break­fast; chil­dren un­der 12 pay half price and un­der-sixes stay free, shar­ing. Call 053 832 4224 or visit www.kim­ber­l­ey­club.co.za. Book a Kim­ber­ley Ghost Tour at 083 732 3189. GH

Lord Mil­ner Ho­tel

Not­ting­ham Road Ho­tel

Foxwood House

The Kim­ber­ley Club and Bou­tique Ho­tel

Ho­tel Glencairn

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