In October 2020 Dave and I decided to embark on a short road trip. Our first stop was the Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein. We left work at lunch time and headed there via Ceres, taking a leisurely drive through some passes, and detouring into Tulbagh.
A trip back in time
The entire village of Matjiesfontein is a National Heritage Site. Founded in 1884 by James Douglas Logan, it is now part of the Rawdon Trust. It is the site of the first international cricket game played in South Africa as well as the having been the home of Olive Schreiner. During the Boer War it was the headquarters of the Cape Command and also provided refuge for the Jamieson Raid Reformers. The Lord Milner Hotel served as a hospital during the Boer War and is steeped in Victorian history.
The minute we stepped into our room I could imagine myself in the past. In a time when one would sit on the balcony facing the main road to watch the daily train pull into the station. A butler (of course) would bring tea and scones and in the late afternoon, a gin and tonic would suffice. We had an extremely spacious room with access to the large balcony along the front of the hotel. This classically furnished historic luxury room is one of 15 available in the three star hotel. The bed was comfortable and the shower large with great pressure. Two major requirements for me when we stay away from home.
What to expect
Amenities in the room include shower gel and shampoo as well as a coffee maker and kettle. Tea, coffee, UHT milk and sugar is provided as well as coffee pods for the machine. Complimentary water was left next to our bed and the room was air conditioned. Early evening there is a bus tour of the village, given by the very talented and humorous Johnny. He was the most fantastic tour guide we have ever had, and the short trip ends at The Laird’s Arms Pub where you can enjoy that obligatory gin and tonic. The craft gin special for the day we were there was a double tot of either Victoria’s stag strawberry gin or the Vale fynbos gin (R40). As we had already had afternoon drinks, we decided to order wine that we could enjoy with dinner. Our choice was Boer & Brit The Field Marshal (R200).
Dinner at The Lord Milner Hotel
Dinner is not included in the room rate, but the only place you can eat is at the hotel. For starters Dave chose the deep fried biltong ravioli (R90) which he ordered because it was unusual, and he described it as “different”. I had the garlic and rosemary mussels (R95) which were average. Our main course was very good. We both chose the Karoo lamb chops (R195) which were served with parsley baby potatoes, seasonal roast vegetables and a rosemary jus.
The hotel was following strict Covid restrictions at the time of our visit and the cold start to our generous Continental breakfast was brought to the table in individual portions. After we had finished our granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit, and the pastries, we were served a hot breakfast of our choice. I went for the poached eggs which were perfect, and came served with croquettes, bacon and sausage.
The staff were extremely friendly and very professional. This is a place you need to visit once in your life. There is a car museum you can wonder through as well as the Marie Rawdon museum which has the largest private collection in the country.