Spion Kop is much more than a hotel – it is an experience of which the hotel is but one part. For us, the ‘package’ included a safari-type drive through the adjacent nature park, complete with drinks at the dam at the end of the Spion Kop lake, a day visiting the nearby battlefields, a day in the Drakenberg Mountains and a morning on horseback in the same nearby nature park. An alternative to the Safari-drive is a boat trip on the lake.
The Lodge is also a working farm, set in its own grounds through which one can walk. The bedroom are scattered around the grounds in various buildings. The bedrooms are spacious, the beds comfortable, and they all look out onto a veranda with views of very pleasant and well maintained grounds. The bedrooms are somewhat jaded – there is a shortage of power sockets (and the power kept failing during our stay), no wifi in the rooms and the decoration is dated. Normally, this would lead me to give a grading of only ‘average’ for this ‘hotel’. However, everything else was so good that I am rating the place as ‘excellent’ – there was in case little time after all the various activities to spend in the bedrooms.
‘Everything else’ started with the owner and his family. We were made to feel part of them from the moment we arrived, and nothing was too difficult for them. We were greeted with cocktails, our bags were taken from us and placed in our rooms and we were then taken on a late afternoon safari that included drinks on top of the imposing Spion Kop dam. We returned for an excellent dinner, with attentive and personable staff, who also put on a song and dance performance on our last night.
The second day was spent visiting the local battlefields, guided by the very knowledgeable owner, Raymond, stopping for a simple lunch at Ladysmith before returning somewhat late to the Lodge for dinner – preceded by cocktails delivered as we stepped off the transport! The third day was spent visiting Cathedral Peak in the Drakensburgs and the fourth morning, just before we left, on a horse ride in the adjacent nature park – at least two of our number had never ridden horses before but nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
It would be a pity to use this Lodge as just somewhere to spend the night – it has so much to offer. We spent three nights there and regretted not having the time for an extra night.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surrounded by low hills that slope up to the towering peaks of the Drakensberg and Free State Mountains. Spion Kop Lodge is the ideal place from where to explore the battlefields, set on an echo farm in Kwazulu-Natal. General Buller’s headquarters during the relief of the Ladysmith campaign, Mount Alice, is located on the farm. The beautifully restored, 8 bedroomed colonial-style farmhouse, is set in tranquil, secure grounds with superb views. Added to this there are two cottages, offering self-catering accommodation in an out-of-Africa setting. There is a library with an excellent collection of historical books, a dining room, cozy pub and a swimming pool. The owner and registered guide, Raymond Heron (F.R.G.S), guides guests to the many historic Battlefield sites, as does his son Alastair. We have 250 different bird species, hiking on the property and Sunset Boat Cruises and horse riding amongst the rhino, giraffe and various other animals. "Arrive as guests, leave as friends." ... more less
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