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“MORE AN EXPERIENCE THAN A HOTEL”
Review of Spionkop Lodge

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Spionkop Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 22, 2014

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.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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Thank Louis L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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219 - 225 of 311 reviews

Reviewed March 6, 2014

The Lodge was recommended to me and didn’t disappoint. Such wonderful, helpful staff. The location of the lodge is amazing as are the grounds. Meals were fantastic, especially the outside BBQ which we enjoyed immensely. I would definitely stay here again and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. Thanks

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Richard W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 3, 2014

This trip was made truly memorable by the fantastic team at Spion Kop lodge. The home from home atmosphere made the whole experience, wonderful with genuine caring hosts and staff team to tend to your every need. I can't wait to go back and see my African family.

Stayed: February 2014, traveled on business
Thank debz140280
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2014

After a long flight from the UK and then a 4 hour drive from Johannesburg we were greeted with a very warm welcome from Lynette who immediately offered us cold drinks as our luggage was whisked away. From that moment on we were made to feel completely at home and nothing was too much trouble.
Our rooms were clean, with very comfortable beds, the bathrooms had full showers (with excellent water pressure) and a bath in each room. We never once locked our rooms and nothing was ever touched/taken, the Lodge is so safe.
You certainly do not go hungry at Spion Kop Lodge. We were staying on a full board basis and breakfast consisted of fresh fruit to start, beautifully presented and then we had a full house breakfast which is the same as a full English. The scrambled eggs were always perfect and you could also have cereal with yoghurt and/or milk. Lunch consisted of a fresh salad (chicken, tuna or trout - we had all 3 and all 3 were lovely) or toasted sandwiches with salad. Dinner was another 4 courses to get through: soup, main course, desert and then a range of cheeses. In our week there we did not have anything to eat that was not well cooked and delicious.
The grounds themselves are beautiful, immaculately kept and with views that can only be described as simply stunning. Wherever you are in the grounds you can order drinks which will be brought to you and you don't have to worry about finding bits of cash to pay with, you simply sign your receipt and a running total will be kept for you so that you know how much you have spent. The prices are incredibly reasonable - especially when you consider the rand against the pound. Whilst we were there the weather was fabulous and we had to dip into the pool to cool down. It is a sort of green colour but the water is filtered, so will not harm you. On a hot day it remains beautifully cold and refreshing to swim in.
We also went on the Battlefield tour with the schoolchildren mentioned by the previous guest commenator and found Raymond's talks to be absolutely fascinating, it actually humbles you to think that men can do such awful things to each other and sometimes men who hold lives in their hands need to consider their actions before they thoughtlessly throw those souls away. The schoolchildren, who had volunteered their time to work in a nearby local school, were absolutely charming, sharing their sweets with two complete strangers and listening intently to the piece of history being shared with the group.
Another excursion we went on was the safari horse ride. This was absolutely brilliant. we had a Zulu guide who really was a horse-whisperer! We found ourselves amongst a herd of zebra, wildebeast and all kinds of antelope. We were up close to giraffe but the highlight had to be being within 20yards of rhino - absolutely magnificent.
However, all of the above pales in comparison to the care that you receive from the Heron family. Raymond, Lynette, Hester and Alistair were all the very best hosts you could possibly wish for. Together they made for an experience that will stay with us forever and leaving Spion Kop was made very difficult as we felt we had truly made friends we will never forget.
Thank you to everyone at Spion Kop but especially Lynette and Raymond.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled on business
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Thank Shuffy2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2014

The lodge is located in beautiful grounds, the staff were friendly and attentive (sometimes a little too attentive) and the food was very good and beautifully presented. However, there were a number of things which made us feel the lodge did not represent good value for money and other travellers should be aware of, e.g. our room (room 5) was not particularly clean, it had a very strong musty smell which despite us leaving the double doors open as much as we could was there for the full 3 days of our stay, the fixtures and fittings were very old and nearly all pine, the shower tiles were grimy, one of the window panes in the bathroom had been replaced with a different frosted glass - in summary the building was very tired and in desperate need of some TLC. There was no fridge or tea and coffee making facilities in the room (tea or coffee could be ordered at any time and the staff would bring it to your room, but sometimes it's nice to be able to make your own), no air conditioning, no tv and drinking water was supplied in a flask, but this was not always topped up and we had to ask. The tap water in the bathroom was a murky brown colour and we were told that if we wanted a bath to add plenty of bubble bath and we wouldn't notice it! The outdoor pool was also a murky green colour and not very inviting, although we were told it was clean. The wifi was only available in the reception area in the main lodge - and if you're an Apple user they had to reboot their server each time you wanted to log on. The Lodge advertises daily battlefield tours, but the day we asked to go we were told Raymond 'wasn't doing a tour today, he suggests you join tomorrows tour (which was with 13 school kids plus their teachers) and go to the Drakensbergs instead today'. In summary it was very expensive for what was provided and not good value for money when compared against all the other accommodation we stayed in during our 22 day tour in SA.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank NRH41
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2014

Warm welcome,huge room(5) overlooking lovely gardens.Main lodge building has amazing valley views to Spionkop. Did a small but really enjoyable game drive & trip to Spionkop battlefield & up to Drakensbergs.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank TillyT1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2014

Excellent 3 night stay with welcoming staff and family. Raymond Heron is a natural raconteur as well as being a very good historian. We learnt a lot. The food and service were very good, and the trips to the game reserve and Spion Kop itself were memorable. We would certainly hope to return some day.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank JudithD44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Spionkop Lodge

Address: R600 | between Ladysmith and Winterton, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Ladysmith
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 17 Specialty Lodging in Ladysmith
Price Range: $128 - $348 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Spionkop Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 8
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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