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“Majestic Oasis”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Illyria House

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Illyria House
Ranked #3 of 72 Hotels in Pretoria
Certificate of Excellence
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Majestic Oasis”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2014

Stayed over for one night this past weekend and everything about Illyria is magical. From the moment you walk through the gates it feels like you've been transported to a different world where you are the ruler and where Illyria is your palatial residence.

The full body massage managed to transport us right back to our Thai honeymoon last year. Johannes looked after and shared stories with us like we've known each other for many years.

Dinner and breakfast was served on time and presented very tastefully. The food itself was five star quality and came in sufficient portions which is not always the case with fine dining.

Our room, or rather suite, left my wife speechless and no foto's can do them justice.

The antique furniture, art pieces and general maintenance of the residence is also worth mentioning. We could really pick up that a lot of personal care and attention has gone into keeping Illyria magical.

As a Pretoria resident I'm really proud to have Illyria house as the best accommodation option for travelers to our lovely city.

Room Tip: Ask for a suite in the main house, preferebly the Catherine suite where Nelson Mandela has also stay...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank PRdT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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290 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (66)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 9, 2014

We decided to spend our family Christmas at Illyria House and could not have chosen a better venue!! From the beautiful antiques and furniture to the gourmet meals to the stunning gardens and the warm and caring staff (who are always willing to go the extra mile), this has been one of the most enjoyable stays!

I will gladly recommend Illyria house to any traveller and wil definately be back!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Werjhb40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
25 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 4, 2014

With such high ratings on trip advisor we were expecting something really special, but unfortunately this was not the case. This is first time top on trip advisor for hotels has failed us.

At first instance the place is much smaller and more run down than the photos indicate. Other than the main entrance halls - which are beautiful - the house is in serious need of investment and a tidy up. Also the beds desperately need replaced / repaired - lumpy and squeaky - making for a poor nights sleep.

The only real highlight for us was the breakfast - good food, garden view and service.

This place has potential but is certainly not 5 stars - we would say more 3 stars and a little run down.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank akentmm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 29, 2013

My niece is out in SA from the UK and I wanted to treat her to something really different- something truly special where top class service meets excellent cuisine in an amalgam of stunning architecture, beautiful gardens and general all round beauty and hospitality.
I may be a tad biased as I have had the honour of dining at this wonderful Colonial-meets French/Italian Riviera hideaway, so my expectations were high.

Well, our welcome could not have been warmer- from all the staff from our hostess, the charming Rietha to our two generous and exceptionally capable waitrons Johannes and Patient, to the graceful owner herself Maritjie.
There were other hotel guests staying on the property, yet we were made to feel as though we were the only people who mattered.

The sumptuous surroundings and exquisite interiors boasting some of the most amazingly precious antiques is something to behold, The Italian/French themed Colonialism that the architecture itself boasts takes one's breath away when one thinks that this is just a little "humble" property in a Pretoria suburb.

High tea was scrumptious from the savoury to the sweet and very generous in portions. Tea was filled, and refilled, every need attended to with such humility and grace.
We asked to take our tea at the Italian swimming pools at the bottom of the garden, which in my opinion offer a sense of privacy and added class.
I highly recommend Illyria House for that special treat, be it a picnic, tea or their Haute Cuisine meals.
The Bali/ Moroccan themed beauty spa is something all on its own and 'holistic' is not enough of an adjective to describe this part of the property.
This is where absolute old world charm and taste meet top class service in surroundings you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Gauteng.
A must!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Mekchris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hildenborough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
29 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 27, 2013

We stayed one night in early Dec 2013 after transferring from Jo'burg Airport to catch the Rovos Rail to Cape Town the next day.

First impressions were a bit odd the place seemed shut up, we were met eventually and the owner greeted us.

The house is lovely with fantastic furniture and artefacts very colonial. Our room was in the main house and had a wonderful bathroom and separate study and was very big with a balcony facing over the breakfast area. Very romantic.

The main issue we had was that the electricity didn't work for the entire day we were there. We were treated well, the service was good and they could still provide food. But with the no electricity it all seemed a bit surreal.

The food was nice but not exceptional and they did not charge us for all extras and drinks due to the electricity problem. We noted on leaving a standby generator arriving.

Room Tip: Stay in the main house ask for room with balcony that overlooks eating area.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Pasarell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 17, 2013

My friend and I were looking at hosting a ladies brunch for our 40th birthday and were delighted when we found Illyria House! We decided on having our brunch (for 20 ladies) at the pool area (which is really beautiful) with lots of sparkling wine, fruit, cheese and bread baskets, and deliciously made finger foods (loved the asparagus tartlets). The staff were excellent and the event went off smoothly, with everything we asked for being attended to with friendliness and efficiency. This really was the perfect place to celebrate and enjoy being spoilt (all had neck and back massages). Everyone had an awesome time and kept on commenting as to why we haven't discovered this treasure of a place before (having all lived in Pretoria for many years).

A few of us also slept over in the main house and were treated further with a delicious dinner, excellent service, gorgeous crockery and cutlery and the most beautiful setting to end off a truly special day.

We really had a great experience, with very little (if anything) to complain about. And would highly recommend Illyria House for hosting any special occasion. Thank you Marietjie and especially Boniface, for all you did in making this a memory we will all cherish.

Room Tip: Loved the old style rooms with antique French furniture.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank COLE449
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2013

I don't take any joy from eviscerating a hotel, but honestly my stay at Illyria House has been a tragi-comedy of very poor experiences. This is all the sadder because – as everyone on this forum states - the staff are so very charming and genuinely desirous of being helpful. But, due to what appears to be benign or deliberate neglect of the hotel by the owners, the staff do not have the tools or infrastructure to allow them to succeed. Unfortunately, despite an undoubted shabby-chic charm, as a hotel Illyria House fails in every way to be a three – let alone five - star experience.

From a building perspective, my sense is that the place has not been substantially invested in for a decade – for example, in the general areas – and especially outside – the walls are dirty, with decaying paint/plasterwork, and there is a musty/dusty sense to the whole place inside and out. If you decide to stay here make sure you stay in the main building, where the rooms at least appear to be clean, and are reflected to some degree on the website photos. The "Japanese" extension below the main house is not only aesthetically incongruous, but appears to be poorly and cheaply built. The rooms are dark, small, poorly plastered and painted, and some are without air con, which means that you either boil under a duvet or get eaten by the mosquitoes in your room (the dark side of the plentiful, if grubby, water features). After a rainstorm, these rooms are also lethal to get to, involving a hike over poorly drained grass, on slippery and badly maintained steps and through overgrown vegetation. It would seem that management knows that these rooms are problematic/not acceptable, given photos of these rooms are not, as far as I can tell, on the website.

Many other aspects of the experience have also been awful – and in the cases where things have happened outside the hotel’s control, the lack of investment has made things so much worse. Examples:
- Power outages happen, but why don't you have a backup generator as a "five" star establishment (talking to guests, two long outages happened within the last 5 days).
- Dinner took ages to arrive (>1hour, despite ordering earlier in the day), and was mediocre. Even getting wine was slow, as the inadequate number of staff were frequently overburdened. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by the power outage, but breakfast and lunch (with electricity) also took a very long time.
- One of the two beds in my room had stained linens (I slept on the other bed ). The linens are of high quality, btw, but if one becomes stained over time, get it properly cleaned or throw it away.
- When one of the guests finds a hair in their gnocchi, apologize, don't storm back into the dining room in front of everyone asking "Where's the hair? Show me the hair.”
- Worse – don’t try and give the gnocchi which had the hair in it to another guest?!
- It is a nice touch to have sherry, fruit in one's room when one returns in the evening; less nice to find a dirty bowl of something that may have been salsa licked clean by someone unknown, lying on the same tray.
- Ducks wandering through the building are initially cute, less so when they defecate inside and it is not quickly cleaned up.

I realize this review is in contradiction to many glowing ones (though I suspect most reviewers stayed in the main house, which would probably put one in a more tolerant “mindset”). I also understand that some things may have been “bad luck” (if you want to call power outages and torrential rain “bad luck”). But the reason I write this review is that many other things are just plain bad from an operational perspective.

The tragedy is that this could be a wonderful place. The bones of the hotel are fantastic. But because of cheapness or eccentricity or lack of funds, it has fallen into steep decline. Furthermore, in contrast to the staff, the leadership alternates between being snippy or intrusively over-solicitous (at least in my and my friends’ experiences). I really hope that the hotel soon gets the leadership and investment that the house, its staff and its guests need and deserve.

Room Tip: Insist on one in the main house
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Yankie_Briton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Illyria House

Property: Illyria House
Address: 327 Bourke Street | Muckleneuk, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Gauteng > Pretoria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Pretoria
#2 Spa Hotel in Pretoria
#4 Romantic Hotel in Pretoria
#10 Business Hotel in Pretoria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Illyria House 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Ultimate Romantic Getaway. 25 Minutes from the OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) and 5 minutes from the Gautrain Station.The serene beauty of Illyria House has always been an irresistible attraction to all lovers of fine things. Against the backdrop of classical music, fine antiques, 17th century tapestries, and a resident duck family an enchanting colonial lifestyle unfolds. Illyria House is highly appreciated by the discerning traveler for its charm, exquisite cuisine, exclusivity, luxury and unrivalled personalised butler service. We offer intimate soirées by world class musicians. Our Oriental Spa specialises in relaxing massages. Our facilities include a jacuzzi, sauna, heated pool and a cold pool. A wide selection of tours to historical, cultural and wildlife attractions come highly recommended. Personalised shopping is ideal for a last night stay. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Illyria House Hotel Pretoria

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