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Tuesday 26 October 2021

Nelson Mandela’s former home now a luxury boutique hotel

Want to stay somewhere special when you visit Johannesburg? How about sleeping in the former home of one of the greatest men of our generation: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela? 

Before his death, the anti-apatheid icon and South Africa’s first black president owned three home: one in Qunu, the village where he was raised; the second in Soweto and the third in he leafy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, where he lived until his death in 2013. 

The Nelson Mandela Foundation in conjunction with the Motsamayi Tourism Group has converted his last home into a luxury boutique hotel that is dotted with Madiba memorabilia.

It was here that the great leader - an inspiration to millions - hosted the likes of Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton. It later became the headquarters of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 

Sanctuary Mandela offers guests nine rooms capable of hosting up to 18 people and offers retreat spaces for reflection and healing. 

Sally-Anne Grinter, the hotel’s operations manager, describes the experience in these three words: reflection, peace and freedom.

Officially opened last month, Sanctuary Mandela rooms start at around $AU400 a night. 

The presidential suite was Mandela’s old bedroom and there are two meeting rooms, a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and a lovely garden. 

The bar and restaurant are open to the public. 

Grinter says the Nelson Mandela Foundation wanted the property to be self-sustainable instead of standing vacant. 

Accoutrements include replicas of letters Mandela wrote during his lifetime, historic photographs and artworks. 

The green chair at the entrance is the original chair he sat on while reading his daily newspaper under a tree.

Some of Madiba’s favourite dishes, including oxtail - which he ate a boy - are on the menu. Other dishes are traditional to South Africa, like the Nguni sirloin steak and Cape Malay-style fish. 

Cook Xoliswa Ndoyiya, who prepared meals for Mandela and his family for over 22 years, is part of the team that cooks in the restaurant. 

My favourite Johannesburg hotels are the grand The Saxon, coincidentally where Mandela wrote his autobiography, and the delightful boutique Ten Bompas. The Maslow Hotel and the Radisson Blue Gautrain in Sandton are other good options, but Sanctuary Mandela sounds special. 

Bookings are required before visiting the restaurant or bar. For accommodation bookings or more information visit the website.

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