Wondering where to spend a spooky Halloween this year? Try one of South Africa’s haunted hotels – you’re sure to have a memorable stay.
Also read: Where to find ghosts in South Africa
1. Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein, Karoo
Completed in 1899, the Lord Milner has retained its old-world feel, but with recently refurbished rooms sporting cheerful linen and harlequin-floored en-suite bathrooms. For something different, book into the honeymoon suite with its twin baths. Those on a budget can stay at Matjies Motel, which is part of the Lord Milner and has comfortable rooms (also due for refurbishment) with views onto the river or gardens. The rooms have been upgraded, but it’s lost none of its yesteryear charm. The red-carpeted stairwell is still there, along with the waitresses in their mop caps. There’s a swimming pool and an indigenous garden with a pretty reservoir.
Meals are not included in the room rate, so you can choose whether to eat at the hotel or at The Coffee Shop just a few steps away. An à la carte breakfast is available in the hotel dining room. Have lunch at the Laird’s Arms adjoining the hotel – tuck into large platefuls of pub fare such as bangers and mash or lamb curry. Dinner is served in the hotel and, while the Karoo lamb chops are delicious, I strongly recommend the springbok Wellington. The Coffee Shop serves light meals during the day, along with a somewhat different but rather yummy cactus milkshake.
Also read: meet the humans of Matjiesfontein
Matjiesfontein was originally frequented by those using the Karoo air to seek relief from chest complaints. During the Anglo-Boer War, 10000 British soldiers and 20 000 horses camped on the fields beyond the railway line with the hotel being used as an infirmary. Apparently some of the ghosts of the past linger, the most famous being Olive Schreiner (who frequents the Laird’s Arms) and James Logan, who likes the lounges. There’s card-loving Kate who’s been heard shuffling decks, a negligee-clad Lucy who has never checked out and soldiers on the stairwell. Still, the staff claim they’ve never seen a ghost.
Contact: Tel 023 561 3011, matjiesfontein.com
2. Foxwood House, Johannesburg
Is that footsteps you hear or just creaking floorboards? This historic boutique hotel in Houghton, close to Joburg’s business districts, is surrounded by lush gardens and has large, luxurious suites. Built in 1924, it was one of the first houses in the area and not much has changed, with antique family heirlooms decorating the rooms – look out for the radio gramophone which has been in the same spot since 1936. It seems that not only the original furniture remains. Apart from mysterious footsteps, several guests claim to have seen a lady with a child on the balcony and some have sworn they’ve seen Paul Kruger.
Contact: Tel 011 486 0935, foxwood.co.za
3. The Kimberley Club, Kimberley
Wealthy philanthropist Joe van Praagh insisted on building a private bathroom when he resided here. Seemingly he has never left and he may grace you with his presence if you stay at the boutique hotel that takes you back to the diamond era – he’s been seen in the reading room on the first floor. En suite bedrooms are decorated in colonial style and three dining areas offer delicious meals. There’s plenty to do in the area, including a ghost tour of the city’s other haunted buildings.
Contact : Tel 053 832 4224, www.kimberleyclub.co.za
4. Bulwer Mountain Park Hotel, Bulwer
This KwaZulu-Natal manor house with its creaking floors and Tudor-style accommodation has no less than seven ghosts. You could share a pint with two ghostly drunkards in the bar or bump into one of the three men who reside on the third floor. Then there’s childminder Ruth, seven-year-old Matilda and Wisp, one of the only known ghost dogs in the country. Ghost tours take place every Saturday night, with prizes for the best paranormal photo taken. If ghost hunting isn’t your thing you can also enjoy horse riding, swimming, tennis and bowling.
Contact: Tel 039 832 0026, safarinow.com/go/bulwermountainparkhotel
5. Zorgvliet Country Lodge, Stellenbosch
One of the Cape’s oldest wine farms is in a region where travellers once feared to tread as the dense forest was inhabited by gangs, escaped slaves and wild animals. The only things you may have to watch out for at Zorgvliet today are the mischievous spirits who open and close doors or play with light switches in the tasting room in the original homestead. Taste award-winning wines, visit the deli, enjoy a picnic or spend a night in an individually decorated room in the luxurious Country Lodge with views over vineyards and mountains.
Contact: Tel 021 885 1399, www.zorgvlietwines.com
6. Glen Lodge and Pub, Cape Town
Originally the Glencairn Hotel, this family-friendly spot between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town is perfect to watch southern right whales in False Bay. Stay the night in an en suite room with a view of Glencairn Beach and you may also encounter two ghostly residents. Some claim to have seen a woman and a little boy on the stairs of the hotel and their presence is occasionally felt when furniture is moved around. Enjoy spirits of a different kind at the Stoep and Swing pub or have a meal with a view at the Bay Café.
Contact: Tel 021 782 0315, www.theglenlodgeandpub.co.za
7. The Nottingham Road Hotel, Nottingham Road, Kwa-Zulu Natal
If you leave your room in a bit of a mess at this historical landmark hotel along the Midlands Meander, you are likely to come back to find it neat and tidy. You can thank Charlotte, the resident house-proud ghost who apparently puts away clothing and tidies beds. She seemingly favours room number 10 as this is where it is rumoured that she fell (or was pushed?) to her death.
Contact: Tel 033 266 6151, www.nottieshotel.co.za