11 gorgeous places to stay in Pretoria

Posted by Pippa de Bruyn on 29 August 2019

Joburg gets all the attention, but its sister city has history, culture, its own special brand of cool and a few surprises. Instead of passing through when heading north or west, here’s reason enough to stay a night or two.

Feel on top of the world at the new Protea Hotel by Marriott (rugby fans will love it too, as it’s close to Loftus Versveld).

How: TripAdvisor lists accommodation rated by guests, but as much as we love peer reviews, they don’t offer a comparative voice – so how do we know No. 1 is really the best? Pippa de Bruyn, who has reviewed accommodation for 20 years for the likes of Frommer’s and The Telegraph, scours TripAdvisor and other online sites when researching a destination. For Pretoria, she created a longlist of 17 to inspect. The following made the cut.

What I found about accommodation here

• Pretoria has no shortage of hotels but I focused on guest houses and B&Bs, looking for one or more of the following characteristics: historic buildings, personally hosted, well decorated, lush gardens, great views. I also looked for attractive self-catering units – these were more difficult to find.
• Most accommodation options are concentrated in the central suburbs of Sunnyside, Hatfield and Arcadia. If you prefer
a more residential, leafier vibe, then Brooklyn, Waterkloof or Muckleneuk should be the address.
• I spread the net further to uncover gems in the outlying suburbs. If you have a car, the two I chose are definitely worth travelling the extra 15 to 20 minutes.
• Pretoria gets hot in summer – do enquire about air con and/or ventilation; thatched roofs are also a good choice.
• The most useful online research site was Booking.com. Airbnb had surprisingly little to offer and TripAdvisor appears very out of date: my personal favourite lodging, Pierneefs Kraal, is currently listed at No. 182… ’Nuff said.

1. Best hosts

Edward House

TripAdvisor No. 53 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

Immaculately maintained by Jenny and John Robertson, this double-storey house is located in a quiet part of Waterkloof, amid ambassadorial residences and opposite the Pretoria Country Club. Comprising just four rooms, all upstairs, with plenty of comfortable space to unwind in: a guest lounge, reading room and dining room open onto the bird-filled garden with pool. Decor is old-fashioned – plenty of brocade, lace, tapestries – but it’s comforting, and quality is a priority as is evident from the choice of pillows. Interesting company, too: Jenny is a novelist (writing historical romances under the nom de plume Ivy May Stuart), while John is a walking compendium on aspects of SA history. Jenny’s breakfasts enjoy rave reviews; a stroll to the country club for lunch at The Terrace feels de rigueur, but meals are available at Edward House on request.

ROOM TIP Olive Schreiner is the smallest room, and the only one without French doors opening onto a balcony. The Cecil John Rhodes room overlooks the golf course.

COST From R450 per person sharing B&B.

CONTACT 072-757-1111, edwardhouse.co.za

2. Best self-catering

Akanani Apartments

TripAdvisor No. 60 of 153 Speciality Lodgings

Located in Arcadia, on busy Pretorius Street, this four-storey apartment-hotel is a decidedly urban choice, but step through the gate to reception to pick up your key, unlock the door and it’s a great exhale to end the day in your well-designed flat; secure, safe, functional, well-equipped and central. Each open-plan apartment has a lounge area with a dining table and desk; furniture is contemporary, with the marvellous mural-map of the Gautrain line a particularly good decor touch. Kitchens are well set up if you want to self-cater, but there is also an on-site dining room that serves breakfast every morning. Apartments have air con and Wi-Fi, are fully serviced and some have interleading doors to create more space for families. There’s plenty of parking and 24/7 security.

ROOM TIP The fourth floor has the best views of the surrounding streetscape. Corner units are a bit bigger, so ask for
No. 311 or 411. (Alternatively, if Akanani is too urban for your liking, look at the Waterhouse Guest Lodges.

COST From R750 a night (sleep two).

CONTACT 012-341-8948, akanani-apartments.com

3. Best historic gem

Brooklyn Manor

TripAdvisor No. 99 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

If you’re a fan of the Arts and Crafts movement, you’ll love Brooklyn Manor, designed in 1927 by Gordon Leith. An apprentice to sculptor Anton van Wouw before he trained as an architect, Leith worked with and later supplanted Sir Herbert Baker as the favoured architect of the Transvaal elite, designing many public buildings (including Joburg’s Central Railway Station, Barclays Bank and the SA Reserve Bank). Brooklyn Manor is one of his loveliest residential projects, and thankfully his detailing is intact. Sunette and Pieter Krogh bought and renovated in 2011 – at the time, they also owned Osborne House (another of the suburb’s grande dame B&Bs), but decided to focus on Brooklyn Manor. The house offers four en-suite bedrooms upstairs, with another four located in what used to be the stables, behind the pool courtyard. Decor is simple but comfortable; dinners are offered on request.

ROOM TIP Room 7, still with the original stable door, is set up for self-catering. If you’re wanting a twin, room 5 is the one to book.
COST R650 per person sharing B&B.

CONTACT 012-362-4040, brooklynmanor.co.za

4. Best-looking guest house

Lily Rose

TripAdvisor No. 196 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

This is rather far-flung – in Moreleta Park, 20 minutes south-east of the centre – but when the sun goes down and the crickets
in the Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve gear up, the peace is palpable. The B&B faces directly onto the 100-hectare reserve (home to game species including springbok, impala, blesbok, zebra), but the interior views are equally pleasing. Natasha van Vuuren has no formal training in decor but she clearly has an innate knack for it, popping accent colours into an otherwise restrained, monochromatic palette as successfully as she mixes vintage with contemporary. Having had great success with two B&B rooms in her own home, Natasha recently bought and renovated this house, creating seven en-suite guest rooms that share an open-plan kitchen/dining/lounge area and three verandas. It’s the kind of place you can pad about in your PJs, well looked after by the on-site manager, Brunus Ndifor. One caveat: Wi-Fi is fairly weak, and capped.

ROOM TIP Room 7 is best and worth the extra R150, with a great bathroom and king-size bed opposite a private veranda with a view. Room 2 also has a veranda.

COST From R400 per person sharing. Breakfast R60 per person.

CONTACT 083-788-8254, lilyrosebb.co.za

5. Best vibe

Protea Hotel by Marriot Pretoria Loftus Park

TripAdvisor No. 94 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

I wasn’t going to include hotels in the long list, but the photographs of the rooftop pool bar of this brand-new Protea by Marriot were too alluring to ignore, and I’m glad I didn’t. The hotel offers the usual amenities – with slick, contemporary, forgettable corporate-style decor – but step onto the rooftop and the itch to order a cocktail and toast Pretoria is strong. Aside from the funky vibe (large animal-shaped lilos floating in the pool), the view is quite startling, showcasing Pretoria’s green carpet of trees, undulating hillocks and silhouettes of its two iconic landmarks – the Voortrekker Monument and part of the Union Buildings; behind you Loftus Versfeld stadium looms. There was a good crowd when I visited on a weekday afternoon, which swells on weekends when locals flock to enjoy the views. Great to check into a hotel so popular you don’t have to leave to feel part of the city.

ROOM TIP In-room amenities are pretty identical across the board, with costs differing depending on size and view. I’d just choose the cheapest and hang out on the rooftop.

COST From R722.50 per person sharing B&B.

CONTACT 012-030-0420, marriott.com

6. Best neighbourhood B&B

Muckleneuk Manor

TripAdvisor No. 3 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

One of Pretoria’s oldest neighbourhoods, established in the late 1890s, Muckleneuk is where I’d live if I transferred to Pretoria, and this B&B makes a most delightful base. Vivienne Gunning transformed the double-storey into a guest house in 2014, creating a cool canvas with creamy cement floors and white walls, and then slowly filled the spaces with romantic character – chandeliers, plants, original art. Built on the lowest part of the ridge overlooking the M5, the upstairs balcony (shared) provides fantastic sunset views, while the back garden is an unexpected oasis – a path from the pretty, paved outdoor seating area leads past a koi pond to the pool and adjacent spa space. Guests rave about Vivienne’s hospitality; her manager, Rory Hill, is equally welcoming and encourages guests to truly make themselves at home, with easy access to the open-plan kitchen (toaster, microwave, fridge etc) and an outside gas braai. A ‘braai pakkie’ can be purchased on arrival,
or a cooked dinner prepared by prior arrangement.

ROOM TIP A choice of seven rooms, of which two are deluxe – these are larger and have air con. Room 7 has the best view but I rather liked Room 2, tucked below with a little courtyard.

COST From R400 pp sharing. Breakfast R48 per person.

CONTACT 060-907-0050, muckleneukmanor.co.za

7. Best find

Pierneef’s Kraal

TripAdvisor No. 182 of 397 B&Bs/Inns

Pierneef called his two-hectare farm Elangeni – ‘place of the sun’ – and hand-built his homestead on the remains of an ancient kraal he discovered there in 1939. Quarrying for rock on the koppie behind, the artist expanded it during the 1940s, building rooms with separate entrances, a large outdoor hearth and everywhere leaving nesting holes for his beloved swallows. He planted trees in the garden, which he diligently tended until his death in 1957. Fast-forward almost 60 years. The title deeds land on conveyancing attorney Chris de Beer’s desk. Chris takes his wife Anette to view the last home of SA’s great master. Located in Lynnwood Manor, just 15 minutes east of the city centre, they find it in a derelict state, the buildings filled with debris and disintegrated thatch but Pierneef’s stonework stands. The couple make a decision: they will save this unique piece of architectural history. ‘It took us five years,’ Anette laughs. ‘When we first showed the children their new home, they cried. Everyone thought we were crazy.’ Tucking into a marvellous breakfast, looking through the dinky, off-centre cottage-pane window next to the fireplace that Pierneef built, we can all be grateful for their madness.

ROOM TIP I’d take any of the seven freestanding rooms, but Room 7, Pierneef’s bedroom, is the largest. I also liked the tower that comes with Room 3, and the cosy atmosphere of Room 5.

COST R797.50 per person sharing B&B.

CONTACT 083-276-3960, pierneefskraal.co.za

Worth a Look

8. Waterhouse Guest Lodges

Three guest houses offering comfortable self-catering or B&B in well-renovated homes, all in great neighbourhoods (Muckleneuk, Waterkloof and Waterfkloof Ridge). I particularly liked the one in Lawley Street. From R475 per person sharing. waterhousegl.co.za

9. The Sculpture Yard

These two self-catering apartment-style units are set on the property of sculptor André Prinsloo (co-creator of the Nelson Mandela statue in front of the Union Buildings). André’s wife, Heleen, is a tour guide and happy to plan a programme to suit your interests. R550, plus R100 per extra guest (sleep three each). travelground.com

10. Wolf Unit

A well-furnished, architect-designed two-bedroom cottage set in a large garden, Wolf Unit is a little far from the centre (in Rietvalleirand) but you get a lot of space and luxury for your money. From R1,150 (sleeps five). craigivar.co.za

11. [email protected]

A spacious garden cottage, well equipped for self-catering, with a fireplace and sliding doors opening onto a large, semi-private swimming pool. This is a bargain at R457.50 per person sharing B&B. booking.com

Don’t Miss This

• A drink on the deck at the Blue Crane in Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.
• Traditional breakfast at the Pretoria Boeremark (5.30–9.30am).
• Chilling and shopping at The Cowhouse, The Sheds, Duncan Yard, Hazel Food Market and Irene at Smuts Market (in the grounds of Smuts House, worth a look too).
• The deeply symbolic architecture of both the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park.
• A selfie with Nelson Mandela (or, rather, his bronze likeness in front of the Union Buildings).
• The local beer – at Leaky Tap, Capital Craft, Drayman’s and Bullcook & Company. The Capital Craft Beer Fest is on 15 June, with great music.
• Bird-watching (198-plus species) in the National Botanical Garden.
• A Friends of the Rail steam-train day trip.

 

Photos: Melanie van Zyl

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