Mandela’s Houghton Estate home on 13th avenue opened to guests in September as a unique, unpretentious and bespoke five-star boutique hotel called The Sanctuary Mandela.
During his stay at the home, South Africa’s first democratically elected head of state, Nelson Mandela hosted Former US President Bill Clinton, Former First lady Michelle Obama and several other prominent figures.
Mandela lived there for eight years before moving to another home around the corner with his third wife Graça Machel. He arrived shortly after his release from prison in 1990, and promptly set about meeting the neighbours, general manager Dimitri Maritz told AFP.
How much will it cost to stay at The Sanctuary Mandela hotel?
Potential guests of The Sanctuary Mandela hotel can expect to pay anything between R4,000 and R14,000 for an opportunity to feel a step closer to the celebrated iconic world leader and former head of state.
Although the official launch date has not yet been announced, visitors can soon expect to able to work, eat, sleep, and wake up in the house where Nelson Mandela spent a fair share of his last years after his presidential term ended in 1998.
The hotel boasts nine curated rooms that celebrate Mandela’s life and various names.
The Sanctuary Mandela hotel amenities
The Mandela hotel’s swanky rooms come with modern comforts including Wi-Fi, two single beds or a king-size bed, flat-screen TVs, aircon and shower facilities.
Other onsite facilities include meeting rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar.
A mobile spa available on request and the hotel is in walking distance of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
ALSO READ: Domestic travel on the rise thanks to lockdown
There is also a Presidential Suite which once served as the main bedroom that the former president used for much of his life, during and after his presidency.
The presidential suite was once actually the president’s bedroom, though the heads of guests do not rest where his did. After the remodel, the bathroom is now where his bed once stood.
The window frames bear his nickname “Madiba” and his Robben Island prison number “466/64” — scratched into the wood by his grandson.
Developer and CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group Jerry Mabena said the hotel will offer experiences inspired by Mandela’s life and that there will be spaces for reflection and healing.
“This is a perfect opportunity to give the public at large a chance to dine on Madiba’s cuisine. Every little touch here provides the perfect combination of tranquillity, heritage, and mindful experience,” said Mabena.
Questions have been raised about why it was turned into a hotel and not a museum.
According to Mabena: “Those are hard to sustain and maintain.”
Although he could be drawn on how much was spent on the renovations of the property and the project as a whole, Mabena said there were a lot of things that had to be considered.
“This house was almost completely dilapidated. Some parts of it were falling apart, We had to bring in structural engineers who could tell us which parts could be kept and which ones could not be used.
There was a lot of groundwork that had to be done to give the house a new touch while also trying to maintain and keep the structure in its original shape,” he explained.
The inside of the building, hidden on a quiet street in a wealthy suburb of Johannesburg, had been defaced by squatters.
But after a floor-to-ceiling remodel, now sunlight floods in from generous skylights and bay windows. The white facade is all that remains of the original building.
‘Not a fussy person’
After Mandela’s release at age 71, he yearned for the simple pleasures he had been denied during 27 years in prison: playtime with his grandchildren, the scent of a rose, a sip of his favourite sweet Constantia wine.
“He was not a fussy person,” said chef Xoliswa Ndoyiya, who served Mandela’s meals for two decades.
She now heads the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant, where every dish is inspired by his tastes.
For as much as the building has been remodelled, the management wants it to feel like a home.
“It is not supposed to be a museum,” Maritz said. “We wish to maintain a legacy, but it needs to be self-sustaining, it needs to stay alive.”
Additional reporting by AFP