Siyanda Ndlovu
Digital Journalist
4 minute read
25 Nov 2021
1:04 pm

PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel

Siyanda Ndlovu

R14,000 a night at the Mandela hotel could afford you the opportunity to feel closer to the celebrated iconic world leader.

This aerial view shows the the Sanctuary Mandela hotel in Johannesburg on November 22, 2021. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)

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.

PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Manager of the Sanctuary Mandela boutique hotel, Dimitri Maritz, poses for a portrait at the hotel in Johannesburg, on November 19, 2021. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / 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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Views of former President Nelson Mandela’s Houghton home, 11 June 2021, which has been refurbished and will soon open as a boutique hotel. Picture: Michel Bega
IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela Hotel
Picture: Michel Bega

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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Picture: Michel Bega

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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
A view of former President Nelson Mandela’s bedroom in his Houghton home, 11 June 2021, which has been refurbished and will soon open as a boutique hotel. Picture: Michel Bega

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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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Picture: Michel Bega

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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Picture: Michel Bega

“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.”

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
A statue based on a photograph of former President Nelson Mandela reading a newspaper is seen at the entrance of his old Houghton home, 11 June 2021, which has been refurbished and will soon open as a boutique hotel. Picture: Michel Bega

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.

IN PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Picture: Michel Bega

“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.

PICS: Inside the R14k-a-night Mandela hotel
Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s personal chef and now chef at the Sanctuary Mandela restaurant, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, prepares a dish in the kitchen in Johannesburg, on November 19, 2021. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)

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