Hartford House provided us with an experience that we will never forget.
If you are looking for a place to stay while visiting the Midlands Meander or the Drakensberg, this is the getaway option of a lifetime.
What Gives Hartford House Its Magic?
We drove through the front gate and down the long driveway to Hartford, which was lined on either side with large and impressive trees. Unknowingly, we had entered into a classic and timeless elegance that still remained from the 1800s, whilst also infused with the modern artistry of today. It provided luxury, comfort and mouth-watering cuisine that we are still talking about today.
When we think back on our experience at Hartford House, we still remember the feeling that we had… The peace, the joy, the laughter, the comfort, the atmosphere and the blessing of being completely spoilt.
Hartford House describes the experience best themselves:
Peering through one teakwood door at Hartford House, you face the splendour of the 1800s. Opening another, the distant sounds of an ancient people at work lilt across the silent landscape, a country of great space, spectacular mountains and big skies. This place commands a headland between the world of traditional cultures and the gracious style of a bygone era.– Hartford House
Where We Stayed – Our Humble Abode
We had the opportunity to stay in the Alyssum Garden Suite which was absolutely beautiful! It was filled with exquisite pieces from all over the world, it was comfortable and luxurious, but still very homely.
My favourite part was returning from our six-course meal, to find a warm and cosy fire burning in the quaint fireplace of our sitting room. In no time at all, we were cuddled up in front of it, sipping a soothing glass of sherry. After taking a bath with some lovely bath salts we finally climbed into one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept in.
Interesting fact: our room pays tribute to a famous racehorse as well as the sweet Alyssum flower. Apparently sweet Alyssum means “worth beyond beauty” or “sweetness of soul”. Which we find rather appropriate for this room.
Room amenities include:
– King size bed
– Private verandah
– En suite bathroom with Charlotte Rhys amenities (both bath & shower)
– Heated towel rails
– Complimentary tea, coffee, and sherry
– Lounge with wood-burning fireplace
– Housekeeping twice a day. Including a full turndown service.
– Underfloor heating
– In-room safe
Other Available Accommodation Options
While we are discussing accommodations, we love that there are so many different types of suites to choose from. There are 17 rooms in total and no two rooms are the same. They all have their own unique stories and history that you can read on a plaque as you enter the rooms.
Another interesting fact: there is NO room “2”! Apparently, there was once a racehorse who never won a race, his number was two, so it is now considered bad luck.
The Lakeside Suites
The Garden & Pool Suites
The Manor House Suites
The Verandah Suites
Taste A Slice Of Heaven With Every Meal Offered
Let’s Begin With Breakfast
Nothing makes me more excited when waking up early than knowing that there is scrumptious breakfast awaiting me. A continental breakfast, as well as a hot and delicious English Breakfast, is served every morning outside the main house. You can just taste how fresh everything is.
(The croissants are to die for… and the yoghurt and the orange juice… should I continue…?)
We highly recommend the Eggs Benedict and Farm-Style French Toast!
Lunch At The Tijnhuis
Next, you should wander over to the Tijnhuis for an enjoyable á la carte “light” lunch.
It’s open between 11h00 to 16h00 every Monday to Sunday, so even if you aren’t staying at Hartford House, you can easily pop on over for some lunch.
The atmosphere at the Tijnhuis is unique and intriguing. The restaurant is surrounded by immaculate and well-designed formal gardens, consisting of serene Koi ponds interspersed with paved walkways, as well as the kitchen’s herb and vegetable garden.
We had the most delectable, but also more-than-a-light-meal, lunch here! Delicious nevertheless.
Indulge In A Four-Course or Six-Course Meal
Before we delve into the meal, we need to discuss the chefs…
No meal comes to life without the minds and hands that create it.
We got to meet with Chef Mathew Armbruster and his team before we sat down to enjoy our six-course meal.
We were so very impressed with everyone. The kitchen was not what we expected it to be at all. It was a very calm and collected space and almost felt like we were watching a bunch of close-knit friends gathered in the kitchen… Except, the quality and the high standard of the food they were designing and displaying was not that of the average “friends” night I’m describing.
It was so amazing to see young talent thrive and create. Amazingly, they change the menu every day, based on what is in the garden and what can be locally supplied to them.
We just wanted to say thank you to everyone in the kitchen, as well as the waiting staff. You all made us feel so welcome that if we weren’t there to have a fancy six-course meal, we might have just pulled up a chair at the kitchen table.
The presentation of the food was immaculate and the food was absolutely scrumptious.
We had the most delicious sourdough bread and seeded lavash with salted popcorn ricotta. Followed by Duck Culurgiones, Sous Vide Springbok Loin and so much more! We won’t pretend that we understood everything about the detailed menu and fancy names, we just know that it was all divine! The interlude palate cleanser was also super fun…
Don’t forget to meet for pre-drinks at the Manor House between 18h30 – 19h00 before dinner.
What Experiences Might I Encounter Upon My Stay?
Tour The Stud Farm
You can organise to go on a tour of the Summerhill Stud Farm and the Hartford House estate and see South Africa’s top Champion Racehorse Breeders at work. The estate even has horses belonging to ruling families of three different countries and houses stock for major stud farms all around the world.
After all, Harford House is the only world-class hotel on a world-class stud farm, in the world!
Whilst we are on the topic of horses, you could go for a horse ride and explore the beauty of the estate and the countryside around you on the back of a beautiful steed.
Cycling About The Farm
Definitely something we had a lot of fun doing and something that brought us a lot of laughter was cycling about the farm. It was amazing to feel the fresh air on our skin as we pedalled our way through the meadows and the countryside.
My word, we… well I (Tammy), didn’t realise how unfit I was until this exercise!
Go Trout Fishing or Relax by the Dam
We must be honest and say we find fishing to be a little, well, boring. Irrespective, you can do it here. If you are like us and feel the same way about fishing, you can still relax on the jetty or take the boat out and enjoy a paddle across the dam, very “Notebook” style.
Have A Picnic or Enjoy High Tea
You MUST have a picnic or high tea from the Tijnhuis at least. We had the most delicious spread. You see those lovely creamy jam tarts? I had to fight Byron to get one of them for myself! However, the honeycomb cakes, I definitely devoured those.
It’s a very relaxing and romantic way to spend the afternoon.
Play Lawn Games
Why not try your hand at some of the lawn games like croquet or bowls?
Take A Dip In The Swimming Pool
For those hot summer days, there is a pool for Hartford House guests. You can even choose to stay in a villa near the pool in case you can’t tear yourself away. Unfortunately, on our visit, the pool was having some maintenance work done so we will have to go back and test it out at a later stage.
Visit The Wellness Centre
There is a wellness centre or spa right next to the pool, however, it is run by one lady, so you can’t just expect a couples massage on the spot. If you contact reception and make a booking they will do their best to bring in an extra person in to help out!
Play Tennis On The Tennis Court
If you are looking for some more activity, there is a tennis court near the main entrance with balls and rackets available at reception.
What Lies Within The Surrounding Areas?
Explore The Midlands Meander
The Midlands Meander offers up unique arts and crafts stores, cafés and outdoor activities that take place in the most picturesque countryside.
There are so many options available that we have created two blog posts all about the surrounding areas.
What You Don’t Want To Miss Out On When Visiting The Midlands Meander ➱Read More
13 Reasons Why You Need to Take a Road Trip through the Drakensberg ➱Read More
How Do I Find This Magical Place?
Hartford House is located in a town called Mooi River, in the Midlands Meander, KwaZula-Natal, South Africa.
Coming From Johannesburg
If you are driving from Johannesburg, it will probably take you around 4 and a half hours to travel down.
Coming From Durban
From Durban, it is about a 3-hour drive away.
You Can Also Fly Down
If you are not near Johannesburg or Durban. We recommend you fly into King Shaka International Airport and rent a car there.
Overall, we had a great time at Hartford House and would go back in a heartbeat! Have you ever visited? Let us know about your experience below!
We’d also like to sincerely thank all our lovely Travallures that have kept us in the loop! We love to hear about your travels and what you got up to, so please, keep tagging us!
P.S. Oh, and if you do visit Hartford House, let them know your friends from Dear Travallure sent you! We can’t guarantee preferential treatment… but it couldn’t hurt! (Tell us if it worked!)
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Love your blogs Tammy!
This place is absolutely stunning!
Thank you so much <3