Matjiesfontein was founded in 1884 by the legendary and energetic Scottish railway man, James Douglas Logan. The village established itself as a fashionable Victorian health spa, and is now well known for its splendid historical buildings and a peace and timelessness that is rare in modern-day South Africa.
Heading north or south? Do not drive passed Matjiesfontien!
In testament, the entire Village was preserved as a National Heritage Site in 1975 under the direction of revered hotelier David Rawdon. Matjiesfontein is a feast for the imagination as between these walls lie a colourful history that includes international cricketers, Olive Schreiner’s residency, fortification during the Boer war as headquarters of the Cape Command, refuge for Jamieson Raid reformers, and controversial war crimes hearings.
Matjiesfontein is a bastion of Victoriana. Explore the historic ambience of the famed Lord Milner Hotel, its old world charm, gracious servers, and elegant décor—not to mention discovering its ghost stories. Here, you can dine by candlelight in The Hotel Dining Room, be served by red-jacketed porters, while feasting on local specialities such as Karoo lamb.
There are various other accommodation options; which include, the Olive Schreiner Cottage, where the famous South African author of The Story of an African Farm, lived for a number of years; as well as private suites set by the pool, or along the riverbank, and more.
The sprawling, well established garden is an oasis of green in an otherwise dry and sparse Karoo. This not only attracts visitors looking for relaxation and respite, but also a diversity of birdlife.
At the Laird’s Arms enjoy a pint and a pub lunch in the atmosphere of a bygone era. Stay for the regular honky-tonk played on the piano, delve into Matjiesfontein’s cricketing history and marvel at the antiques.
Another restaurant option is The Coffee House: tuck into freshly baked scones and pastries and light lunches in its courtyard, complete with a burbling fountain.
Though small, Matjiesfontein has plenty of attractions to keep visitors enthralled; from the Marie Rawdon and Transport museums, to the courthouse and jail, the British Army Remount Camp and the old English Bus—which promises the shortest tour on earth around the village to see its sights—and so much more.
Matjiesfontein offers everything that a world-class destination does—yet is wholly unique in the hospitality industry. It’s a place of magic, history and utter relaxation.
“The Lord Milner Hotel and Matjiesfontein offers an ideal weekend break or journey intermission en route further inland or south to the coast. Take some time soaking up the history, magnificent gardens and stories from the friendly and helpful staff. Despite being a small village, there is plenty to see and do, and come 6pm make sure you don’t miss the 10 minute bus tour – it will prove good for a laugh! Roger, The Expedition Project.
Contact The Lord Milner here.
The EXPEDITION Project visits Lord Milner.