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Welcome Home – Hartford House: Perfection Five Times Over


Hartford House is an incredible place, situated on a world class stud farm – boasting apple orchards, scenic views, lakes, expansive walking, riding and biking space and suites that will blow your mind, as well as a luxury spa and award-winning restaurant.  This is no ordinary luxury hotel… oh no, this is a true experience! A real treat.

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Hartford House is steeped in history and the main house is simply beautiful, boasting original artworks and an impressive collection of local Ardmore ceramics – the design is eclectic and authentically South African.  The colonial charm melds so well with what has been so lovingly displayed. It’s a lovely place for those pre-dinner drinks fireside.

It’s safe to say that, after many years of being in this industry, and writing about accommodation, hotels and travel – that I am perhaps a bit difficult to impress… Most 5 star hotels are good, but few are as impressive as what Hartford House can offer.  You see, it’s about more than the room, the grounds, the food; it’s the whole package.  At Hartford House you are not merely another “larney” guest to be stiffly shown to your room with the utmost aplomb – you are a WELCOME guest, WELCOME HOME, where professionalism meets warmth.

Warmth, that’s not something we often hear about high end hotels – usually exclusivity breeds a kind of cold and impersonal feel.  Not at Hartford though, where you will be greeted as a friend and treated like royalty.

We spent three nights at Hartford House, the first two at the beginning of our seven day getaway to the Midlands, and the last night at the end – that night also being my thirtieth birthday (oh no! – Im officially an adult!).

However I was so enamored with the place, and of course the food, that we opted to return for dinner – even on the nights we were not staying at the hotel.  The original plan was to be super wild and do seven set menu dinners in a row!  But alas we just couldn’t handle that much awesome – so we settled for 5 nights, with a couple of “break nights” (we hardly ate anything on those nights!)

We did however return for a sumptuous and truly decadent High Tea at the Tijnhuis,  Hartford’s interpretation of a country market café – making it 6 meals in total (crazy right!?)

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The Food:

Well, not so crazy, you see… Chef Constantijn and his team are truly remarkable and extremely talented human beings – never repeating a dinner menu.  This was what really blew us away.

Each of the five dinners was completely different and unique – exquisite of course – absolutely beautiful in its uniqueness.

You can expect to find things like Hay Ice Cream (served with smoke of all things!) and Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps, harvested from the kitchen garden and a plethora of interesting and clever combinations of flavours.  Each menu is meticulously planned and it’s incredible just how much effort goes into every sitting.

The wine pairings (which we had on three occasions) are simply superb – Duncan Bruce is a wizard when it comes to selecting wines that just work so well with these outlandish sounding dishes.  If that doesn’t impress you, then surely home made cider, from the orchards at Hartford House, or the pineapple beer made with champagne yeast that gives just the faintest nod to what it isn’t, will.  Or some theatrics like using hot “Port Tongs” (you need to Google it – it’s just delightful!) to open a bottle of port! What an experience dinner is at Hartford!

You see it isn’t just dinner – it truly is an experience of culinary art – the very best there is.

I was so fortunate to be able to have my birthday dinner here – Chef Constantijn Hahndiek, General Manager Duncan Bruce and the rest of this superb team really made my big ‘three-oh’ so amazing.  I will forever remember and hold dear this experience!

The Accommodation:

There is a range of suites on offer, each boasting their very own character. In true Hartford style, no two are exactly the same, and I think that makes them even more special.

The same meticulous attention to detail is immediately obvious in the suites – there is everything you could need, and some lovely extras too, like a truly well stocked mini bar, complete with good wines and beers.  I was particularly fond of the underfloor heating and gorgeous fireplaces – pre-set up and ready to go.

We spent our first two nights in the gorgeous Siyabonga Suite – a sleek and modern African inspired space, with stone clad walls and modern furnishings, featuring a private pool and two bathtubs – a wonderful place to relax as a couple!

The last night we spent in the Mbulelo suite, built with locally sourced materials and items sourced from India – a nod to the property’s colonial past and association with indentured labour. The Asian touches meld so well with the local craftsmanship – it is a gorgeous suite too!

Harford House now also accommodates children, making it the perfect family getaway – though no little ones under 10 are allowed at dinner (because short people are loud also).  The team at Hartford are just so good at taking care of you, it’s a great place to really unwind.  The lakes are stocked with fish and you can get tackle from the hotel, horse rides are available too – and just sooooo much more – you’ll certainly never be bored.  I can’t wait to return…soon!

Book now at www.hartford.co.za

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About Meredith Haywood

Meredith Haywood
I'm the Editor and Creative Director of 5 Star Durban, I Instagram a bit, I cook sometimes, but mostly I write, and edit... a lot... I'm a philanthropist at heart, and I can't resist fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies... recently I have started to ponder what owning a goat in a flat could be like...

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