The upmarket suburb of Arcadia, in the heart of Pretoria, is known for its tree-lined streets, historical buildings and plethora of foreign embassies. In an area of this suburb known as Embassy Row, is a historic manor house, which now serves as the centrepiece of the Courtyard Hotel Arcadia. We spent a weekend there.
Our timing was ideal as the jacarandas had just begun blossoming and the Jacaranda City was covered in purple. We drove along a jacaranda-lined avenue and entered the hotel gates where we parked under the purple shade and entered the manor house … and a bygone era.
The house was built in 1904 for Sir Ernest Chappell, a close associate and right-hand man of Lord Alfred Milner, who was the Governor of the Transvaal Colony after Paul Kruger. In 1936, it was sold to Claudius de Vries, a flamboyant stockbroker, champion horseman and former mayor of Pretoria, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Loftus Versfeld sports stadium, which was then known as Princess Park. It remained in his family until 1994 when it became part of the Courtyard Hotel Arcadia.
A national heritage site, the manor house has been lovingly restored to its former glory, and now houses the communal areas of the hotel as well as some bedrooms on the upper floor. Designed in a fusion of Victorian and Cape Dutch styles, it features beautiful teak panelling, magnificent high ceilings, art nouveau fireplaces and historic frames on the walls. Victorian-style lounges and dining areas flank the reception desk, along with a meeting room, where a cheerful reunion was taking place.
We were warmly welcomed by George and handed the keys to our room where welcome drinks and snacks awaited us. The hotel has 69 rooms and suites housed in small buildings around lush gardens.
Our family stayed in two one-bedroom air-conditioned suites, each with an en-suite bedroom, lounge and dining area, and a kitchenette, which was equipped with a microwave, fridge, Lavazza coffee machine, toaster as well as crockery and cutlery.
A television and complimentary wi-fi provided indoor entertainment.
The spacious apartments are designed for comfort and felt like more like cosy homes than impersonal hotel rooms, making them ideal for extended stays. The lounges opened onto small balconies which overlooked the gardens or the jacaranda-shaded carpark.
The bathroom had bathtubs and showers equipped with the hotel’s eco-friendly range of amenities. The hotel also has two-bedroom apartments although they were not available.
Temperatures in Pretoria can get quite high and the swimming pool provides welcome relief from the summer heat. One can also relax on the sun loungers at the poolside with a book. If you prefer to get a workout instead, there is a well-equipped fitness centre overlooking the pool.
A buffet breakfast is served in the hotel’s dining room, consisting of cereals, pastries, fruits, yoghurt and cheeses, and there are some hot options too. Lunch and dinner are served in the Club Lounge. Alternatively, there are many good restaurants and eateries in the vicinity where one can enjoy a meal.
The Courtyard Hotel Arcadia is well-located to explore Pretoria whether you are there for business or leisure. It is close to many foreign embassies, the University of Pretoria, the Gautrain Hatfield station, the Union Buildings and several other Pretoria attractions.
For us, the convenient location, comfortable suites and friendly staff made the hotel ideal for a relaxing Pretoria getaway.
Good to know
Courtyard Hotels fall under the City Lodge Hotels umbrella and represent their premium brand which is aimed at travellers looking for a more luxurious experience in prime locations. The hotel group has expressed a commitment to sustainable practices and has implemented various eco-friendly measures across its properties.
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