This was the general response I got when I told people I was heading to Matjiesfontein to visit The Lord Milner for the weekend recently. In the middle of the Klein Karoo, just past the bustling metropolis of Laingsburg, you’ll find this tiny village, all 600 metres of it!
I’ve driven past before and didn’t pay the signage much more than a glance, but after working on the village’s new website recently, I was really excited to get to what seems like a village lost in time! There is so much detail about Matjiesfontein that I can give you, but I’ve distilled this down to just a few reasons to visit and plan on putting up some more photos in the coming weeks, because I’m going back on an upcoming trip!
1. The Lord Milner
This hotel is just absolutely gorgeous! It was refurbished late last year and the details are all just so gorgeous. The outside is iconic in its appearance, and the red carpet in the lobby leads up the old staircase to some pretty impressive rooms. There are also rumours of ghosts (that I didn’t personally come across), but that’s a drawcard if you love travel for the ‘weird’, right?
2. The swimming pool
When I was a kid, I remember staying in the Karoo on a trip to Cape Town as a stopover and nearly dying of the heat. Spotting this gorgeous swimming pool with it’s windmill background pleased my inner child so much!
Johnny is everything right about Matjiesfontein. He has worked in the village for close on thirty years and plays the piano in the pub, The Laird’s Arms, summons everybody to dinner using his bugle and also preaches in church on Sundays. Plus. he’s genuinely hilarious and very not-politically correct!
4. The Matjiesfontein Museum
The largest privately-owned museum in South Africa finds itself in Matjiesfontein. Can you believe it?! It also works on an honesty system, with a bucket at the entrance you can put your suggested entrance fee of R10 in; and nothing is locked, chained down or out of bounds. The beauty of it all is that nothing gets stolen either!
5. The London Bus
The compact London bus was brought out to Matjiesfontein decades ago. Guests of the hotel can hop aboard while Johnny shows off the village. Dubbed the shortest tour in South Africa, the whole experience takes about ten minutes and will have you in fits of laughter by the time you end up back at the hotel in time for dinner!
Bonus number 6!
The sunrise in Matjiesfontein is truly special. Hanging out on the tracks at dawn was one of the highlights of my trip!
My trip to Matjiesfontein was by invite of The Collection by Liz McGrath. As with all my posts, editorial control remains my own.