It can be tricky to find character stays in urban areas, but this one had long been on The List. The Kimberly Club Hotel, a grand old Victorian double storey, rests in the centre of the Kimberly city. Founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1881, the hotel started as a gentleman’s club for the wealthy and upcoming men of Kimberly. A visitor is said to have commented that the place was “stuffed with money – more millionaires to the square foot than any other place in the word”. Famous visitors to the club included Queen Victoria and King George the VI, and the two princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
The authentic character of a bygone era has been beautifully preserved at the Club, whilst all the modern travel conveniences have been tastefully integrated. Oozing plush comfort and old money, the hotel is hushed and solid in the midst of its busy setting. The dining and lounge areas, as well as the corridors, are full of interesting memorabilia, including a signed photograph of Prince George.
However it is the bedrooms that appeal to me the most. The original high wooden windows and doors, with polished wood and heavy curtains lead onto private balconies. The spacious wooden floors of the bedrooms shine with polished grandeur, and the beds are high and inviting.
The well appointed Suite 5, nicknamed “The Queen’s Room” is where I chose to stay. This choice helped to offset the feeling of invading a very male dominated space. Once I saw the lovely room, with its free standing Victorian bath, enormous double beds and high glass double doors leading onto the balcony, I quickly decided not to be offended by the chauvinistic past and throw myself into the experience of living like a queen.
I claimed my territory with a wonderful bubble bath, separated from the bedroom by a carved wooden screen. The Victorian styled amenities naturally led to reflections about what it must have been like to be a female at that time in history and I felt a surge of gratitude for all the hard work and tears of so many brave people who opened up today’s possibilities for women like me to have choices about not only what to do, but who to be in this world today.
As Cecil John Rhodes’ private secretary said “One always fared well at the Kimberly Club ... Everyone was kind and everything was well done.” And it seems that they have artfully managed to slide into a new era by celebrating the past and embracing the future.