Monday, 1 July 2013

Royston Hall, Umtentweni, Port Shepstone

The N2 South of Durban must be one of the prettiest highways in the country. The landscape opens out to soft grasslands and sugarcane fields, passing indigenous forests and breath-taking sea views. The road follows the coastline and every so often one crosses a dramatic wide river or gorge. Situated right on the curve of such a gorge and overlooking the impressive Umzimkulu River, is Royston Hall. A turn of the century manor house, Royston Hall has been beautifully restored to display its glossy wooden floors, grand staircase, carved fireplaces and wood-panelled dining room. 

Interior decorator Ria Hackland has lavished the home with sumptuous detail. Each room is individually decorated with bold use of colour, crisp cotton white linen and original wall art. The romantic Honeymoon Suite has a fireplace directly opposite the antique wrought-iron white bed. It, and the neighbouring Queen Room, has its own private outside access, where crowned hornbills gather for their morning brunch. For guests, indulgent breakfasts are served on the verandah with views of the river and forest beyond.

The house is set in a nature reserve, with thick indigenous forest and rich bird life. There are walking trails down to the river and to the neighbouring Country Club golf course. A boat may be taken on a scenic trip up the river or down to the nearby beach.

What I love about Royston Hall:

  • The spectacular setting in a forest nature reserve on the Umzimkulu River
  • Ancient trees dripping with Bromeliads, hornbills and other indigenous fauna and flora
  • The Hall is conveniently situated half way between Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape
  • It is nearby the beach and many attractions of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, while being cooled and quietened by the forest and river-side setting
  • The safety of the home, as it is in a private nature reserve
  • The original sprawling mansion with its high ceilings, spacious rooms and carved wooden fittings
  • Deep verandah, patios and swimming pool
  • Fireplaces, curved windows and arches, and original artworks
  • Wrought iron and antique wooden beds, layered in white linen and lace effects
  • Big towels, colour-coordinated to each room
  • Two gentle speckled Great Danes and a Siamese cat who likes to be a part of every conversation

Accommodation Experience:
I love tours of gracious old homesteads, where one is shown every room. Ria is passionate about Royston Hall and makes the house come alive with detail and interesting stories about the history and inhabitants of the manor house. A born hostess, Ria “lives to feed people” and includes one openly into her home.  Whether a business stay, travel stop-over or longer respite, with the generous hosting, peaceful dogs and friendly cat, it seems one could be in danger of moving in and becoming so part of the family that one never quite finds the will to leave. 

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