A far cry from Robben Island: Nelson Mandela’s home is now a boutique five-star hotel

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A bedroom in the Sanctuary Mandela Hotel
A bedroom in the Sanctuary Mandela Hotel

Nelson Mandela’s old home in Johannesburg will soon be reopening as a five-star boutique hotel where guests can experience a more personal side of the former South African leader for up to £700 a night.

The Sanctuary Mandela Hotel will have all the things which the late leader would never have dreamed of during his 27 years of captivity: a swimming pool, a luxury spa and flat-screen televisions. The nine rooms are curated to celebrate Mr Mandela’s life, with his old master bedroom aptly named the presidential suite.

South Africa’s first democratically elected president lived in the house shortly after he separated from his wife Winnie Mandela in 1992 until the penultimate year of his presidency in 1998.

The pair struggled to reconnect after almost three decades of Mr Mandela being locked away in prison by the white-minority government.

An image of the young Nelson Mandela in the Sanctuary Mandela Hotel
An image of the young Nelson Mandela in the Sanctuary Mandela Hotel

Before they officially separated, Mr Mandela moved into the house bought for him by friends in Johannesburg's leafy, affluent Houghton suburb — where much of old South African money calls home.

There on Houghton’s 13th street, Mr Mandela weighed up how to steer the so-called "rainbow nation" away from civil war in the critical post-Apartheid years and hosted world leaders such as Bill Clinton, the former US president.

But much of his life at the private residence was spent in solitude. One of the builders who renovated the house noticed with some sadness that night after night, the president sat alone eating at a long, empty dining table.

He always ate early in the morning and early in the evening — the times set for him for 18 years by his prison guards on Robben Island — the workman said.

Nelson Mandela’s old home in Johannesburg will soon be reopening as a five-star boutique hotel - AFP
Nelson Mandela’s old home in Johannesburg will soon be reopening as a five-star boutique hotel - AFP

At the end of presidency, Mr Mandela moved into a larger residence bought with his own money on a parallel road, where he would eventually die in 2013.

The hotel is owned by the nearby Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory. Although no official launch date has been announced it is expected that the doors will open in September.

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