The Free State capital of Bloemfontein doesn’t generally conjure up thoughts of roaming wildlife, but at the Royal Fischer Hotel, buck, zebra, and giraffe are part of the five-star guest experience. The boutique hotel is tucked away on a private end of the Woodland Hills Wildlife Estate, and each of its five suites sports an outdoor plunge pool or bath from which to catch these animal sightings.
The hotel’s historic 19th century homestead is hoping to soon be listed as a heritage building in the city, and still displays many of its original structures — from beautiful bay windows to candy-coloured stained-glass inlays.
In the 85m² suites, his and hers bathrooms flank each end of the room, and the expansive living space comes kitted with a fireplace to warm up frosty Free State winter nights.
Botanically inspired bedroom furnishings complement the abundance of indigenous vegetation spread throughout the property, rehabilitated by former Kirstenbosch landscaper Dawid Klopper. Take in this bird-filled garden from the reception patio as you enjoy afternoon tea, and later head down to the 30-seater boma for sundowners.
Lavish, five-course dinners are a reminder of a luxurious bygone era: crystal chandeliers twinkle along to melodies emanating from the dining room’s grand piano as you sip on hand-picked wine selected from the cellar. Think braised lamb shank on a bed of crushed green beans, with honey-glazed carrots and blanched baby corn, finished off with a red-wine-and-rosemary jus.
The three-course breakfasts in the sun-splashed breakfast room are equally enticing, with most of the hotel’s fresh produce sourced locally.
Whether there for work (there are three boardrooms) or play (biking and hiking trails are abundant, and game drives can be booked), you’ll need some downtime too. Take the friendly staff up on their recommendation and book a massage, indulging in the sounds of nature as you are pampered on your own private patio.
R4,350 per room per night (includes breakfast). Weekend breakfasts are open to the public, but booking is essential.