Where: Rorke’s Drift, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
What it costs: From US$86 a person a night, DB&B (price in Jan 2014)
Click here to book a room
After a long career in the Irish Guards, Charles Aiken-Head settled at Rorke’s Drift. He’s a fount of knowledge on what must be one of the world’s most famous (even celebrated) battlefields.
His hotel is situated right on the old river crossing at Rorke’s Drift and takes the form of two oversized rondavels. One building houses the lobby, bar, lounge and dining room while the other is described as the ‘Fort’ and has a series of comfortable, well-appointed rooms around a central courtyard with a fountain in it.
From the verandas on the rooms you are able to look across the hills towards Isandlwana, the scene of the bloody battle that presaged the Rorke’s Drift defense. The dining room boasts views upriver to the little bridge (only built in the early ’90s) that crosses at the point where Lieutenant Chard’s engineers were working to maintain their pontoon on the day that 100-odd British soldiers were forced into a spirited – and finally successful defense – against a combined force of up to 4000 fearless Zulu warriors.
This is the perfect place to stay if you want to be right on the spot to soak up the historic atmosphere of this haunting area.
PROS: The most memorable aspect of this hotel is in its perfect location.The new swimming pool offers the perfect location to chill and take in the historical surroundings.
CONS: There are few places to eat around the Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift areas so you should take advantage of the hotel’s full-board package. Having said that, don’t expect meals to be a memorable part of your stay. The main building has an absolutely wonderful wrap-around veranda that offers amazing views – it’s a shame though that there is no shade to make it far more usable.
TIP: Fugitive’s Drift is often overlooked as a battle site in its own right yet it is crucial in linking the complex and dramatic stories of what happened at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Fugitive’s Drift is located in a private wildlife concession but visitors have permission to visit the memorial here at no charge. Time you visit for the early evening to take advantage of ‘complimentary’ sightings of blesbok, zebra, wildebeest, impala and truly spectacular herds of giraffe.