When Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s late president, was released from prison, he completed his bestselling autobiography Long Walk to Freedom at the Saxon. Located in the leafy suburb of Sandhurst outside Johannesburg, the 53-suite hotel was first built as a luxurious residential retreat, later converted into a boutique hotel. Mandela was a regular guest of the Saxon, as he was connected to its owners, the Steyn family. Amenities at the hotel include six pools, a library, wine cellar, piano lounge, award-winning restaurants and sprawling spa with eight treatment rooms.
In the latest news from the Saxon, the hotel has unveiled the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite after a makeover. In honor of South Africa’s brilliant statesman, the suite was designed by Johannesburg artist Dean Simon to depict the distinct stages of Mandela’s life. Dark wood, animal skin rugs, copper lamps and traditional geometric patterns create a distinctly African feel. One of the most eye-catching design aspects is the original artwork. In the entrance hall, a portrait of Nelson Mandela fragments into a mosaic of words (the president’s nicknames like “Madiba”) as the viewer approaches the work. Dean Simon also created a statue entitled “27 Years” (representing Mandela’s time in prison), along with wall screens which depict Mandela’s face, only visible at certain times of day. Note that you can also find Dean Simon’s pencil sketches adorning the walls of the hotel’s public areas.
As the Saxon launches the redesigned Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, it’s wrapping up an extensive renovation project which began in 2016 with the new Saxon Spa. The suites were transformed in 2017, followed by the Grei restaurant in 2018. The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year.