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“A little Quirky”
Review of Illyria House

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Illyria House
Ranked #10 of 73 Hotels in Pretoria
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 27 December 2013

We stayed one night in early Dec 2013 after transferring from Jo'burg Airport to catch the Rovos Rail to Cape Town the next day.

First impressions were a bit odd the place seemed shut up, we were met eventually and the owner greeted us.

The house is lovely with fantastic furniture and artefacts very colonial. Our room was in the main house and had a wonderful bathroom and separate study and was very big with a balcony facing over the breakfast area. Very romantic.

The main issue we had was that the electricity didn't work for the entire day we were there. We were treated well, the service was good and they could still provide food. But with the no electricity it all seemed a bit surreal.

The food was nice but not exceptional and they did not charge us for all extras and drinks due to the electricity problem. We noted on leaving a standby generator arriving.

Room Tip: Stay in the main house ask for room with balcony that overlooks eating area.
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Pasarell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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178 - 184 of 308 reviews

Reviewed 18 December 2013

My friend and I were looking at hosting a ladies brunch for our 40th birthday and were delighted when we found Illyria House! We decided on having our brunch (for 20 ladies) at the pool area (which is really beautiful) with lots of sparkling wine, fruit, cheese and bread baskets, and deliciously made finger foods (loved the asparagus tartlets). The staff were excellent and the event went off smoothly, with everything we asked for being attended to with friendliness and efficiency. This really was the perfect place to celebrate and enjoy being spoilt (all had neck and back massages). Everyone had an awesome time and kept on commenting as to why we haven't discovered this treasure of a place before (having all lived in Pretoria for many years).

A few of us also slept over in the main house and were treated further with a delicious dinner, excellent service, gorgeous crockery and cutlery and the most beautiful setting to end off a truly special day.

We really had a great experience, with very little (if anything) to complain about. And would highly recommend Illyria House for hosting any special occasion. Thank you Marietjie and especially Boniface, for all you did in making this a memory we will all cherish.

Room Tip: Loved the old style rooms with antique French furniture.
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank COLE449
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 December 2013

I don't take any joy from eviscerating a hotel, but honestly my stay at Illyria House has been a tragi-comedy of very poor experiences. This is all the sadder because – as everyone on this forum states - the staff are so very charming and genuinely desirous of being helpful. But, due to what appears to be benign or deliberate neglect of the hotel by the owners, the staff do not have the tools or infrastructure to allow them to succeed. Unfortunately, despite an undoubted shabby-chic charm, as a hotel Illyria House fails in every way to be a three – let alone five - star experience.

From a building perspective, my sense is that the place has not been substantially invested in for a decade – for example, in the general areas – and especially outside – the walls are dirty, with decaying paint/plasterwork, and there is a musty/dusty sense to the whole place inside and out. If you decide to stay here make sure you stay in the main building, where the rooms at least appear to be clean, and are reflected to some degree on the website photos. The "Japanese" extension below the main house is not only aesthetically incongruous, but appears to be poorly and cheaply built. The rooms are dark, small, poorly plastered and painted, and some are without air con, which means that you either boil under a duvet or get eaten by the mosquitoes in your room (the dark side of the plentiful, if grubby, water features). After a rainstorm, these rooms are also lethal to get to, involving a hike over poorly drained grass, on slippery and badly maintained steps and through overgrown vegetation. It would seem that management knows that these rooms are problematic/not acceptable, given photos of these rooms are not, as far as I can tell, on the website.

Many other aspects of the experience have also been awful – and in the cases where things have happened outside the hotel’s control, the lack of investment has made things so much worse. Examples:
- Power outages happen, but why don't you have a backup generator as a "five" star establishment (talking to guests, two long outages happened within the last 5 days).
- Dinner took ages to arrive (>1hour, despite ordering earlier in the day), and was mediocre. Even getting wine was slow, as the inadequate number of staff were frequently overburdened. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by the power outage, but breakfast and lunch (with electricity) also took a very long time.
- One of the two beds in my room had stained linens (I slept on the other bed ). The linens are of high quality, btw, but if one becomes stained over time, get it properly cleaned or throw it away.
- When one of the guests finds a hair in their gnocchi, apologize, don't storm back into the dining room in front of everyone asking "Where's the hair? Show me the hair.”
- Worse – don’t try and give the gnocchi which had the hair in it to another guest?!
- It is a nice touch to have sherry, fruit in one's room when one returns in the evening; less nice to find a dirty bowl of something that may have been salsa licked clean by someone unknown, lying on the same tray.
- Ducks wandering through the building are initially cute, less so when they defecate inside and it is not quickly cleaned up.

I realize this review is in contradiction to many glowing ones (though I suspect most reviewers stayed in the main house, which would probably put one in a more tolerant “mindset”). I also understand that some things may have been “bad luck” (if you want to call power outages and torrential rain “bad luck”). But the reason I write this review is that many other things are just plain bad from an operational perspective.

The tragedy is that this could be a wonderful place. The bones of the hotel are fantastic. But because of cheapness or eccentricity or lack of funds, it has fallen into steep decline. Furthermore, in contrast to the staff, the leadership alternates between being snippy or intrusively over-solicitous (at least in my and my friends’ experiences). I really hope that the hotel soon gets the leadership and investment that the house, its staff and its guests need and deserve.

Room Tip: Insist on one in the main house
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled on business
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8  Thank Yankie_Briton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 November 2013

I have always wanted to stay at Illyria House and was beyond delighted when I needed to meet two of our friends off Rovos Rail and spent the night before we left on safari. The property captures a wonderland experience of a bygone era - I used the Thai spa before dinner that was wonderful and wished we stayed over a summers weekend as the pool area look like an extraordinary special space to use during the warm summer days. Walking over the green lawns did not feel like a 30 minute transfer from the airport. Dinner was incredible and the personalised goodbye with picture from my butler left us with fond memories of Illyria House will be certain to return with my partner as this property ooze romance.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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8  Thank CapeTownTravelafrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2013

After two weeks on the road, four cities, in four countries and four hotels, I arrived at Illyria house late on a friday night to spend three precious nights with my boyfriend, before going our separate ways again. Thank you to all the staff members, in particular, Marietjie and Johannes for your warmth, kindness, humor and overall attentiveness while we stayed there, making our weekend so pleasant, luxurious and restful. Loved the white cotton sheets, on most comfortable beds, which made for much needed sleep and dreams. And the endless sound of classical music. We felt very much at home, with you as famliy. Makes me love the city I call home even more.
Definitely recommend for all those passing through Pretoria, and looking for a hide-away in a perfect location. Ria G

Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
8  Thank Ria G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 October 2013

In the midst of separate and busy travel schedules, my partner and I rendezvoused at Illyria. We could not have chosen better. We wanted a quite, romantic time together in an aesthetically pleasing and tranquil environment - and that is exactly what we expereinced. Our room opened out onto a little terrace in a courtyard with a bubbling and soothing fountain. Meals were served on a gracious varnanda overlooking a garden filled with birds. An opening in the boundary wall leads to an exotic Greek/Roman like swimming pool enclosure. Marietjie deserves credit for her vision in creating this oasis in the midst of the city, Boniface for excellent cuisine, Patient for sorting out logistics and dear Johannes for his personal and rather eccentric service (he has been there since they started - 23 years ago, I think). The establishment has hosted President Mandela and Gracia Machel in the past, amongst other dignatories. Our only slight gripe was that sometimes the service was a little slow, a small price to pay amongst all the other pleasures. Prof A

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Anton E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 August 2013

We stayed one (too short...) afternoon and night at Illyria. This was our first night in SA and we couldn't choose a better place to stay. The warm welcome, nice and comfortable suite, AMAZING privet room dinner (don't miss!!) and great staff. We will definitely plan our next visit to the area around Illyria House

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Didi B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Illyria House

Address: 327 Bourke Street | Muckleneuk, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Gauteng > Pretoria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Romantic Hotel in Pretoria
#4 Spa Hotel in Pretoria
#6 Luxury Hotel in Pretoria
#10 Business Hotel in Pretoria
Price Range: £124 - £151 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Illyria House 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Ultimate Romantic Getaway. 25 Minutes from the OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) and 5 minutes from the Gautrain Station.The serene beauty of Illyria House has always been an irresistible attraction to all lovers of fine things. Against the backdrop of classical music, fine antiques, 17th century tapestries, and a resident duck family an enchanting colonial lifestyle unfolds. Illyria House is highly appreciated by the discerning traveler for its charm, exquisite cuisine, exclusivity, luxury and unrivalled personalised butler service. We offer intimate soirées by world class musicians. Our Oriental Spa specialises in relaxing massages. Our facilities include a jacuzzi, sauna, heated pool and a cold pool. A wide selection of tours to historical, cultural and wildlife attractions come highly recommended. Personalised shopping is ideal for a last night stay. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Illyria House Hotel Pretoria

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