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Timeless Elegance: The Story of The President Hotel

12 April 2024

image.jpeg alt > Old Queens Hotel, which later became the President Hotel, in Seapoint/Bantry Bay

Welcome to the first blog post of Cape Town’s Most Loved Hotel. In this space, we will post two blogs a week where we will share various aspects of everything The President and our home, Cape Town, has to offer.

Nestled along the breathtaking coastline of Cape Town, The President Hotel stands as a beacon of luxury and refinement, inviting guests from across the globe to experience the heartbeat of the Mother City. 

The history of the President Hotel is entangled with the rich heritage of Bantry Bay and Sea Point. A variety of fascinating buildings has stood on the site since 1766, from the Society House to the Queen’s Hotel.

The Society House (Societeits Huis)

It was not until the mid-18th Century that any sort of building of consequence was erected in the Bantry Bay / Sea Point area. The first substantial building here was the Society House, built in 1766 (where the President Hotel now stands) for the African Society, a club formed by wealthy burghers Martin Oloff Bergh and Adriaan van Schoor, who wanted a country retreat for recreation, to alleviate boredom (the curse of the rich) and escape the filth and grime of growing Cape Town. They requested a parcel of land, which was eventually granted by then Governor Ryk Tulbagh.

By 1767, it had become somewhat of a landmark, and everybody who was anybody in Cape Town high society would travel there to be ‘seen’, hence the name Societeits Huis (Society House), also Heerenhuis (House of the Gentry).

The Wentworth Hotel

Over the next few decades, the property changed ownership several times until J.H Munks took ownership of it in 1880 and renamed it to the Wentworth Hotel. Munks made many improvements, including adding a new Victorian bar. The hotel was advertised as a ‘first-class hotel’ with billiards and pool on offer for guests.

The Queen’s Hotel

In the late 1880’s the Wentworth hotel was demolished and, in its place, rose the entirely new Queen’s Hotel. Named after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, it was officially opened on 1 October 1887. After decades of successfully catering to well-heeled clientele, its attractive Victorian front was altered to a more modern look. It was now well into the 20th Century and building needed to move with the times. One of the Queen’s Hotel’s regular guests was Sir David Harris, MP for Kimberley. He had the habit of always booking the same suite and once when the suite was not available, he impulsively bought the entire hotel to avoid this happening again. When he died in 1942, his daughter took ownership.

image.jpeg alt <> Formerly called the Queens Hotel, the flagship of the Southern Sun Hotels in the Cape

The President Hotel

Finally, a new and final chapter began for the hotel when it was renamed in 1967. South Africa had left the British Commonwealth in 1961 when it became a republic and The Queen’s Hotel name was no longer relevant. Rebranded as The President it was ready for a new beginning. With the changing political landscape in South Africa and ultimately the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 (becoming the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994), positive change swept through all corners of the nation – and also reached The President Hotel. It was Nelson Mandela himself who opened the newer, entirely rebuilt, 350-bedroom President Hotel on 3 June 1998. The new President Hotel now operates as South Africa’s largest independent hotel and has once again established itself as a place of fine dining and luxurious seaside holidays.

Looking to the Future: Continuing the Legacy

As The President Hotel continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of discerning travellers, its commitment to excellence remains unwavering. With a focus on sustainability, innovation, and amazing guest experiences, it is poised to write the next chapter in its rich history, cementing its legacy as one of Cape Town's most iconic destinations for generations to come and truly earning the name “Cape Town’s Most Loved Hotel”.

Book a stay for you and your loved ones. Call our team on 021 434 8111 or email