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What used to be the former home of Nelson Mandela is now an exclusive boutique hotel where the new owners hope guests would feel at home.

When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he called this house in Houghton, one of Johannesburg’s wealthy leafy suburbs, home for eight years before moving to another home with Graca Machel.

Squatters defaced the interior of the building, but luckily investors saw the potential and refurbished the entire place.

Sanctuary Mandela opened in September and the aim is for guests to relish in the former president’s calm and positive energy.

General manager Dimitri Maritz says although the hotel pays homage to Mandela as much as possible, the staff won’t talk about him all the time unless they’re being asked by guests to share stories.

One of those stories is that Mandela himself went knocking on every door to introduce himself when he first arrived. He invited his neighbours for canapes and cocktails. One of his neighbours, a Chinese man, shooed him away.

“When he realised he had shut the door in Mandela’s face, it is said that he had moved not long after that.”

Mandela’s former personal chef is now the head chef of the hotel’s restaurant that serves some of Mandela’s favourite meals.

Image credit: Good Things Guy

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