The Windsors History


The historic Windsor is the oldest hotel in Hermanus – and its rich past is deeply embedded in that of the fishing village which has grown to be one of South Africa’s most desirable holiday resorts.

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While this independently owned establishment has modernised in tune with the times, its old-fashioned charm and original features hark back to a more genteel and leisurely era. The Windsor profess itself on generation of families who return time and again to breathe in Hermanus’s famous champagne air in a comfy and warm home-from-home environment.

The hotel was built in 1896 by Benjamin Rainsford, commissioned by Dr Joshua Hoffman, to serve as a sanatorium for those requiring health-restoring vacations in its enviable position above Walker Bay. Dr Hoffman was married to Maria Magdelena Smuts – a sister of General Jan Smuts, later Prime Minister of South Africa who himself often stayed at the then Sanatorium

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In 1931, David Allengensky bought the Sanatorium and renamed it the Hotel Windsor after a memorable journey aboard the Union Castle ship, Windsor Castel. The hotel was then bought by Ales Luyt, a renowned angling fisherman, in 1940 and became the preferred accommodation of many rock anglers from around the world who came to Hermanus to reel in a great variety of the plentiful fish found off the coastline.

After some years of slow decline, the Windsor was purchased by Bazil Clark-Brown who, with is greatly supportive wife Eve, set about returning this great institution to its former glory. Additional buildings were added, including the West Wing, and their eldest son, Garth Clark-Brown, bought the hotel in 1996.

Garth has remained faithful to the core traditions and values of the Windsor, offering the comforts of home in a relaxed atmosphere to the man in the street at affordable prices

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The historical core of the oldest and largest hotel in Hermanus has not been altered in its 120 years of existence and this grand old lady by the sea still provides the ideal place of rejuvenation within a few meters of the crashing waves of Walker Bay – and the finest views of the Southern Right whales which come, year after year, to feed and breed and frolic in the bay.

We welcome you to bask in our homely ambience and traditional hospitality – and feel part of the history which makes the Windsor such a special hotel.

For more interesting stories and history of Hermanus, have a look at the Whale Coast Route blog and Hermanus History Society.

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