A Travellerspoint blog

About: Luxury Rogue's blog

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Take your time ... for some really special places ...
(here: Hotel Arena City, Grozny, Chechnya)

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Arriving at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London with a particular history from World War I to James Bond location.

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Proud to be featured in the "Hall of Fame" of Most Traveled People

and in Jorge Sanchez' new book "Meetings with Remarkable Travelers"

and - with hotel reviews in more countries than anyone else - as TripAdvisor Nr. 1 Explorer

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I like travel in style, even in rough places, but with minimum (hand-) luggage only.

Seeing reality beyond TV and meeting people with powerful stories drives me forward.

On the way, I collect my trophies: the world's most charismatic hotels.

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A Hideaway from Drug Cartels and Active Volcanoes at Hacienda San Antonio, Colima, Mexico

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Early on, I learned to enjoy the history and social magnetism of "Grande Dame" hotels in major capitals.

Then I started loving the aesthetic experience of Ian Schrager Hotels, Hip Hotels and Designhotels.

The serenity and service of the Amanhotels in Bali addicted me to become an "Amanjunkie".

Adventure lust took me further to Wilderness Safaris, Explora, Oberoi, Taj, CC Africa & Beyond.

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In the Footsteps of Treasure Hunter Howard Carter at the Winter Palace in Luxor, Egypt

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A different winter palace near the Nordkapp at Igloo Hotel Sorrisniva, Alta, Norway

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My ultimate joy, however, became reaching the refuge, social intensity and relative luxury of hideouts in conflict zones.

As collector of hospitality experiences and connoisseur of "les émotions fortes" all over the planet, please see my

"Spy - War - Dangerzone Hotels"

"Trophy Hotels"

"Formula 1 Hotels"

"James Bond Hotels"

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At the Grozny City Hotel, a skyscraper with 33 floors, in Chechnya

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"It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln
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With Libyan "Freedom" Fighters in front of the Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi (Arab Spring, May 2011)

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Room with a view at a "top address": Atlantis Beach Hotel, United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia

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Heavy (!) Security at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Qasr al-Sharq in Jeddah (Note: me in WHITE shirt ;-)

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At war-famous Holiday Inn Sarajevo, Respublika Srpska, Bosnia-Hercegovina (built for the 1984 Winter Olympics) with America's most dangerous man (for the girls) Craig

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No ride with the hotel Rolls Royce, but with Donald Rumsfeld in the elevator of the Sheraton Batumi, Adjaria.

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New countries, new hotels ... here in Juba, capital of South Sudan (2011) ... a Grand Hotel made from containers.

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Old systems, cold hotels: the largest building above the Polar Circle ... Hotel Arctic in Murmansk, Russia.

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LOVE signals intelligence at the W Hongkong

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"Wherever you go, try to stay at the most famous hotel!" Aristoteles Onassis

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Great Hotel Groups:

Red Carnation Hotels
Dorchester Collection

Sofitel Legends
Orient-Express Hotels (now Belmond)

Sol Kerzner and his former Sun Int. Hotels
Michel Reybier Hotels

Serena Hotels (Africa & Central Asia)
Operation Loango (Africa)

Amanhotels (Asia-Pacific only)
Victoria Hotels (South-East Asia)

Constantinou's Lamana Hotel Group (PNG & South Pacific)
Chris Blackwell's Island Outpost Hotels (Jamaica)

Real Hotels and Resorts (Central America)
Grupo Habita (Mexico)

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Everyone has his own idea about "gross national happiness". King's family car at the Uma Paro Hotel in Bhutan.

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At the Barvikha Luxury Village, Hotel & Spa near Moscow.

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At La Mamounia, Marrakech.

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The Kobe Burger at designhotel Habita Monterrey's rooftop pool was great. A Fugu Burger would also fit the location.

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At the beautiful and atmospheric patio of the Four Seasons Mexico City.

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At the über-cool infinity pool of the Trump Ocean Club Panama

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In the lobby of the Four Seasons Florence, Italy

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Meet Mr. Boom Chop, the resident white king buffalo at the
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Golden Triangle, Thailand.

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The glory of life at the Getty Family's Phinda Lodge, South Africa

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Enjoying the taste of revolution at the Habanos cigar shop in Cuba's flagship Hotel Nacional

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Voodoo valet service at the most charismatic of all dangerzone hotels, the Oloffson in Haiti

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My personal Watergate. A photo that couldn't be missing on this blog ...

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The location and name-patron of the first Bilderberger Conference (in 1954) in Oosterbeek near Arnhem, Holland

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At Schloss Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the G7 Summit's Hotel in 2015.

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Probably my worldwide favourite: the Airways Hotel, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

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For my main travelblog, please click Gentleman Adventurer

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Posted by LuxuryRogue 06:39 Archived in Monaco

AVUS Motel Berlin

The AVUS Racetrack was founded in 1921 by the Kaiserlicher Automobil Club (now AVD) and financed by tycoon Hugo Stinnes. AVUS is an abbreviation for "Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße" ('Automobile traffic and training road') with a connotation of avia ("flying"). It is also the oldest stretch of "Autobahn" in Germany and Europe. The north curve was turned into a steeply banked turn (43°) made of bricks and dubbed the "Wall of Death," especially as it had no retaining barrier so cars that missed the turn easily flew off it. The curve was dismantled in 1967 for safety reasons. The last automotive race was held here in 1998. Nowadays it is solely a city highway at the south-western entry of Berlin with a low speed limit (for German standards) of 100km/h. This is for environmental reasons to reduce CO2-related climate change, followed by flooding and subsequently polar bears migrating to the city, while Berlin's mascot has always been a black bear. The movie Bourne Identity was filmed at the AVUS Motel in 2004. The whole complex is as run-down and filthy as the whole political culture of German capital Berlin.

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Foto: Wikipedia

Posted by LuxuryRogue 06:39 Archived in Germany

The G7 Hotel Schloss Elmau

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Schloss Elmau is located at the end of a small valley in the Wetterstein Mountains near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany

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This bench outside the castle symbolises the G7 Summit for passers-by who are not allowed on the premises

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This is the real bench (inside the premises) where Obama and Merkel were famously pictured in June 2015

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These were some of the gifts (from us, the taxpayers, I presume) for members of the G7 Summit

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There is an extensive cultural program ...

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... and several libraries, all system-conformous.

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During my stay an environmentally freaky BMW i8 could be test driven.

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The hotel hardware is excellent throughout. The hotel software (service, attitude) is not always on a par with the high price-tag (min. € 700 in the main building, min. € 1.000 in the retreat, per night). There are favourable deals for regime collaborators - such as politicians and mainstream journalists - but not for normal hotel guests.

I find it noteworthy how deep this hotel kowtows in front of the powers-to-be, whoever may be in power at the time:

Schloss Elmau History quoted from their own website

1914-1916 Schloss Elmau was built by Dr Johannes Müller (1864–1949), a renowned Protestant theologian and philosopher of his time. Müller wanted Schloss Elmau to be a space for the development of personal and communal life free of any ideology, where those interested in his writing and lectures would come together to transcend the self-centeredness of their egos and become aware of silence as the essence of being by listening or dancing to classical music or beholding the beauty of untouched surroundings.

Construction was made possible with financial assistance from Elsa, Countess of Waldersee; Professor Carlos Sattler, Müller’s brother-in-law, served as architect. Critical of individualism, materialism and capitalism, Müller was also an ardent opponent of both the established church as well as anthroposophy, which he considered a particularly dangerous attempt of “divinisation of human beings by human beings”. For him, Jesus was the “Conqueror of Religions” and “childlike oblivion to self”, the prerequisite for fulfilling the promise of salvation on earth contained in the Sermon on the Mount. Thousands of people flocked to his lectures; his books, published by C. H. Beck, enjoyed massive print runs.

His greatest admirers included the founders of Cultural Protestantism, especially Adolf von Harnack, and Ernst Troeltsch, as well as Jewish leaders and thinkers like Walter Rathenau and Martin Buber. Prince Max von Baden, who called Müller his spiritual guide, presided over the opening of Schloss Elmau in 1916. His brother in law Carlo Sattler was his architect.

In 1933 the great majority of the politically conformist elites of the bourgeoisie, who shared the resentment of Cultural Protestantism against capitalistic and individualistic western civilization in particular, immediately joined forces with the Nazi Regime after Hitler´s sudden rise to power. The anti-civilizational imperative “Das Ich ist Nichts, das Volk ist alles” (or, “The I is nothing, the People is all”) of the German “Volksgemeinschaft” (“tribal brotherhood”) had also convinced Johannes Müller that Hitler, whom he had hitherto ignored completely, has become the leader of a “national revolution of the common good over self-interest” to fulfil the promise of the sermon of the mount.

However, since for Müller the success of a “community of brothers looking-after-one-another” depended on the inclusion of the Jews as the “most noble representatives of the intellectual elite”, he publicly criticised the Nazis’ anti-Semitism as a “disgrace for Germany”, one that “causes me to blush with shame”.

Indeed, his expressed respect for the German Jews as well as the Orthodox Jews, whom he admired for their adherence to tradition despite persecution, saw him branded “a friend of the Jews”; that in turn drew the ire of the propaganda ministry and provoked a smear campaign in the Bavarian provincial press.

The only reason Müller was not arrested immediately was that the Bavarian state chancellery was able to convince Joseph Goebbels that Müller’s public advocacy of German Jews lent moral value to his commitment to Hitler and was therefore more to the benefit of the Nazis than to their detriment. However, from then on Müller was constantly interrogated by the Gestapo and kept under tight surveillance.

He was permitted to publish his memoirs under the title “Gegen den Strom” (“Against the Current”)—but only up to 1933. And despite Müller’s allegiance to Hitler, whom he had never met, the Nazi salute was forbidden at Schloss Elmau. The Nazis’ anti-Semitism had in any case prevented him and his children from applying for membership in the party or affiliated organisations. Since Schloss Elmau, unlike most coastal resorts and holiday hotels, did not have a reputation for being anti-Semitic, did not become one of the Nazi elite’s favourite hotels.

From 1935 onwards Dr Müller was forbidden to undertake lecture tours. Further, the University of Leipzig would have revoked his doctorate had it not been for the intervention of philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer.

In 1942, with the war under way, Johannes Müller managed to prevent Schloss Elmau from being requisitioned by either Göring or Himmler by instead renting it out to the German army as a vacation resort for soldiers returning from the front.

In 1943 the commandant of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp demanded the arrest of Müller “due to work greatly detrimental to the state under the pretence of being an honest, upright citizen”. The rationale: a prisoner had mentioned Müller’s name during interrogation. No action was taken, however, due to the respect Müller had earned with others over the years. Intervention in his favour came most probably from Reich interior minister Wilhelm Frick (who actually had never been to Schloss Elmau).

In 1945, immediately after the end of the war, Schloss Elmau was requisitioned by the US Army and used as a prison camp for occupants of a German military hospital. Later it served as a winter military training school.

In 1946 the Bavarian state commissioner for persons subject to racist, religious and political persecution, Dr Philip Auerbach, sued for a denazification case to be brought against Johannes Müller in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the grounds of “glorification of Hitler both orally and in writing”.

The case was found against Müller, based on the claim that his public criticism of the Nazis’ anti-Semitism had, paradoxically, reinforced the effect of his support for Hitler. But the verdict was seen as controversial, and a call for the immediate expropriation of his property failed—not only because Countess Waldersee refused to sell her share of the property, but also because Müller had been neither a member of the Nazi Party nor been involved in any acts of war. The laws governing liberation from National Socialism and militarism therefore provided no legal grounds for a conviction or punishment.

Dr Auerbach took possession of Schloss Elmau in 1947 despite not holding title deeds. Until 1951 Schloss Elmau operated as a sanatorium for displaced persons and Shoah survivors.

Tragedy had befallen Dr Auerbach: accused of misappropriation, he was imprisoned and then took his own life. (Some years later all charges against him were dismissed and he was rehabilitated.)

In 1951 two of Müller’s 11 children, whom he had named as his heirs, rented Schloss Elmau from the Office for Restitution. Under the auspices of Johannes Müller’s son Bernhard, his daughter Sieglinde and her husband Dr. Odoardo Mesirca, Schloss Elmau with the support of the legendary Amadeus Quartet quickly developed into an internationally renowned centre for Chamber Music favoured by world famous musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, Julian Bream, Wilhelm Kempff, Gidon Kremer, Friedrich Gulda and Thomas Quasthoff.

In 1961 an appeal to legal proceedings regarding ownership was abandoned and Bernhard Müller-Elmau and Sieglinde Mesirca were declared owners of Schloss Elmau with a half share each.

The famous German humorist known as Loriot worked on all his film projects there. And former Federal President Johannes Rau, who referred to Schloss Elmau as his spiritual home, came to visit several times every year from the end of the 1950s.

In 1997 Dietmar Müller-Elmau, a son of Bernhard, became proprietor of Schloss Elmau. He had created Fidelio and Opera, the world’s market leaders in hotel software, then sold his company to Micros in the US. He focused on renovating the castle as well as redefining Schloss Elmau as a “Cultural Hideaway”. He set out to create a space where high art would could flourish as the foremost expression of a jewish-american ideal of individual freedom and creativity.

Since 1998 Schloss Elmau has also become a regular meeting place also for scholars from all over the world—thanks also to the cooperation of Professor Christoph Schmidt of the Hebrew University and Professor Gabriel Motzkin, Head of the van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, as well as Professor Dan Diner of the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig and Professor Michael Brenner from the chair for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Munich. The Schloss Elmau Symposia on Political Theology and the History of Ideas have since received extraordinary media coverage.

The Schloss Elmau Symposium on “Globalisation without Migration?” in October 1998 opened up a wide public discussion about the necessity of introducing Green Cards, which at the turn of the 20th century was still rebutted by german politicians with the arguments of 19th-century criticism of civilisation and capitalism.

In 1999 philosopher Peter Sloterdijk gave a speech at the Schloss Elmau Symposium on Political Theology with the title “Beyond Being”, dealing with Emanuel Levinas’ criticism of the lack of ethics in Martin Heidegger’s ontology, entitled “Rules for the Human Park”, later referred to as “the Elmau Speech”. The reactions of Saul Friedländer and Jürgen Habermas led to an unparalleled public debate in the German-language press over several months about the ethical limits of genetic engineering. That resulted in establishment of a National Ethics Council by the Social Democrat government under Gerhard Schröder. The first and only public meeting of the Council then took place in Schloss Elmau.

Shortly before, Friedländer chaired the Schloss Elmau Symposium on “Wagner in the Third Reich”, at which for the first time almost all of the recognised pro- and anti-Wagner experts participated. The symposium was hailed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper as an overdue debate on the ideological roots of National Socialism and the politically fateful role of Bayreuth in the Third Reich. The lectures were subsequently published by C. H. Beck as a book with the same title.

Since 2001 Schloss Elmau has been regularly hosting a Jewish Tarbut under the direction of Dr Rachel Salamander and Professor Michael Brenner, where leading Jewish intellectuals from all over the world meet with members of the Jewish communities from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Since 2002 regular Transatlantic Forums have been staged by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of Washington led by Craig Kennedy and the late Dr Ron Asmus to bring together American with German and other European politicians. Just two months before her election in September 2005 to the post of Federal Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel gave a vigorously debated lecture about the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. The late Richard Holbrooke as well as Carl Bildt have made use of the GMF events for a series of informal meetings with presidents and politicians from Eastern European nations applying to become members of NATO and the EU.

In 2005 a major fire caused by a short circuit destroyed two thirds of the castle. Fortunately no one got hurt. The fire made it possible for Dietmar Mueller-Elmau to create a completey new Schloss Elmau.

On June 21, 2007 the new Schloss Elmau opened after 14 months of construction and according to plans made by Christoph Sattler and Dietmar Mueller-Elmau as a "Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway" and member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Schloss Elmau has since receveid numerous awards as the and one of best spa of the europe and the world.

On March 21, 2015 the Schloss Elmau Retreat opened after two years of construction and according to plans made by Christoph Sattler and Dietmar Mueller-Elmau. The Retreat is a hotel within a hotel, as much part of Schloss Elmau as it is a world of its own with 47 suites, 2 restaurants and lounges, library, gym, yoga pavillon and Shantigiri Spa with separate areas and pools for adults, ladies and families.

On June 7/8, 2015 the G7 Summit took place in Schloss Elmau with the heads of state & goverment from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany. "

Posted by LuxuryRogue 03:43 Archived in Germany

There is a Mammoth in my Lobby: Hotel Polar Star, Yakutsk

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Posted by LuxuryRogue 00:07 Archived in Russia

Lllao Llao Hotel: a Grande Dame abused by the Great Unwashed

.., and by a moneychanger

What a deception. For a long time I had wanted to visit this "famous" hotel. The setting at the lake and mountainous scenery of Bariloche is spectacular indeed. The architecture is timeless. Service staff was friendly to us, especially at reception and concierge, as they could see we were well dressed individuals and not part of the abundant hoi-polloi groups. However, the interior furniture is very old and in desperate need of investment. One can feel that the owners don't give a damn and try to extract the last penny out of this Grande Dame. The tour group crowds who fill up the occupancy rates are TERRIBLE. The worst of the "unwashed". Shorts, sandals, backpacks galore. Especially in the breakfast hall which has a Las Vegas Casino atmosphere. Food at the main dinner restaurant wasn't much better either. Worst of all: the hotel rips you off with the old exchange-rate back-and-forth trick, which raised the final roomprice on the credit card by some 30%, compared to the hard currency price at online booking. In addition, they deducted 800 Pesos for no reason which I had to protest against by mail. Still hasn't been credited to my card after more than 3 weeks. What else should one expect from a hotel that is co-owned by George Soros, who became (in)famous as a moneychanger (e.g. short-selling 10 billion Pound Sterling against the Dollar in 1992)?

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Pictures of Llao Llao Resort, Bariloche:

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"The Rape of Europa"

by Francisco Goya (Source: Wikipedia)
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Posted by LuxuryRogue 23:19 Archived in Argentina

Charismatic Lighthouse Hotel Campo, Peninsula Valdes

An almost secret hideaway on beautiful Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia, Argentina (lighthouse at the bottom right of the map)

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Posted by LuxuryRogue 02:11 Archived in Argentina

The nightmare Hotel Bauen, worker cooperative, Buenos Aires

When a hotel is taken over by its "workers", in a cooperative, without any entrepreneur or ownership: world's worst hotel !

Wikipedia: Hotel Bauen

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Posted by LuxuryRogue 02:11 Archived in Argentina

At The Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg, Mandela's former home.

The Saxon Hotel is located at the corner of Saxon Rd and Coronation Rd in Johannesburg's most upmarket neighbourhood Sandhurst, itself a part of Sandton. This hotel is among the most luxurious hotels in the world, member of the Leading Hotels of the World marketing chain, and a unique blend of contemporary design, African art, and African cultural heritage. In 1990 it became Nelson Mandela's first residence after his 27-year-incarceration (less than 1 year of it on Robben Island). The luxurious Jo'burg home was provided by British/South African/Jewish businessman Douw Steyn. It was here that the "troublemaker" Rolihlahla, as his royal Xhosa father named him, or the "Madiba", as the locals later liked to call him, was trained by the British for his future role, and he started writing his book "Long Walk to Freedom". It is fascinating to see the many drawings (copied from original fotos) on the hotel's walls in the lobby, library and corridors: Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, even Joseph Blatter. Like a private museum providing insight into rather recent South African history, after the Apartheid system fell.
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Posted by LuxuryRogue 01:57 Archived in South Africa

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