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Words and photographs (except main): Nina van Schalkwyk
After roughing it on safari through Namibia, end your trip at the coast in Swakopmund, where the cool breeze comforts after the heat of the hinterland. Stay with the Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment Centre for uncompromising comfort and hospitality.
A century ago the stunning structure that is the Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment Centre housed the town’s stately railway station. Today, the hotel embraces its past, with the elegance of early 20th-century travel memorialised in its classic interiors filled with historic black and white photographs from the Sam Cohen Library.
Built in 1901, the building served as the gateway for travellers on their way back to Europe or the opposite. The character of the building is part of the colonial-era architecture of the town. The hotel’s famous “witch’s hat” shaped tower has been a landmark for generations.
The rooms are made up with modern amenities like flat-screen televisions and large bathrooms but retain the sweeping theme with stunning blown-up photographs from Swakopmund’s past. They form part of the “new” wing of the hotel which stands opposite the main building, facing the large swimming pool that is flanked by two fountains. With 88 hotel rooms and two presidential suites, the hotel can accommodate large families, groups of friends, and dove-eyed honeymooners.
As is befitting of a hotel that harkens back to a bygone era, the Whistlestop Lounge is an elegant hall with couches to sink deeply into, with a late-night cup of tea or drum of whiskey. The quiet retreat can quickly change into an excited congregation depending on the importance of a sports match playing on the large flat-screen television.
Platform One restaurant takes guests back in time to elegant fine-dining. The cosy booths offer more privacy while the large groups are accommodated easily. Black and white photographs are hung on the walls, depicting the dawn of the age of vehicles and of the first trains in Namibia.
Reception can organise trips into the desert with any of the reputable companies to discover the tiny creatures that inhabit the Namib. For the more adventurous, speeding down the side of a dune on a board or a quad bike is always exciting. Guests can simply take a walk from the hotel to explore the quirky character of Swakopmund. Have a coffee or sample fresh fish baked or fried at one of the renovated original houses.