About Northcliff Manor

Northcliff Manor Boutique Guest House is a jewel in the crown of bed and breakfast establishments in Johannesburg’s opulent older suburbs. Evoking the romance of a bygone era, Northcliff Manor is a reminder of the heady days of the gold rush which gave Johannesburg its other names.


This unique architectural gem with its impressive views and interesting history was one of the earliest homes built against the cliff, northwest of the Johannesburg CBD, in 1937.

About Northcliff

Leafy Northcliff, with its impressive views, is one of Johannesburg’s older, affluent suburbs. Its lavish homes are situated on tree-lined avenues that wend their way up the cliff.


Northcliff ridge is a landmark on the otherwise predominantly flat skyline of Jozi, the City of Gold or Egoli as it is also known in the vernacular. Northcliff Hill which is also known as Aasvoëlkop for the vultures that inhabited it before urbanisation, is believed to have been populated by humans for more than 250 000 years.


At 1 807 meters, the ridge is the second highest point in Johannesburg at one meter lower than Observatory Ridge. These two points offer visitors entirely different views of the region.

Built for a political icon

Northcliff Manor was built as a wedding present for the well-known anti-apartheid politician Helen Suzman who in her lifetime was awarded 27 honorary doctorates, made an honorary Dame Commander of the order of The British Empire and who was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Designed by an acclaimed architect

The Manor was designed for her by the acclaimed German architect Bernard Pabst who worked with the great Mies van der Rohe on the German Pavilion at Barcelona in 1929 and who was known for his distinctive and unconventional designs. Pabst’s architectural influences ranged from Le Corbusier to Antoni Gaudi and German Expressionism. His interest in the geometry of curve and counter curve led to his juxtaposition of curving convex and concave surfaces which are reflected in the building. His love of asymmetric contrasts between different planes and dynamic internal space articulation are clearly visible in the unique design of Northcliff Manor.

Restored with comfort in mind

Northcliff Manor has been lovingly restored with respect for the original design and with the comfort and contentment of guests in mind. Here you will find a haven of peace and tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of an African city. If being surrounded by breathtaking beauty matters to you, you will want to lay down your head on one of our authentic antique brass beds at the end of a busy day. All our sumptuously furnished rooms are equipped with a TV, bar fridge and air conditioning. The Manor’s sunny balustraded balcony overlooks the lush one-acre garden with its profusion of evergreens, rich birdlife, sparkling pool, patio and tennis court. On a clear day, you can see the Magaliesberg mountain range in the distance.


Sipping on a cool, restorative drink and feeling the tension melt from your muscles, you will find it hard to believe that you’re not on an estate somewhere in the countryside. Our luxurious breakfasts are custom made to suit your dietary requirements. There is secure parking on the property and access to free wifi.


A sleepover on a larger itinerary may as well be a pleasurable experience. Or you may need a base from which to conduct your business. Northcliff Manor is not just a bed, bacon and eggs, it’s a destination in its own right, an enriching experience that will leave you feeling pampered, recharged and revitalized.

Your hostess

Your proprietor, Ilse van der Merwe, was a top set and decor designer in the South African television, film, and advertising industry before she and her late husband and business partner Johnny decided to turn their exquisite home into a guest house.


Ilse, who originally trained as an artist at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, with distinctions in painting, brings her sophistication and original flair to everything she does. She and her mother, the acclaimed artist Venus Gobregts’ wonderful paintings can be enjoyed throughout the Manor.


Johnny’s collection of European antique furniture and Yellow and Stinkwood Africana furniture – from the beautiful brass beds and armoires to a collection of Victorian cranberry glass and Italian Spode – is featured throughout the house.