Did you know?
The bar at the Royal Hotel in Pilgrim's Rest was once the Roman Catholic Chapel of the St. Cyprian's School in Cape Town.
South Africa's historic accommodation options offer interesting journeys into the country's historical past.
As the oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town has a wealth of buildings in Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian architectural styles. Many of South Africa’s smaller towns also bear testament to their colonial and Cape Dutch heritage.
Take the quaint town of Stellenbosch - less than an hour's drive from Cape Town and surrounded by winelands. It has wonderful examples of Cape Dutch architecture – from old farmhouses on wine estates that have been turned into hotels, to its many guest houses and B&Bs. Typical Cape Dutch architecture includes a stoep (verandah), gables, steep roofs and white walls.
Here you’ll find d’Ouwe Werf, one of South Africa’s oldest and most historic hotels, built in 1802 in a classic Georgian architectural style.
In historic Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape – South Africa’s fourth oldest town - you’ll find magnificent examples of Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture. The Drostdy Hotel, built in 1804, is a great place to stay. It used to be the site of the old magistrates court.
South Africa is peppered with many historical farmsteads that have been turned into accommodation. One such example is Burgerrust Lodge on Schanskraal Farm, 100 km from Graaff-Reinet. It was built in 1793 and offers an authentic experience.
It has been restored to preserve the original floorboards and ceiling beams, and to retain its historical character. No electricity is used, with lighting by candles, paraffin lamps and gas.
The frontier town of Cradock on the edge of the Karoo provides wonderful examples of South Africa's historic accommodation offerings. Die Tuishuise on Market Street is a collection of restored Victorian craftsmen’s houses. Many have been turned into guest houses. Here one also finds the grand colonial hotel, Victoria Manor, with décor from the days of Cecil John Rhodes.
To completely immerse oneself in South Africa's colourful history, visit the historic village of Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga. The town is a living memorial to South Africa’s early gold rush days of the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the many activities one can undertake in the town is gold panning. The restored Victorian-style Royal Hotel offers 50 bedrooms complete with antique brass beds, Victorian ball and claw baths, and wash stands.
Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape with its Settler Cottages, town square and High Street, offers exquisite examples of Victorian, colonial and gothic revivalist architecture. Among the town’s historic hotels is Hotel Victoria Mews, built in 1849.
For something truly unusual, one can spend the night in an ox wagon at Oxwagon Lodge in Hartebeespoort Dam, near Magaliesberg, or at Tussen-i-Bome Guest Farm in Dinokeng, north of Pretoria.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Stellenbosch Tourism & Information
Tel: +27 (0)21 883 3584
Fax: +27 (0)21 882 9550
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (general enquiries)
Email: email@example.com (accommodation enquiries)
Graaff-Reinet Tourist Information Office
Tel: +27 (0)49 892-4248
Makana Tourism (Grahamstown)
Tel:+27 (0)46 622 3241
Cape Town & Western Cape Information Centre
Tel: (0)21 405 4500
Pilgrim's Rest Information Centre
Tel: +27 (0)13 768 1060
Cradock Tourism Office
Tel: +27(0)48 801 5000