The Drostdy Hotel, Graaff-Reinet
Did you know?
Graaff-Reinet is the 4th-oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Swellendam.
The historical heart of Graaff-Reinet, the Eastern Cape town known as the ‘gem of the Karoo’, is Parsonage Street.
Its charming array of historic homes – some of them converted into upmarket restaurants and shops – is bookended by the Drostdy Hotel in the west and the Reinet House Museum in the east.
At the turn of the 18th century, Graaff-Reinet lay in the heart of frontier bandit country. Lawlessness and rebellion were rife, and the government of the day decided to establish a strong magisterial presence in the town.
In 1804 construction began on a majestic new drostdy – local magisterial headquarters – designed by French architect Louis Michel Thibault. Two years later it was completed, and served as the seat of local law for more than 40 years.
As courtroom facilities needed to expand, this building became the magistrate’s residence.
After a long stint as a private home, it was relaunched as the Drostdy Hotel.
Enter legendary hotelier David Rawdon, who was commissioned by the ‘patron’ of Graaff-Reinet, businessman Anton Rupert, to restore and develop the Drostdy into 1 of the top heritage hotels in South Africa.
As you sit and take tea on the front porch of the hotel at the old facade entrance, you can watch the passing parade of a Karoo settlement: farmers, townsfolk, travellers and truckers sharing the main road.
In the Drostdy Hotel's garden, however, it’s all about the birds that seem to gather in great numbers wherever a feeder is hung.
Because of the summer heat that bakes down on this part of the world, the hotel keeps its gardens shaded and its pool sparkling.
Your choice of accommodation ranges from the main hotel rooms, a mix of air-conditioned hi-tech and antique pieces from the early frontier days, to the colourfully shuttered units of Stretch’s Court, where emancipated slaves were once housed.
Before his passing in 2010, Rawdon – who had also owned the historical Lanzerac and Lord Milner hotels – said his 1 regret about his working life was that he had not bought the Drostdy Hotel.
But his grand restoration work on the property lives on, and delights the many travellers who enjoy the hotel every year.
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Who to contact
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