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TThe Castle in Clarens is a fun guest house geared towards the offbeat traveller looking for something a little different. The décor is pure fairytale fantasy and the surrounding areas offer every opportunity to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The Castle in Clarens is not exactly a castle, and it's not exactly in Clarens either.
This fun guest house, just outside Clarens in the Eastern Free State, looks like it has been transported straight off the pages of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. It's not quite a castle, mind you, and consists of just 2 bedrooms that have been decorated with exotic items from around the world.
It's small, intimate and fantastical in every sense. The chandeliers are from North America, the carpets from Dubai, the tiles are Italian and bric-a-brac items from Windsor Castle are found all over the place.
Based on the idea of the famous old 'bottle castle' of Clarens (built from over 50 000 beer bottles), the owners of the Castle in Clarens wanted to add to the area's offbeat architectural history.
‘We wanted to create something very exclusive and very different,' says owner Manie van Schalkwyk. 'Guests book out the entire castle, and you don't get just 1 room – the entire castle is yours to live out your fantasies.'
It has been dubbed 'Rapunzel's Tower' by the locals, and one can spend hours in the 'Chamber of Angels' or enjoy sundowners from 'Sunset Corner'. Rooms are over-the-top, definitely fit for a prince or princess.
The fun, arty town of Clarens nearby is worth a visit and, for those who love the great outdoors, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is just down the road. Other fun activities in the area are fossil hunting and visiting various rock art sites.
There are no dull moments to be had in this part of the world. As the saying goes, you are responsible for creating your own magic – although it helps if you’re staying in a castle where the lines of fantasy and reality blur.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Castle in Clarens
Tel: +27 (0)83 268 0497
How to get here
The Castle in Clarens is situated in the Eastern Free State. Travel along the R712 past the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the town of Clarens. After 5kms you will see signposts to the Castle in Clarens. Detailed directions are on the website.
Best time to visit
Clarens is delightful during spring and summer. It can get very chilly in winter when snow settles on the Maluti Mountains, adding to the romantic drama of the area.
Things to do
The town of Clarens has great art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants. You could also go hiking in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, enjoy a fossil-hunting safari or go game-watching on horseback.
Length of stay
The Castle in Clarens is the perfect weekend getaway. If you choose to stay 3 to 5 days, you’ll be able to do the majority of the activities in the area as well as explore the fun town of Clarens.
What will it cost?
Weekend rates are around R1 300 per person per night, and weekday rates are about half of that.
What to pack
To get into character, a princess gown for the ladies, and coat and tails for the men.
What to eat
There are loads of great coffee shops and delis in Clarens. Shop for local produce at the various farm stalls in the area. The Castle does include a kitchen.
Local art at the galleries in Clarens.