Karoo. – If I’ve learnt one thing over my years of SA travel loving it’s that in the end, it’ll always be the people who matter most. The characters who make up the stories and build the passion which becomes the heart of any town.
This is particularly true of the Antrobus family and their Victoria Manor and Die Tuishuise in Cradock in the Eastern Cape.
One of the oldest hotels in South Africa, built in 1848, the Victoria Hotel is known to have hosted the likes of Oliver Schreiner and Cecil John Rhodes in its day. Left to a state of neglect, it was Sandra Antrobus who took it upon herself to buy the hotel and breath new life into it, allowing it to become the heart of Cradock. In more ways than one.
The 16 guest rooms have been lovingly restored to offer every comfort, whilst the lounges and Albert Dining room bring the luxury and style of a bygone era. Offering beautiful Karoo food and wonderful service, the hotel is steeped in history which is now being respectfully preserved. There’s even a cellar which is reported to have been used as a prison cell during the South African war. Although in true Antrobus style, it has been turned into a charming pub or breakaway venue. There’s even a Karoo farm-style plunge pool and garden area to enjoy.
Die Tuihuise, or town houses on Market Street, have in the same way been restored to national treasures. This row of houses once belonged to crafters and artisans of 200 years back, servicing many of the early day settlers that moved through the area with their wagons at the time. Allowed to fall into disrepair over the years, Sandra slowly bought them up, weaving her warmth and magic, as well as her careful eye for impeccable detail to the art of slowly returning them to their former glory.
Now more than 30 cottages bring life and pride to Market Street, with their brightly painted roofs, amber, reds and green. Each is decorated in is own distinctive style suited to the bygone era, with antique furniture, beautifully set tables, four poster beds and fireplaces bringing reminders of a different time. Atmospheric, charmingly decorated wood-panelled rooms and claw-footed tubs in the bathrooms make you feel instantly at home.
Prevalent through it all is the genuine welcome and invitation to relax into the comfort and hospitality which is synonymous with a small Karoo town. And the thing is, you do!
The Victoria Manor on the corner of Voortrekker and Market Streets.
Beautifully furnished rooms, antique pieces, percale cotton, comfort.
Victoria Cottage that I stayed at in July.
If the fresh air is not soul food enough and a touch of pampering is sought after, book a massage or beauty treatment at the Karoo Comfort Zone, located in one of the restored 1950’s houses.
For more on activities in the area look here.
Contact details are www.tuishuise.co.za and Tel: +27 (0)48 8811322
or email: email@example.com. Don’t pass through this town, book in here for a feel of all it has to offer. It’s a one of a kind experience.
Everybody should have a friend with a big ol’ house in the Great Karoo. One that you can visit to be consumed by love, chats next to the fireplace, fresh air and delicious Karoo fair. I’m ever grateful that I have exactly that in the very special Antrobus family that I love dearly and appreciate for all that they are and do. Friends that feel like the best kind of family x.
This is where I was hosted whilst at the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival. One of my many visits to this lovely town, with the hope of more to come.