December 17, 2014

Grand re-opening of Graaff-Reinet's Drostdy Hotel

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
“Welcome to the oasis in the desert” said the Drostdy Hotel General Manager, Kurt Peter, as he ushered us into the blissfully cool interior. The air-conditioned hotel was a welcome refuge from the dry, oven-baked 35°C outdoors of the little Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet.

After a 3 hour transfer from Port Elizabeth airport, we had just arrived to check in to the newly revamped Drostdy Hotel, opened a few days prior. The property is a well-loved landmark in the town. The main building - originally the Drostdy (the office of the local magistrate) - dates back to 1805. The hotel is now managed by the Newmark hotel group. The national monument underwent an extensive renovation to turn it into a luxurious 5* boutique hotel, destined to once again become the glittering gem of the town.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
The hotel entrance and (from left) tour guide David McNaughton & Drostdy GM Kurt Peter.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet


To say the renovation process was extensive is an understatement. A team of expert archaeologists and architects worked together to preserve the heritage of the buildings while bringing them into the 21st century. Internationally renowned interior designer, Stephen Falcke, was responsible for the perfect marriage of the Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo style with the best of modern, eco-friendly innovation.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet


Leather armchairs, crystal chandeliers, yellow-wood floors (where possible, they saved the originals), animal-hide rugs, blue and white porcelain, botanical prints and black and white Chequer tiles adorn the public areas and rooms. Hotel facilities include 3 swimming pools (a godsend when temperatures soar to 40+ °C), a well-stocked Africology Spa, a boardroom, adjacent art gallery, wine shop and ample secure parking. We enjoyed a heavenly 30-minute back massage and can definitely recommend visiting the Spa for a treatment, even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet


Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
The well-stocked Africology Spa.
Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
The largest of the three pools, situated in the Kromm's Court accommodation section.
Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
There are 48 uniquely decorated rooms to choose from - from bachelor rooms to suites that can be booked together to form a self-contained unit, complete with small private pool.  I was in a bachelor room (20m²) and although small, it was cosy and would be comfortable enough for 2 people sharing. They’re ideal for corporate travellers or if you’re on a budget. The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom with his and hers sinks, a large shower, heated towel rails and underfloor heating (useful in the chilly Karoo winters). The suites are obviously larger and have Victorian roll top baths to enjoy a leisurely soak in.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet accommodation
The bachelor suite.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Bachelor suite bathroom.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Outside terrace of the bachelor suite, pictured with the drizzle on our departure morning.


Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Charlotte Rhys products in the bathrooms.
After a cool down in the pool, it was time to get down to the serious business. The food. Executive Chef Justin Pillay of the hotel’s De Camdeboo Restaurant had us constantly eating. Local venison, ostrich and the famous Karoo lamb feature prominently on the menu. Infused with the flavours of fynbos and the rosemary and thyme which grows in abundance on the surrounding plains; every morsel was a taste of the Karoo itself.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
De Camdeboo restaurant.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Fynbos and rooibos panna cotta.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Grilled green asparagus with braised lentils, crispy leeks and truffle scented sour cream.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet food
Farmstyle rhubarb crumble tart topped with blueberry frozen yoghurt.

Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet
Venison savoury mince filled pancake with plum tomato chutney.


This Karoo influence, and strong sense of Graaff-Reinet community pride, is seen in every aspect of the new Drostdy. Wherever possible, the furnishings to the expertise was sourced locally. Most of the hotel staff are graduates from the South African College for Tourism, situated in Graaff-Reinet. The top students are given the chance to gain valuable practical experience working at a top class hotel for a year.

Somewhat surprisingly if you don’t know the area, there are many reasons to pay Graaff-Reinet a visit. While there we were allowed into the historic Graaff-Reinet Club to enjoy dinner pre-drinks (the club is members-only but they kindly made an exception for us), had an early-morning game drive in the Camdeboo National Park, did a historic walking tour of the town and visited a cacti and succulent nursery, a local pottery factory and the Valley of Desolation at sunset. And there was a lot more I would have liked to see but didn't have the time. Yet another reason to return... soon!

Coming soon – why you should visit Graaff-Reinet.

A huge thank you to our wonderful hosts: Vanessa from Newmark, Drostdy GM Kurt and the rest of the hotel team, tour guide and driver David McNaughton from Karoo Connections and tour guide Chantelle Marais.

Step back in time and book a stay at the Drostdy Hotel – contact us.

The Newmark group also owns the Victoria & Alfred Hotel in Cape Town's Waterfront area as well as other Cape Town properties, game reserves in Limpopo and Mpumalanga and lodges in Mozambique and Rwanda. Contact Sure Travel for more information on these properties and to book.

SURE TRAVEL BLOG CONTRIBUTOR
It all began when a 16-year-old Jenna got on a plane for the first time and headed to Germany for 2 weeks on a school exchange. Returning well and truly bitten by the travel bug, after finishing school she hopped on a plane and headed off to London. Since then, she has eaten her way through Eastern Europe, dozed in a hammock on a tiny island dotted in Lake Malawi, tracked Wild Dogs through the hills of Zululand, and explored the major sights of her first love – Europe.

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