Described by delighted guests as “The hidden pearl of the Karoo”, the Karroo Theatrical Hotel outside Steytlerville has a wonderfully rip-roaring past.
Steytlerville is a quiet, dusty settlement in the lee of the Baviaanskloof. Nearly a century ago, however, it was a rowdy place.
So much so that one of the church counsellor’s sons became a serious party animal and trashed the town on a regular basis.
And so all booze was banned from Steytlerville.
In 1943, there was a gentle revolt against this long-standing temperance bylaw, which resulted in The Karroo Hotel being built just outside the municipal boundary.
The Karroo Hotel went through some tough times and picked up a reputation for being less than savoury. Then two creative musicians, Mark Hinds and Jacques Rabie, came up from Tulbagh in the Western Cape and bought the derelict property.
After a pile of investment, a lot of sweat equity and some pretty nifty furnishings, the sad old spot became an Art Deco oasis in the desert.
If you knew the bad old Karroo Hotel, you simply wouldn’t recognise the place today. In the late afternoon, as guests take their sundowners on the verandah, the hotel looks like a golden low-slung birthday cake. It could be the set of some exotic movie like Baghad Café II – set in the Karoo.
Stroll inside and you’re in the Jitterbug era of the 1930s – the décor is stylish to the max.
There are a dozen en-suite double rooms, a colourful bar named after a circus dog, billiards on offer and a dinner menu that serves true Karoo cuisine. And that’s one of the big reasons people visit the Dry Country – to sample the very special food of origin on offer.
It’s known that the Karoo is a very large home for eccentrics and creative types – and that’s just where Jacques Rabie and Mark Hinds come in.
Both musicians from Cape Town, they have combined the art of hospitality with their love of performance – and have become the toast of travellers throughout the Karoo.
On a Saturday night, just after you’ve been served your dinner, the lights dim and it’s time for The Steytlerville Follies, presented by Freddie Ferrari and Dame Leyla Lamborghini.
Mark (as Freddie) is an accomplished concert pianist and Jacques (as Dame Leyla) sings the old show tunes and classics we all love.
The glitz, glamour and burlesque nature of the Steytlerville Follies are what bring visitors to the Karroo Theatrical Hotel in this far-off place in the Noorsveld. And then they discover the magic of this ‘home from home’, where you are made welcome by cats, dogs and two of the friendliest hosts in the Heartland.
- Bookings for The Karroo Theatrical Hotel must be made in advance;
- The hotel is pet-friendly.
Karroo Theatrical Hotel
Tel: +27 (0) 49 835 0010
Mobile: +27 (0) 72 424 7185