Houw Hoek Inn
The main entrance as it is today and was in 2010
The Houw Hoek Inn as it was known back in the 1980's was built way back in 1779 in the time when the Dutch East India still governed the Cape.
The Dutch arrived in Cape Town in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck was sent to start a garden to supply passing ships with vegetables, meat and water.
The settlement grew and as time went on settlers in the Cape took their ox wagons and started exploring the land and mountains to the east of the settlement. Over time a wagon trail was established over the Hottentot Holland mountains and a toll gate was set up in the valley where the Houw Hoek Inn was eventually built in 1779.
By the time the travellers arrived at the toll gate they had been on the road for many days and needed somewhere to rest before continuing on their way.
The original Inn was built as a single storey building with a thatched roof but as its popularity increased it was necessary to add a second storey which was built in 1861. Today the thatch roof has been replaced by a tiled roof.
Guests arriving at the toll gate were hungry and thirsty (especially those on horseback) and to accommodate them the Inn obtained a liquor licence in 1834.
Not only is the Inn the oldest in South Africa today but it also has the oldest liquor licence in the country.
The Big Tree
Over time the Inn has had many owners and proprietors. Johan Paul Beyers a former german missionary was in charge and living in the hotel in 1848 when the large bluegum tree that today stands guard at the entrance to the hotel was planted. It was planted in honour of his fifth child born in the room facing where the tree is today. This tree has a circumference of around 11 metres and is still expanding. The branches of the tree used to reach out over the hotel but have now been trimmed back to avoid them landing on the building and injuring someone.
Outdoor Restaurant and the new indoor restaurant
Over the years there has been a lot of expansion in the hotel. It now has 77 rooms (all of which have en-suite bathrooms ) spread out in newly built buildings around the estate . It has a large indoor dining room as well as an outdoor restaurant under the trees.
A new indoor restaurant to accommodate visitors and residents over weekends when the hotel is fully utilised has recently been added.
One of the main attractions at the hotel is the Saturday night dinner dance in the barn. When I lived in the Grabouw area in the 1980's I attended many of these dances which were extremely popular and still are.
The old dam and as it is today
Some of the improvements on the estate
The grounds are large and have swimming pools for guests. There are dams and trees and a children's play area. The gardens boast rolling lawns for as far as the eye can see. At the bottom of the garden there is a small stream which kids will love to play in.
The wooden bridge crossing the stream at the bottom of the property
A small wooden bridge over the stream gives access to a walking trail on the hill opposite the hotel.
The hotel is open for visitors for lunches and dinners daily.
Today the hotel is an hour's drive from the city and is an ideal destination for those wanting a day out in the country.
See you there soon.
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Houw Hoek Inn