Step back in time at Avondrust Guest House

BY CHARL BOSCH - SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

They call it the jewel of the Karoo where time seemingly goes by at a leisurely pace, and where a traffic jam amounts to a number of cars waiting at the stop street opposite its famous church.

As one of the oldest towns in South Africa, the tranquil and unstressed nature of Graaff-Reinet often makes it the perfect place to stay whether over the weekend, on business or during the holidays. To this end, no place confirms this trait better than Avondrust Guest House and B&B.

Dating back to 1911 when farm owner, J.S. Minnaar, set about building his dream home, Avondrust, located just off the R61 leading through Graaff-Reinet, has served as a guesthouse since the early 1990s. In recent years it has been the preferred stopover point for visitors and government officials alike and accolades, which frankly came as no surprise during a recent visit.

Best described as elegant, the Edwardian style building with its signature fountain and expansive garden, has an inviting nature of a bygone age about it, with the most modern touch being the palisade security fencing around it.

Meeting up with Avondrust’s bubbly owner, Tess Erlank and her business partner Nico Hattingh, I was taken for a quick tour and I was immediately taken back to an era where simplicity would be considered “not good enough”.

Consisting of eight rooms with its on-suite bathroom and king sized bed, each harks back to the past with rustic looking wooden furniture, old-style wooden cupboards, gold finished foot stool and thick linen, while topped off with crisp white pillows on the bed.

A scattering of modernity however also exists in the form of a flat screen television with selected DSTV channels, air-conditioning and a tea / coffee making station. Upstairs rooms also have their own private balcony with a view of the fountain or, in the case of rooms at the back, the Sneeuberg Mountains.

My tour inside finished, Tess and Nico escorted me outside where the allure of Avondrust reached its highlight. 
Tucked away in a children’s fantasy storybook kind of way with trees, bomas and a number of sitting areas as well as water features - up to five of the eight rooms, including a honeymoon suite, are located outside the main house with an undercover braai area and swimming pool offering a spectacular view of those mountains.

As well as being within walking distance of the town’s major attractions, Avondrust also serves full country breakfast in its spacious dining area, and is located near the Camdeboo National Park. For bookings, visit Avondrust at 40 Somerset Street, Graaff-Reinet, or contact them on 049 892 3566.