Tulbagh – The 6-Part Serial Adventure! (2/6: Where to Stay)


(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)

Part 2/6: Where to Stay

Every lane in Tulbagh that you turn into, it seems, has a pretty sign rocking in the breeze which advertises a place to stay. But while the number of beds in the valley is high – very high – the variety of accomodation is limited to B&B and self-catering. There are no backpackers’ in Tulbagh, and only one hotel. More on the hotel in a moment.

Actually, I can’t contain my enthusiasm for the hotel, so it gets to go first. It’s called the Tulbagh Hotel. No surprise there. The surprise is that, in addition to its seven well-appointed rooms and pleasant situation on the town’s main road, the hotel is home to a working Irish pub, complete with a half-dozen beers on tap and an uncountable number of bottled imports, more than 100 single malt whiskeys, cases of local and international wines, and real Chesterfields, set in front of wide deep hearths, that you can doze off in after having your pint.

This pub, called the Shamrock & Thistle, while not the 8th wonder of the world, is somewhere near it – say 11th or 12th. There’s nothing like it for thousands of kilometers in any direction. If you don’t stay at the Tulbagh Hotel, at the very least drop by the Shamrock for a glass of the best. (Note: the pub keeps strict pub hours, opening from 7pm to 11pm only.)

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To book a room or make a reservation for a pub supper, phone +27 (0) 23 230 0071.

Meanwhile, traditionally the first place to investigate sleeping options in Tulbagh is quaint Church Street.

A major earthquake struck the Swartland in 1969, devastating Tulbagh’s historic Church Street. It was quickly rebuilt in its former image, however, and today stepping into the street is like stepping back in time. Whitewashed houses with Cape Dutch gables instill a stately hush – strange that this quiet place should be so near the town’s bustling Main Road! It’s definitely the most atmospheric part of the valley.

(Here, Your Correspondent can’t restrain himself from mentioning that Church St. is also home to a double-storey, flat-roofed house, completely unlike the gabled ones, built around 1818 in a style developed by a famous Cape architect named Thibault. Alternately called “De Wet House” and “Mon Bijou,” it’s gorgeous.)

Church Street is lined with B&B’s; SA Blog’s picks are De Oude Herberg (+27 (0) 23 230 0260; email ingham@mweb.co.za) and the Tulbagh Country House (+27 (0) 23 230 1171; email the helpful and knowledgeable Ginny at tulbaghguesthouse@mweb.co.za).

The accommodation on Church Street may seem a shade expensive, but unfortunately most other places in the valley are, too. This is perhaps the one drawback to planning a visit to Tulbagh: no cheap digs.

There are many self-catering rooms and cottages in the area, however – which tend to be less pricey, if not actually cheap – on wine farms like Manley Estate (about 1 min drive out of town). If you want to consider a range of options, contact Tulbagh Tourism on +27 (0) 23 230-1375, or visit this nifty Tulbagh info site.