Hotels that bring the history of Stellenbosch to life

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Stellenbosch’s historical importance is multifaceted, encompassing its colonial roots, role in the development of Afrikaans and South African culture, connections to the apartheid era, contributions to the wine industry, celebrated sporting accomplishments and preservation of its rich architectural heritage.

By: Janine Avery

As the second oldest town in the country, it remains a vital part of South Africa’s historical tapestry, much of which can still be seen and witnessed today through its many museums, historical buildings, and even simply the beating heart of Stellies itself – South Africa’s second-oldest university.

However many tourists that come to visit Stellenbosch, don’t get to see this unique part of the town, opting instead to stay at the modern hotels or quaint country cottages of the Cape Winelands. However if you’re a local wanting to learn a bit more about the place that has spawned so many of our celebrated Bokke or a tourist who wants to add a splash of culture to our vino, here are two places to stay that can really help bring the history of Stellenbosch to life.

Eendracht Hotel

In the centre of Stellenbosch lies an unassuming triple-story white building, flanked by tall oak trees, with one wall dripping in ivy. This is the Eendracht Hotel – a small property with a big history.

Here in the heart of one of South Africa’s oldest towns, on one of its oldest streets, stand two plots. To be exact, these were once the sites of the 5th and 6th properties to be granted to landowners in the country. Over the years these small properties were turned from residential homes to boarding houses, and even a guesthouse, before finally sold to the Cape Technicon. Unfortunately, in order to build the A.P. Venter Hall for the technicon, the original buildings were then demolished.

But almost twenty years ago some intrepid hotel owners set out to restore this land to its former glory and that’s just what they did. Using old photographs and diary accounts from the scholars who once lived here, the owners recreated the Eendracht building as a replica of how it once looked in 1960. 

It’s this rich history that underpins everything the Eendracht is built upon. In fact, when the hotel was rebuilt in 1996, the archeologists on site were able to uncover some interesting insights into the early inhabitants of the area. The workplace of a coppersmith was found, as well as a number of interesting artifacts which are still on display on the property today.

You can further immerse yourself in the historic ambiance of the hotel, and unravel the secrets of centuries gone by, just by looking closer at the walls around you. Here we discovered the original deeds to the house, a myriad of old photographs of Stellenbosch, and newspaper and magazine clippings from years gone past. And while sitting in the restaurant, Senobia’s, with its roaring fireplace and balcony overlooking Dorp Street you might be forgiven for thinking this grand old mansion was actually all yours.

That is until the locals come streaming in for their famous Sunday lunch carvery, a fine way to end the week. 

Evergreen Manor and Spa

Located over two properties that date back to the 1900s, Evergreen Manor and Spa is the epitome of sophisticated grace. The property has been lovingly built up by the owner over the past 20 years, consistently adding on new wings and rooms as demand for an authentic retreat in the centre of town grew.

Today the property has close on 20 rooms, each decorated in a cosy old world style, its own spa, two pools and a breakfast room, making it an enchanting destination for a weekend getaway that seamlessly blends history, elegance, and warm hospitality.

But beyond this, the property pays even more homage to its routes as it’s managed in an old-world style, giving one the feeling of staying in a grand old house rather than your typical hotel. Here you can look forward to seeing the same friendly faces at the checkout desk and serving your coffee in the morning, while its not uncommon for the owner to make frequent appearances. 

Nestled amidst the picturesque Winelands, both of these boutique hotels beckon with a unique experience, inviting one to indulge in the charm of the historic surroundings while still enjoying modern comforts.Though rooted in history, they seamlessly blend traditional character with modern comforts. Here you can stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi, and enjoy the convenience of air conditioning.

While the Eendracht was the first hotel in the area to put USB plugs in their rooms, and boasts a small separate ‘huddle room’ with state-of-the-art equipment for Zoom conferencing should you need it and Evergreen has recently installed solar throughout so the woes of loadshedding are far away.

Furthermore, both properties are members of Cape Country Routes. Started in 1997 by an enterprising group of independent hotel and country inn owners, the routes aim to showcase unique South African properties known for their charm and romance. They’re all about encouraging travellers to go beyond the beaten bath, to discover properties full of history and character, where you can meet locals, discover authentic experiences, and learn more about our beautiful country. 

With their rich history, luxurious rooms, and exceptional dining options, the Eendracht Hotel and Evergreen Manor & Spa are not just places to stay but gateways to explore the beauty and cultural heritage of Stellenbosch. Whether you are a wine enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a tranquil retreat, youre guaranteed an unforgettable stay.

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