2 Western Cape Houw Hoek Hotel
When you step into the foyer of the three-star Houw Hoek Hotel, you’re stepping into the oldest licensed hotel and first coach inn in South Africa. It was the original farmhouse in 1779, before the farmer converted it into an inn. The hotel received its liquor licence in 1834 and the second floor was added in 1861. (Lady Anne Barnard often stayed here). It was the site of the original Dutch East India Company’s toll gate, and this was a common stopover for ox wagons, mail-coaches and horse-carts. There are three theories regarding the name of the Houw Hoek Pass, but most popular is that the oxen had to ‘hou' (hold) as they descended the steep mountain. The hotel is a popular wedding and conference venue, but its also a great family venue, with sprawling lawns and a children’s’ play area. I came here a couple of times as a child, many years later bringing my children with me for a city break. Not much has changed – even the popular dinner/dance on a Saturday night remains. There’s also a squash and tennis court, Putt-Putt course, quaint pub and an à la carte restaurant serving no nonsense pizzas and burgers etc. Hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy the Kogelberg Biosphere Nature Reserve. There are also plans to add a Ginkgo Spa. Sip tea on the veranda and imagine the many historical personalities who have enjoyed the same experience.