So there we were, slumming it in the local caravan park in the small Karoo dorpie of Willowmore, getting bitten by mosquitoes that left welts the size of saucers. But we cleaned ourselves up and joined the civilised set at The Willow Historical Guest House. It was like instant time travel – with none of the drawbacks.
By 1990 it was the private home of one Peppi van der Merwe and his family. So his daughter El-Anne tells us as she pours a drink in the bar. She lived here as a teenager, before her dad turned it into a guesthouse (he used to manage the Royal Hotel in Willowmore too).
After a stint in Cape Town to study hospitality and gain experience, El-Anne is back as the guesthouse’s manager. ‘Much of the stuff here my dad collected over the years, and what’s the dining room today was our living room,’ she recalls.
Halfway through our meal a door to the garden sighs open and it’s as if a ghost wafts in, trying to find her way back to a time and place where she was happy.
If ever you’re in the area, don’t miss a visit to this gorgeous old home in the Karoo heartland. If you’re keen on history or you simply like the elegance of times past, you’ll be delighted. Choose from rooms in the main house or in cottages in the grounds (the converted stables or hoenderhok, for instance) and surrounding streets. For something truly romantic and nostalgic, you can even have your wedding here.
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