Barrydale’s Karoo Art Hotel reopens with a fresh look

Posted on 1 March 2022 By Chloe Cowley

The transformed Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale reopened on 2 March 2022, with new owners and a retrospective exhibition by Barrydale artist Nigel Hewitt. The hotel, which has always been ‘creatively driven’ has a fresh look with some bold design choices.

The entrance to the hotel.

The new owners, Rick and Sue Melvill, explained the unexpected way in which their new venture came to take form.

Like all good stories, it began with a journey. Rick joined a Klein Karoo Tankwa motorbike tour in 2021.They stopped in Barrydale on their final night, a place Rick had only ever driven through. Their booking was at the ‘oddly named’ Karoo Art Hotel.  

Barrydale is a scenic village in the Klein Karoo.

First impressions were not great. The hotel needed a lick of paint and some love. The business had presumably caved in because of Covid-19 and looked as though it was on its last legs. Rick’s attention was caught by a banner on the wall advertising an ‘Auction on Wednesday’. At first, Rick was not interested, but the idea grew on him, and eventually – on a whim – Rick and Sue decided to buy the hotel. Renovations started not long afterwards.

The newly restored hotel at night.

What’s on offer at the new Karoo Art Hotel?

Visitors to the refurbished hotel can expect all things arty. It has opened with a retrospective exhibition of the life’s work of Hewitt, at which 120 works from his private collection will be on sale.

Cartography, too, is an art and the Map Room, as its name suggests, is filled with a world of road trips, dual-purpose motorbike routes, mountain bike routes, trail running and hiking routes.

This winter, the hotel will host artists, writers, artisans and alternative thinkers in residence who will focus on the various arts of the Karoo Art Hotel, starting with The Art of the Memoir.

The reception turned art gallery.

Running from 18-20 March, The Art of the Memoir programme will kick off with bestselling author Jo-Anne Richards (The Innocence of Roast Chicken). She will be assisted by fellow author and writing coach Joanne Hichens (Death and The After Parties). They will deliver a workshop designed by international writing school All About Writing, co-founded by Richards.

Morning cyclists line up for a bagel.

The venture is not just about the art on the walls, but it is also about the art of so many other things, Rick and Sue say – the art of a classic Karoo country kitchen, the art of the bar and the artisan bakery, and the art of getting to the hotel, being there, and leaving.

The Peacock Room.

Rates: From R1,100 per person per night, or R1,560 per room for two people sharing.

You can visit the hotel’s website here.

Pictures: Supplied


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