One of South Africa’s oldest hotels!
Photo Credits Chris Marais | THE VICTORIA HOTEL (as it was then known) was advertised as early as 1852, but it had been in business for some time before that. The story goes that the original structure was a simple private dwelling built in 1848.
“Victoria Manor has hosted the likes of General Haig, Olive Schreiner (herself a one-time Cradockian) and, in the 1880s, all manner of a diamond- and gold prospectors. During the South African War (formerly the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902), the Victoria Hotel was commandeered by British forces, who turned the cellar into a jail for captured Boers. Now we use the Cellar for special occasions.
In later years, legends of ‘The Vic’ include that of a farmer who made it his habit to ride his horse into the hotel and right up to the bar. He would order a brandy for himself and a beer for his steed – to be served up in a Cadillac hubcap.
“Records show that the hotel has gone through several renovations in its life, but none so loving and dedicated as those initiated by its current owner, Mrs Sandra Antrobus.
Owner Sandra Antrobus bought ‘the foremost hotel on the Frontier’ in 1994, and revived it from a dilapidated old hulk to a thing of Victorian splendour. Mrs Antrobus brought in an army of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters and craftsmen and restored the hotel, now called the Victoria Manor, to its status as the prime social spot of the Eastern Cape Midlands.” Chris Marais
All sixteen Victoria Manor bedrooms are en-suite and are individually decorated, have a Hotel DSTV package, select rooms have air conditioner – please request if you would prefer air con.
Sip a pre-dinner sherry in the lounge before eating dinner in our elegant dining room or visit our quirky pub. Wake up to a farm style breakfast served in the breakfast room.
The building grew as money became available. When diamonds were discovered in Kimberley in 1869, the traffic through Cradock increased exponentially, as did the income. The hotel was lavishly refurbished.
It changed hands several times in a wavering economy. ‘It still has some of the beautifully pressed iron ceilings reminiscent of the Victorian era,’ says Sandra. ‘A great sadness was the removal of the broekies lace (wooden fretwork) in the 1950s due to a clause in the liquor laws, which stated that all business selling liquor, had to have concrete exteriors. In time I hope to restore it.’
By 1994, when Sandra Antrobus bought the hotel, it was an outer shell with a noisy pub and very little else. The story goes that she bought it because the racket from the pub was impacting on the B&B guests in the Market Street cottages. Victoria Manor also provided a very important space in the restaurant area for the growing numbers visiting Die Tuishuise.
Almost immediately, the grand old lady of a building picked herself up and started improving. Sandra received another horrible setback when the council destroyed the Van Riebeeck Gardens (opposite the hotel on land now occupied by a supermarket and parking lot.)
The restoration of Victoria Manor is an ongoing labour of love. Many famous people have stayed here and passed through its doors, including Olive Schreiner, General Haig, William Faulds (VC), Juliette Binoche, Harry Potter, Eddie Izzard, Guy Butler and Etienne van Heerden.
“There are precious few country hotels left in South Africa that still adhere to old quality standards. The Victoria Hotel in Cradock is, thankfully, one of them. Walk into the foyer of this establishment and you suddenly find yourself in the gracious days of the mid-1800s.”
Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit Karoo Keepsakes, Cradock 2009