Travel

The Old Jail B&B


On a recent trip to the Karoo I discovered a gem, rich in history and abundant in comfort and luxury.

The Old Jail Bed & Breakfast is a delightful guesthouse situated in Willowmore in the Eastern Cape.

As the name suggests, the B&B is an old jail that was last functional around 1960. It was derelict for a number of years and was rescued by the current owners, Karen and Oleg about four years ago.

Now a luxurious, fully functional B&B, The Old Jail is filled with charm, history and lovely surprises. It offers three guest rooms, each with its own private courtyard.

The renovated Hospital Suite features a grand black and white Victorian en-suite bathroom, complete with under-floor heating. The prison bars above the door and air vent in the roof is a quick reminder of the origins of this historic building. Across the courtyard, a minuscule solitary confinement cell has been fitted with a single bed and chair, ideal for a family needing an extra bed.

The Awaiting Trial room is decorated in a French Victorian theme. Although modernised with windows and French doors opening onto the yard, the peephole in the original heavy wooden door and huge metal locking mechanism, makes it hard to forget this room was once a jail cell. Across the beautiful pebbled courtyard, with two loungers amongst the lush foliage is the bathroom. The shock of the crisp Karoo air as one runs across to the bathroom is sure to make any sleepyhead wake up very quickly.

But if you want to give up just a little comfort, for a step back into history, the Female Cell is the room for you. Although fitted with a glorious antique double bed, aircon and a few modern, functional amenities, in this rather tiny room, with its original floors, one can feel the seclusion this little cube was meant to evoke. The courtyard leads to a bathroom that features the original cement bath. Only the female prisoners had the luxury of a bath, with no peephole in the door to stop curious guards from spying...

Although my husband and I were the only two guests at the Old Jail, breakfast was still a spread of buffet staples, with a scrumptious hot breakfast too, cooked by owner Oleg.

With warm hospitality and historical interest, this B&B is definitely worth a visit.

The Old Jail is located on Blignaut Street, Willowmore, Eastern Cape. For more information, call 044-923-1076 or email karen@theoldjail.co.za.

Text Zelda Hamilton