About Royal Hotel
Looking for an offbeat stopover that’s a fascinating destination in its own right? Then you’re going to love the Royal Hotel in Bethulie, one of South Africa’s premier heritage inns and at the same time fresh and exciting in spirit.
Uniquely, the Royal Hotel aims to offer guests the complete Bethulie experience. Highlights include musical recitals, visits to artists, stargazing and a ghost walk. In addition there are tours of Bethulie’s township and an ever present focus on heritage.
Inside, the Royal offers both large en-suite rooms and their cosier counterparts. Most can be configured as twins, doubles or triples. There’s also an annex containing twin rooms and dormitories with shared bathrooms.
In the public areas, guests are surrounded by tens of thousands of books, artworks and vinyl records shelved floor to ceiling. These are parts of even larger collections housed in surrounding buildings.
The hotel dining room specialises in Free State cuisine, the epitome of scrumptious home cooked boerekos. The Royal serves a full slate of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Naturally there’s a pub and there’s also a coffee shop offering lighter meals.
Bethulie’s Royal Hotel was established in 1873 and in its earliest years serviced the heavy traffic plying between the Eastern Cape coast and Kimberley’s diamond fields. Sections of the building date back to that period and make it one of the oldest surviving inns in the country.
During the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 - 1902 the Royal was in the front line, at times serving as operational headquarters in important phases of the hostilities. During 1901, it provided sanctuary for those running the war’s most infamous concentration camp.
In the 1930s the hotel was well known to the young Patrick Mynhardt, who late in life recalled those days in his groundbreaking stage show Boy from Bethulie. Patrick has since died, but the Royal preserves the simple stage set that Patrick used around the world.
In the 1960s the hotel played a key role in the creation of what’s now Gariep Dam or rather Lake Gariep, the largest sheet of fresh water in South Africa. Visitors take pleasure in nearby game reserves that were a by-product of the construction scheme.
Today, the Royal continues to play an important role in the Bethulie community. Guests are drawn from all over South Africa and from many other countries, in many cases attending special events organized by the hotel.