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“Nothing good”
Review of Swartberg Hotel

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Swartberg Hotel
Ranked #10 of 20 Prince Albert B&B and Inns
Reviewed June 24, 2013

The rooms are as cold & unwelcoming as the service is. Zero atmosphere. On a Saturday night there were two people in the bar, the batman more interested in watching TV than attending to us. Later I went to the Bush pub, recommended by a local. The Bush pub, sadly not listed on Tripadvisor is what you expect from a local pub. I accidentally ticked fitness center & spa, which I couldn't untick. The hotel has neither

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled solo
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2  Thank Derek J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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162 - 168 of 194 reviews

Reviewed June 8, 2013

We popped into the hotel for a drink and a meal. We didn't stay there so you've got to take that into account.
First impression, on a cold Winter's day, was that the place was empty and lacking any atmosphere. The bar had a welcoming log fire and the barman kindly told us that he'd wait a few minutes to ring up the drinks so that we could get the advantage of half price happy hour. Nice touch. The bar is old fashioned and austere...Edwardian style with lots of dark wood. We were the only people there.
We were also the only people in the restaurant until one other couple came in. It was dark and dismal...it felt that they were saving on electricity.
The menu looked OK and we ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to start with. It was undrinkable and certainly not what we ordered.
My starter, the caprese, was bland and ordinary. The mains were the highlight. The fillet was fine and so was the lamb. Sadly the red wine to accompany them was also horrible and close to undrinkable. There's clearly something wrong with the wine storage there.
Malva pudding did the job well as a dessert.
It was a poor meal and we couldn't recommend it and that's what these reviews are all about. By all means pop in for a drink, happy hour especially and check the place out but don't eat there...there are better choices in Prince Albert.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tom B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 11, 2013

We have all heard the saying, “you only have one chance to make a 1st impression” and the Swartberg Hotel failed dismally.

We concluded our meandering Route 62/Addo National Park trip with a visit to Prince Albert and looked forward to our stay at the Swartberg Hotel. Our reservation for the weekend was made months in advance and at the outset we requested a twin bed room with shower en suite. This was duly confirmed.

Upon our arrival we were shown to a double bedded room! As this was not what we had requested we asked to be changed to a twin bed room. The young lady receptionist apologetically informed us that being the Olive Festival weekend the hotel was fully booked and there were no other rooms available. Even though the owner was made aware of our dissatisfaction, no effort was made on his part to engage with us or try to help solve the problem in any way. Having done my reservation well in advance, paid my deposits when required, I was not going to settle for a room I did not want. To cut a long story short, I managed to ascertain that some rooms were not yet occupied and suggested that we be shown these rooms so that we could make up our mind as to where we would spend the night. The owner of the hotel seemed reluctant to allow the receptionist to show us the room/s. Eventually she overruled and we were shown to a twin bedded room with an en suite shower – happiness!

Back to basics:

The good bits:
• The new owners have obviously spent a bit on refurbishing the hotel and the décor is no longer ‘tired’ as expressed in previous reviews.
• There is a very nice pool/patio/pub area at the back.
• A pleasant ‘watch the world go by’ sidewalk restaurant area in front.
• Breakfast was excellent – both buffet style and hot cooked English. Service in the restaurant was friendly.
• The dinners were good and efficiently served. The menu was small and especially designed around the Olive Festival. The items were a bit pricey but well prepared and generally satisfying.
• The location of the hotel is perfect, being very central to everything.
• The local staff were friendly, helpful, and showed a good sense of humour. In fact, the local staff are largely responsible for any good memories we might have of the hotel.
• The water was always hot no matter what time of day we showered.
• There is a little coffee corner in the passage with a fridge - a pleasing touch considering that the rooms do not offer tea/coffee making facilities.

The not so good bits:
• Bad lighting in the bedroom and bathroom. The lighting did not allow for bedside reading.
• When guests are using the pub/patio/pool area the bedrooms on that side can be noisy. We were kept awake on the Friday night by hotel staff and other non-residents until 2am!
• The guest bedroom doors are worn and ill fitting – one can hear exactly what is being said in the room when passing along the passage and in some cases you can even glimpse into the rooms!
• The wine list prices were hiked up especially for the Olive Festival crowds.
• The owner does not appear to care much about his guests and is not very forthcoming when asked simple tourist information questions.
• A candle is provided in the room, but no matches – silly oversight
• No hairdryers. This is not a pre-requisite for a 3 star establishment – but these days one seems to find them in most decent hotels/guesthouses and as such, not finding one can result in a letdown for guests.

Room tips:
• Ask for a room that does not overlook the pool if you want quiet.
• Bring your own hairdryer.

I doubt we shall be visiting Prince Albert again, but if we do, we shall find accommodation elsewhere.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank gulliversmate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2013

I am delighted to find that this elegant old Karoo hotel is once again a gracious, comfortable place for a special treat in the country.

The first time I stayed at the Swartberg Hotel was about 30 years ago. I was newly married, but that was not the only reason that the hotel made a great impression. 15 years ago I went back with two young children. It was good, but not as good as I had remetmbered. 4 years ago I tried again, this time with my wife and daughter and her fiance. It was tacky and barely comfortable and the food was indifferent. So this year, when my wife and I decided to go to Prince Albert again we resolved to stay somewhere else. But as it turned out we chose to go on the weekend of the Olive Festival and booked too late get into any other accommodation. So we resigned ourselves to discomfort and nostalgia.

What a wonderful surprise we got. The hotel has been refurbished and our room in the main building was beautifully decorated with top quality beds and linnen and every comfort that you could hope for.

What's more, the dinner was outstanding. Both the fillet and the oxtail were excellently cooked and interestingly adapted to the olive festival theme.

The breakfast the next morning was generous and well prepared, and in all respects the sevice was friendly and efficient.

Had it not been for the fact that we are 30 years older, the Swartberg Hotel would have been every bit as romantic as it was the first time we went there!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Michael M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 16, 2013

This is a great traditional hotel, centrally located in the town. The pleasant surprise is the lovely, quiet garden + swimming pool.
The staff were very friendly and helpful.
We stayed in one of the garden cottages. The rooms are comfortable and basic, which suited us fine.
A generous breakfast was served in the adjacent coffee shop, where there is a wide verandah to watch the world go by. The dinning room + menu weren't what we had in mind, so we went elsewhere.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank 2bpencil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2013

A pleasant hotel with a large, well-equipped room including a semi-private terrace. It has a cosy bar and reasonable restaurant - I'd describe the food as okay but not as fabulous as it might have been in the setting.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Mike S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

My brother and I recently stayed at the Swartberg. We were mildly stunned by the character, value and quality of our two night stay. Did I mention great service, cleanliness and huge breakie? We arrived late and tired from a lazy trip over the pass and were quite pleased with our choice.This hotel has huge charm and an aire from an elegant past. By the way, if you are looking for the Cape Rockjumper (bird), I found several on the P. Albert side of the pass at "Teeburg (?)" pullout.

Room Tip: The rondavels were full when we were there, but I think they would be great, surrounded by the lovel...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Tiglax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Swartberg Hotel

Address: 77 Kerk Street, Prince Albert Municipality 6930, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Prince Albert Municipality > Prince Albert
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 20 B&Bs / Inns in Prince Albert
Price Range: $112 - $122 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Swartberg Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Swartberg Hotel is a charming three star (TGCSA) Victorian hotel, situated in the heart of our quaint Karoo village, Prince Albert. Established as a hotel in 1864, the Swartberg is now one of 19 national monuments in the village, and is still the only hotel in Prince Albert today. ... more   less 
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