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“Quaint bordering on run down”
Review of Karoo Art Hotel

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Karoo Art Hotel
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Barrydale
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 29, 2013

We were attracted to the Hotel based on its website. However the website is somewhat big on promise and the reality is short on delivery. It has a pool - it and the furniture around it are a bit tatty. The exterior of the property could definitely do with a bit of maintenance. The bar reminds me so much of a 1970's men’s public bar, but the lounge is good, comfortable and stacks of Karoo related books lying around for one to read, and some startling furnishing too. I get the feeling that management are trading on the eclectic and Karoo feel far too much. We experienced those in other places at a far higher level than here at the Hotel. Its veneer thin here.
The redeeming factor is the quality of the food. Plainly put, it’s excellent. But here again there is a disjoint . The food is out-sourced but the bar is run in-house. So the front of house staff may forget to offer you a wine list, and when you get the bill, you get two! One for the food and one for the bar, which you must pay for separately. It’s in the hotels interest to incentivise the caterer to sell their wine... they will reap the rewards thereof, and the most important thing is that patrons will witness a seamless and normalised dining experience. I would say that should the hotel lose the caterer and the quality of his cuisine, it would also lose the only real tangible attraction it has.
Our room typified the same mix of experiences throughout the rest of the establishment. Fantastic king-size bed and quality bed linen, nice old wooden chest of drawers and upholstered wingback chair - with a cheap and nasty veneer desk pushed backwards up against the wall. A huge bathroom, with a large shower with plenty of hot water, and a little basin on the wall (set too high for anyone but an adult to use), and a wooden bench. Good quality towels and soaps however! Separate loo, a bit basic, with insufficient loo paper which meant I had to go and fetch some from the public loos downstairs as I could not find any staff to assist me at 6.30am in the morning.
Our standard room looked out over the street which has a bottle store opposite. Each afternoon we have been entertained by inebriated locals, talking and shouting at each other, and using language which wouldn't go amiss in an army barracks - not the hotel's fault but something to be factored in by visitors.
The printed info note in the room basically states that the hotel is a work in progress. That's all well and good, but it’s not the message we got in the 'marketing blurb' on the website which initially attracted us.
So to end, and for the rates charged, we think management ought to be a tad more honest in the offering. It’s very average, except for bits and pieces of it which are great. Has potential to really achieve, but needs specific expertise and a budget to get there.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Dave C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BarrydaleBarrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 1, 2013

I’m glad that there were aspects of the hotel and your stay that you enjoyed. Your mention of great beds, quality linen and towels and great amenities, also of the lounge is much appreciated. However, to say we are trading on the eclectic and Karoo feel isn’t true but unless you had visited the hotel a year or two year ago you couldn’t possibly have any idea of the improvements that have already been made. Most of the things that you compliment us on are things that were changed immediately on taking over the hotel and are easy to see. My improvements have gone much further than those mentioned and may not be visible or obvious to a first time visitor. The hotel had 7 rooms that didn’t even have en-suite bathrooms, all the rooms are now en-suite and you can imagine that completely redoing and adding extensively to the sewerage and water system of a building that old was no cheap and easy task. The electrics have been completely redone. There was no garden whatsoever at the back of the hotel, all the landscaping has been done since I’ve taken over. The pool was completely renovated and the entire pool area tiled. We have installed computerised booking and stock control systems, installed telephones in the bedrooms. We have tiled and improved public areas that were dismal. We have built a small stage in the bar and regularly host live music gigs over weekends.
I’m glad that you thoroughly enjoyed Clarke of the Karoo restaurant. To entice and enable the best restaurateur in town to move into the hotel, we had to completely revamp the kitchen and dining areas as the old hotel kitchen wasn’t remotely close to being able to cope with a busy restaurant. Another huge and costly renovation that isn’t obvious to any guest. I am sorry to read about the slow service you received from the independent restaurant staff and your unhappiness with the restaurant rendering you a separate bill for food and for wine. We agree this is unnecessary and cumbersome for restaurant patrons. Hotel guests can charge their wine/beverages to their room account. I will again take this up with Mike Clarke and pass on your views as presenting guests with one bill is something we would dearly love to see introduced.
We have a character cosy country bar - the only one in the area where children are permitted and welcomed. Once again, this is an area of the hotel where there has been tremendous change; new furniture, good quality glasses and a fantastic wine list. It certainly is not a cowboy bar as you seem to imply.
The website is something that I have been working on for a quite a while. Our brand new website has just gone live and I trust that you will find it paints a more realistic picture of what the hotel offers. As the website is brand new it will contain a number of gremlins which we will sort out over the next few weeks.
These are early days but two months ago, for the first time ever, the hotel has been graded by the Hotel Grading Authority as a three star hotel, so progress is being made.
I focus on what I know are most important for any guest : a genuine authentic experience , great food and an excellent wine list, cleanliness and a great bed with the best linen - and true hospitality. Our friendly staff really goes out of their way to render great service to our guests but mistakes will happen and I apologise for the housekeeping oversight. We also take great care in advising guests what to see/do in the town and district – also see our website in this regard.
We are a small three star authentic South African platteland (country) hotel in a small rural village in the Klein Karoo. We are not and never want to be a "boutique" hotel. Our goal is to preserve the true platteland hotel tradition of South African hospitality which is so part of our rural culture. Sadly country hotels in SA are a dying breed - and we wish to retain that in Barrydale. Giving our guests an authentic enjoyable experience of SA country hospitality and great service remain our core business!
The uplifting of the hotel is on-going. The hotel is my passion and the investment – in time, energy and money – has to date been substantial. We are doing what we can with the available resources within the time available since I bought the hotel.
Theo Nel
Hotel owner.

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259 - 265 of 347 reviews

Reviewed March 26, 2013

What more can One say BUT EXCELLENT.
Thank You ALL and Especially to Gurshwin from the moment I Phoned her and made the Booking to the end - She was a Star and Very Professional.
We "Relived" Our 1st Honeymoon Trip 28 years ago on the same day and it was ALL Arranged as a Surprise to My Lovely Wife for saying Thank You for ALL Her Love for the past 28 Years.
Keep it up at the BARRYDALE KAROO HOTEL FOR THE NEXT 28 YEARS.
Thank You
André and Annatjie Marais.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank AndreCMarais
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 6, 2013

What a special privilege to receive guests back in the hotel who,28 years earlier, stayed there for their honeymoon! Please return on your 30th wedding anniversary for a complimentary stay !
Theo
Owner

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Reviewed March 8, 2013

We spent 2 nights at this hotel to join the legendary Magpie 'Rocky Horror' Transylbarrydalia Party - and wow what a party! Lovely stay, the hotel is old, but with lots of quirky creative charm and art pieces everywhere ... had delicious meals in the restaurant too. Staff at reception were so helpful with clear explanations on how to find the magnificent rock pools in the Tradouw Pass for gorgeous swimming surrounded by magnificent mountains. Great brandy and wine tasting in the area too. We had a front room overlooking the mountains and vineyards and enjoyed hearing the busy town (Saturday morning) going about their business... Sunday was country town quiet... wonderful weekend country-life getaway

Room Tip: There is a magpie room which would add extra creative fun!
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Susan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 6, 2013

Magpie Art Collective( Google them!) , across the road from the hotel, hosts two BIG events every year in Barrydale. On 16 December they have the annual Magpie Christmas Tree, ploughing back tremendous support and goodwill into the local community. And then they also have the annual Magpie Party - decadent huge fun ! Thi sevent should not be missed!
Theo
Owner

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Reviewed February 19, 2013

We liked this hotel a lot. It has lots of personality, and the room was spacious and excellent. Even the bathroom was larger than some hotel rooms I've stayed in. Small drawbacks: The pool could be swept a little more often, plus we were sad that the restaurant was not open, since we had heard good things about it. We did not get the room we had reserved, but that did not matter so much since the one we got was good. Super good breakfast

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Magnus D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 6, 2013

Glad you enjoyed your stay with us. Sadly the restaurant is closed one night per week and that happened to be the night you were there.. Great steaks however across the road at Bistro Blues when hotel restaurant closed. We have jacked -up our pool maintenance and hope to see you back someday.
Theo
Owner

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Reviewed February 10, 2013

Found the hotel to be very friendly and helpful.Restaurant and bar had a varied choice of food and wine. Decor interestingly different could of taken some mirrors or art work home. Would stay again if we are in that area.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank A C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 5, 2013

Glad you enjoyed your stay ! Hope to receive you back as a guest when you visit SA again!
Regards
Theo
Owner

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Reviewed January 29, 2013

We checked into this very randomly vamped up old Karoo Hotel, with the intrepid exhaustion of world weary travellers, vaguely taking in the fact that the hotel somehow manages to create a sort of artistic fusion between the past and the future.
We were there for the annual Barrydale parade the next day. The parade is a celebration of positive energy, reconcilliation and recycling. (I know. But its true, ok?) Anyone can join the parade, as long as you wear wings. The only problem to us, in consideration of a parade,was that the town seemed devoid of inhabitants....? An ice cold beer on the generous private balcony of or room was wonderful. We stopped caring and started to go with the flow.
Our room was clean, ecclectic and comfortable. There is a pool, a pool table, darts and table tennis. A lounge, with really fun furniture and lots of books, looked inviting. The pub comes to life late at night under the starry karoo sky and the weekend started to show promise. Dinner was lovely: several variations on the same theme.....you guessed it: Karoo Lamb - with excellent wine.
The next day we explored the villiage, street by street and made unexpected friends as we went along. There really aren't many people in Barrydale, but there are some really clever and interesting ones in the little bookshops and cafes.
The parade started promptly at the appointed hour and we joined the crowd who seemed to materialise magically in front of the Barrydale Karoo Hotel - including a good deal of foreign tourists, mostly obligingly sporting the obligatory wings, mind you!.
It truly was a remarkable experience and we will not miss this December's parade for the world. See you there.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a private balcony - not too near to the pub downstairs. Go with FRIENDS! Stay...
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Sherry877
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded April 5, 2013

Happy to hear you enjoyed your stay! The parade was our annual Magpie Christmas Party Parade,hosted by Magpie Art Collective, who makes arty lighting installations and export world-wide from : BARRYDALE! This annual institution is for a very good cause.The renowned Handspring Puppet Company ( Google them - Gramy Award winners!) guides local kids to built their own imaginative props . This is but one of many annual festivals in which the hotel is involved : Also come join our annual Poruguese festival and also our Blues festival. Soon to come a Klein Karoo Food festival!
Please come visit again.
Regards
Theo
Owner

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Reviewed January 16, 2013

We stayed here for just one night en route to Franschoek. This is a real gem of a hotel, very funky / quirky & I absolutely loved it. The hotel is filled with so many fabulous decor items & a variety of terrific artwork, that one does not know where to look first.
We stayed in the Garden Suite which was great & has its own private courtyard and furnished outside area. The room is nicely furnished in keeping with the funky style of the hotel, the bed was a little on the small side (for two tall people) & not the most comfortable but we slept well anyway.
We ate a late lunch in the bar & this was by far the best fish and chips we have ever had, amazing! We then had dinner at the restaurant, Clarke of the Karoo, great service and again had another truly fantastic meal, I now know why the lamb curry is the signature dish, it was to die for!
A very worthwhile stopover if in the area or en route past Barrydale.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank rozzie1Joburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
barrydaler, Owner at Karoo Art Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded January 24, 2013

Thank you Rozzie - glad to hear you enjoyed your stay!
We have other en suite rooms with extra long King size beds ,especially for tall guests!
Yes ,Mike certainly has the best fish+chips in the whole Karoo!
Hope to see you back again some time!
Regards
Theo
Owner

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Additional Information about Karoo Art Hotel

Address: 30 Van Riebeeck Street, Barrydale 6750, South Africa (Formerly Barrydale Karoo Hotel)
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Overberg District > Barrydale
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Barrydale
Price Range: $94 - $191 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Karoo Art Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This is the best country hotel in the whole of the Klein Karoo! An ideal stop-over between Cape Town and the Garden Route, a must-stay for any visitor! Best food and most comprehensive wine list in the whole of the Klein Karoo! ( Wine list has just been awarded a Diners Club Wine List Diamond Award - the highest award possible) ! Restaurant has just won the Klein Karoo Gourmand Award ! Loads of historic character. Most friendly staff. Rooms with balconies and views available. Character bar and great restaurant. Huge swimming pool for hot summer days. Many open fireplaces for the winter nights! Karoo hospitality. The hotel is an art gallery with many paintings by local artists on display and for sale .Some rooms with cable TV available. Staff are keen to share local things to do and to see with guests.We even have a private 40 seater private cinema for use by our guests! ... more   less 
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