Longhouse
Graaff-Reinet
Completely open plan, and with large glass doors leading onto a stoep that in turn faces the garden and Spandau Kop, it’s the kind of place you’d want to pad about shoeless, though in some style. After all, staying in the Langhuis is all about immersing yourself in an art of living honed by its owner Charlotte Daneel who, after years of living in Mexico, Amsterdam, the south of France and, latterly, Franschhoek (where she owned the much feted décor emporium La Grange), has perfected what you might call a laid-back European style. Much imitated around the country, she’s one of the best-known South African decorators. Inspired by Dutch and Belgian designers (especially Axel Verwoord) hers is the last word on big scale, muted colours and lots of texture – all of which the Langhuis has in bucket loads. Comfortable sofas and armchairs, antique Cape seats, textured rugs, huge ceramic or glass planters, tall lamps and arrangements of branches in vases on plinths typically fill the space.

Who has a 10-seater table inside as well as on the stoep? Well, the Langhuis does. This is unimaginable luxury here in the heart of a little dusty, but beautiful Karoo town where life slows to a crawl when temperatures reach 40 degrees which they do come summer. In fact in summer life is led on this stoep that, at five meters wide, is also home to a sitting area filled with upholstered rattan sofas and armchairs. Beyond the living areas, two large, en suite bedrooms also open onto the stoep in an arrangement that’s instantly and stylishly informal. There are no corridors, and there’s no hierarchy of living arrangements either. You simply come out of your room, cross the stoep and head for the pool across the garden. And once you’re out there, there’s a pool gazebo whose latte roof provides essential protection from the sun.

Donkin Street is one of the best-preserved in Graaff-Reinet. Long and wide, it bisects all the arteries a visitor needs to know about. One of them, Somerset Road, has onw of the best places to eat – Polka Café and Deli – while Church Street, just a short walk away, is home to the luxury, five-star Drosdty Hotel housed in the early 19th-century seat of government designed by Louis Michel Thibault. Pick up a guide to the town at McNaughton’s Bookshop and visit a wide variety of museums housing everything from 20th-century South African art to Anglo-Boer War paraphernalia, antique dolls and Stone Age artifacts.
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