History

Our historic roots run deep into the 18th century. The Cape Heritage Hotel is an integral part of the restored Heritage Square, which is bordered by Buitengracht, Hout, Bree and Shortmarket streets. The earliest Dutch and Georgian houses were built in 1771; the Cape Heritage Hotel building itself was built in the 1780′s.

Like many houses of the day, it was centred around an intimate courtyard. A grapevine, planted in this courtyard in 1781, still flourishes today, bearing fruit and shading guests who shelter here for their daily repast. Thanks to vigorous pruning each year, the oldest known fruit-bearing grapevine in South Africa survives without ever being fed or watered!

Archival research shows that most of the original buildings were used for commercial reasons; tobacconists, snuff makers, gunsmiths, bakers, coach makers and wheelwrights prospered here. There was a rope warehouse, several retail outfits, a boarding house, a chapel and an undertaker.

But the vine – and Heritage Square itself – might not be in existence if the city council had had its way. In the 1960′s Heritage Square was earmarked for demolition. In its place there were plans to establish a multi storey car park. Luckily, finances to complete this project were never forthcoming. Instead, at the
end of the 1980s, consent was granted to renovate the square, starting the largest private conservation project the city has ever known. The Cape Town Heritage Trust’s website explains how this was done explains very nicely how it was restored.

Many historic features are still clearly visible in the hotel. Exposed original wall finishes and murals are complimented by dëcor that reflects Cape Towns diverse historical and cultural heritage.

While the hotel dominates the square, this historic precinct also hosts a select handful of restaurants and shops, so you don’t have to wander far to satisfy your needs.