The Old Jail Guesthouse and Art Gallery, in the peaceful farming town of Willowmore, offers a unique experience for tourists, business travellers and sports enthusiasts seeking quality accommodation in the Karoo. Flanked by the spectacular Baviaanskloof and Swartberg mountain ranges, this striking 1880’s building is on the edge of town and is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in the area.
Registered by the Government in 1895, the building is built of stone, the walls being 0.5m thick with plaster ‘quions‘ (corners) on the windows, doors and wall corners. The Old Gaol, as it was then called, comprised a hospital cell, hard labour cells, awaiting trial cells, a female cell and kitchen cell. It ceased to operate as a prison and police station around 1960 and was sold to private owners. It has changed hands several times in the past 40 years and remained uninhabited for almost 12 years until its present owners took posession and began transforming it into a boutique guest establishment.
Now lovingly restored and renovated, the building is surrounded by attractive landscaped gardens. Although oozing character and retaining many original features, it has now been given a new – and less intimidating – lease of life as a welcoming B&B and art gallery. The cells and exercise areas have been cleverly converted into three elegant, air-conditioned rooms with modern amenities, high quality period finishes and private courtyards.
Whether you’re looking for an overnight stay along the N9 highway or a few days’ hiking, cycling, golfing, small game hunting or relaxing in peaceful, unspoiled surroundings, The Old Jail is a place you won’t want to escape from in a hurry.
All rooms are fully air-conditioned with high ceilings, original features, quality bedlinen, brass bathroom fittings, original artworks and tea/coffee making facilities. Each has a private, lawned courtyard with sun loungers and parasols.
Originally housing sick inmates, the suite offers a spacious bedroom featuring a king size bed, original Victorian fireplace and antique wardrobe, plus an elegant ensuite bathroom with claw foot bath, separate shower, toilet and underfloor heating in winter.
The Women’s Room:
Once used exclusively for female inmates, this is a characterful double room with its private bath/shower room (with unique stone bath) and separate toilet just a few steps away across its secluded, lawned courtyard.
The Remand Room:
As the name suggests, this was the cell used for prisoners awaiting trial. It now features twin beds and also has a separate Victorian-style shower room and toilet off a private courtyard.