The first step in planning your trip to Grahamstown is securing somewhere to stay. Festival Manager Kate Davies shares some tips on accommodation in Grahamstown

Coming to Grahamstown for the Festival is an adventure – not only is there the excitement of the shows, art and crafts, but there’s also the unpredictability of the winter weather, the unknown of your accommodation, the history and politics of the town, the wide variety of food to choose from, the magic of the Eastern Cape’s unspoilt landscape, and the mind-bending atmosphere of a city that is utterly engulfed by creativity. So… as with any great adventure, a little planning goes a long way…

Accommodation will bite into your budget – it’s high season in Grahamstown after all – so plan carefully. The Festival’s Hospitality Brochure is a great place to start – this nifty little planning tool lists contact details and websites so you can check out the listings while browsing.

If you’re young and tough, then camping or a back-packers’ or school hostels can be fun with a group of friends… Imagine roaring camp fires on clear a winter’s night, a cup (or two) of warming gluhwein and heated conversation about plays you’ve seen.

Families might like to band together and hire a house – this option is ideal for those with younger children who might like to nap in the afternoon – and it makes meals at home for fussy eaters an easy option. 

Rhodes residence accommodation is where lots of artists and visitors stay and the breakfasts can keep a person going almost all day!  Campus is quite a social hub and visitors share their day with each other and swap stories about what they’ve seen and done so you can pick up what the buzz on the grapevine is. Although the rooms have their own basin, you’ll be sharing ablutions so if that’s not your cup of tea, perhaps look elsewhere. 

There are also loads of really good guest houses and registered B&Bs in town – and the hosts are knowledgeable locals who can certainly make getting to the hot spots in town easier. There are self-catering and B&B options as well as family units. Lots of Grahamstown locals will also rent out a room in their home or a garden flat – these are often real home-from-home stays and many a friend has been made this way. You’ll get tonnes of insider info from your host as well!

If you’re looking for real luxury, you might like to look at some of the game lodges just out of town – you’ll be able to combine Big 7 game viewing with your culture fix.  And for beach bums, Port Alfred, Kenton, Cannon Rocks and Boknes are a mere half hour drive away. The Sunshine Coast offers some amazing accommodation options for those who want to mix coast with culture.

Whatever your choice be sure to find out essential info before booking:

  • What does the rate include?
  • What facilities are provided? (especially if you’re looking at a self-catering option)
  • Is breakfast continental or cooked?
  • What is the security like? Is there off-street parking?
  • Are bedding, towels etc. included? What about electric blankets, extra blankets, hotties etc.
  • Does the host have any references that you could contact? Are there any photos that you can look at?
  • Is the guest house / lodge / B&B / hotel a member of the Accommodation Guild or Tourism Association?
  • What is the cancellation policy?

Once you’ve done some research and are happy with your choice – BOOK! Sooner the better – accommodation fills up very fast.

  • Click here for the National Arts Festival’s 2018 Hospitality Brochure – it lists updated info on most accommodation providers in and around Grahamstown 
  • In our next ‘How to Fest’ article, we’ll delve into booking your tickets – the fun part of planning! In the meantime, if you’d like to give the gift of adventure – why not purchase a voucher for tickets to the 2018 Festival?

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Photo: 8A Guesthouse, Grahamstown