Bitou River Lodge – the hotel that isn’t

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    The river has been known to rise above the lawns at the back of the hotel. Define back? The approach up a driveway off the main road leads past paddocks, with a few horses and a family of blue cranes grazing in them, to the house and its extension housing the five superb bedrooms. But is this the front or the back? I think the presentation is such that perhaps I should call the riverside the front. It is certainly the focus of the buildings, with the ‘back’ being a double row of shading trees protecting the car parking.Yes, it isn’t an hotel, it is a B&B, albeit a winner of awards as South Africa’s best B&B. As such it shames many hotels by the quality and design, perhaps because one side of the owners is Paul Scheepers who is an architect. His experience includes a spell working for the City Corporation in London so he has seen plenty of the good bad and the ugly in our great city. Here he has built a sensitive interpretation of the South African vernacular as an extension to the home he shares with Sue, responsible for much of the interiors and certainly for the operation of the five delightful bedrooms he created.

    Sue Scheepers says “When designing Bitou River Lodge, Paul wanted the buildings to be sympathetic to the local surroundings (farms), so he used a single-storey stylised Cape Dutch farmhouse design. For example, there are pediments, but they’re simplified, made more modern. The main buildings had to capitalise on the river view & are South-facing as a result. Each guest-room has a high parapet window which lets in light & sunshine from the North to compensate for this. This is also the reason for the exposed trusses in all the rooms – a contemporary detail, they give a feeling of light & airiness to the rooms”.

    Daniel Fountain / 25.08.2014

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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