A Not-So Trashy Trailer Park
How cities change. You have to wonder what founding father Jan van Riebeeck would have say about what became of his struggling little outpost in the cusp of Table Bay. And yet in more than a century the building at No. 38 Long Street (corner of Castle) has not for one day changed its function. Planned in 1894 as the Hamburg Hotel by one of Cape Town’s most prolific architects of the day, Anthony Mathius de Witt in German Renaissance style, the building opened as the Metropole Hotel the following year.
It then underwent a make-over in 1900 under architect William Black who removed much of the German Baroque detail. The original mansard roof, dormer windows, quaint pediments, the corner tower and crowning cupola were removed and pointed red brick and stone work were plastered over. Fashion, then as now, does not endure sentimentality.
In 1928 architect Mello Damstra oversaw the removal of the wrought-iron verandah replacing it with the existing concrete ones, and adding the projecting concrete balconettes and window hoods evident today. Early in the 21st century the building re-invented itself as the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel.
Current owners Jan and Jaci van Hetteren (she of Jaci’s Camp in Madikwe Game Reserve), have repurposed seven shiny silver Airstream trailers on the rooftop terrace, five stories about street level. The “proudly South African” décor you’ll see today is the work of Capetonian interior designer Tracy Lynch. She was also responsible for the interior of the “Love of Lace” Airstream Trailer: in 2014 each of the seven trailers was given a unique theme by a different designer of note.
And yet, through all these changes, not to mention those of the world around it, for 120 years the hotel has never stopped providing board and lodgings to visitors to the “tavern of the seas”. The vintage elevator is said to be the oldest working “lift” in the Mother City.
The lift stops one floor short of the rooftop terrace. After a short flight of steps “up there” you’ll find the Sky Bar and Pink Flamingo open-air mini cinema showing modern classics. Pulp Fiction anyone?