Townhouse Hotel closes after 50 years

The Townhouse Hotel in the East City

The Townhouse Hotel will close its doors on Wednesday March 31 after operating for 50 years in the city centre.

The hotel was launched by Francois and Kitty Petousis in 1971, after they purchased the Trocadero from South African Breweries in 1968 and demolished it to create the 107-room hotel – the first hotel in the Petousis Hotels group.

The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands followed in 1981, and the Oude Werf in Stellenbosch, in 2007.

Director and shareholder of Petousis Hotels, Lex Petousis, said they made the decision to close due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry.

“Four years ago, we could see that Cape Town’s inner-city was experiencing a revival. We had a dream for the Townhouse as a mixed-use development and invested significantly in its future role in rejuvenating the city centre precinct.

“In line with this, several opportunities and partnership models presented themselves to us, and the global pandemic hit.

“We could not have imagined the impact that Covid-19 would have on the global tourism industry, the extended impact this has had on South Africa’s hospitality sector and our family business particularly. As a result, we made the difficult decision to close the hotel.”

The chief operating officer, George Pestousis, said there was a “deep element of sadness”.

“Our Townhouse team have played such an integral part in the Petousis family story, many of whom have been with us for decades and have invested years of service to delivering our vision and creating memorable experiences for our guests.

“We are facing another tough year in the hospitality industry with the ongoing effects of Covid-19,” he said.

“As a family business, our focus is to continue weathering the global pandemic storm whilst retaining as many jobs as possible and to always offer our guests an exceptional destination experience.”

According to the Townhouse website, the group will be handing over the property to a new owner on Wednesday March 31, and the April Townhouse bookings will be transferred and hosted at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

New owner and operator, Murray Clark of Neighbourgood, plans to transition the Townhouse property from a traditional hotel to a modern living and workspace offering.

“Our plans for the property envisage connected communities of young working professionals. This vision aligns well with the revival plans for the precinct and the people who are making the inner city their home for both work and play.”

The CEO of the Central City Improvement District (CCID), Tasso Evangelinos, said the closure of the Townhouse Hotel, one of Cape Town CBD’s iconic accommodation venues, is a sad day for the city’s hospitality industry.

He said the Townhouse Hotel has been a stalwart family-owned establishment for five decades, building a reputation for unique service and accommodation to thousands of guests.

“It is a hotel that loyal guests have returned to, time and again, over the years.

“The fact that it will close its doors at the end of the month is a hard blow for the central city. At the CCID, we are very sad to see it go. We have always had an excellent working relationship with the hotel’s management team and owners, who have been keen to work with us to keep the East City, where it is situated – safe and clean.”

He said it was devastating that the hotel has not been able to weather the Covid-19 storm that has wreaked havoc in this sector.

“We look forward to working with the new owner and are heartened to note that there are plans to resurrect the hotel in a different form, adding to the investment value of the East City and the Cape Town CBD.”

The Fugard theatre closed its doors on Saturday March 20.

The closure of the Townhouse Hotel as the result of the pandemic follows that of the iconic Fugard Theatre, and 40 Burg Street, which was auctioned off earlier this month.