A Hedonist's Guide to Johannesburg: Best Hotels

By Andrew Ludwig
Exterior at The Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa, Johannesburg
YOU'RE WELCOME: Exterior at The Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa, Johannesburg (The Saxon Boutique Hotel and Spa)

1) The Saxon
The Saxon has been voted the World's Leading Boutique Hotel for the last six consecutive years. It might have something to do with the luxurious African elegance, it might be to do with the continued patronage of numerous high profile guests from the continent and beyond. Like the Fairlawns it is situated in sprawling, lush gardens and exudes a sense of calm and tranquility perfect for slipping away from the sounds of the city. The design melds traditional African design and objects with modern luxury and convenience, while also concentrating on the minute attention to detail and the all important personal touches. The Saxon makes water a focal point, with the exterior centered on the spectacular infinity pool. The entrance exudes power, with its feature staircase sweeping around a huge glass dome allowing in the vast African sky. There is an emphasis on good food here, with a fine dining restaurant which pulls in the best of the local produce, a more informal poolside bar and an intimate wine cellar for those who want their privacy. The spa offers a selection of hydrotherapies and a Rasul Chamber (mud and steam in one go) and some more alternative treatments including Sound and Colour therapies. With all modcons to boot, the Saxon is a serious contender for the city's most complete hotel.
Style 10, Atmosphere 9, Location 10

2) The Peech
Described as 'contemporary, edgy and Afro-centric' by Condé Nast Traveller and nominated as South Africa's leading boutique hotel for the last two consecutive years. The Peech provides hip, eco-sensitive, urbane travellers with an ideal hangout. Located in Jo'burg's upmarket suburb of Melrose, the hotel's sixteen bedrooms, spread around the garden, contrast modern design with traditional African wall hangings and animal skins. A bistro, manned by chef Greg Jardim, produces delicious local fare, with the herbs coming direct from the hotel's own small organic kitchen garden. The sustainable focus of the hotel is very du jour, water is recycled and solar power provides the heating for the water, and if that wasn't enough R5 from every guest night is donated to a local children's charity. A swimming pool provides a focus for guests to unwind and free WiFi means even the suits can chill in the sun.
Style 9, Atmosphere 8, Location 8

3) The Michelangelo
One of the more impressive and elegant hotels in the city, The Michelangelo, a member of 'Leading Hotels of the World', is often seen as one of Jo'burg's grande dames. The impressive double height lobby wows new visitors on arrival and sets the tone of things to come. The charming Il Ritrovo lounge offers tapas-style dining around a focal grand piano, while the Piccolo Mondo is chef Andrew Atkinson's pride and joy. The rooms, although comfortable and kitted out with all the toys, are slightly bland and just a little too mid-range corporate in design. The location is one of Michelangelo's key selling points, right in the heart of one of Africa's most exclusive shopping centres, Nelson Mandela Square, there's a good choice of restaurants, bars, shops, as well as cinemas and theatres on its doorstep.
Style 8, Atmosphere 8, Location 9

4) The Westcliff
The Westcliff is Jo'burg's most iconic hotel. Perched on the side of a hill, only half an hour's drive from the airport, the Westcliff offers spectacular views of the city's leafy suburbs. The 80 rooms and 35 suites are all elegantly decorated in a classic postcolonial style with most capitalizing on the hotel's position. The theme continues with the expansive views from the La Belle Terrasse restaurant —offering well-presented and delicious international cooking. Inside, the Polo Bar, reminsicent of an old fashioned Gentleman's club, has a vibrant cocktail scene and is popular with the city's movers and shakers; although for those who want their sundowners al fresco the pool deck is perfect. Equipped for both the business traveller (WiFi, conference and business centre) and those in search of a little light relaxation (two swimming pools and a floodlit tennis court), as well as a Botanica Spa for some serious pampering, the Westcliff is the perfect Jo'burg hideaway.
Style 8, Atmosphere 8, Location 8

5) Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
Once the property of the Oppenheimer Family, the impressive Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa has been lovingly and lavishly refurbished. More of a country house hotel than an urban retreat, there are 12 courtyard suites, all individually decorated and monikered The Bismark or The English Manor, with the Honeymoon Suite having a reproduction four poster from Versailles. The six beautifully designed premier suites fuse styles from around the world, twisting them with a modern touch. Surrounding the rooms are sprawling lawns, perfectly manicured gardens and a swimming pool. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be taken on the Italian influenced terrace during the summer and to counteract those surprisingly chilly winter nights a roaring fire in the bar keeps drinkers warm. A Balinese-style spa re-energises and relaxes before venturing out into the hustle and bustle of the city. Conveniently situated in the Sandton suburb of Morningside Manor the major business hubs and shopping centers are just a short taxi ride away.
Style 9, Atmosphere 8, Location 8

To discover more of Johannesburg’s hottest hotels, restaurants, clubs, and bars, order your copy of A Hedonist’s Guide to… Johannesburg here.

Published: 12 May 2010 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Johannesburg




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