Johannesburg is the hot heart of South Africa – it’s a city built on gold that became an economic powerhouse and the centre of the rise against apartheid. Today, you can visit the humble early homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu in Soweto, eat shisa nyama at a township tavern, shop at glittering malls and bungee jump from the muralled cooling towers of the old power station. Already planning your trip? Book one of the best boutique hotels in Johannesburg right here with Culture Trip.
Make for the Peech if you’re after peace and tranquility in the city. With quiet garden pools flanked by loungers in the residential suburb of Melrose, this Afro-chic boutique hotel in Johannesburg celebrates local art and eco values. Best of all, you’re still minutes away from the shops and galleries of Sandton and Rosebank.
For those wanting old-world elegance and new-world sophistication, this multi-award-winning establishment combines both with chutzpah. Once one of the great family homes in Joburg, it holds sumptuous suites and cutting-edge restaurants under elaborately corniced high ceilings. Dine on the likes of chilli prawn and squid ink linguine followed by chocolate and orange spheres: hazelnut Valrhona crème, orange marmalade and wild berries.
You approach Giglio (Italian for fleur-de-lis, the symbol of perfection, light and life) down an avenue of giant pin oaks. The widely travelled young owners have a viticulture background, and the architecture is Cape Dutch lite, with a clean, contemporary edge. In the tranquillity of your tastefully understated suite, or lounging beside the pool at this Johannesburg boutique hotel, you’d never know that the restaurants, businesses and nightclubs of Sandton and Rosebank are just a short drive away – ideal for those after a country experience in the heart of city.
The Residence has something for every sensibility, from the fragrant gardens (where you can swim or play tennis) to interiors that blend soft Persian carpets and glittering chandeliers with rough African ntengu (stick) ceilings. There are log fires for chilly days and a long, cool veranda for sunny ones. Book an ubuntu ceremony at the spa, where an organic baobab oil massage and hot stone foot massage are used to “leave you at peace with all that surrounds you” – in the spirit of African Ubuntu.
If you’re having a wedding or special family gathering, intimate and elegant AtholPlace Villa accommodates eight guests, and AtholPlace House hosts 18, each with lush gardens and a glistening pool. Chefs will tailor themes and menus to your tastes, using fresh local produce in line with the Relais & Châteaux sustainability ethics to create magic moments by candlelight indoors or outside under the stars.
If you’re an avowed foodie, the restaurant at Clico BoutiqueHotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, offers tastings, guided wine-pairings and outstanding meals in an airy, triple-volume space with glass stack doors that can close off sections for private occasions. Part of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs international gastronomic society, dishes range from roast guinea fowl with berries, confit samosa, lentils and orange jus, to a fig berries tart: figs, Amarula, frangipane, rosemary, strawberries, honeycomb and candied mint. Happily, the comfort of your room is just a few steps away.
Little Tuscany offers plenty of accommodation options, from deluxe suites to luxury rooms, each with a unique offering catering to guests’ varying needs. Whether on holiday or a business trip, the friendly staff at this boutique hotel in Johannesburg will ensure a memorable and happy stay. The on-site restaurant is open daily and serves comfort food like you’ve never tasted before.
If you need a convenient, quiet base in Joburg, the Syrene sits in upmarket Rivonia, putting you in easy reach of the business and shopping centres of the city: Sandton, Waterfall and Midrand, Morningside and Sunninghill. There’s a fine on-site restaurant (the Elm Tree), a gym, a pool and a spa. Shops are a few minutes’ walk way, and you’re less than 10km (6mi) from the massive Mall of Africa.
Live out your African fantasy in a themed suite, from Royal Safari to Manor House, in five-star comfort at this Rosebank boutique hotel. The Winston will also get you around the bustling, but for first-timers sometimes daunting, city in safety and style, with a chauffeur-driven transfer service that will collect you and drop you at your destination anywhere in the greater Joburg area.
If you’re into old-fashioned luxury, this five-star boutique hotel in Johannesburg offers bundles of it in the well-heeled suburb of Houghton. Go the whole hog with the massive presidential suite, all dark wood and button-backed leather sofas, with two balconies – one off the master bedroom overlooking the immaculate estate grounds, the other off the lounge area overlooking the heated swimming pool. Bathrobes are as warm as the butler service.
If you like unique luxury, the Saxon prides itself on creating bespoke experiences, inviting special requests. Not that there’s anything more special than a night in the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, which has a private glass elevator, stately African decor with original art and 24-hour dedicated butler service. Or pampering in the glass-enclosed couples’ treatment room in the gardens, with a unique Signature Sound Therapy to rebalance your energy.
Embracing a hipster-cool aesthetic, these trendy suites also prioritise friendly service, comfort and convenience. Think not just plush gowns and slippers, but a pillow menu and Hypnos mattress; not just a coffee and tea station, but hot chocolate; and not just a cool restaurant, but the Larder, where you can grab a snack 24/7. There are also Netflix and YouTube options for TV. If you’re on the move, Rosebank Gautrain station is less than a 1km (0.6mi) away.
For those with a sophisticated taste, monochromatic furnishings and photographs make these suites as stylish as they are comfortable, with block-out curtains, crisp linen, soft duvets and feather-top beds. The award-winning Level Four restaurant at this Johannesburg boutique hotel serves gourmet fare with a flourish – think Jersey beef fillet tartare with gooseberry and vanilla, spicy mayonnaise, quail egg and salty caramel popcorn. And the garden high teas are legendary, from classic English sandwiches to French pastries and just-baked scones with fresh cream and preserves.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Carina Claassens.
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