Johannesburg, nicknamed Joburg or Jozi, is South Africa’s largest city, with a dark history of war, apartheid laws and poverty. Today, however, it is growing into a prime tourist destination. Head to Maboneng, the creative quarter, for boutique shops, street food and hip bars, or Rosebank for a quieter stroll past florists and vintage shops. Alternatively, use the city as a base for visiting Pilanesberg National Park, filled with African wildlife. Here’s our guide to the city’s best bases.
Courtesy of AtholPlace Hotel & Villa / Expedia | Courtesy of AtholPlace Hotel & Villa / Expedia
These two city villas offer a home-from-home when visiting Johannesburg, with one housing up to eight guests, and the other up to 18. Visitors can huddle around the boma (fire pit) in the evening and cool off in the pool during the day. Breakfast is included, or you can opt for a full-board option with the on-site chef on hand to tailor meals according to tastes and schedules.
A cavernous, three-storey Victorian conservatory with a koi carp pond is the centrepiece of this hotel, however the individual rooms also have standout features. In the Acacia suite, the piece de resistance is the jungle-filled west facing miniature conservatory, while the Presidential suite has Persian carpets, an eight-seater table for entertaining guests and a marble bathroom with a hot tub.
A golfer’s paradise, this hotel is located in the leafy suburb of Houghton. The course has previously played host to eight South African Opens as well as the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Challenge. The hotel itself overlooks 168 acres of private parkland, with both outdoor and indoor pools, as well as culinary options ranging from bespoke cakes to burgers and sushi.
Eco-friendly and innovative treatments are the order of the day at this hotel’s spa, which overlooks the tranquil waters of Gillooly’s Dam. It also has one of the oldest restaurants in Bedfordview, Trent’s, which is a favourite of local diners. It serves up food from around the world, including French lamb cutlets, Norwegian salmon and aromatic chicken curry.
Billed as a fully-equipped events and conference centre, this venue means business. It’s the new kid on the block, having opened its doors in May 2019, meaning its amenities are still box fresh. There’s a pool and state-of-the-art gym. It’s also within walking distance of Melrose Arch, a precinct crammed with high-end fashion stores and cafes.
Designed with a curator’s touch, this Melrose Arch hotel celebrates the spirit of Johannesburg. Open plan, boutique rooms are met with rustic exposed brick and leather headboards. Key local attractions of the Soweto Township, Nelson Mandela Square and Maboneng are all a short drive away. If you don’t want to take advantage of the 24-hour room service, there are plenty of other culinary options in the surrounding area.
One for travellers looking for true escapism, this hotel in Houghton has themed its suites around classic books and films. Step into the world of The Great Gatsby in one, or take a trip to the Moulin Rouge in another. Further suites pay homage to Casablanca and Hemingway. There are also sweeping gardens and a eucalyptus sauna for a spot of pampering.
Set in one of Johannesburg’s most affluent suburbs, Hyde Park Boutique Hotel lives up to the area’s reputation. The verdant garden has a sparkling pool to plunge into during the long, hot summer days, while the chic rooms offer jacuzzi bathtubs and big windows. It’s close to the Wanderers Cricket Stadium, Nelson Mandela Square and a neighbourhood goods market.
Five kilometres of lush, landscaped gardens make this estate a proper getaway from city life. The well-connected grounds are nearest Rosebank and Sandton stations to take you to the top attractions of Johannesburg, but they have enough going on to keep you covered on site. You can unwind with a mocktail at the fruit juice bar or enjoy a private breakfast or high tea from the restaurant.
Courtesy of The Residence Boutique Hotel / Expedia
Get ready to be treated like royalty. The Residence is a contemporary boutique hotel in the quiet, high-walled suburb of Houghton. Expect luxury facilities and attentive service. Rooms range from spacious one-bedroom suites, with private outdoor showers and hot tubs, right up to the five-bedroom Resident Villa with a pool, ideal for large gatherings. Enjoy a game of tennis on-site or ask the front desk to organise a round of golf at a nearby course.
Conveniently located 10 minutes from shopping and business centres, and 45 minutes from Johannesburg airport in Melrose, The Peech is a stylish, sophisticated hotel in the heart of the bustling city. Each of its 16 suites and bedrooms are spread across the beautiful one-acre garden. Enjoy amenities like the gym, the outdoor swimming pool and a bistro restaurant that counts among the best dining establishments in Johannesburg.
Located in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, The Winston is ideal for the business or leisure traveller who appreciates the finer things in life. The five-star hotel has spacious rooms that are tastefully designed, depicting the themes Le Bijou, Royal Safari and Manor House. Enjoy a dip in the 15 metre lap pool, or peruse the library for something to read. A chauffeur-driven transfer service is available, so you can travel around the city in style.
Smack in the centre of Johannesburg is the iconic Michelangelo Hotel, offering a panoramic view of the city. It’s popular with business travellers, offering five-star suites with marble-clad bathrooms and comfortable queen-sized beds. Enjoy an early evening cocktail at the Il Ritrovo bar with a live piano music in the background, before heading to dinner at the Piccolo Mondo restaurant, frequented by locals and guests alike. Opt for the wine-pairing menu and make sure you leave room for the cheese course at the end.