These are the coolest hotels in Johannesburg
The City of Gold's winning stays
As you’d expect from a place dubbed the ‘New York of Africa’ the hotel scene in Johannesburg (Joburg or Jozi to her friends) is achingly cool. From robot helpers to arty rooftop bars, a stay in South Africa’s City of Gold is never dull.
Radisson Red Johannesburg Rosebank / Image: Patrick King
The Radisson's epic rooftop / Image: Patrick King
Slick American design meets vibrant African style at the latest Radisson Red to land in the Rainbow Nation. As is the norm with the franchise, the hip factor has been dialed up to 11, from the artwork perched above the front door (a mischievous red figure) to the stunning wallpaper featuring huge, stylishly dressed models in the rooms. Like the Radisson Red’s sister hotel in Cape Town, the rooftop bar is eye-poppingly great, with its orange tiled pool, bright artwork and dreamy views over Rosebank.
Want to make sure your hotel’s cool credentials are in order? Then get David Adjaye on the phone. The Ghanaian-British starchitect has done a fantastic job at Hallmark House, repurposing the former diamond polishing workshop and warehouse into a retro-urban industrial space, complete with a 70s style bar in the reception area and colourful tub chairs in the rooms. Choose a suite with a balcony and you can ease into a funky hammock seat and look out over the increasingly trendy Maboneng area.
Imitating a hillside village, the chic Westcliff sits pretty on the rocky Witwatersrand scarp. If the hustle and bustle of Jozi gets too much, retire to one of nine peaceful villas set among a network of gardens, courtyards and fountains before hitting the hotel’s Apres Spa – home to the city’s only outdoor spa lounge that looks out over the treetops. At night take a glass elevator up to Flames restaurant for some seasonally inspired dishes.
One of the most beloved boutique hotels in Joburg, The Saxon once acted as a refuge for Nelson Mandela – the late, great president using the suites and 10-acre grounds here to work on his inspirational autobiography Long Walk to Freedom after being released from prison. You can follow in the footsteps of greatness by staying in his Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite and even sit in the zebra-covered office chair he favoured. An enormous swimming pool and two-storey spa further adds to the appeal of an iconic hotel.
Outside The Winston Hotel
The Winston Hotel is pretty suite
Yes, this award-winning boutique hotel has beautifully designed rooms with themes like Royal Safari and Le Bijou and a pool lined with (slightly disturbing) severed-head sculptures, but the most remarkable feature at the Winston is its utterly charming checkered courtyard. A little slice of Andalusia in Africa, the space comes with an arched colonnade backdrop and is ideal for dining under the stars. And what a feast it is, whether you go for the slow-cooked springbok shanks or a rack of Karoo lamb.
The Terminator will check you in now. Well, not quite but the cutting-edge Hotel Sky does employ a trio of robots to make your stay more convenient. Lexi, Micah and Ariel look after room service, provide travel information and can drag up to 300kg to the suites. As eye-catching as the robot helpers is the showstopper of a lobby with an animal-print ceiling, huge chandeliers, a golden counter, and dramatic wallpaper with oversized flowers. The kaleidoscopic design is recreated in a bar area that borders an outdoor pool and deck, ideal for soaking up the African sun.
Set in Nelson Mandela’s primary place of residence in the suburb of Houghton, Sanctuary Mandela is just that – a tranquil retreat surrounded by lush garden that’s perfect for quiet contemplation and for celebrating the life of one the most important leaders of all time. Each of the nine rooms here are dedicated to Madiba’s personality and feature photos and letters from important points of his life. You can even eat like Mandela with the hotel’s menu based on his favourite dishes as prepared by his longtime chef.
Not just a boutique hotel with lovely hilltop views, but also an event space, art gallery and shop, Daze House is a creative hub like no other in Joburg. Once you’ve settled in, check out the luxury African artisan products that are for sale, mingle with upcoming artist that are part of the resident Kin Watu art project or take a cooking class to learn about local cuisine. Popular among African travellers who want to connect with their diaspora while staying in the city, Daze House is true home away from home.