My husband and I arrive at Tambo Intl. airport in Johannesburg after an incredibly long trip from Punta Cana via Montreal and London. After a few hectic months of work, we are ready for a few days of relaxing before we continue on our South African dream safari.
I’ve never been to Johannesburg (or Joburg, as it’s frequently called), so I have no idea what to expect. Going through the airport and customs is pretty quick and easy. The lady stamps our passport, welcomes us and we’re IN. While waiting for our luggage, we exchange Euros to the local currency, South African Rand (US$ 1 is about 13-14 Rand and 1 Euro is about 14-15 Rand).
We get a taxi from an official taxi stand at the airport and our driver meets us outside. It’s about a 30-minute drive to our hotel, so we get to see a bit of the city along the way. We drive through nice areas and not so nice ones, but when we get closer to our hotel, the area changes again and we’re driving down beautiful streets with big trees on both sides. All of the houses are hidden behind tall, beige-colored walls topped with electric fences. All of a sudden, the driver says we’ve arrived and we pull up to a gate where a man in a suit welcomes us with a huge smile.
We’re staying at The Residence Boutique Hotel, located on No. 17, 4th Avenue, Houghton. It’s a small hotel with only 19 rooms. It’s so pretty and stylish and the decor is like an old, English Victorian style home. We’re greeted with a refreshing towel and a water as we check in. The bellboys show us to our room, which is lovely…but it’s not the right room! We go back downstairs where the kind woman at the front desk has already realized the mistake, apologizes and instructs the bellboys to once again carry our luggage upstairs.
We’re in room #1, which is a gorgeous and spacious Luxury Suite with a King bed, sitting area, bathroom, walk-in closet and a large terrace with 2 outdoor showers, lounge chairs, a heated Jacuzzi and view of the pool area/garden/tennis court. Very impressive.
Our amenities include super soft bathrobes, slippers, mini bar, Nespresso coffee maker, tea selection, a few snacks, complimentary WIFI, music stereo, a large flat screen TV and a fire place (that we don’t use).
Every night they provide a lovely turn-down service and leave a little poem along with a small bottle of water, a small bottle of Amarula Cream liquor (it’s like a Baileys) and a nougat treat for each of us. And they also leave a small card with the next day’s weather forecast on the bed.
The room is very comfortable and I love the terrace and the Jacuzzi! Every time the room is cleaned in the morning, the maid puts on some music (there’s a CD in the stereo with soft relaxing music) – just one of many small and incredible details at this hotel.
The general manager gives us a tour of the property, and it’s really lovely. It doesn’t feel like a hotel at all, but more like we’re staying in someone’s home…which just happens to be quite large. There aren’t many other guests, so most of the time we really have the place to ourselves.
There are so many small sitting areas with sofas or comfy chairs and beautiful décor details everywhere. It kind of feels like my grandmother’s home – really cozy. And there’s always yummy (complimentary) snacks and beverages in the lobby area as well as afternoon cake and tea served in the piano bar.
The hotel has 3 swimming pools and 1 of them is heated. We use the main pool (which is heated) every afternoon for a relaxing and revitalizing swim and wine-by-the pool session. Highly recommended!
There’s also a tennis court and a small fitness room, which I use once. It’s super small with 2 treadmills, a stationary bike, dumbbells and yoga mats – just enough for a basic workout.
The hotel also has a spa on the top floor and the massages are actually really cheap. We get a 90-minute couple’s massage one day, which starts with a nice foot wash and a cup of relaxing tea. My husband gets a Swedish Massage and I try the African Masai Massage where they use a wooden stick (called a Rungu) made from Eucalyptus wood for part of the massage. It’s something different, and although nice, I’m not sure if I would choose that kind of massage again. Our massages cost only 840 Rand per person, which is about US$ 63.
For some convenient shopping, the hotel has a small shop with a variety of unique souvenirs and really gorgeous items.
Whenever we want to go off property, one of the hotel’s drivers is always ready to drive us. The hotel has a few really nice cars (Rolls Royce or selection of Mercedes Benz) plus a minivan available for transportation and the drivers are excellent.
The Dining Room:
The hotel has an elegant restaurant, which serves complimentary breakfast and also lunch ($) and dinner ($). The breakfast is by far the best hotel breakfast I’ve had in my life!
On days with few guests, the waiters come with a small tray table with our own personal mini buffet (bread, croissants, pastries, fruit, fresh juices, milk, cereal, yoghurt, ham and cheese) and place it next to our table. On days with more guests, they set up a shared buffet with the same things.
We can also order hot food from the menu, which includes eggs (any style), pancakes, French toast…or the full English breakfast (eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, tomato and toast)!
Needless to say, we eat a HUGE breakfast every day!
The Residence was truly an oasis in Joburg – very private, very tranquil and very amazing. The staff is so friendly and service is top notch. I’ve never experienced this kind of service anywhere – so courteous and heartfelt.
The staff was also good at recommending places of interest (e.g. museums) and restaurants for us to try. They were always incredibly accommodating in meeting all of our requests.
My husband and I both loved staying there and after 4 days we felt totally relaxed and refreshed. It was hard to leave and say goodbye, but we knew we had some exciting experiences ahead, so it was all right.
We stayed at The Residence Boutique Hotel from April 6 – 10, 2017.