Updated on March 23, 2016
*This is going to be a long review. I’m basically combining the Melrose Arch area and the hotel review into one!*
I left off the last report wondering how in the hell we’d get our Uber to the hotel. There were a couple random internet hotspots in the airport. After about 25 minutes of trying to connect, we were approached by a taxi driver. Although at first I was a little suspicious, we had an airport information guy confirm with us that he was legit and it was a reasonable price. Next stop, African Pride!
If anyone is familiar with Johannesburg, there’s a few ways to get to the airport from the city. Being on the north side of the city, it made the most sense to take the direct route. At the time, I thought literally nothing of it. Come to find out later in the trip, we went the way that “you shouldn’t stop your car at night”. It made for some eye-popping sites, though, and I’m actually glad we did.
Keep in mind during this report that at the time we were there, the exchange rate was 12:1, Rand to USD. That was freaking awesome. But now, the rate is even better at over 15:1!!!
To give you some perspective on this hotel, let’s look at a map.
Our hotel is dead center of the picture, slightly offset to the left (just to the left off the purple highway).
There’s actually two hotels there in Melrose Arch: The African Pride and the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice. I really thought hard about both of them, and decided on the African Pride (the hotel rates were comparable).
When Marriott officially acquired Protea brands on April 1st, 2014, they became the largest brand on the continent of Africa. What does that mean for points and miles guys and gals?? Way more opportunities to earn and spend points in Africa!
Now, with the exchange rate so good in South Africa, African Pride is actually the highest category in the city at a Category 4! The Fire and Ice down the street is actually only a category 3.
The entire Melrose Arch area is a gated in community with upscale restaurants, hotels and shops. We didn’t realize it when we booked it, but when we told people we were staying in Melrose Arch they basically gave us the impression that it was real hoity-toity (and that turned out to be very true).
The whole area felt like you weren’t even in Johannesburg – kinda strange but very nice. I’ll show you some photos and doing a mini review of Melrose Arch before we get rolling into this hotel review!
The first night (and second night) we went to JB’s Corner restaurant – it was a really cool place with all types of food from sushi to pizza to pastas. We got sushi and pizza both nights and it was awesome.
Throughout the trip I wanted to try a bunch of different African beers – success!
For lunch the next day we hit up Moyo – awesome place right across from the hotel! More traditional South African food.
There’s also a mall in the community. Beautiful streets and a safe neighborhood – can’t be beat.
Anyway, Melrose Arch is awesome – but let’s get back to the hotel.
By the time we got to the hotel on that Saturday it was about 6:00 p.m. All of these daylight photos from the outside were actually taken our second day.
The first night we were in a “Superior room”. We’ll cover that one first.
It was a really cool concept. Big, open room with nice wood paneling along one entire side and exposed brick along the other.
The tub and sink area of the bathroom is just separated by a curtain – really leaning on the open concept. The toilet and shower are further back. All the rooms had a neon tint to them in the bathrooms – kinda cool.
Now let’s take a look at the rest of the hotel before we move onto the other room we stayed in on Sunday night!
The hotel obviously caters to upper-class business men. They have very nice conference facilities, including multiple boardrooms and a small auditorium. All rooms come with free Wifi connection, and it actually worked very well (compared to what we ran into later in the trip).
The hotel had 4 floors of rooms, and on the 2nd floor there were a ton of conference rooms and whatnot. Everything set up and finished very nicely.
The area out behind the hotel is beautiful. There’s a small, shallow pool that people enjoyed while we were there, and a bar right next to it. There is no fitness center, however.
The hotel restaurant, March Restaurant, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While we didn’t eat here, it look really nice! It’s on the opposite side of the lobby from the bar.
Off the right side of lobby was the very, very nice hotel bar, The Library. We spent time in here on Sunday night and it was just a great place to relax. It reminded us of an old, fancy bar in a big city. Beautiful wood finishings, mahogany everywhere, leather chairs and couches. Just awesome. If you put this bar in NYC it’d feel like it should cost $25 a beer.
We spent pretty much all of our time out on the porch on these sweet leather couches. The bar only had maybe 1 or 2 other people in it the whole time!
Finally, we’ll come to our Sunday room, the “Deluxe Room”! The room was about the same, except it had a bigger area for seating with chairs and a couch and whatnot.
I loved how they hid stuff in the wooden panels, and behind the paintings….
The bathroom was pretty much the same, minus a little surprise!
The views from the room were fantastic.
This hotel was fantastic. We absolutely loved our stay. Since we stayed there on a weekend, and they mostly cater to rich business men, the hotel wasn’t overly crowded. We stayed here on a free night certificate the first night, and paid about $140 the second night (which is a lot of money for South Africa)!
The only reason we ended up leaving the hotel later in the trip was to see a different part of Johannesburg and get a different perspective. But I can honestly say if I get the opportunity to go to Johannesburg for business in the future I know where I’ll be staying!