The Hedonist: Johannesburg
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 29 May 2010
Welcome to "Jozi", the much-talked about soon-to-be host of the Fifa World Cup 2010. While it's not normally considered a go-to tourist destination in fact, it's been described as the most dangerous city on earth travellers seeking decadent hangouts have long flocked here for a taste of the exotic. Formerly a destination reserved for international business travellers and tourists in transit for other Southern African destinations, things in Jozi are finally kicking off and not just in a sporting way.
From the recently refurbished O R Tambo International airport, I transfer to the wealthy Sandton area, a distance of around 20 miles. It's a great place to be, with a slew of happening hotels, bars, restaurants and other hedonistic haunts. It's also a lot safer than some of the other spaces surrounding the Central Business District.
Most of the international hotel chains are here, but I try something local and more intimate in the fabulous form of The Saxon (00 27 11 292 6000; thesaxon.com ). This hip hotel boasts interiors that are a well-executed exercise in contemporary African elegance. I'm led up to my room, and it doesn't disappoint it's outrageously opulent to say the least.
The Saxon is set in beautiful gardens, which I meander around later with a chilled glass of champagne from the hotel bar. It also has an incredible spa and once I've unpacked and taken a light breakfast by the pool, I make my way to it for a full-body treatment to work the unpleasantnesses of the 11-hour flight from London out of my body.
From there I head over to Fishmonger (00 27 11 268 0067) in Illovo, a suburb of Johannesburg that borders Hyde Park, one of the city's smartest areas. The languid lunches on offer here run well into the afternoon, with copious amounts of shellfish and good, crisp chardonnays. Now I feel ready to really cut loose.
I hail a cab to the Westcliff Hotel; it is here I sup on sundowners at the prestigious Polo Bar (00 27 11 481 6000; westcliff.co.za ), all the while overlooking the urban jungle that spreads out before me and listening to the calls of the wild from the zoo below.
Time for dinner, and I soon find myself in Gramadoelas in New Town (00 27 11 838 6960; gramadoelas.co.za ), which has seen a roster of high-profile regulars pass through its doors in recent times. Most come for exotic dishes such as mopani worms and crocodile steaks.
Now that I'm well fed and lubricated, it's time to get that itch out of my feet. I follow in the fabulous footsteps of the Jozi elite at Moloko in the self-proclaimed Design Quarter of Rosebank (00 27 11 447 1082; molokojoburg.com ). With decadent interiors and an even more decadent dress code, guests need to be bang on trend to duck beneath these velvet ropes. Fortunately, I make the cut and head inside for some pumping Kwaito (a genre of house music combined with distinctly African beats) and a succession of drinks at the long bar.
I don't recall how, but I end up at Truth in Midrand (00 27 11 315 9295; www.truthjhb.co.za ), cosying up with some of Jozi's jet-set on the dance floor. I pull on my shades and leave at dawn, heading back to The Saxon to curl up between crisp sheets.
A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see www.hg2.com
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Hashima: Among the ruins on Japan's Battleship Island, the place that time forgot
Top 10 cheapest cities to visit, according to TripAdvisor
South Africa's new travel rules: From October, families with under-18s will need to show their birth certificates
Harder, better, faster, longer: The best rollercoasters in the world
Weary? In need of some sun? Relax and unwind with a trip to... Iraqi Kurdistan
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...
£30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...