Spring is finally here, and with it a much-needed glimpse of gentle sun and blooming flowers … and the chance to take a breather and head out on a post-lockdown escape. There are a number of fabulous places in Joburg on our radar to help you enjoy the splendour of the season and get you in the mindset for the warmer months ahead. Some are perfect for relaxation, and others for adventure. If you’re seeking space, privacy or the freedom to set your own schedule, The Parkwood Boutique Hotel is our top idea to help you take advantage of the rising temperatures.
Why we love it: Joburg lives and breathes elegance but keeps its local charm right in its pocket. The incredibly pretty Parkwood Boutique Hotel, run by a husband-and-wife team, is the easiest city break ever – you don’t even have to hop on a plane to find yourself a world away from the hustle and bustle. If you want to feel like you’re staying with the most fabulous friends for the weekend, book in here. With just 16 rooms, the five-star boutique hotel, spread out over three leafy properties, is welcoming and intimate … and doesn’t feel remotely hotel-like. It both reflects Joburg and is an escape from it: It’s quiet, homely and delightfully warm so you’ll feel like a local of The Parks, but step outdoors and you’re back in the thick of the action just off Jan Smuts Avenue and Oxford Road. With its visually stunning interiors, primped and preened gardens, emerald-green lawns, vibrant bushes of hot-pink bougainvillea and supremely private turquoise pool, you’d be hard pressed not to have a romantic weekend at this unparalleled escape. We recommend booking an Executive Room, which are draped in bright sprays of blousy bougainvillea and individually decorated in neutral tones and bold prints with burgundy, terracotta and almond green accents. Strikingly light and airy, these rooms each house a large, comfortable bed, a lounging area, lots of cupboard space, a bathtub big enough to float around in and an enclosed private patio for prolonged nightcaps. We love how the deeply spoiling space feels new and fresh while still remaining inviting with an unrelenting emphasis on comfort. There’s no restaurant at The Parkwood, but the no-restaurant issue is very much a non-issue. An excellent breakfast – a spread of cold-pressed juices, yoghurt, granola, eggs as well as homemade breads and pastries – in a cosy breakfast room lined with decent reading material (on everything from cookery and gardening to fashion and design) gives off a joyous feel in the mornings. At midday, you can mix yourself a gin and tonic from the well-stocked honesty bar and put your feet up with a pile of Sunday papers on the veranda where the sunlight pours through. Just 2km from the property is Keyes Art Mile – an assemblage of restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and design stores – making it the perfect retreat for both foodies and art lovers alike. It’s also a stone’s throw away from Rosebank Mall plus Park Corner and 4th Avenue Parkhurst’s buzzing bars and restaurants. From the moment you check in, you feel like a part of the family. The attention to detail is immaculate, there’s a committed embrace of laziness and it’s a genuinely soul-reviving, blissfully unhassled place to know in the area. Leaving will be the hardest part of your stay.
72 Worcester Road, Parkwood
011 880 1748
Where to eat: Even with all of its majestic architecture, superlative fashion and world-class culture, one of the simplest pleasures in the City of Gold remains simply sitting on a sun-drenched terrace, people watching. With its knockout views around literally every corner, Flames Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is the place to be to tuck into five-star cuisine. The lie-in-friendly Early Brunch, every Saturday and Sunday from 10h30 to 12h00 for R595 per person, is a secret you’ll want to keep to yourself. First, bubbly and a cold platter to share is sent out from the kitchen: A sparkling fruit salad with champagne mimosa dressing; raspberry and almond Bircher muesli; warm baked apple and cinnamon spring rolls; steamed dumplings; asparagus and Parma ham tart; prosciutto, blue cheese and fig quiche in a potato rosti; BBQ squid with a lime and chilli salad and zucchini noodles; and our favourite, cloud-like Milky Bar and rose cronuts. The half doughnut, half croissant treats will make you swoon with their buttery layers. For mains, order eggs Florentine – with streaky bacon and poached eggs with perfectly runny bright-orange yolks – on a spinach and goat’s cheese croquette smothered in smoked paprika hollandaise, or the breakfast bagel; a baked beauty schmeared with horseradish cream cheese and layered with sliced rare roast beef, a fried egg, caramelised onion and arugula. For a spicy start to the day, there’s a Mexican frittata made with cheese, spring onion and Peppadews, served with waffle croutons and a tomato, strawberry and rocket salad. And for the ladies who brunch, scrambled egg-filled crêpes served with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and chives on rye as well as death-by-chocolate French toast topped with strawberries and slightly sweet honeycomb mascarpone crème. Just make sure you leave room for a little pudding – our pick, the refreshing smoked rhubarb eton mess embellished with slow-roasted rhubarbs, cacao nibs and vanilla crème, is quite possibly the best sweet treat you’ll find this spring. There’s also a berry malva pudding with rose anglaise, raspberry-blackberry compote and raw honey sorbet and the ‘tropical chocolate’ – a chocolate mousse bar with whipped milk chocolate ganache, passionfruit sorbet and coconut caramel. But quite frankly, you could have a grapefruit or a fried egg on toast and still feel that Flames Restaurant is Joburg’s ultimate brunch spot. Plus, since the restaurant doubles as a bar, brunch can easily meander well into the afternoon (FYI, it makes for an absurdly pretty sundowner spot). Book well in advance, because it’s always packed!
67 Jan Smuts Avenue, Westcliff
011 481 6000