It's always exciting to stay in a brand-new hotel, to be the first one to sleep on a new bed, or just because everything is shiny and new! This beautiful 4-star hotel is part of the Southern Sun's impressive hotel collection in South Africa, offering 132 rooms that promise to satisfy both business and leisure travelers. The hotel opened its door on 29 September 2009.
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This past October 2009, I had a last minute trip to Johannesburg, and this was the only available hotel I could find in my preferred area of town, and in an acceptable price range. On their website, I found a nice grand opening promotion package, which included a deluxe room and a lovely buffet breakfast. Of course their deluxe room is nothing more than their "standard" level room, but I'm not complaining. The rate was R990.00 or approximately $115 a night.
The hotel is located in the prestigious neighborhood of Hyde Park and it is attached to the posh Hyde Park Shopping Centre, offering convenience and practicality for those who are on business or pleasure.
Since I always use a GPS when driving in South Africa, finding the hotel was very easy, and also because the hotel has several well-placed signs in the immediate area.
I arrived a little past 10 pm since my South African Airways flight from Luanda was nearly two hours late. Of course, I had pre-paid my room, so I was not worried about losing my room. I was worried however, about not being able to get a bite to eat before going to bed.
The ladies at the front desk greeted me cheerfully, and after completing a short form and presenting my passport and credit card, I was on my way to room #210, which is really on the 4th floor, in no time at all.
The Lobby is very large; decorate in dark colors of gray, black and slate (stone) with a wall water fixture. Not my cup of tea, but indeed very modern and simple; I suspect the decor would appeal men more so than women.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that their sushi bar, Daruma, was open till 11:00 pm, and even though the sushi menu is not part of the in-room dining menu, they were so accommodating that they let me order from it, and delivered it to my room!
The hallway still had that new carpet smell and other "new" odors coming out of the woodwork. In my room I found a note saying that they hoped I would understand that they were still smoothing out some wrinkles, and that they'd do their best to not be a nuisance. Well, thank goodness, everything worked in my room!
While the ‘deluxe' room is not terribly large (approx 14x16'), it has a king size bed, a dresser, a large built-in the wall closet, two night tables, so there is definitely plenty of storage space. There is a large desk with proper lighting for those who need to work.
The room is well-equipped with electronic amenities: air conditioning, Satellite TV channels, a beautiful plasma TV placed on the wall, a DVD player, high-speed Wireless internet access (HotSpot -fee), mini bar with complimentary soft drinks, and tea/coffee making facilities. On the wall, by the desk, there is a media-hub (supposedly the first of its kind in a South African hotel). The media hub offers complete technological integration; for example, when connected via VGA cable, the television automatically detects a laptop, or guests can charge any USB based device (such as mobile phones) and dock their iPods, i-phones, and MP3 Players. I couldn't figure out how to work their high tech equipment, so I had to call for help, and someone showed up in less than five minutes to show me.
The bed matress was extremely comfortable, with four plus pillows and the linens were perfectly crispy!! I slept quite peacefully!
A very well-designed room, offering all the modern comforts, while using space efficiently. What I loved the best was the large, rectangular shower area (4x6'), with a heavenly rain shower. A robe was placed in the closet, and the towel supply was quite generous. Their own brand toiletries were very pleasant to use.
Bice Restaurant is an international Italian cuisine, upscale chain found in major cities of the world. We'd eaten at the Bice in Abu Dhabi and found the food delicious. What I loved about the restaurant in this hotel, was that within one space, they've incorporated Daruma, the sushi bar, and Bice the Italian restaurant. While seating at the sushi bar, I enjoyed the best of both cuisines. The service was excellent; the food whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, was above average. Their two executive chefs, Daniele Fabris and Goda Katsumi, come from top restaurants worldwide, to include the famous Annabel's Club in London.
The quality of both restaurants is high, and I was very pleased with the food. So pleased, that a few weeks ago, I returned again with a friend, for a lovely dinner.
On the other side of the restaurant is the bar which incorporates a lounge, a cigar bar, and the biggest collection of liquors I've seen. The bar was packed every night, and it seems to be very popular. I met friends there for a drink, and it's a good thing they came right after work, otherwise, it would have been hard to get a table.
There is a nice little pool which faces the bar, which in all honestly, I doubt people swim in it; it's more like a lovely water fixture around an outdoor, fashionable bar.
The fitness center looked spacious and airy, and had a good choice of cardio machines, and weight circuit machines. I didn't use the gym, I only checked it out.
Of course, the fact that the mall is right next door can't be beat. There is a large hypermarket in the basement, and that day I bought more than I could carry back to the room. No worries, a store attendant carried my bags all the way to the lobby elevator!
Parking is free, in a well-secured covered parking lot, with security guards around 24-hours a day.
A Business Centre offers four computers with a HotSpot Internet access, which is about R30 for half an hour; that's about $4.50. It can get expensive if you need to use the internet for a long time. You can either purchase the vouchers at the front desk or swipe you credit card right at the computer station. The Business Centre has two printers, a fax machine and a scanner.
This is a nice hotel that I'd love to go back to, but now that the rates are normal (around $200 a night) and do not include breakfast; I doubt I'll be staying there. However, I do plan to come back to Bice Restaurant and Daruma, as I love their food and service. The Japanese crew at Daruma have won me over (and I think, I them) and they pamper me and take such good care of me when I'm there. In fact, I'll be there this week as well, but alas, my husband has yet to experience their wonderful food.
One observation, however, even though everything is shiny and new at the moment, something tells me that they did not invest in top notch furnishings, which may look tatty in no time, but what do I know!
I recommend this hotel to those who love modern simplicity, hip surroundings, and excellent restaurants to choose from.
Thanks to Chris (cr01) for adding this hotel to the database quickly; it's just me that I'm slow in posting reviews!
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