During the heatwave in London last summer, I found myself in Jozi (during their winter) for work. Yeah, let’s not talk about that. The project I was working on was pretty full on, so I didn’t get to explore the city in as much depth as I wanted to. Beyond the horror stories you hear about the violence and crime, South Africa wasn’t really on my bucket list but having been I’m so glad I did go. It expanded my mind about certain things and I got to meet a bunch of energetic and interesting people.
I stayed at a gated bread and breakfast joint organised by my work which was comfortable and had a lovely host, who was ever helpful with recommendations.
Hmm. It’s fair to say the restaurant scene in Jozi is nascent and nothing at all like Cape Town. So, if you go, expecting gourmet delights, check yourself because you’ll be disappointed.
There were a few places, here and there that were ok. Of all the places I visited, I would say Farro was probably my favorite dining experience; essentially Modern European fare with some local influences. The cocktails were pretty decent too.
I thought the food at Marble was fine but I’d rather recommend this place for an upscale cocktail at their bar, which bears an outdoor terrace. The Westcliff (Four Seasons) is also good if you fancy a plush drink in an outdoor setting – the views over the city are pretty banging.
I thought Ace + Pearl in Craighall was a lovely spot even if it was desolate when we went on a Sat night. They’ve got a plethora of locally crafted and international gins, so I’d say go here for a quiet drink and if you want to pump up the volume, head to Royale, a cocktail bar / restaurant directly beneath it, that draws in a creative crowd. Liquid Blue Cocktail Bar in Melville is a dive but if you want to sweat and dance hard, this is your joint.
Hallmark House (holding residential flats, a hotel, restaurant and bar) in Maboneng is a modern stripped back space, that’s good for a quiet glass of wine; the hotel itself was designed by world renowned architect David Adjaye.
If you want to hang where the creative folk do, then I guess Braam is still where it’s at. As with any ‘cool’ district, the appeal has waned for many locals but that doesn’t mean that it’s done; places like Kitchener’s and Great Dane still pull in those that consider themselves to be hip and current. Testament Bar which opened last year is a micro bar that pulls a similar crowd.
44 Stanley in Braamfontein is a mixed use space, home to a plethora of independent shops and restaurants. I thoughtThe Storer was a rather charming lifestyle store and if you’re into jewellry Pichulika have a standalone shop here.
You can’t go to Johannesburg and not go to The Apartheid Museum. The museum is dense with information and I actually went twice for a number of hours when I was out in South Africa. It’s bleak to say the least and so bizarre to think that much of what happened is still relatively recent history.
I was taken to Soweto by a friend – we went to a Sunday market and then onto a bar, a short drive away. I wasn’t keen on touring a ‘township’; in my mind it just felt a bit gimmicky and exploitative. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who could show me a small part of what this area in South Africa is about, in these current times.
A friend at work recommended North Cliff Hill , an incredible vantage point of the city. People go here on Sundays, play music, get drunk, watch the sunset. It’s quite the romantic spot too!