Indulging my African Pride

2013-07-29 14:55

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I love hotels. And, no, it’s not just because of the free robes. I love them because of the anonymity they afford you.

I love the feeling of secrecy that comes from being in one of the many rooms, in one of the many buildings in the city. I love people watching from the window like some kind of modern-day Rapunzel (sadly, without the flowing locks). In hotel rooms, you don’t have to think about filling in your tax return, or taking back the DVDs or finally scrubbing that weird stain off of the carpet.

You just have to exist in an entirely new space. And that’s why I also condone going to a hotel for a night, even if it’s in the very same suburb as your home.

That’s what I did when I checked into the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel.

Sure, it’s in the middle of the ever-buzzing Melrose Arch shopping complex in Jo’burg, but once you’re inside, you might as well be in the middle of another country.

I have to admit that I was dreading the décor the second I heard the phrase, ‘African Pride’ (hands up if you also thought the hotel would be filled with animal print sofas and wooden sculptures of old men playing the trumpet?) but it’s recently been revamped, and shows off its facelift so well. The African spirit is subtle, and comes across in little, nostalgic touches like the fake flowers in the hallway made from decidedly local wire and Coke cans; you know the ones. The reception and restaurant is all done up in rich greys and silvers. Think ornate, patterned wallpaper, large, white vases and silver goblets worthy of any episode of Game of Thrones. As you move up to your room, it morphs into a slightly more colourful affair.

Everything is lit up red, green and yellow. Would I do it in my own home? Nope. But this is not my home. And, here, it works.

The rooms are incredibly tasteful and cozy. They’re also packed with everything you could ever want from a hotel room, from a fully-stocked minibar, magazines and snacks (not just nuts and water, but loads of M&Ms too), to rubber ducks on the bath.

They offer one of the greatest hotel bathrooms I’ve ever been into; you can even see the TV from the gigantic bath. Enough said. And, for added fun, there’s the DVD drawer filled with six different movies, including one labeled “Adult”.

Did I watch it? Of course. Was it what you think it is? It sure was.

As you’re in Melrose Arch, you certainly are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating, but I strongly suggest you fill up in the hotel’s fancy revamped restaurant, March, which boasts award-winning Chef Hanroe, and four creative, private dining rooms.

For dinner, my guest and I managed to make our way through starters of tuna steak and home-made Snoek pâté, mains of steak and potatoes (male food needs are so simple) and salmon in a teriyaki sauce with noodles. Other than a slightly overdone steak, it was lip-smackingly good.

And, dessert? Oh, dessert. If you’ve never had a Turkish delight crème brûlée or a yoghurt and cardamom panna cotta, you haven’t lived. Our meal, with wine and three courses each, came to around R900. And afterwards, do have a quick nightcap in the very trendy, leather-sofa-clad bar. Perfect for a winter’s drink, even if you’re not staying over.

After a fabulous night’s sleep –the hotel offers a unique pillow menu, so you can order the exact right pillow for all your comfort needs – it was back down to the restaurant for breakfast.

It was a feast of a buffet, complete with pastries, fruit, cereals, oysters, cold meats and cakes. And, of course, there are hot breakfasts as well (R195 for both options). As I scraped the last of the truly delicious eggs benedict from my plate, I couldn’t bear the thought of going home.

If you’re visiting Jo’burg soon, you could a lot worse than the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel. And, if you live here, I’d find an excuse to get a babysitter and pop in for a night’s visit, stat.

Things to do near The African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel.

Melrose Arch itself offers up truck-loads of shopping and dining experiences. For a nightcap, definitely try out the Winesense Wine Bar, 011 684 1487.

Bidwvest Wanderes Stadium is on your doorstep. So, if cricket is your thing, find out if a game is being played during your time there.

Coffee addict? Get your morning fix down the road, at Wolves Café; the ultimate hipster coffee hangout. They also offer live music on Thursdays. 4 Corlett Drive Illovo, 011 447 2360.

If you’re in the mood for something a little livelier, head to the corner of Oxford Road and Corlette Drive, to The Griffin craft beer bar and gastro pub, 011 447 9842.

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