Johannesburg is a city with a reputation. It’s troubled past seems to cloud its dynamic and encouraging present. People whispered “be careful” with serious expressions when we told them our plans, but we were determined to go and see it for ourselves. Our hotel, The Michelangelo Hotel, also has a reputation, be it vastly more positive. When I told people that The Michelangelo would be our Bed in Johannesburg, their faces lit up and we got a unanimous “Ooooooo”. The Michelangelo is known as, “The Grand Dame of Johannesburg” and is part of the Legacy Hotels group which is why we were so excited for the Michelangelo Hotel review.
Contrary to some people’s view, there is loads to see in the City of Gold. Don’t believe us? Just check these awesome things to do in Johannesburg. It was my first time exploring the city and what a fabulous hotel to set out from!
The Michelangelo is located in the wealthy, upmarket suburb of Sandton, North-East of Johannesburg. This is where the money of Johannesburg comes to shop and do business. The Michelangelo Hotel is set to one side of Nelson Mandela square. Part shopping mall, part leisure hub, and with a 6m high bronze statue of the man himself.
The hotel is just a 5 minute walk from the Gautrain, Johannesburg’s light rail system which connects directly to the airport. This is how we reached the hotel and so we were airport to room in 40 minutes.
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What an Entrance
Walking in from street level, from West Street to be precise, we were greeted by a friendly doorman in a handsome uniform. We were slightly confused, the huge round lobby was almost entirely empty.
We were pointed to a set of lifts and whisked up one floor to the main lobby and reception. It was quite the entrance!
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It was a breathtaking way to see the lobby for the first time. The red marble, and lions faces growling at us slipped away and the towering ceiling stretched to the sky like a soaring cathedral. It would be hard not to be impressed.
The lift doors dinged and we turned from the view to step out and to the reception desk. The security guard looked none too impressed at the two jet-lagged, backpackers with shorts and t-shirts. We told him abut our reservation and he soon cheered up.
The reception got us checked in with cheery smiles and a glass of juice. As it was still quite early, they took our bags. They said that we could use the pool and spa until it was ready . They sounded fabulous (more on those later) but we had a few errands to run and so we nipped out through the hotel’s mall entrance into Sandton City.
Nails freshly filed, and South African sim card sorted, we returned 2 hours later to the happy news that our room was ready. We were shown up to room 2012, a deluxe king room.
The room was such a surprise. I don’t think we have ever had one like it. It was a mini suite, all in red tones ans with dark wood trimmings. Two step led down to the seating area and to either side was a column. We had columns!
Our windows opened like french windows and gave us a great view over the square and the Mandela statue below.
I have been trying to work out how to describe the style of the decor. I know it was meant to be kind of Italianate but it had kind of a Vegas vibe. The carpets, curtains and covers seemed a little nineties so, although they were good quality and perfectly nice, but I think they could do with an update.
Around the room was a lovely coffee maker, surrounded by plenty of milk and a nice variety of teas. Every day we got shortbread fingers on the tray which we loved. By the desk were the only plugs in the room. In a world where we need to charge phones, cameras, iPad and more, there weren’t enough. I am not a fan of plugs that are so far from the bed either.
The bathroom was lined in decadent red marble and had a HUGE mirror. It was palatial. The toilet and showers both had glass doors, blocking them from the central area. The shower and bath were both great and, (and this may seem weird) the extractor fans were epic! We were given a whole raft of useful things, shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitiser and even a sewing kit.
Gym, Pool and Spa
Besides the immense central lobby, this was my favourite part of the hotel. We popped into the gym to have a quick look. We found a well air-conditioned little space, packed with machines. There was a sign that mentioned the personal trainer. It is nice to know that after your giant buffet breakfast, there are people to help you work it off again.
Out of the window we spied the pool and it looked totally inviting. It was time to dive in!
We head down one floor and head into the changing rooms. They were a good little space that had been well-considered. There were big showers with shampoo and conditioner, and a basket full of handy things like toothbrushes, deodorant….etc. It shows a level of consideration for their guests that I admire.
The round pool is secreted under a giant glass dome. Floating the water you can gaze up to the sky above, whatever the weather. I bet it is amazing during a thunderstorm!
Next to the pool, you will see the main spa area. Here you can get a variety of treatments and up above it, is the sun deck. This is a nice grassed area and there was even a hot tub It was quite a chilly, windy day though, so we stuck to the indoor pool/ There was also a mini sauna and steam room to relax in.
Lounges And Lobby
Well, what a stunner! There is absolutely no doubt about that. The ceiling rises seven stories above you and is drenched in natural light. It is exactly what you want from a hotel lobby, an area you actually want to spend time in. It is the first time in a while that it hasn’t just been a place to pass through. If you are in the area, and unable to stay at the hotel, it is worth popping in for a meal or a drink just to see it.
The Il Ritrovo Lounge
If you don#t want to perch around the bar in the main lobby, you can take a seat in the Il Ritrovo lounge. This classy side area has tables, chair and bunkettes. When we visited, there was a live pianist giving the ivories a tinkle. There was a display fancy whiskey on show.
One floor up from the main lobby is the Intermezzo lounge. We spotted it from above and knew that we had to have a quick nosy. This mini lounge on the first floor mezzanine level is a great spot for a little peace and quiet. We didn’t see anyone else using it during our stay. The sofas are comfy, the magazines current and the natural light lovely. I’d happily spend an afternoon relaxing there if we had the time.
The Michelangelo Hotel is understandably proud of of its business centre. We popped in to have a look and they were so excited to how us about their unique selling points. The things that impressed us most were:
- They will operate 24 hours a day. That means, if you need a meeting with Malaysia or a catch up with Canada, they can arrange it.
- The location within the hotel means that it is a safe place for your meetings and it is always nice to have a bar and restaurant just across the lobby.
- There are three room and they can set them up as board rooms, presentation spaces or video screenings. (You can use those screens for video calling too).
Looking for something to do in Johannesburg? Check out 5 Reasons to Visit Soweto on a Township Tour
As we were out and about in Johannesburg in the day times and evenings, we only used the hotel for breakfast and the odd drink.
Entering the Piccolo Mondo at The Michelangelo Hotel, you are handed a menu. This details all of the special plated dishes you can order to accompany the huge buffet on offer.
First things first, we ordered coffee and then made a dash for the buffet.
- There was a good selection of cheese from soft and blue cheese to a hard, Parmesan style cheese that came with its own shaving wheel.
- The Asian section had dumplings (and we all know what a sucker I am for dim sum). The chicken bar tasted great, but as they were in a ban marie rather than a steamer, they had a gone a bit chewy. I bet if you get there early, they are perfect!
- There is a plate full of smoked salmon. I had to exercise unbelievable personal restraint not to just wander off with the whole thing.
- Toast is ordered from the waiters which means no queueing for one of those weird and usually terrible giant toast monsters.
- The pastries are good and kept warm.
Elsewhere you could find the hot options (we didn’t try any as we had the eggs royale coming). Here were the usual suspects of eggs, bacon, sausage etc. There was a nice continental selection with a few things from the continent (smoked haddock, roll mops, good quality salami). I found plenty of fruit and Mr Fluskey enjoyed his cereal.
Breakfast A La Carte
On our first visit, we wanted to try as much as possible so we both got a buffet plate and ordered an eggs royale to share. It was very different to the kind we have at home. The eggs were boiled rather than poached, with a squishy yolk (not soft or hard boiled). The hollandaise sauce was a bright yellow, and came in a much smaller quantity. It was also served with mushroom and tomatoes. These were not mentioned in the menu so it is worth checking before you fill up on other things. I really enjoyed it as I normally have to ask for my sauce on the side, but Mr Fluskey wasn’t so keen.
On the following morning, I was craving sugar after a long night so picked at pastries and fruit and ordered the waffle with fruit and syrup. It was good but the thin kind of waffle rather than the large Belgian style. That’s great for me, but if you love deep puddles of syrup you may end up disappointed. The fruit that it came with was melting and pineapple, a slightly unexpected but tasty combination.
The Il Ritrivo Bar
The bar in the centre of the lobby is the hub of the Michelangelo hotel social life. We decided to stop for a few drinks on our way out to a party. The staff were very friendly and the selection of drinks was good. With each round, we were presented with two little dishes; one contained salted peanuts, and the other had a combination of wasabi peas and totally addictive, crunchy corn things.
At the bar, every day, they have a special G&T offer. For two hours, you can pick an exciting and unusual gin and tonic for a few less rand. It is a good way to end a work day, or start an evening out!
When we first sat down, the bar was a little quiet but over the next half an hour, it started to fill up. We popped out for dinner, and on our return, we saw that the bar was full.
If you are thinking of coming to stay at The Michelangelo Hotel, then take a look at their website here for the best offers.
Looking back on our time at The Michelangelo Hotel, we are slightly confused about their target audience. The pool and spa area are too cool for a busy business traveller, and the whole place seems very grown up. Then there is the slightly costumey feel to the place. The lobby is gorgeous but the giant stone lions are a little bit like overkill. I think it would be amazing for a small conference or series of meetings. The food is nice and the breakout spaces are great, so you wouldn’t feel stuck in the hotel. Overall, we really enjoyed our stay and would happily return.
We would like to thank The Michelangelo Hotel as we were their guests. We genuinely enjoyed our stay and, as always, all opinions are entirely our own.