Self-service check-ins, selfie walls, enormous graffiti artworks and staff who wear kilts – these two innovative hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town sure do stand out.
1. Sandton swag, nice price tag
Signature Lux Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg
This fresh hotel in Sandton won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Melanie van Zyl spent the night.
Set just across from the iconic Michelangelo Hotel and conveniently close to Nelson Mandela Square, the affordable Signature Lux Hotel is a fresh and welcome addition to ‘Africa’s richest square mile’. Open since June 2017, it delivers on all conventional hotel facilities like safe parking, good-quality crisp linen, a big flat-screen smart TV in your room, neat writing nook and space enough for a queen-size bed.
However, it’s the convenient modern extras that make this place – such as fast, free uncapped Wi-Fi so you can stream to your heart’s content, and self-service remote check-in via the hotel app (kind of like you would for a flight). The surprisingly quiet rooms are basic, but with great lighting, and although I missed having tea, coffee and a kettle in the room, there’s a trendy café called Aura on the ground floor that’s decently priced.
The decor in the public areas is flashy Afro-chic with blingy mosaics and clever use of animal-print wallpaper designs, but all done in a stylish, minimalist fashion that isn’t garish. The actual building is also an Instragrammable artwork, sporting an enormous mural of lions on the move by famous South African graffiti artist Faith47 on the side facing the Gautrain Station. This nicely echoes the hotel’s partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust – for every room booked, R5 is donated to help protect wildlife.
Best feature: The location and excpetional value for money.
Costs: From R795 a room, R955 B&B for two people. There is also a half-day rate if you’re in transit and just need to freshen up.
2. Bolder than the rest
Raddison RED Hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
The first Radisson RED in Africa is here, one of only four in the world. Ondela Mlandu checks in.
I love technology and prefer getting things done on my phone instead of waiting in queues, which is why the Radisson RED is up my alley. This hotel brand is inspired by millennials like me. There’s free unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi and with the hotel app, I could self-check-in and place my orders at the OUIBar + KTCHN. There s also a ‘selfie wall’ in the restaurant with fitted cameras and attractive backgrounds – take a fun pic while you wait for your meal and it will be printed instantly.
The hotel’s neighbour may be a modern art museum with a designer hotel upstairs, but the Radisson RED fits right into the city’s new Silo District. Bold red, white and black decor makes a statement; it’s eclectic, vibrant, eye-catching, an energetic joyful social space. The staff are part of this – they may look hip and unconventional (gents dressed in kilts), but they know how to provide good service. Plus there’s the four-legged sweetheart who runs around the hotel: brand mascot Baxter.
You’ll want to take him home with you, instead buy one of the tote bags, baseball caps or T-shirts with his face printed on them (all proceeds go to the Boston Terrier Rescue Network in SA). But with the BYOD option, you can also bring your own furry friend to spend the night with you (small dogs only).
I stayed in a studio unit – it was very comfy with Afro-arty patterned wallpaper, a king-size bed and plenty of cupboard space. Although I didn’t have a balcony (those come with the suites), I still had a big window looking out on Sea Point and Lion’s Head – and good filter coffee supplied in my room to sip on while I enjoyed the views.
Best feature: The RED Roof has Instagram-worthy views and a big red beer truck parked next to a very cool pool. The space works for morning yoga sessions, afternoon cocktails and live music sessions on Friday night.
Costs: From R2560 a room.