6 romantic date-night ideas in Joburg

Posted by Lisa Johnston on 16 April 2019

Forget the crowded restaurants and bin those red roses. With so many unique spaces to explore, there’s no need to resort to clichés for impressing that special somebody.

Drink a toast to the grand old Rand

Image by Lisa Johnston

The original Rand Club, a single-storey brick-and-thatch building, was established in 1887 to offer a touch of grandeur to the messy dustbowl that was the gold-rush township of early Joburg. In keeping with the increasing fortunes of the city and its growing gentry, the gentlemen’s club went through two more incarnations to become the grand old Edwardian clubhouse you find today. It has adapted to the changing political and economic tides of the country and now accepts memberships from all South Africans … even women. And members of the public can visit the glorious main bar which, at 31 metres, is the longest in Africa. It’s a wonderful excuse to dress up and dine out amid the grandeur of yesteryear.

DO IT Use of phones and other gadgets is restricted, there’s a dress code and good manners are expected. The kitchen, for light meals, is open from noon to 8pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays. Find it at 33 Loveday Street (corner of Fox Street) in Marshalltown.

0118704267, randclub.co.za

Take in a cabaret, old chums

Actress and singer Elsabe ZIetsman is the propreitor of Zietsies, which holds an annual Valentine’s dinner and show. Image by Lisa Johnston.

Singer, actress and Brixton community stalwart Elzabé Zietsman hosts a legendary dinner and show at her guest house, Zietsies, on 14 February every year, but you can book Zietsies’ private dining area, The Glass Cage, all year round. The Glass Cage has floor-to-ceiling windows to showcase the incredible views over the north of Joburg from the hillside. Although Elzabé is happy to cater for special diets (vegan and so on), the menu is decided on the day depending on what’s fresh and available. There’s also the option to stay over.

DO IT To comply with bylaws (The Glass Cage is not a restaurant) Zietsies, is run as a club and a nominal fee of R50 a year is charged and donated to the Doilie Foundation, which helps children without the financial means to study the arts. Numbers are limited to 30, no walk-ins accepted, so book now. R500 pp, or R2 ,000 per couple for dinner, show and B&B.
0827744902, zietsies.co.za

Pop into Pablo’s for the night

Image by Melanie van Zyl

From the outside, there’s no overt signage to distinguish Pablo House as guest lodgings, and its rambling slab-like veneer creates a foil for the secret oasis that lies beyond the front door. Extensive views over the Melville Koppies and greater Joburg are the surprising reveal. It’s no exaggeration to say that Pablo’s feels a world away from the notorious hooting and blare of the city, which makes it a welcome escape for a midweek break without the need to leave town. The boutique guest house in Melville has large, stylishly-decorated rooms and the staff can organise luxurious add-ons, such as spa treatments or dinner catered by a private chef.
You can also opt for a more relaxed meal from the menu, cooked al fresco on the coals or in
the pizza oven. Breakfast will be good, too – the owners’ other business is the wildly popular Pablo-Eggs-Go-Bar on Melville’s main drag.

DO IT From R1, 250 per couple B&B. 0662150993, pablohouse.co.za

Be inspired by a love story

Image by Lisa Johnston

The more than 200-year-old Press Fleury was custom-built for L’Atelier Georges Leblanc in Paris, the oldest fine-art printers in the world and frequented by many of the great masters (reputed to have printed editions for Manet, Degas, Rodin, Munch and Pissarro, among others).

The story behind this historic machine and how it came to be on our shores will set your heart aflutter. In the early 2000s, Joburg artist Fiona Pole was awarded a bursary to work at L’Atelier Georges Leblanc under the tutelage of the last owner and master printer, Pierre Lallier. She’d met her partner, Didier Presse, in Paris, so the opportunity allowed her to be in the city with the man she loved. As fate would have it, after 13 years their decision to leave Paris and return to Fiona’s birth country coincided with L’Atelier Georges Leblanc closing its doors after a long battle to save the studio from property developers.

In an act of unexpected generosity, Lallier gifted the press, as well as thousands of rands’ worth of paper and inks, to Fiona, who shipped it all to SA. It is still in perfect working condition and has taken up residence at The Atelier at 44 Stanley in Milpark, where it can be seen in action printing limited-edition works by SA artists. 

DO IT The Atelier is open 9.30am to 4pm on weekdays, 10am to 2pm on weekends.
It also sells beautiful books.

0114822137, theatelier.co.za

Cuddle during a private film screening for two

The Bioscope will rent out their cinema space and cater for specific requirements like offering champagne and screening a favourite film. Image by Lisa Johnston.

When The Bioscope opened in Maboneng in 2010, it marked the salvation of independent cinema in Joburg and has been delighting moviegoers ever since with arthouse films, contemporary world cinema, animation, experimental movies and classic blockbusters. The intimate 62-seater is extremely relaxed – you’re welcome to take food and drinks, purchased from the adjoining Chalkboard bar and restaurant, into the cinema. If you’re planning the perfect date for a cinephile, you could book out the entire Bioscope for just the two of you and choose your favourite from an extensive collection of titles.

DO IT To book out The Bioscope, simply send an email with details of what you’d like to do. If not booking it out, it’s still a great date night: look out for French and Spanish nights in the last week of the month, The Big Night In (an all-you-can-eat-pizza and pyjama party) plus screenings of Oscar-nominated shorts.

0110397306, thebioscope.co.za

Something old, something new…

Image by Lisa Johnston

If you’ve decided that this year is the right time to pop the question and your tastes extend to vintage, you’re bound to find the right engagement (and wedding) ring at The Old Johannesburg Warehouse. If not the actual rings, you can train a magpie eye on the diamonds and other stones that sell for astonishingly good prices, and have your rings made up by a professional. Even if wedding bells aren’t on your mind, the auctions are a fun way to spend a day and pick out a special (or just plain odd) gift for your better half. Sift through art, antiques, gems and jewels, decor and bric-a-brac to find your personal treasure. Then enjoy a drink or two as you get down to bidding against poker-faced competitors for the object of your desire. Head upstairs later to the rooftop for great views of the inner city.

DO IT The Old Johannesburg Warehouse typically hosts two-day auctions once a month, divided into sections. Sign up for the newsletter to find out what’s coming up ([email protected]). It’s in Village Road, off Simmonds Street, in Selby.

0118361650, oldjwauctioneers.com

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