Interview: David Krut’s favourite secret hideaway

Art book publisher David Krut is a fan of galleries, Thai food and the city of gold. We spoke to him about his favourite Joburg hotel in the November issue – here’s his recommendation for his favourite secret hideaway!

David Krut

You have a friend visiting from New York. What hotel would you recommend?

54 on Bath. I think it’s about location and about the fact that it’s quite quiet around here, relatively speaking. And you can walk the streets. That’s the biggest problem with someone who is a stranger coming to Johannesburg – you always feel very nervous about not being with them all the time and I think that puts quite a strain on you if you’re having guests. Here, people can walk around, and I’ve always felt that Rosebank is the part of Johannesburg which is the least Wild West. The other thing I like is it’s close to a lot of the art facilities, the galleries – they’re within walking distance.

Is there anything unique it offers?

I think it has old-style value, and I think because it’s compact, the staff are real people; they’re not just staff. It’s the closest to being home away from home, in a way, and you can watch the traffic moving by and the lights starting to twinkle, and the spectrum of Johannesburg is just lovely.

Describe Joburg’s personality

Joburg has always been a crazy city of people who love it. Anything can happen here. It’s like a little New York. It’s really attracted people who are adventurous and want to do great things. It’s mean, it’s a young city, the people here are young.

Three things you must see or do in Joburg?

Arts on Main, Maboneng, the Apartheid Museum and, believe it or not, I think the Johannesburg Zoo. Because often when guests arrive, they’ve been sitting on a plane from America or whatever, they come and they want some space, they want to go for a walk. There is nowhere in Joburg, unfortunately, to walk that easily. I always take them to the zoo and we just stroll around for hours. Every time you go, you’ll see something different. The Apartheid Museum – you’ve got to spend
a day looking at it.

Where do you dine when here?

Because my partner, Greta, tends to cook a lot at home, the sort of place I go to would be very offbeat. I love the Troyeville Hotel – that’s Mozambican and Portuguese. I love Thai food. It’s not about fancy dining; it’s more about exciting dining. Portuguese food is really appealing. For Indian, you’ve got a lot of restaurants in Fordsburg, which are quite wonderful, so I think I keep going back to the same place. We’ve just discovered a wonderful restaurant in Greenside called Thai Café, and then there’s a great restaurant called the Swad for brilliant Indian food inside the Killarney Mall. There’s also a very good restaurant called Wang Thai in Sandton. You won’t believe it, but if you want really affordable fish, then the Ocean Basket chain. To me, Ocean Basket is really amazing.

Your best childhood holiday?

There’s a place called Muizenberg in Cape Town. I come from a very traditional Jewish family and the only place my parents would ever go on holiday was to a kosher hotel. And Muizenberg, for some unknown reason, had 10 kosher hotels, and I just loved those lovely beach houses because you’d be on the beach the whole day – the sea was never threatening. The most exciting part was to take the train to Simon’s Town, but other than that, you were always there and every night we would take a walk along the promenade.

Your last best break?

We spent a week in Paris and I was lucky enough to stay in an apartment right next to Le Marais, which is this wonderful area where all the galleries are now. There’s also the Pompidou Centre, which hasn’t been taken over by tourists. The locals live there and it hasn’t been invaded by hotels – there are hotels but they’re all quite small and it really remains very much a part of Paris. A lot of it is sitting outside, eating in the restaurants and, of course, there’s walking around Paris and all the wonderful old buildings.

Where are your galleries?

The first one is in New York, in Chelsea, in the first art building in the area. We have at the moment two spaces in Parkwood on Jan Smuts Avenue. And then we have a place in Montebello Design Centre in Newlands, Cape Town and then, of course, Arts on Main. They’re all very low-key. I’m a very down-to-earth sort of dude.

What must South Africans see when in London and New York?

In London, the National Gallery and the Chelsea Physic Garden, established in 1673 on the banks of the river, just next to the royal hospital, and designed by the same man who designed St Paul’s Cathedral. They’d been planting things from all over the world to understand how they could make medicines from them. In fact, that’s how chocolate came into being in 1860. It’s a big open space where you learn a lot. Of course the Tate – I love the two Tates. In New York, the Metropolitan Museum is fantastic, the Museum of Modern Art is really wonderful and then there’s the Studio Museum in Harlem, which is really interesting. There’s also a new museum opening in Chelsea called The Whitney, which will have amazing architecture. The building we’re in in Chelsea has 32 galleries – Chelsea has about 300 or 400 galleries in a two- or three- kilometre area. The area is like walking through a museum.

Does South African accommodation stand apart in any way? What makes us different? How do our standards compare?

There is genuine hospitality. I think that people, when you come in, they really do care about you. It’s not just about that they’re told to be charming. I think South Africans are lovely people – they really do care, and it’s for real.

One thing you never leave behind when travelling?

My camera.

What’s your favourite SA holiday destination and why?

Simon’s Town. An 1840 house in the family, restored by Revel Fox, is a great hideaway in the crazy year-end holiday season of Cape Town – my three weeks of landscape gardening with lots of time to read.

Also see: Getaway’s pick of affordable B&Bs in Simon’s Town



Check out the rest of our interview archives here.

This article first appeared in the November issue of Getaway Magazine.

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