When you’ve just landed in a new city, the only thing more valuable than a hot shower is internet connectivity. We all want to share vivid updates of our travels with our friends and family through Instagram pictures, Twitter updates and Facebook statuses — there almost isn’t any point in being on holiday if you can’t show off a little. Or if you’re in town on business, you’ll need to e-mail clients, create presentations, or have tele-conferences with your colleagues.
However, since getting a local SIM card in Johannesburg is a bit trickier than in other cities,* the far easier (and cheaper) option is to use wi-fi only. Of course you can use it in your hotel, but if you’re brand new in the city you’ll probably want to get out and explore, not sit in your room all day.
A fun option is to read emails while sipping coffee at one of Jozi’s trendy “coffices” (shorthand for coffee-office), where you’ll find everyone from magazine editors to entrepreneurs turning their piece of counter into a makeshift workspace. Here are six of the best coffee shops with free wi-fi in Johannesburg.
Croft & Co, for a posh, 40+ vibe
Situated in the leafy, affluent suburb of Parkview, Croft & Co naturally attracts a slightly more mature high-end crowd, who happily cozy up in the leather booths while typing away on their MacBooks. The menu is simple: for breakfast, your only option for eggs is scrambled. No, the kitchen won’t make you a fried egg or an omelette, no matter how nicely you ask. The take-it-or-leave-it approach adds to the appeal somehow, and the restaurant finds itself jam-packed from 7am every day.
Address: 66 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview, Tel: 011 646 3634
Warm & Glad, for the best pancakes in Joburg
During the week, Warm & Glad is teeming with long-haired, bearded students and brightly dressed creatives. Justin Timberlake blasts from the speakers, so this might not be a good choice if you need to do something that requires concentration. Yes, the wifi is a plus, but it’s quite slow and choppy. The real reason you should go to Warm & Glad is for its glorious pancakes. Not as thin as French crepes, yet not as thick as American pancakes, Warm & Glad does its own variant to perfection. Top that off with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar and there you go- breakfast is sorted.
Address: 357 Jan Smuts Avenue (corner St Alban’s Road), Craighall , Tel: 011 781 4055
Voodoo Lily Café, for a pet-friendly, outdoorsy atmosphere
If you’re looking for a quiet, but still fun, coffee shop to Skype from, give Voodoo Lily Café a try. It’s got more of a housewife than hippy vibe, but I love the airy, white space and the friendly staff. A neighbourhood coffee shop in the true sense of the word- by your second visit, the owner will probably greet you by name. I’ve not been disappointed nor impressed by the food- it will fill the hunger gap, but that’s about it
Address: 64 St Andrews Road, Birdhaven. Tel: 011 492 6965
Lacuna Bistro at the Maslow Hotel, for the fastest wi-fi and least judgment
At the other spots on this list, you may get the side-eye if you’ve been at a table for more than two hours with no more than a coffee on your bill. At Lacuna Bistro, there’s no shortage of space, so you can lounge around at your leisure- there isn’t even a password required to access the wi-fi. That said, being a luxury hotel, you will end up paying a premium for whatever you order, and most things I’ve tried have been average at best — think toasted sandwiches, and the usual bar snacks like nuts and crisps.
Address: Corner Rivonia Road and Grayston Drive, Sandton. Tel: 010 226 4600
Park Café, for salad that comes with the most delicious bread you’ll ever taste
Now, don’t judge me. I know it’s wrong to order a salad simply because of the bread that comes on the side, but at Park Café, I just can’t help it. There’s something about the torn, Italian bread that, once dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, is just heavenly. The bread is as fresh as it gets, with a crust that is the perfect combination of crusty and chewy. If you’re a group of all girls- this little café is the perfect hangout. You’ll love the floral teacups, beautifully curated cake table and astroturf carpet. Pop next door to Polish (owned by the same people), to do your nails after.
Address: The Parks Shopping Centre, cnr Wells and Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. Tel: 011 447 0250.
SOHO, for pampering and people watching
And now for something a little different than the usual “coffice.” At SOHO, you can sip coffee, browse the web, AND get a pedicure at the same time. It’s not a cafe, but a New York-style nail salon located in Joburg’s most acclaimed mall, Sandton City. There really isn’t a better option for a good mani and pedi — products are imported directly from the Big Apple, and in addition to free wi-fi, you’ll also be able to flip through the latest international titles like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Guys, no need to feel left out — SOHO caters to metrosexuals keen to get their digits in tip top condition. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see more men than ladies in the salon. Just try not to let your laptop get wet.
Address: Sandton City, Corner Rivonia Road and 5th Street, Sandton. Tel: 011 784 0370.
* A few years ago, legislation was passed that requires all new South African SIM cards to be registered. This involves presenting a form of identification (your passport is just fine), as well as proof of accommodation while in South Africa. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can simply print out your reservation confirmation, but if you’re calling a friend’s place home, you’ll have to get an affidavit from the owner of the property confirming that you are staying there.