If you haven’t been to Johannesburg in a while, the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch is a great place to start a trip.
The vibe at Fire & Ice is nostalgia in a modern, urban and hip way. We’re talking black-and-white photos of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe — but mostly Audrey — above the bed in my gorgeous room. And the wallpaper in the lobby has a black velvet rose design on it that begs to be touched.
The hotel describes itself as old Hollywood glamour in an urban, experiential and edgy hotel.
Courtesy of Protea Hotels
There was nougat on my pillow when I checked in, jetlagged from the U.S., and a handwritten note that said the staff hoped my visit would be “simply amazing.”
I’d have settled for “pretty good,” but as it happens, this was my intro to Joburg hotels, and I was amazed.
The layout and decor of my room was soothing in tones of black, white and gray that made for a relaxing stay. A design of red flower petals in the gray carpet made me look twice. It brought a blast of color — a whimsical approach that made this room feel romantic.
The bathroom was separated from the bedroom by just a curtain — something that seems common in newer Johannesburg hotels.
Despite or because of the jet lag, I slept through the night in the dream bed, and awoke refreshed. The room had a kettle, and everything you need for making coffee and tea plus cookies. This and the cold bottled water provided free in my room made me feel at home.
Courtesy of Protea Hotels
My desk was roomy enough to spread out on and convenient to work at. Located near the M1 highway and upscale shops and restaurants right in the thick of Melrose Arch, this hotel has the business traveler who also wants to go shopping in mind. It has conference facilities and there are about 20 restaurants to choose from within a block or two.
Fire & Ice is known around Johannesburg for its milkshake bar. There are 26 flavors such as Ferrero Rocher, Lindt, iced hot chocolate and the one I got — the bee’s knees: dark chocolate, orange and honeycomb. For adults (in South Africa, legal drinking age is 18) there are an additional 10 milkshakes with names such as Springbokkie (peppermint liqueur) and Tequila Mockingbird.
Downstairs in the hotel lobby, I accidentally left my notebook near a bicycle-turned-orchid stand that I was admiring — more quirkiness. The hotel staff found my notebook and held it for me after I called, panicked, on my cell phone.
The staff also let me keep my luggage at the hotel after checking out and I returned later that evening to get it, which made my day go much smoother than it would have.