If you’re looking to have some fun in Joburg, Montecasino is one of the best places to go, whether you’re a visitor to South Africa, or a local looking for a mini “staycation.” This massive casino complex in Joburg’s northern suburbs is packed with entertainment options, including a theater, cinema, concert hall, comedy club, slot machines, an exotic bird show, a hot air balloon ride, dozens of fabulous restaurants, and of course superb hotels.
Here’s our guide to staying and playing in style at Montecasino.
Of course you could make a day (or evening) trip to Montecasino, then head back to your home or hotel in some other part of Joburg at the end of your visit. But why not stay on site, and free yourself up to drink, stay up late, and not have to worry about getting home safely? Fortunately there are numerous 3, 4 and 5 star hotel options available to fit your style and budget. to help you fit your budget.
For those who only want the best, look no further than The Palazzo Montecasino. It’s definitely the grandest of the three hotels at the complex, and its design is meant to make you feel like you are in an Italian castle. Guests can relax while walking around the koi pond, have delectable lunch outside on the terrace, lounge around at the fantastic swimming pool, or just enjoy the opulence of the rooms. Of course, it’s also a short walk to the casino complex, but the perks that the hotel offers will pull at you to make you stay around.
Southern Sun Montecasino is a slight step down in outside appearances from the grand design of The Palazzo but keeps up the standards in just about everything else, including the large decorative lobby, stellar rooms, and chic swimming pool lounge. Rooms at the hotel are tasteful and offer what you might expect at a high-end resort, from a Nespresso machine to designer beauty products. There is definitely a bit of glitz here, and you’re sure to feel like a pampered high-roller while visiting. The classy downstairs bar is usually busy at night after people start strolling in from a night at the casino and makes for a perfect place to end the evening.
Travelers wanting to spend more around the casino grounds and less on their hotel rooms will enjoy the comfort of SunSquare Montecasino. It’s smaller than the other Tsogo Sun offerings, but offers clean and modern rooms with great access to everything you would want to do at Montecasino. You could actually say it has a better location than the other hotels, as it’s positioned right next to the Montecasino Outdoor Piazza, which is great for hanging out at night under the bright lights. The hotel is particularly popular with business travelers coming to Joburg that want to mix some fun in.
Finding mouthwatering cuisine at Montecasino is a non-issue, at least if you stay away from the food court. Most of the popular world cuisines are represented at Montecasino, including Thai, Japanese, Greek, Italian, French, Indian and many more. For example, if you want to make the most out of the Italian vibe, head to La Scala, a romantic upstairs Italian restaurant with views overlooking the streets of Montecasino. They have an excellent, albeit somewhat pricey wine list and authentic Italian dishes like a pancetta and basil pasta or simple and delicious appetizers like prosciutto and melon. Other dining options from around the globe include The Raj, Kai Thai and Mythos.
For true excellence in fine dining, skip over the restaurants around the casino floors and head over to Punchinello’s inside the Southern Sun Montecasino hotel. It’s undoubtedly one of the best dining experience you can have in all of Johannesburg and features a rotating menu full of gourmet items from veal and porcini mushroom tagliatelle to slow roasted tender pork belly. If your travel happens to coincide with it, the restaurant offers a monthly tasting with some of the top chefs in South Africa. Booking in advance is recommended to ensure you get a table.
For great food on a reasonable budget, look no further than Aarya tucked into the SunSquare Montecasino Hotel. It’s located just on the perimeter of the square and is tastier and more affordable than other places in the area. It looks like your basic hotel restaurant, but they have plenty of options to make the pickiest diners happy. Be sure to try the restaurant’s signature dish, the expertly flavored butter chicken.
Entertainment options at Montecasino are everywhere you look and include everything from bird shows to Broadway shows. The large Montecasino Bird Gardens near The Palazzo is home to over 1,000 birds, reptiles and animals. There is a 40-minute bird show multiple times a day which features exotic birds and teaches kids and families alike about them. You can also stroll through the gardens and admire over 750 plants. Comedy shows are frequent at Montecasino as well — the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah had several long running shows there during his rise to stardom. Theater lovers can enjoy plenty of big time shows such as Madame Zingara, Sweeney Todd and Singing In The Rain. Of course, there is the casino itself, which features every game imaginable and hosts nightly contests to get the crowds involved. Montecasino is also known for hosting important South African events, such as the recent Miss Earth contest and Springboks send off for the Rugby World Cup. Whether you spend most of your time in the hotels or around the casino complex, one thing is for certain, you won’t be bored.