1 Melrose Square, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Air Conditioning, Airport Transportation, Babysitting, Banquet Hall, Bar/Lounge, Business Center, Cable Television, Concierge, Conference Center, Dry Cleaning, Family Rooms, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, In-room safe, Kids Activities, Laundry Service, Meeting Rooms, Minibar, Multilingual Staff, Non-Smoking, Parking, Reduced mobility rooms, Refrigerator in room, Restaurant, Room Service, Safety Deposit Boxes, Satellite TV, Self-Serve Laundry, Shuttle Bus Service, Smoking Rooms Available, Suites, Swimming Pool, Wheelchair Access, Wifi
Over-sized, over-the-top, masculine -- these were my first impressions of the five-star African Pride Melrose Arch, which you enter through massive wooden doors too...
Over-sized, over-the-top, masculine — these were my first impressions of the five-star African Pride Melrose Arch, which you enter through massive wooden doors too heavy for ordinary people to open.
The hotel actually had to hire doormen who are six feet or taller — body-builder types– to handle these super-sized doors. Once inside the hotel lobby, you need a few minutes to get accustomed to the grand funkiness of this hotel.
A modernized version of a red carpet, lit up with red LEDs, led me to the reception desk and Khotso Mosito, the assistant front desk manager.
Lighting is an important part of the ambiance at African Pride Melrose Arch, and not just in the common areas. My room had some serious lighting going on.
“We wants guests’ five senses to be stimulated from the minute you walk in,” Mosito told me. To that end, the hotel air conditioner squirts Davidoff Cool Waters cologne into the lobby.
But first, my room. Mounted on the outside of the door to my room was a rose with petals made from Coca-Cola cans — a tribute to local craftspeople. I walked in to find gourmet snacks waiting for me: huge pastel-colored marshmallows rolled in coconut; yummy cheese cookies and nuts — big ones.
The room lights — reds and greens — lent a clubby feel to the room that wasn’t necessarily relaxing, but then there were playful, quirky elements to distract me, like rubber duckies by the bathtub, and a picture on the wall of a man and woman cracking a safe.
If there’s a formula for quirkiness in the hotel industry, this hotel has got it. The rubber duckies were repeated in the pool, with giant-sized versions visible from several stories up.
There was no separating wall between the bathroom — and its awesome, over-sized bathtub — and the rest of the bedroom.
On a tour of the hotel, I got a better appreciation of the lengths to which this hotel went to impress guests. It is a Protea Hotel, one of three five-star properties in Gauteng. There was a photo shoot taking place in the lounge, which no longer allows smoking due to new laws.
The hotel has a soundproof room where guests can go to hide out, watch DVDs and hear music in private.
Then there are two elevators or lifts — a night lift and a day lift, depending on your mood. Either way, they offer a club-like ride, Mosito told me.
The conference and banquet section included five boardrooms, all named for the people who did the artwork in the hotel — Selwyn Pekeur, Abraham le Roux, Paul Blaauwkamp. Paul du Toit, the Ndebele people — and an auditorium with cinema-style seating.
Local celebrities stay here, Mosito said. Big deals are made in the library.
The hotel’s opulently furnished front porch overlooks Melrose Square, home to Moyo, the African dining experience, and lots of other restaurants. The Melrose Arch shopping area has 200 security guards and growing. The hotel has 150-plus staff.
With 90 percent of hotel guests using Wi-Fi, I found the Internet really fast, but that is not everyone’s experience.
I enjoyed my tour of the executive suite, and could imagine celebrities hanging out on the top floor of the hotel or chilling in the penthouse garden, with its 180-degree views of Gauteng.
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