Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Johannesburg the Westcliff
Four Seasons Johannesburg the Westcliff
When the Four Seasons took over Johannesburg's celebrated Westcliff Hotel (a colonial-style grande dame that was admittedly fraying around the edges), its brief was clear: update the tired ambience with a cutting-edge makeover. For its first property in South Africa, the luxe hotel group spared no expense, closing the hotel down for a year and a half until they were satisfied with the full revamp, which debuted in December 2014. The new Four Seasons has modern elegance in spades, from the minimalist View restaurant (the main feature here is, as the name suggests, the panoramic view over Johannesburg’s lush landscape) to the 117 rooms outfitted with chrome details and local contemporary art.
For generations, the Westcliff has been the bastion of Johannesburg’s most rarefied citizens, who decamped to the hotel for special occasions or met for high tea on the terrace. With its new look, the property is ready to welcome back its longtime clientele while opening doors to a more youthful set in the process.
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At the Westcliff, you’re around the corner from the famed Johannesburg Zoo; in fact, you can peek right in from some vantage points at the hotel. You’re also just over two miles from 44 Stanley, a hip complex of creative boutiques, interiors shops, and restaurants like the perennially packed Salvation Cafe and Il Giardino. For a somber look at South Africa’s political history, head to Constitution Hill, formerly the prison that held Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela; it's been transformed into a constitutional court. There’s also a museum and gallery with a rotating array of art and exhibits highlighting the country’s difficult past.
Need to Know
Rooms: 117 rooms and suites. From $350. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Four Seasons roped in chef Dirk Gieselmann from a Michelin three-starred restaurant in France to oversee all of the Westcliff's restaurants—the fine-dining View; the more casual Flames, specializing in braai, or grilled meats; and a casual deli for lighter fare. Spa and gym details: The opulent spa has nine treatment rooms incorporating Terres d'Afrique products. Exercise options include an infinity lap pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and a separate family swimming pool.
Who it’s best for: High-profile travelers looking to keep a low profile. Our favorite rooms: All the rooms have a sleek new look with funky accents, like animal-print wallpaper, but we're partial to the roomy one-bedroom suites. Some have views right into the Johannesburg Zoo. Good to know: The hotel is a sprawling campus on a hillside, and guests call golf carts to go back and forth to their rooms. If you prefer to walk or don't want to be too far from the main areas, request a room closer to the bottom of the hill.