The tony suburb of Houghton, whose best-known resident was Nelson Mandela, is home to leafy lanes lined with stately estates. Not too far from the Mandela family manse is the Residence, a stylish boutique property that lives up to its name, evoking a private lair of a chic distant relative that guests are fortunate enough to visit for a spell.
The rooms are plush, with velvet headboards, sumptuous rugs, and glittering chandeliers, but the bathrooms are a sight to behold: the gleaming marble tiles and outdoor showers and tubs merit a special mention. Nods to the nautical can be found in the Boat Lounge, where mini sailboats and life preservers inspire the decor. There’s often a pianist tickling the ivories in the Piano Lounge, where guests can retire with a post-prandial cocktail.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Houghton is one of Johannesburg’s most rarefied suburbs. The Residence is a few blocks from Nelson Mandela’s final home as well as a modernist all-white mosque that’s an architectural marvel. It’s worth driving by both. Golf aficionados will want to hit the greens at Houghton Golf Club, a lush championship course. Guests aren’t far from bustling Grant Avenue in neighboring Norwood, where dining options are plentiful, from the popular Schwarma Co. to Indian fare at Thava to Italian eatery Nonna Mia.
Need to Know
Rooms: 12 suites, including a pool villa. From $239. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: There’s one formal dining room, along with the Boat Lounge and Piano Lounge bars. Spa and gym details: The full-service spa is complete with a steam room and sauna.
Who it’s best for: Travelers who want to feel like they’re visiting family, not staying at a cookie-cutter hotel. Our favorite rooms: The spacious Madiba Suite, in honor of Mandela himself, has an elegantly appointed outdoor terrace area with a private Jacuzzi—the perfect perch for enjoying Joburg’s temperate climes. The Pool Villa has its own heated plunge pool. A classy ride: You can have the Residence arrange airport transfers in the hotel’s Rolls-Royce.
All rooms have outdoor showers and either outdoor baths or private Jacuzzis
Private balcony or courtyard area with outdoor seating/relaxation area.
Complimentary use of spa facilities (sauna and steam room)
Fully air-conditioned (heating and cooling); underfloor heating Guest safe Fireplaces in all suites Personalized stationery
Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the Residence DVD players with speakers throughout the room Two personalized direct numbers in each room iPod docking station
Food and Beverages
Welcome drink Full English breakfast Limited complimentary soft drinks in mini-bar Complimentary tea and coffee Nespresso coffee machine
2 swimming pools, one heated Tennis court with rackets available
The 12 suites are decorated with antique French crystal chandeliers, dramatic velvet drapes, and Persian rugs. The king size extra-length beds with Egyptian cotton bedding have mattress tops and king size goose down pillows. The en-suite bathrooms are well appointed with piped music, and bath plus shower, with bespoke amenities as well as bathrobes, slippers and hair-dryer. The suites also have an outdoor shower, outdoor bath or Jacuzzi. Each suite has its own lounge or seating area, and is equipped with a Nespresso machine with complimentary coffee pods, as well as a mini bar with complimentary soft drinks, teas, and fresh milk. Eight suites have fireplaces.
The double doors of the Penthouse Suite open onto a large, spacious deck and roof garden with Jacuzzi and comfortable seating area overlooking the city. The Suite has a formal seating area with a fireplace. The en-suite bedroom leads out onto the private outside balcony with a spa bath and outdoor shower. A special feature of the suite is the skylight above the bed to take in the southern skies. (Suite size including deck and roof garden: 2077 square feet).
The entrance lounge to the Madiba Suite features a specially commissioned oil painting of former president Nelson Mandela. Walking along the passage, there is a charming bespoke champagne and wine cellar, which was transformed from what had been the original lift of the residence. The lounge area features a cozy fireplace and leads into a separate bedroom with a well-appointed bathroom. The suite also has an inviting lounge and dining area on the outside terrace, as well as a Jacuzzi and outdoor loungers. (Suite size including terrace: 1615 square feet).