Welcome to the best layover of all time. The Saxon gently lulls guests into safari mode, cosseting them in its decadent comforts and enveloping them with its sophisticated African-chic decor and earthy tones. Name-droppers will love the Saxon: Nelson Mandela stayed here while writing his autobiography; more than a few heads of state have slept here; and stars such as Will Smith, Bono, and Kevin Spacey have decamped here (Justin Bieber even hid out here with his entourage, though that might not be a selling point). But despite the names it attracts, the Saxon manages to make sure each guest feels like an A-lister. No whim is overlooked, from the decadent dinners to the tranquil spa treatments. It’s the ultimate welcome to South Africa—next stop, the bush.
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The Sandhurst suburb is all high gates and imposing walls, housing some of Johannesburg’s wealthiest residents. Guests don’t have to leave the hotel for Johannesburg’s top dining experience: book well ahead for dinner at Five Hundred, a restaurant set in a converted presidential suite and helmed by celebrated chef David Higgs. Guests wanting to venture out from the tony surrounds can find the hubbub of Sandton just a car ride away.
Need to Know
Rooms: 53 rooms and suites. From $411. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Culinary experiences are myriad. Sample the tasting menu at Five Hundred; enjoy more relaxed fare at splashy, red-tinged Qunu Grill; unwind in the cigar lounge, the wine cellar, or the terrace; or indulge in a sophisticated high tea at the Piano Lounge. Spa and gym details: There’s a full-service spa, fitness center, and beauty salon on the property.
Who it’s best for: High-end safari-goers en route to the bush. Our favorite rooms: The 4,300-square-foot Nelson Mandela Presidential Suite is a site to behold. For those without such expansive budgets, the airy open-plan Luxury Rooms will do just fine. Good to know: Forgot your iPad at home? No problem—each room comes with its own laptop.