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This is the tenth post of my South Africa Series. Follow along to read my reviews on several different aspects of my trip. Other posts in this series include: Come Along With Me To South Africa!; Flight Review: South African Airways Business Class JFK-JNB; Hotel Review: Westin Cape Town; Trip Report: Watching African Penguins at Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope; Cape Town Dining; Hotel Review: Hilton Cape Town; 10 Things I Love About South Africa; Hotel Review: 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa Luxury Room; Trekking Up Table Mountain in Cape Town; Trip Report: South Africa Safari at Savanna Lodge in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve; Safari Highlights at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa.
After an amazing week exploring Cape Town and its surroundings, it was time to fly back to Johannesburg for a night en route to safari near Kruger National Park.
Our flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon was in business class aboard an A340-300 since it was part of our award ticket itinerary and it was basically an international business class product – though the entertainment systems were turned off – and we were served a little snack of cold sandwiches and cheesecake.
When we got to Joburg, or Jozi as it’s apparently also known as, it was already late in the day, but there was still plenty of daylight left, so we hired a car from the hotel to take us on a three-hour tour of the city. We saw parts of the central business district including the vibrant Hillbrow neighborhood where everyone seemed to be out on the street enjoying the great weather before stopping at Constitution Hill to see the Flame of Democracy in the former Awaiting Trial Blocks and the new supreme court building.
Our driver also took us out to the country’s most famous Township, Soweto, where we stopped by Nelson Mandela’s childhood home, which is now a museum, and the Hector Pieterson museum, commemorating a boy who was shot during the 1976 Soweto Uprising and whose death became a rallying cry for the end of apartheid.
After that thought-provoking afternoon, our driver turned the car back north towards the city and we drove into the tiny suburb of Rosebank where the Hyatt Regency is flanked by several megamalls.
The building itself looks like your average early 1990’s brick affair, but the hotel underwent a recent renovation, so inside the lobby is airy and bright with an all-day café restaurant called Ndau and a lovely courtyard with a running water feature where guests can hang out and enjoy a meal.
Rooms here were going for 3,100 ZAR ($365), but only 8,000 Gold Passport points per night since this is just a Hyatt Category 2 property. We were only there for one night, so I opted to use points on the rooms even though it would mean not earning any elite status on the stay. Still, a value of 4.56 cents per point was too good to pass up.
Because of my Diamond status, we were upgraded from the standard rooms we’d booked to Club Rooms on the 8th floor, which were going for 3,850 ZAR ($453) a night.
The rooms were pleasant enough and spacious at 430 square feet with king-size beds, an armchair and ottoman under a lamp in the corner, a small work desk with international plugs in the other corner, and a stocked minibar running along the wall opposite the bed with a wall-mounted flatscreen TV.
The bathrooms were in black granite with a single sink, a separate bathtub and glassed-in shower stocked with L’Occitaine products.
Because of my Diamond status, we got free WiFi, which was fast and reliable here (not the case at either the Westin or the Hilton in Cape Town), so Eric and I took our computers to the Club Lounge, which was sort of an open space across from the elevator bank with windows overlooking Rosebank, and worked from there over evening snacks and canapés (I especially liked the spanakopita and the spicy chicken wings). We also came back for a quick breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit and coffee (and maybe a croissant) the following morning before our flight.
The hotel also has a fitness center with a rooftop pool and the Phumula Spa, where treatments are inspired by Zulu healing practices, but we didn’t have time to try either because of our packed itinerary.
A reader had suggested we just venture down the corridor from the hotel into the nearest mall to a restaurant called The Grillhouse, which is basically an old-school chophouse serving steaks, game meats and seafood. Though not the most interesting cuisine, the food was still delicious, and my seafood platter was heaped with food and hit the spot. The convenience factor was also nice since we could just lumber back to the hotel and call it a night before our early flight the next morning.
I definitely want to go back to Johannesburg and explore more of the city – and especially to see the Apartheid Museum and see Nelson Mandela’s house when it’s open – but this was a wonderful, brief first taste of the city and I thought our stay at the Hyatt Regency was a great use of points.
Pros: Good use of points since it’s a Category 2 property, nice newly redone rooms, nice location near the city but in an upscale suburb
Cons: Kind of generic décor and ambiance, room rates expensive for what it is, dining options not too exciting