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Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg is a top-notch oasis of calm in South Africa’s largest city. Pros: reasonable room rates, great on-site restaurants, stunning views and friendly, attentive staff. Cons: some wear and tear in guest rooms, confusing light switches.
My recent adventure with the TPG team for the annual PeaceJam conference in Cape Town marked a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time visiting South Africa, a country that had been on my bucket list forever; my first time attending a PeaceJam conference with TPG; my first time staying at a One&Only property (Cape Town); my first time staying at a Four Seasons property (see below); and, last but certainly not least, my first time getting a massage (more on that later).
I’ve always loved staying in hotels and was very excited to finally get an opportunity to stay at a fancy Four Seasons property, the Four Seasons The Westcliff, Johannesburg. As I’d quickly find out, the chain lives up to its lofty expectations, at least in my limited experience.
Johannesburg is a global metropolis with no shortage of hotel options for travelers of all budgets. I came across the Four Seasons, which was going for a relatively reasonable $258 a night. Compared to the much higher prices you’d see for FS properties in North America, I felt like it was quite a good deal for this caliber of hotel. Even better, I found the same room through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program for just a few dollars more per night ($264).
Sadly, there was no option for a third night free, like you see at some FHR properties, but I booked through FHR anyway, as it entitled me to a valuable set of perks including a room upgrade (subject to availability), daily breakfast for two people, guaranteed late checkout at 4pm, early check-in at 12pm (when available), free Wi-Fi and a unique property amenity — in this case a $100 credit to be used at the spa.
In total, I paid $792 for my three-night stay with the Platinum Card® from American Express, though I only earned one Membership Rewards point per dollar on my purchase, as it was booked before Amex upped the earning to 5x points per dollar on FHR stays booked online. At the time of this writing, the FS Johannesburg wasn’t yet eligible for 5x earning, but it should be soon.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is in a northern suburb of Johannesburg called Westcliff, about a 30-minute drive from the airport (JNB). Upon first glance, the hotel appeared to be a sprawling Italian villlage with several different buildings. Wait, where was I again?
Anyway, the buildings were handsome and the views from almost anywhere on the property were stunning. The hotel overlooked the Johannesburg Zoo, and was close to some of the most popular shopping centers and other suburban attractions, such as Sandton, which is known as the richest square mile in Africa. But it was also not far from Johannesburg’s Central Business District and its (in)famous Hillbrow and hipster Maboneng neighborhoods.
The lobby was in its own building and featured beautiful, fresh flowers as well as comfortable, stylish furniture.
Check-in was quick and easy, and the desk agent explained my Amex FHR benefits. She told me that I’d been upgraded to a panoramic-view deluxe room, which was similar to the garden-view deluxe room I’d booked but featured a much better view.
By the time I arrived at my room, my bag was already there waiting for me. Love when that happens!
I was excited to check out my upgraded room with its panoramic views (thanks, FHR).
The decor was much more traditional than at the One&Only, but it really worked, as it felt stately, elegant and worthy of the Four Seasons name. I enjoyed the predominantly light blue and white color scheme as well as the patterned drapes and decorative pillows that gave the room a little flair. The Mandela artwork on the wall was really cool, and a nice homage to a colossus of South African history.
Although the room was beautiful, I did notice signs of age, like wear and tear on the trim and furniture, surprising for a Four Seasons. The light switches were also noticeably dated and confusingly placed. In my three days at the property, I never really figured out how they worked, or which switch turned on which light.
The room had enough outlets to make it work, but the hotel could have done a little better in catering to those who travel with a lot of devices that need to be charged. There was also a flat-screen TV atop a small dresser.
Still water and fruit were replaced daily in the room, and the fresh flowers next to the TV were also a nice touch.
There were two sets of windows, one of which was a pair of French doors that opened onto a small terrace that allowed for stunning views of the purple jacaranda trees that were in bloom during my stay.
I was able to get some work done at the traditional desk-and-chair setup.
There wasn’t actually a typical closet in the room but rather two open storage spaces in the bathroom opposite the two vanities.
The bathroom was large and luxurious, clad in marble with two pedestal vanities and a huge soaking tub.
After visiting Cape Town, which was still facing a water shortage, I will admit that I was more than ready to indulge in a long, hot shower. I found myself being a little disappointed with the (lack of) water pressure, and the water itself ran way too hot. These were small concerns though, the shower still felt amazing.
The hotel stocked rooms with amenities from Terres d’Afrique, which is the same brand that was used in the spa. I really enjoyed the smell, and actually took a set with me to give to guests at home.
Food and Beverage
With several restaurants on site, I was never far from my next meal. There were two full-service restaurants, View and Flames, and a more casual spot called the Westcliff Deli. I ended up eating at Flames several times simply because I couldn’t get enough of the view. Also, I found the food to be excellent — every meal I had there was delicious and of very high quality. As its name would suggest, the vista from the View was incredible, as it was another level higher than Flames, but I preferred the more relaxed vibe and outdoor seating of the latter.
I ordered room service one night after a long day — a cheese pizza and Caesar salad. Yes, I’m aware that that does absolutely nothing to expand the horizons of my palate, but it was exactly what I needed that night.
My room rate actually included breakfast, but I only took advantage of it once because one day I overslept (jet lag) and the other day I was out too early for it. On my last morning, I finally was able to try it out, and found the spread large and the food fresh and delicious.
There was a cold buffet as well as a la carte options. My eggs Benedict and fresh orange juice were a great start to my last day in South Africa.
The Wi-Fi was strong and didn’t lose connection at all, which was ideal when I needed to get work done. The property featured a gorgeous pool, though there weren’t as many deck chairs as I would have thought.
I definitely got good use of the loungers by the pool, but the highlight of the amenities at this hotel for me was definitely the spa. As I mentioned earlier, I’d actually never gotten a massage before this trip. I’ve lived quite a pampered life over the last few years here at TPG, complete with premium-class flights and high-end hotels, but never had I completed the trifecta of luxury and treated myself to a massage. This time, though, I vowed to change that.
I used FHR’s $100 spa credit as my excuse to book myself a massage. And it gets better. TPG also stayed at the property for a night before heading to a safari. He tried to book himself a massage, but the spa had no availability on the day that he was staying, so he couldn’t use his credit. He talked to the front desk, and they allowed him to transfer his credit to me, effectively doubling my luxury. I’d already made an appointment at the spa, and the front desk must have informed the staff at the spa that I had more money to burn, as they automatically rebooked me for a 90-minute full-body massage. Those 90 minutes were among the most relaxed that I can recall in my life — it’s safe to say I’m hooked and will be seeking out more spas in the future.
After my massage, I was invited to stay in the spa for as long as I wanted. It also featured a separate soaking pool, which was visually stunning with its infinity edge. I thought that at the very end was a hot tub, but it turned out it was the same temperature as the rest of the pool, a minor bummer.
Directly on top of the spa was a large sun deck, which featured covered tables and chairs and loungers set up for optimal tanning. I found this area to be a great spot to get work done — the chairs themselves were supremely comfortable, and I was able to order soft drinks from waiters who served guests food from the Westcliff Deli as well as drinks from the full bar on the deck.
I feel like this deck would have been a nice space for another small pool, but since it wasn’t too hot, I was fine just relaxing on the loungers and didn’t feel the need to dive into a pool.
The resort was impeccable, covered with floral arrangements and beautiful landscaping at every turn.
Combine the Italian-village design that climbed the hills with the bountiful nature, and you got a property that felt very secluded. It seemed worlds away from bustling Johannesburg.
While rates for this property were on the high end for Joburg, they’re a relative steal for those used to Four Seasons prices elsewhere. The addition of the FHR perks made me feel like I got a great value for my stay — the service, amenities, spa treatments and food were all top-notch. I can say with full confidence that I’d return to this property over and over again if I find myself in Jozi again — and I certainly hope I do.
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