My favourite areas to stay
Rosebank ticks the most boxes – in the northern suburbs but not too far from downtown, pedestrian-friendly, great shopping & art galleries, and a Gautrain metro station for quick links to the airport. Clico, 54 on Bath, Monarch, The Parkwood or Winston are all good choices.
In the suburbs but not too far from Rosebank are The Saxon, Athol Place, The Munro and The Peech. The Four Seasons Westcliff has a great location between Rosebank and the CBD, with awesome views.
If you’re an adventurer then urban Maboneng may be more your style – choose from lots of cool AirBnBs. But skip Sandton – lots of big hotels but it’s a business hub with shiny buildings and giant malls, and little soul.
What to do in 1-3 days, in order…
1. Book a walking tour of downtown – it’s like a museum of great architecture with hidden food, art & coffee gems everywhere – but you’ll need a good guide to find them (drop me a line, i can recommend many). Some things to head for – Maboneng’s hip street culture; Braamfontein’s galleries including Wits Art Museum (WAM); the historic mining district; Newtown’s street art; great food at Urbanologi, Che or on the street at Soul Souvlaki; coffee at Craft, Origin, Father, Post or Doubleshot.
Insist on being taken to Victoria Yards, a contained complex of century-old industrial buildings now converted into hip artist and makers’ studios which is great to wander around (my studio is here). Vic Yards now has a coffee shop, craft brewery and casual places to eat.
Constitution Hill is a great museum complex to give you an understanding of Apartheid history – Mandela and Ghandi were both kept here, and you can walk inside the modern Constitutional Court which is full of art.
2. The magic of Soweto is in the interaction with residents, so organise a cycle or quad bike tour with a local guide and meet people, while catching some of the famous sites. The highly regarded Apartheid Museum is en route to Soweto, and takes at least 2 hours.
Afterwards, take some chill time on Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank with its galleries and and the chic bar at Marble for sundowners. Eat at café-style restaurants on the streets of the leafy suburbs of Parkhurst, Parktown North and Melville which are all close to here – Coobs, Local Grill, Salvation Cafe, Bellinis and DW 11-13 are places the locals enjoy.
3. A day out in the Cradle of Humankind will get you into the countryside, learn about our ancestral origins in the Maropeng interpretation centre or go down into the caves at Sterkfontein, and eat at Roots at Forum Homini.