The new Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg is a cliffside garden retreat overlooking the city’s prestigious northern suburbs. Fully transformed by UK-based hospitality design agency, Black Sheep for a totally new experience. The hotel offers 117 guest rooms and suites, featuring cool, contemporary décor inspired by modern Africa. The hotel opened on the 1st of December with an initial 40 rooms with the final 77 opening within the 1st quarter of 2015. Flames restaurant is the first of five to open including bar and expansive welcoming terrace with sunset views.
The Westcliff is conveniently located just 25 minutes’ drive from the International airport within Park Town – an incredibly leafy area with wide roads, oozing the history of colonial Johannesburg with the wonderful houses designed by Herbert Baker, and villas designed by the top British architects of the late 19th century.
The hotel is spread over a large piece of hilly land and therefore it’s not based in just one building. Instead the rooms are arranged in a number of separate, terracotta coloured buildings, with cobbled streets amongst them and a large variety of plants around. It gave me a sense of visiting a small Mediterranean town where peace, tranquility and relaxed atmosphere is accompanied by beautifully designed pool, sun-bed terrace, Jacaranda Forest and the Rose Garden.
The hotel feels exclusive: marble flooring, modern crystal chandeliers, plush furniture with plenty but subtle touches of animal print: zebra print armchairs, leopard print rugs, animal print in a variety of colours on feature walls in the bedrooms. Relax in dark wood decorated lounge upon your arrival, take a sneak peak into the hotel shop filled with expensive African inspired products such as: decorative ostrich eggs, jacaranda wood sculptures, locally made jewellery or leather products. Soon after let yourself be transported in one of many golf carts into your suite; travel through highly manicured gardens, cobbled streets, admire the sculptures and listen to the birds. You get a feel of a very natural and relaxed environment yet luxury is oozing from the moment you step onto the plush carpets of the reception area. Certainly modern and effortless décor of glass, metal and unusual water features goes well together with old fashioned touches of marble flooring and dark chunky wood furniture.
Our home for two nights, the Deluxe Suite, consisted of the lounge area with a large, elliptical shaped balcony overlooking the Johannesburg Zoo. You couldn’t exactly see the animals but we sure heard them gently waking up at dusk. The East facing balcony proved to be an ideal location for a very early morning breakfast too – sunrise, 270 degree view of the busy city, subtly masked by the overwhelming greenery of the world’s largest man-made forest.
The overall look of our suite followed closely in the footsteps of the hotel itself: minimalistic décor with simple white, cream or dark wood furniture such as the sofa, coffee table, chest of drawers and the dressing table in the lounge. Subtle yet very colorful additions to the décor featured stripy carpet (green, cream, white and brown), abstract paintings by Guy Thesenon one of the walls in the lounge and a zebra-inspired feature wall in the bedroom (green and white).
The bedroom was fairly large too, with a discretely separated wardrobe section (again dark solid wood), most comfortable double bed, two bedside cabinets and chest of drawers with an LG flat screen TV. Worth adding that after two days of exploring Johannesburg, the world-famous Four Seasons Bed was a soothing and relaxing experience in itself.
The ensuite bathroom was decorated in minimalistic fashion, with cream tiles, large mirror above a single sink and lots of lighting, accompanied by Etro toiletries. Medium sized bath and a separate rain shower were discreetly separated from a single WC and a bidet. This area of the bathroom was also decorated with three classic cartoons from Rand Daily Mail of April 1913.
Our suite was located just by the Jacaranda Gardens – an intimate outdoor venue with space up to 250 guests. Downhill from our suite was the Rose Garden – an outdoor venue twice the size of the Jacaranda, but hosting also up to 250 guests. Both venues were immaculately manicured with variety of plants and flowers, ancient Rome themed statues in the Rose Garden – a perfect setting for a wedding, birthday celebrations, anniversaries or corporate events. Up the hill from the main Reception was the Arcadia – a beautiful indoor venue hosting up to 200 guests, decorated with marble flooring, animal inspired plush and leather furniture and a polo bar at the end of the hallway.
Just a short walk down from the Arcadia was the 716 sq. ft outdoor pool. Opened from 6am to 8pm it did actually become a place of forming a new friendship from about 10pm one night of our stay. It seemed that on one of the hotter nights during our stay (26 degrees) only we and one other couple decided to cool off in the pool overlooking the city and the bright stars above us. Whilst on their honeymoon, the couple from Los Angeles were telling us about the great white shark cage diving, riding on elephants and sky-diving they had planned for the next few days of their trip. We shared the magic of our experience of South Africa. The hotel staff had no problem serving us wine by the pool that night and also keeping the bar opened after hours so that we were able to discuss our amazing holidays (and one of the hotel staff even joined us after his shift!).
Unfortunately the spa was still under construction at the time of our visit. On opening, the spa will welcome you with pure colour, washed timbers accented with modern finishes such as petrified wood create a soothing and calm space. Bronze metals, washed with a warm light, accent walls painted in a contrast colours accented with bold and dramatic art all aim to create a space where time ceases to exist exuding calmness and relaxation. Simple spaces and vast windows, highlighted with lazer-cut screen details of water lillies, allow privacy whilst enjoying the surrounding views.
The area, Parktown, and the beginning of Jan Smuts is where colonial Johannesburg started at the end of the 19th century, when the British designed this part of Johannesburg, starting in Parktown West, going all the way to Westcliff. There are wonderful houses designed by Herbert Baker, and villas designed by the top British architects of the time. It’s possible to make contact with the ParktownWestcliff Heritage Trust, they often have walks through this area. There are no shopping centers, or malls, in Parktown. Yet it is a vibrant area of Johannesburg with good restaurants, clubs and bars, and not far from RosebankMall ,which hosts the Cinema Nouveau and the Sunday Rooftop Mark. It is the hub of most businesses and with so much development taking place, the area is very congested so add further 30-45 minutes to your journey e.g.: to the airport… South Africa isn’t really a place to use public transport but a great alternative for travelling around the city is Uber Taxi (e.g.: £20 from the airport to the hotel). Otherwise, Parktown is clean and you feel safe.
The hotel overlooks the Johannesburg Zoo so just a short walk away you you can enjoy the most popular local tourist attraction. The Zoo covers 55 hectares of land and was founded in 1904, as a piece of land donated to the public for recreational use by the firm of the late Hermann Ekstein. The zoo houses over 320 species of animals, totaling about 2000 animals. It is open to the public 364 days a year, including Christmas, New Years and Easter holidays. The zoo is internationally accredited and highly respecte for its husbandry practices, which includes maintaining a high standard of animal welfare, nutrition and ethical conduct, ensuring the physical and psychological well- being of all its animals. Worth recommending are the Evening encounters – the zoo after dark.
Other close by attractions include:
Johannesburg Planetarium, with a range of shows such as “Sky Tonight”, “Space Travel” and a variety of children shows and birthday party arrangements (cost £1.50 per person).
Constitution Hill, holding a very complex history going back to 1892, today hosts gripping exhibitions with themes that reveal South Africa’s rich heritage and advocate human rights; a platform for Heritage, Education and Tourism related programmes.
Mandela House, striving to be a world-class visitor attraction and a leading centre for the preservation, presentation and research of the history, heritage and legacy of the Mandela Family.
The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg is the perfect location for a romantic weekend away, a wedding or a honeymoon. A midnight swim in the pool overlooking the clear skies of Johannesburg, watching the sunrise from your balcony or a night cap at the roof top bar watching a thunderstorm pass by in the distance…
Read the review my wonderful meal at Flames at the Four Seasons The Westcliff.
Find out how to get room upgrades, discounts, offers & free breakfast at any Four Seasons Hotel or resort or contact our luxury travel concierge for more details. This Four Seasons also features in our best Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in the world.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.