Gauteng / 21 February 2019, 12:00pm / Bianca Coleman
Set in the heart of Sandton, Joburg, Signature Lux Hotel by Onomo is aimed at the traveller who is there on business, or the one who is more interested in being out and about than spending time in their room.
While these rooms are fairly basic, they don’t skimp on comfort. For example, a standard room has an extra-length queen-size bed made up with 300 thread count linen, there is air conditioning and free uncapped wi-fi.
A smart TV can connect with your streaming platforms via your phone, and blue mood lighting gives it a bit of a nightclub feel. Don’t worry, it can be adjusted.
What you won’t get is a phone, or tea and coffee. For that you have to go downstairs to the adjoining Aura Café, which is open from 6am till 11pm, for food and beverages. You’ll also have to take the lift down to reception if you want to speak to a human about anything; otherwise you can download the hotel’s app.
The focus here is on tech-savvy service, apparently to free us from the shackles of face-to-face interactions and give us more time to get on with our lives, while at the same time being super affordable. How you feel about people being replaced by machines is up to you. These new-generation hotels are based on some of the fastest-growing hotel brands in Europe.
Extra points are awarded (by me) for the eco-friendly initiatives like R5 from every room sold being donated to animal conservation, the use of energy-saving light bulbs, and water purification systems in the bathrooms so you can safely drink the tap water.
The Sandton hotel definitely wins in the location category. It’s two blocks from the Gautrain station, which is easily walkable if you don’t have too much luggage (and during daylight hours). Alternatively, hop into a bright orange tuk-tuk and careen around the corners to the hotel entrance.
Something to keep in mind when leaving the hotel is that Ubers are prevented from picking you up from the door by the local metered taxi drivers, who chase them away. If this is your chosen method of transport, you’re going to have to walk across the cobblestoned driveway of the Michelangelo Hotel, down some stairs and across the road to the Garden Court Hotel.
That irritation aside, this hotel is right next to Nelson Mandela Square, with all its shops and restaurants and, of course, the huge statue of Mandela himself - a favourite for selfies.
Here you’ll find a Hard Rock Café where you’ll benefit from a discount if you’re a Signature Lux guest.
It’s not too far - according to Joburg standards - from here to the largest cable-stayed bridge in South Africa, the 284m Nelson Mandela Bridge, which begins at the end of Jan Smuts Avenue and links the Constitutional Hill precinct in Braamfontein to the cultural precinct in Newtown.
Close by you’ll find the weekly Neighbourgoods Market every Saturday, which is held inside a converted parking garage. It has a fantastic vibe and is packed with people enjoying all sorts of yummy eats, drinking cocktails, bubbly and colourful fresh fruit juices, shopping for vintage clothes and chilling to some cool beats played by the DJ.
Diagonally across the road is Kitchener’s Carvery Bar, the second oldest bar in Joburg. Apparently you can eat there but we stopped in for a drink.
My friend who was escorting me around town - a Jozi local - told me that in this City Of Gold, people are friendlier than in some of the other big South African cities. After this Saturday outing, I have to agree.