It was the day of the Royal Wedding. As Meghan made her Mark-le on the public imagination, a no less regal red carpet encounter was capturing mine in a quiet corner of Sandton suburbia.
From its entrance gate, not too dissimilar from the those of well-heeled townhouse complexes, the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa opens out into a pocket of tranquillity, a luxurious pause from the hub-hub of Africa’s richest mile, just a stone-throw away. On this day it played host to a party of wedding watchers, all resplendent in their queen-inspired hats and high-tea pomp. But, truth be told, any visit here would make for a stand-out experience.
Our rooms, set astride a small courtyard, conjured an image more suited to bespoke apartments than a mere hotel. Positively cavernous, with high ceilings and walls that seemed to block out any notion of life outside, our accommodation featured an eye-catching blend of old world charm and modern sophistication, a theme carried throughout the Fairlawns environment.
One of Fairlawns' most popular features is its Balinese spa, a nestled-away motif of muted lighting and the sound of running water, with a menu of treatments tailored to nearly every physical whim. A decided novice when it comes to the business of spa treatments, I approached this segment of my visit with an air of trepidation (my tickle threshold is virtually non-existent), but I needn’t have worried. Turns out I really needed that back massage. I left that spa so relaxed, I nearly sleep-walked back to my room. Luckily, my next experience, an altogether different sensory adventure, was positively revitalising.
Amuse Bouche is Fairlawn’s aptly named feature restaurant, a perky play date for the palate in a glass box hemmed in by the venue’s manicured lawns and inviting pool (sadly, it isn’t heated). The menu is short and concentrated, with robust flavours to match the pretty appeal of each plate. I settled for sea bass on a fricasse of chickpeas and broccoli for my main, a sophisticated riff on the surf-and-turf idea that smacked of the sea in land-locked Gauteng. I’d also highly recommend the cured tuna starter, as well as those succulent morsels, the scallops, and the sumptuous lamb main.
This is just one segment of the Fairlawns dining experience, which also boasts an all-day Bistro, a sophisticated Champagne Room with it’s own tapas menu, and a little culinary detour Into The Woods: a 12-seater dining experience set in a birchwood forest wallpaper panorama, the chequerboard tiles adding a touch of Alice in Wonderland to the proceedings.
It is to Fairlawns’ credit that each sector of the accommodation is an experience by itself, without having to sacrifice on luxury or comfort. Though no doubt favoured by travelling business types, ladies of leisure and honeymooners, even the family rooms here maintain a sense of style. But for those with a higher premium on privacy, Fairlawns is a little slice of heaven. The Maison Spa suite, for instance, is more like a self-contained home, with its own kitchen, study and spa room, for those peeking out at the paparazzi behind big sunglasses.
The jewel in the crown, however, has to be Villa Moji, which features its own pool house. That term in no way does it any justice. If the whole place appears to be ripped from the pages of a glossy mag, that’s because it probably is. The venue is a favourite location for magazine shoots, and doubles up as a party venue. Boasting its own entrance and a kitchen sized for serious catering, it can also serve as a long-term residence, walled off for complete privacy. Had someone not invited me to see the place, I wouldn’t even have known it was there.
That is perhaps the true beauty of Fairlawns. From the rooms, to the restaurant, to the spa each facet is a stand-alone experience that warrants a visit on its own. Put it all together, and it is a marriage made in heaven. And you won’t have E! slagging you off for what you wore to the nuptials.
* Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa is situated on 1 Alma Road, Morningside, Sandton. For more information on Fairlawns, as well as booking visit fairlawns.co.za