Tips from 35,000 Feet: Johannesburg

By: Katie Manning

January 9, 2013

The Zulu name for Johannesburg is “Egoli”, which means “Place of Gold”, and for our money, there’s no better place to bathe in luxury than the five-star Melrose Arch Hotel. We just love its contemporary South African style of concrete, steel and leather, but where we always end up is by the gorgeous pool – the perfect place for a sundowner as you soak up the last lingering rays of sun before heading to one of the nearby nightclubs, which are pretty much on its doorstep.

Johannesburg: Melrose Arch Hotel
Melrose Arch Hotel © Melrose Arch Hotel

There are so many great restaurants in Jo’burg, but we just can’t get enough of the incomparable Roots in the Letamo Game Estate. As well as the completely breathtaking views out over the Cradle of Humankind (a UNESCO World Heritage site), you wont find much more authentic South African food than here. The chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer uses ingredients that echo the history of the area so expect plenty of marrowbone, game, roots and plants – albeit with a contemporary twist!

Roots | Johannesburg
Roots Johannesburg © Roots

In recent years Johannesburg has really expanded its nightlife scene to accommodate tourists and locals alike. One of our favourite spots to party is Nicci Beach, not to be mistaken for Nikki Beach, Miami – although you could be forgiven for thinking so thanks to its chilled out vibe and beautiful surroundings. It’s open from midday until late and it’s the perfect place to sprawl on a sun lounger with cocktail in hand, or dance alfresco beneath the searing South African sun. And unlike most other nightclubs where the only solution to overheating is to, well, overheat some more, Nicci Beach has a wave pool to refresh you!

Johannesburg: Nicci Beach
Nicci Beach © Nicci Beach

While in Jozi, as the locals call it, we love to explore. “Kloofing” with Go Vertical is by far and away the best way to do this, also known as “canyoning”, “canyoneering” or “gorge walking”. It involves hiking across to a gully, then down to the stream before abseiling down waterfalls, throwing yourself down rapids and more as you make your way through the gorge. And did we mention this is all without a boat? It really is an epic day out, and guaranteed to get your heart pumping as well as allowing you to see the parts of Johannesburg altogether off the tourist trail”¦

Johannesburg 35000 Feet | CanyonCanyons near Jozi © Chris Eason/Flickr

Do you know and love Johannesburg? Give us a shout with your tips and secrets!


Header © Evan Bench/Flickr


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

Categories: Our Places