Ensconced in the old, verdant suburb of Houghton is the Houghton Hotel, a grand-scale enterprise that was in the works for 12 years prior to its completion in early 2019. The R680-million development finally opened its doors to the public in May last year, and has already trumped the competition for Best Hotel at the the Hosco-Audi Tourism Awards. Indeed, the Houghton Hotel is very quickly becoming a byword for local luxury, having successfully established a balance between liberally meted-out opulence on the one hand and arboured seclusion on the other.
There is, I think, something rather romantic about Houghton itself: it is old-fashioned and historical — in a way that Sandton, for instance, is not — without being altogether staid or stagnant. In fact, it’s an ingenious location for a hotel — 20 minutes from town in one direction, and Sandton in the other. Better still, the hotel overlooks 64ha of privately owned parkland, constituting a quiet oasis replete with an 18-hole golfer’s paradise (designed by Jack Nicklaus).
Don’t be fooled by its situation in suburbia, though: there is nothing nostalgic or doddery about this futuristic-looking building. The brainchild of architectural firm Boogertman + Partners, the Houghton Hotel is an imposing, fluid structure, rife with glass and pared-down Art Deco accents. It boasts a selection of medical suites designed expressly for the purpose of housing clientéle in recovery — in the most sumptuous environment imaginable. If you’re not in the market for a leisurely convalescence, however, you might find the prospect of the onsite FitBar Gym (home of the singular SkillAthletic training programme), or the flagship Amani spa more appealing.
The hotel is part of the five-star “Leading Hotels of the World” family, which includes hospitality heavyweights such as The Oyster Box, The Twelve Apostles, and the Saxon. It comprises a total of 60 suites — furnished by DSGN interior designers — seven penthouses, five double-storey penthouses (with interiors by Stephen Pellerade), and an even larger “iconic” penthouse; all of which, though splendid, are somewhat eclipsed by the sheer scale of the R68K-per-night Rockstar Penthouse, a multi-storey fantasy realm with a private elevator, spa room, wine cellar, swimming pool, and Jacuzzi.
The hotel’s features are apparently boundless in scope and nature, and so far it has drawn custom from both tourists and locals in search of respite. It is a fully equipped conference venue, but it is also already popular as the site of parties and awards ceremonies, with a skyline bar that boasts a wonderful view of Johannesburg’s inbuilt woodlands. No time to get into the city? The Nova Delicatessen (simple, hearty fare) or The H, an onsite restaurant with a seafood speciality and a seemingly inexhaustible wine list will do the job.
At this particular juncture in time, though, the most luxurious feature of all might be its self-sufficiency: loadshedding does not affect the guests of the hotel, as generators ensure that all the amenities — including Wi-Fi — continue without interruption.
• From the March issue of Wanted 2020.