I can think of no better place to suffer through jet lag than Athol Place. I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, with my friend Lauren after an incredibly stressful week and an 18-hour flight. We had landed for the trip of a lifetime: a safari in Kruger National Park, wine tasting at a stunning vineyard outside Cape Town, the wedding of a dear friend, and brunch-and-shopping-and-coffee heaven in Cape Town.
But, arriving in Jo’burg for one night prior to setting out for the Bush, I could only think of two things: my exhaustion and how much I loved this hotel.
You enter the pristine, boutique hotel through the guard gate and are greeted immediately by the kind, attentive staff—a trend during our stays at the high-end hotels across South Africa.
The two-level space has wood floors, white walls, and high ceilings. The overall color scheme is gray, white, and wood, which was incredibly calming. The rooms were enormous—particularly the bathroom with its dual sinks, enormous bathtub, and local South African beauty products.
Downstairs, there was a stunning restaurant and bar decorated like a Restoration Hardware catalog. During the day, it opens to the back courtyard—our breakfast was the first of many outdoor meals. We did not, in fact, dine indoors once in 10 days in South Africa.
Then there’s the pool. In the stunning, gated back courtyard lies a rectangular pool lined with beautiful black-and-white striped deck chairs. I would have liked to live in this hotel forever, I was sure of it.
Instead, I barely had time for a sleep and brunch. Arriving downstairs in a bathrobe—it’s quite cold in the mornings in Africa—I was greeted by Lauren and Chris and Nick, our friends from Safari Architects who were the ones who planned this amazing trip of a lifetime for us. Chris and Nick were dressed sharply, as this was a Monday and they were headed to work shortly thereafter. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, I could not recommend this bespoke, boutique travel company any more—every single detail, hotel, and moment was perfect. It was an an amazing experience, a much-needed break from work, and I was beyond grateful that I didn’t have to plan a thing!
The dapper group informed me they’d placed three ordered for truffled eggs—they already knew they were in trouble for ordering the same thing. “Well, the truffled eggs look amazing, so I’ll take some too,” I said, “but we also have to order the French toast.”
Between coffees and entrees, we took in the brunch buffet, which was loaded with fresh pastries (warm, hot, and jam-filled croissants), a beautiful array of cheeses, salmon, charcuterie, and fresh fruit. This buffet was resplendent, every ingredient was fresh and top notch. And so began my love affair with the food in South Africa.
In South Africa, scrambled eggs are served in a structured format, rather than thrown haphazardly on the plate. These truffled eggs were served in a dome topped with microgreens. Beneath these warm, moist, eggs was fresh smoked salmon, arugula, and a slice of moist, fluffy rye bread. The eggs were delicious and tasted strongly of truffle—what more could you ask for in an egg?
And then the French toast arrived. And, boy, was I glad that I had ordered this monstrosity. This savory French toast was stacked with moist, thin pieces of bread layered with roasted mushrooms, bacon, and brie cheese. It was sprinkled with honey roasted nuts and the plate decorated with edible flowers. As if it could get any better, the sauce was pesto—and who doesn’t love pesto? It was a greasy pile of goodness, with the indistinguishable layers held together by an enormous tooth pick, and decorated with edible flowers for a touch of fancy. Once you cut in, the pile fell apart, but we shared the messy, delicious dish regardless.
The Bitches say: A. All in all, Athol Place is a delightful hotel to stay, sun, and brunch if you visit Johannesburg, and provides a beautiful respite from the busy city.
Johannesburg, South Africa