By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
The entrance to Fairlawns
Tucked within a high end neighborhood in South Africa’s busy metropolis the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa offered a myriad amenities desirable to tired travelers like us. While we were familiar with several airport hotels which were more convenient the pretty grounds and luxury features of the Fairlawns appealed to us. As I sat on the grueling 15-hour flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Johannesburg, South Africa I dreamed of the comfortable bed, spacious bathroom with a shower and bathtub, quiet ambiance, and room service I would enjoy on arrival. We had stayed at the property previously and were confident it would serve our needs on this brief one night visit (see Pretty Johannesburg boutique hotel, spa in quiet residential neighborhood).
The Villa Suites building
We requested an airport pick up in advance to avoid the hassle of a car rental since we planned to be in the city less than one day. As we exited the busy arrivals hall at the airport I spotted our driver easily. We rode in air conditioned comfort into the city and less than an hour later we had settled into our accommodations for the night at the 40-room four acre hotel with 60 staff. Although the hotel restaurant and its new chef were a draw after so many hours of travel what I yearned for was a simple salad or sandwich while sitting comfortably in my bathrobe following a decadently hot shower or luxuriant bath.
A view of the restaurant at night
The Toulouse Suite, Suite 39 in the Villa Suites building, delivered all that I had longed for on the flight and more. It was the first time we stayed at the Villas Suites, the newest of the buildings at the property, built behind and to the right of reception before the much anticipated 2010 World Cup.
The Toulouse Suite
Our Deluxe Suite had the varied decorative touches and many luxury amenities we had liked in the past such as embroidered linen, stocked mini bar, and fruit plates. The 82 square meter room, one floor up from the ground floor via an elevator or a spiral staircase, was kept at a comfortable temperature with individually controlled air conditioning (and underfloor heating in the winter months).
The bathroom was large with tub and shower
It was furnished with two double beds resting against off white fabric headboards and topped with a crisp white duvet with the Fairlawns logo. Although the room had an unremarkable view to a service walkway on the side of the building it was blissfully quiet, the most attractive feature for us the night we arrived. Double curtains covered the windows, providing privacy at night and shade from the fierce daytime sun. Antique style wood and marble top tables with matching glass bottomed lamps served as night tables. To one side there was an antique style wood desk with a beige stool where we set our computer and electronics during our stay.
A comfortable seat and snacks
On the floor a putty colored carpet felt soft against our tired stockinged feet. Should we wish to make a call there were handheld wireless and regular phones. While we waited for room service to deliver our dinner order we sampled the fruit plate and a plate with mixed nuts and tasty biltong (South Africa dried beef) courtesy of the hotel. In the mini refrigerator there was complimentary cold still mineral water, juice and two dried mango snacks.
A view of the room from the corner next to the bathroom
In front of the bed, on the right side of the single ambiance room, there was a putty colored sofa atop a white rug facing a glass topped wood coffee table. Across from the table was an entertainment section with a Hi Sense flat screen television in the center and the mini bar to the lower right. Antique framed silk birds and landscapes adorned the walls and in the center, an elaborate chandelier with a porcelain flower motif hung from the ceiling. There was a stand alone wood armoire where we hung some of our clothes after the bell hop set our suitcases on the large luggage rack near the entrance.
The Villa featured pretty common areas
The next morning we awoke refreshed and ready to face the day. There was complimentary coffee and tea service on the first floor across from our suite. After checking emails with the complimentary WiFi services I headed to the spa for a work out (there was a spacious fitness section with treadmills, exercise machines and free weights within the spa building, I remembered from past visits). Next we enjoyed the lovely breakfast buffet and hot made to order options. On the long table, covered with a cloth to keep the flies off, there were fresh fruit plates, breads and pastries, jams, yogurt, cheese, salmon, and deli meats. The staff were friendly and attentive.
The pool area at Fairlawns
From our window side table we had an expansive view of the central lawn and pool area. I felt like I could have stayed there the whole morning. Instead I donned by bathing suit and lounged poolside for the better part of an hour. I even managed a swim in the chilly water. While chatting with a fellow guest one of the staff from breakfast walked down to check on us, politely offering beverages and snacks. We had both had our fill at breakfast and declined.
The dining room at breakfast looking out over the property
While I was at the pool a kind staff person ironed my linen clothes and by the time we left I looked rested and presentable, a concept that was hard to imagine while I was breathing stale air on the airplane less than 24 hours earlier. That rested state is one of the reasons the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa (91 Alma Road, off Bowling Avenue, Morningside, Gallo Manor, Sandton 2052, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 11 804 2540/1/2/3, +27 11 808 7300 or +27 73 481 7734, http://www.fairlawns.co.za/, firstname.lastname@example.org) remains on our list of favorite boutique hotels in Johannesburg.