The recipient of numerous awards, including a 2009 World Travel Award for Leading Boutique and Spa Hotel in Africa, and located in Johannesburg, in Sandton, in Morningside Manor, Fairlawns is the brainchild of John and Anna Thacker, who bought the property off the Oppenheimer family, whose Brenthurst gardening projects are well known throughout South Africa.
Set in a beautiful and mature garden, and consisting of the main house and 40 suites, the recently refurbished Fairlawns includes a conference centre, a gym, spa, restaurant, bar, lounge, terrace and pool. A 2 story mansion – La Grande Chateau – with a neo-classical facade, the main hotel looks out over the lawns, and is characterised by stone floors, high ceilings and an eclectic mix of furniture – antiques and designer pieces cheek to jowl.
The food here is exceptional. For breakfast, there’s a lot of choice, but the Full English is excellent, and available at anytime. At the time of writing (2012), the kitchen’s headed up by Keith Frisely, who’s new terrace menu’s going down a storm. Lunch and dinner are a la carte, and can be taken either inside or on the terrace. The bar and cellar at Fairlawns is top notch, and has received a number of Diner Club Wine Lists of the Year.
The suites are divided according to class and place: Courtyard, Villa, Grande Chateau and Presidential. The Courtyard suites are themed – The Louis, The Swedish, The Bismark etc. – and consist of a double bed, fireplace, seating and en-suite bathroom. Opulently old world, the rooms are extraordinary, furnished with antique tables and chairs, with chaise longues and extravagantly gilded mirrors, and – depending on the room – decorated with marble figures, frescos and coats of arms. The bathrooms are equally stunning, and include a bath, flush toilet, shower, marble vanities and bidet. The Villa suites are similar in terms of what they provide, only this time the rooms have a South African theme – Nelson Mandela, Harry Oppenheimer, Mahatma Gandhi and so on. The Grande Chateau suites are newer, have a more contemporary feel and are themed according to places in the world. Four of these suites are interlinked and would suit a large family. The Presidential Residence has 3 bedrooms.
Activities include all that is on offer at the Fairlawns Spa, and garden walks, bird watching and excursions into the city.