This is a truly outstanding stay. The recipient of umpteen rewards, including most recently Conde Nast’s Gold List 2011, and Nelson Mandela’s temporary home when first freed in 1990, The Saxon Boutique is located in Johannesburg, in Sandhurst.
A cool grey minimalist build, The Saxon consists of a main hotel and 24 suites. Originally the private home of Douw Steyn, it was converted into a hotel in 2000, with the express aim of providing a service that would suit a business as much as it would a leisure clientele. To this end, multiple business conference rooms, VIP / business transfer facilities, conference lounge and a 25 seat auditorium compliment general shared areas – a lounge, restaurant, fitness centre, spa and reception.
Much is made by guests of the hotel’s design, which manages to mix late 20th century architectural motifs – soaring spaces, glass and water features – with a firm emphasis on an art collection worth nearly a million dollars. Eschewing masters, and concentrating on contemporary, local or unknown artists, the collection includes original sketches by Dean Simon, sculptures, clay utilities and a variety of ethnic fabrics. Most impressive is a 2 story wall, on which hundreds of baskets – all different – have been fixed.
With a wrought iron spiral staircase in one corner, a wine balcony surrounding the entire room, the restaurant is large, and dominated by an enormous potted tree. The food is excellent, its signature dish pepper and honey crusted duck breast. Wine lovers are lucky enough to have for the moment (2010) the advice of one of South Africa’s leading sommeliers, Francis Krone. Guests seats are ring fenced – a table here is difficult to get, and waiting lists are common.
The rooms of The Saxon are exceptional. They are divided into 3 classes: the Egoli, Presidential and Platinum. In addition to these, the property has recently introduced its Saxon Villa collection, of which there are 3 separate villas, each offering a different number of suites. The Egoli suite includes a double bed, en-suite bathroom, lounge, porch and working area. Extremely elegant, the design is cool, wood based, the colours beige, grey, low key. The platinum and presidential suites are suitably palatial. They include a private lobby, guest bathroom, separate lounge and dining room. The villas can be booked exclusively or on a guest by guest basis. Beautifully attended, the suites have 24 hour service, the presidential and platinum suites a personal butler.
Activities at The Saxon include massage and excursions to nearby Sandton.