A journey to forty-one different destinations. I thought that it was a rather apt way to describe the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa, with its forty-one exquisitely designed units. The five-star hotel was recently crowned the ‘Best Luxury Boutique Hotel’ in South Africa by the World Luxury Hotel Awards, a well-deserved accolade indeed.
Previously a luxury private residence belonging to the Oppenheimers, this verdant retreat is situated in the tranquil suburb of Morningside Manor in Sandton, and is a mere five km from Sandton City. The estate is spread out over almost six sprawling acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and recently went through a massive revamp. The rooms are situated in Palladian blocks with stately names, like the Grand Chateaux, the Courtyard Villas and the Courtyard Suites.
I recently spent a weekend here with my family. As we parked our car, our luggage was whisked away by the efficient porter. We were directed to the elegant reception area where we were warmly welcomed with refreshing towels and chilled apple juice, then led to the Maison De Ville, our not-so-humble abode for the weekend.
The Maison is a private pool villa consisting of two huge en-suite bedrooms with dressing rooms, an open-plan dining room and lounge area, a private study, and a fully-equipped kitchen.
There were huge flatscreen TV’s in each bedroom and in the lounge. Carefully selected objets d'art were strategically placed around the house and reading material consisting mainly of coffee table books were artfully placed wherever one may happen to need something to read.
In the kitchen, a coffee machine, soft drinks and a humungous jar of rusk awaited us while a platter of fresh fruit rested on the dining room table. The spacious main bathroom had a spa bath, double vanity-stations, heated towel rails and a walk-in shower. Wall-to-wall closets lined the dressing rooms - every woman’s dream.
The lounge sliding doors opened on to a patio with an outdoor lounge and curtained cabanas, and an extra length private-swimming pool, set in a beautiful garden with towering trees. There was even a small pavilion for al-fresco pool-side meals and a background music feature for the house and the pool.
Butler and chef service is available on request but we were already spoilt enough without it. The house was so huge that everyone had their own happy space. My daughter cosied up with a book on the sunbed and my son got comfortable in the study. It was the ideal home-away-from-home for a family - just better - with the perfect balance between comfort and luxury.
The forty-one unique units are individually designed by Managing Director, Michael Kewley and inspired by different destinations around the world. I was given a tour of some of the unoccupied rooms by the affable deputy General Manager, Ryan, and was amazed by each room’s individuality. Some of the rooms I saw included those inspired by Saigon, France, and Morocco. Each room looked totally different from the other and I eagerly looked forward to seeing more. The attention to detail was astounding and it seemed as though great lengths were achieved to obtain the perfect pieces for each room. The hotel has many repeat guests and I was told that some of them have their favourite rooms and specifically request those rooms when booking – sometimes even adjusting their dates depending on the rooms availability.
We enjoyed delicious breakfasts at the Amuse-Bouche restaurant. There is a cold buffet selection as well as hot a-la-carte dishes. On our first morning, we opted for our old favourites, Salmon Eggs Benedict, while the kids indulged in pancakes drizzled with syrup and strawberries. On our second morning, we decided to get more adventurous and try out different options on the menu, which we enjoyed as well.
Of course, I had to experience the renowned Balinese-inspired spa sanctuary, set in beautiful bamboo forest gardens. It includes a well-equipped fitness centre, a hydrotherapy bath, a heated plunge pool, outdoor treatment areas, cane swings and destressing water features. I had a divine hot stone back massage. My expert therapist had me floating away to a happy place and I was blissfully unaware of the impending thunderstorm outside.
The Fairlawns Spa and the restaurant are very popular with day visitors too so I would advise you to book early. High teas are served in the beautifully eclectic public areas, which are reminiscent of English country houses.
Private dinners can be hosted in the gorgeous “Into the Woods” dining room – which brings the outside in through its magical forest wallpaper and windows overlooking the gardens.
Conferences and weddings are also hosted at the hotel. On the day we left, the monthly lawn picnic was being held and the undulating fair lawns were beautifully adorned.
The hotel also offers complimentary value-added service like transfers in the Sandton area, car-washes, shoe-shining and pressing.
I do appreciate a well-designed property and Fairlawns really wowed me with its aesthetically pleasing interiors and exteriors. For a while, I forgot that I was in urban Johannesburg as I felt miles away. If you are from out of Johannesburg, then this is the perfect abode for ultraluxe privacy – even for extended periods. If you are from Johannesburg, then this is the ideal venue for a romantic weekend or a family staycation. If staying over is not within your budget, then treat yourself and/or your loved ones to a spa treatment, a meal or a picnic.
Fairlawns’ vision is to benchmark itself as the most admired small luxury boutique hotel in Johannesburg. In my opinion, this well-kept secret is already there with its bespoke experiences and exceptional service.
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