Idwala Boutique Hotel – a bush experience in the city

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Jo’burg never ceases to amaze me. Just when you start feeling claustrophobic from the buildings, the traffic and the crowds, you discover that there are places in the city that will make you feel like you are in the bushveld, far away. Places like Idwala Boutique Hotel

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Conference facilities

The 5-star rated Idwala Boutique Hotel is situated in the upmarket suburb of Darrenwood, near Cresta Shopping Centre. It was originally built as a farmhouse over 100 years ago. The name Idwala means “rock”, which is what the original farmhouse house was built from. The natural rock was restored by the new owners and the building was transformed into a luxurious boutique hotel oozing African elegance and charm, just over ten years ago.

Idwala Boutique Hotel lounge

Lounge area

We arrived at Idwala after a shopping session at Cresta. As we entered the gates, we felt as though we had left the city far behind. Within seconds, Jeanette, the friendly owner and manager, came out to welcome us and led us to the main lounge area, where we were offered drinks and checked in. The warm, earthy tones were reminiscent of safari lodges and relaxed us promptly. One could be forgiven for thinking that one was in the bush – sans the wildlife.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Getting the bush feeling

The hotel consists of a cluster of charming stone and thatch rondavels (round huts) nestled in lush gardens. There are twelve bedrooms in total. A huge main rondavel houses the public areas which include the open-plan lounge and dining room areas, the kitchen, a small library and three bedrooms. Oriental rugs, antique furniture and burgundy sofas grace the lounge area. The large bay windows are left open during the day for the garden views. At night, they are closed and a roaring log fire warms the public areas. Conference facilities are available too.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Rock pool

There is a small rock pool in the gardens and an outdoor boma area where one can enjoy the sun on warm days and relax around the fireplace on chilly evenings.

Idwala Boutique Hotel – a bush experience in the city 1

Boma area

The gardens continue throughout the property with manicured lawns, creeping vines and potted plants, amid which the rooms are situated. All this lush vegetation attracts abundant birdlife.

Idwala Boutique Hotel rooms

Garden rooms

We had two en-suite garden rooms, one for us and one for the kids. They were smaller thatched rondavels, also made of rock. The rooms featured extra-length king-size beds with percale linen, a workstation, a TV, a coffee station and a minibar. Some fresh fruit and a tin of home-made cookies awaited us.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Our bedroom

A bunch of fresh roses graced the coffee table along with some current reading material. Underfloor heating and air-conditioning kept the rooms warm and cosy. I wasted no time in getting comfortable on the bed with a magazine, while the rest of my family each relaxed in their own way. Complimentary wi-fi was available, to the kids’ delight. In-room massages can be arranged on request.

Idwala Boutique Hotel


The bathroom was spacious and continued the Africana theme. There was a huge bathtub, a large rain shower, heated towel rails and toiletries by L'Occitane en Provence. Comfy bathrobes and slippers were provided too.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

The bathroom

Dinner was a gourmet 3 course-affair. All the dishes were creative and inspired, and Chef Paul ensured that we were happy.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Dining room

We had a tangy beetroot, butternut and goat’s cheese starter, and spicy prawns and kingklip almondine (a decadent kingklip sprinkled with roasted almonds) for the main course. Then it was time for dessert. My husband and I opted for the chocolate mousse, my daughter had a strawberry delight mousse and my son chose his favourite - malva pudding. He’s still talking about it a week later and he’s a very picky eater! The food was wholesome and well-presented. Well-fed and contented from a hearty dinner, we returned to our comfortable rooms where we had a great night’s sleep.

Idwala Boutique Hotel dinner

Gourmet Dinner

Breakfast, the next morning, was just as good. My husband and I enjoyed a yoghurt parfait, and poached eggs with avocado, salmon and cream cheese served on sour dough bread and the kids relished their crumpets with berries and nuts. Non-resident guests are also welcomed for meals but pre-booking is essential.

Idwala Boutique Hotel

Breakfast goodies

Idwala Boutique Hotel offers a unique bucolic experience in Johannesburg. It is ideal for city slickers who want to feel as though they’re in the bush but can’t or don’t want to leave the city confines. If you are looking for a luxurious, intimate retreat with personalised service, then this is a great choice.

For more information, visit Idwala Boutique Hotel or book here.

Disclosure Level: 7


17 comments on “Idwala Boutique Hotel – a bush experience in the city”

  1. I've only visited Casablanca and Marrakesh in Morocco, Africa and I totally want to go deeper into Africa. This hotel look gorgeous. I absolutely love that Rock Pool. The food looks pretty exquisite too. Love the out doors and the bed looks comfy 🙂

  2. Sure miss Chef Paul's cooking - Ostrich Steak and the Spicy Prawns! Quiet restful evenings sipping wine in the cosy lounge- an Oasis in the city after a hard days business!

  3. This is nice! There are a few things that I love, based on the photos. The design of the garden room, the extra large bed and the bathroom with L’Occitane en Provence toiletries! (I'd probably ask for some extra toiletries for my own stock from the housekeeping, haha! 😉 ) Also love how cozy it looks like in Boma area!

  4. I would never guess that this hotel is in a suburb and not out in the middle of nowhere! A property that can really make you feel like you're away from it all gets ALL the points in my book. It seems like a great place to spend a weekend during a busy season of life or even a good place to send family and friends who are visiting to get a different view of the city.

  5. This boutique hotel sounds and looks so heavenly given the place. Looks unpretentious but looks can be deceiving!

    1. True, Gaynor. I must confess that I just found out about it recently too. I love discovering hidden gems 🙂

  6. I'm surprised to find what looks like a secluded retreat in a bustling city like Johannesburg. Idwala is modern yet retains that rustic and natural ambience of the bushes. Glad that you had a great experience.

    1. Thanks Reshma. It is certainly not a place that one would expect to find in Johannesburg. That's why it's so unique.

  7. I was looking at this property and figured it must be out in the bush. Then, I began to notice things, like the lack of mosquito netting on the bed, and wondered how that could be. What a unique find on the outskirts of Johannesburg. From avoiding travelling vaccinations to simply to the ease of logistics, this could be a fantastic property to visit and still feel a little wild.

    1. Yes, at first glance, one would think it was in the bush. I've lived in Johannesburg for most of my life and didn't know one could get the bush ambiance right in the city. No mosquitoes either 🙂

  8. The Idwala Boutique hotel looks so sweet. I'd never guess it was in a big city like Johannesburg! The food looks great and I'm always a sucker for an in-room massage. Thanks for sharing about this city retreat. It's definitely a place I'd enjoy staying.

    1. Thanks Jackie. Yes, it doesn't look like a city hotel at all. I guess that's what makes it so special 🙂

  9. What a cute boutique! Your three course meal makes the accommodations appear even cuter. Due to the fact that a meal can be booked when not staying here, is an indication that this food is very good- your pictures elude to the goodness. I'm all about comfort~ I'd be donning the slippers and robe upon arrival!

    1. Thanks Sara. I made good use of the robe and slippers too. And you're right about the food being very good. There were several non-resident guests for dinner when we were there.

  10. Idwala Boutique Hotel sounds great! We visited Cape Town earlier in the year but didn't have a chance to visit Jo'burg - I would love to head back to South Africa to plan a stay - I love that it's close to the city though you feel like you're miles away. And the extra touches like the gorgeous rock pool, fresh roses in your room, and underfloor heating - it's those small things which make an experience truly great. The food looks incredible. Thanks for telling me about this place!

    1. Thanks Meg. I agree - it's the small extras that make an experience stand out. You must visit Joburg and Idwala when you come to South Africa again.

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