For the longest time I have been meaning to blog about the Orbit, a jazz club in Braamfontein, and Once in Joburg, a posh hostel — aka “poshtel” — across the street from the Orbit. I’d been holding off on doing so because I wanted to experience the two places together as a downtown Jozi staycation.
I finally did that last week, spending the night at Once in Joburg and enjoying an evening at the Orbit watching my favorite Jozi band, BCUC. My staycation was organized by I Am Joburg, a new collective providing curated tourism experiences in Joburg.
My friend Michelle and I checked into Once in Joburg, which is a cross between a backpackers and a hip budget hotel. I’d visited Once a couple of times before but hadn’t stayed overnight until last week.
One Night at Once in Joburg
I love the vibe of this place — it’s always busy and the staff are welcoming and fun, offering a range of social activities and tours for guests. Once is right in the center of Braamfontein, within a block or two of half a dozen restaurants, several bars, a fabulous bookstore and, of course, the Orbit.
Once in Joburg offers private rooms with ensuite bathrooms as well as dorm rooms with shared bathrooms. There is a large, comfortable communal area with kitchen facilities.
Our double balcony room at Once in Joburg. Let me brag for a second and tell you that Kim Whitaker, founder of Once in Joburg, read about Basotho blankets on my blog and was so inspired that she bought them for all the beds in the backpackers. (Or so she tells me.) Rates at Once in Joburg range from R255 ($20) per night for a bed in a shared dorm room to R865 ($68) for a room like this with private bath and access to the balcony.
I loved everything about our room except one thing: The door to the balcony was made of frosted glass and didn’t have a curtain, so a lot of light came into the room at night. If you’re sensitive to light while sleeping I wouldn’t recommend a balcony room.
A restaurant called the Immigrant adjoins Once in Joburg. The Immigrant has a fantastic outdoor bar area, opening onto a public square called the Grove. I wasn’t wowed by our dinner at the Immigrant. My mac and cheese was a little soupy and the salad was uninspired, although I did enjoy the craft beer selection.
But I loved the Immigrant breakfast. Because the Immigrant serves BAGELS.
If you are an American living in Joburg then you know a decent bagel is damn near impossible to find in this town. But our Immigrant bagels were delicious. The coffee wasn’t bad either.
BCUC in Braamfontein
Now for the purpose of my stay in Braamfontein — an evening at the Orbit watching BCUC. The Orbit is one of the only legit jazz clubs in downtown Joburg. It draws great performers, both national and international, and has shows almost every night of the week. A show at the Orbit is always one of my top recommendations for tourists visiting Joburg for the first time. (Peruse the Orbit’s 2018 performance calendar.)
And then there’s BCUC, which I’ve blogged about on many occasions (see here and here). I have so much love for this band — they played a special gig for my 40th birthday a few years ago and it was one of the best nights of my life.
I don’t think I need to say more. The photos tell the story better.
I needed a night like this. Thanks so much to Once in Joburg, the Orbit, BCUC, and I Am Joburg. Check out the I Am Joburg website for other cool local experiences.
My Braamfontein staycation was courtesy of I Am Joburg. Opinions expressed are mine.