Last week Thorsten and I spent the night at the African Penthouses — a group of five luxury, rooftop apartments in the center of downtown Joburg.
The African Penthouses are at 87 Commissioner Street, right across from the Rand Club. I know this part of Joburg well and I was already an African Penthouses fangirl before the visit — I’ve been following them on Instagram for years and knew this is the coolest, most photogenic place to stay in Joburg. But I still wasn’t prepared for the real thing. These apartments are so chic and full of character, and the view from our penthouse was mind-boggling. It feels like an African Manhattan.
The African Penthouses
87 Commissioner Street, the former Barclays Bank building, is nine stories tall and was built during Joburg’s gold-mining heyday in 1942. The five apartments that make up African Penthouses are listed on Airbnb and they are all owned and/or managed by Ade Ashaye and his partner, Prescillia Tandu, who clearly have fantastic taste. The decor feels classic and modern at the same time, with beautifully restored wood floors, stylish tiles, and antique African maps on the walls. Each penthouse has stunning views and either a rooftop jacuzzi or pool.
The penthouses all sleep between four and six people, but the unit we stayed in is really best for two people. Here’s a brief photographic tour:
From the penthouse’s main level, you walk out through the back to an exterior spiral staircase, which takes you to the roof deck.
This rooftop is what made our stay special. As most of you know, downtown Joburg is a strange place. The downtown views are amazing but not easy to access, especially if you’re looking for high-end accommodation. Unlike Manhattan, where Airbnbs with views like this are a dime a dozen (and a dozen times more expensive — literally), luxury accommodation in downtown Joburg is exceedingly rare. African Penthouses is the only place you can go for an experience like this.
If you love the Joburg inner city — or you’re curious but feel a little intimated to visit and stay overnight — African Penthouses is for you. This section of town is the perfect place to stay — the Rand Club (which has a restaurant open to the public) is across the street, as is Bridge Books, one of the best independent bookshops in town. 87 Commissioner is next door to the Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School and a short Uber ride to Maboneng and Braamfontein. Be sure to bring your own food and a nice bottle of wine though — you might just want to stay in your penthouse and never leave.
All the African Penthouse apartments are available on Airbnb. Currently they all cost R2000 (about $115) per night or even significantly less, which is crazy cheap! Do yourself a favor and book one now.
Parking tip: The parking for 87 Commissioner is in an unmarked garage on Harrison Street, which can be very hard to find at night. (Thorsten learned this the hard way when coming to meet me after dark.) If you’re driving, I recommend arriving before nightfall. Or catch an Uber.
Stay tuned for another “Sleeping in Jozi” post in a few weeks.
My overnight stay was courtesy of African Penthouses. Opinions expressed are mine.