Sleeping in Jozi: A Night at the African Penthouses

by | Sep 1, 2022 | Joburg Weekend Getaways, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Lodging | 5 comments

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.

Heather at African Penthouses
My African Penthouse rooftop selfie.

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.

African Penthouse view at sunset
Looking west on Commissioner Street at dusk.

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:

Red door
The iconic, intentionally skewed African Penthouse red door. (This is not actually the door to the penthouse we stayed in — our door is just to the left of where I’m standing.) Photo: Thorsten Deckler
African Penthouse bedroom
The main bedroom, which is on the lower level of the penthouse.
Penthouse master bath
The penthouse master bath — there is also a nice shower in the second bathroom.
Lounge and kitchen at African Penthouses
The lounge/kitchen area on the main level of the penthouse. The doors on the right lead to a balcony with an incredible view.
Penthouse view
The balcony view.

From the penthouse’s main level, you walk out through the back to an exterior spiral staircase, which takes you to the roof deck.

Swimming pool at African Penthouses
View of the back side of the building and a couple of the other penthouses, shot from the spiral staircase.
African Penthouse roof deck
The roof deck and jacuzzi. I need to go back for an entire weekend so I can properly enjoy this vibe; we were super busy that night and I only had time to dangle my feet in the water for about 10 minutes. It’s lovely though.
Sunset view.

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.

Coffee on the rooftop
Morning coffee on a lovely rooftop swing. Photo: Thorsten Deckler
An early-morning shot from the rooftop. I loved listening to the sounds of the city as it woke up.
Building reflections
Building reflections.
Thorsten sketching on the rooftop
Thorsten sketching the city.
Watercolor building by the Thinking Hand
A watercolored, inner-city sketch by @thethinking_hand.

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.

Thorsten and I with the super-cool property manager, Dylne, before we had to say goodbye to our African Penthouse.

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.


  1. Stan Garrun

    Stunning !

  2. AutumnAshbough

    SO CHEAP!!! And that bathtub. And that swing. I’m not really a city person, but they look amazing.

    • 2summers

      You might turn into a city person – just for the night!

  3. Peggy Laws

    Wow! This looks fantastic and incredibly stylish. Those views are magnificent.

    • 2summers

      Yeah! It’s very cool 🙂


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