Bezuidenhout Valley, aka Bez Valley, feels like a forgotten suburb. Once home to wealthy Johannesburg socialites, the area has declined in recent decades. Many of Bez Valley’s stately old houses have been abandoned or fallen into disrepair. But Bez Valley maintains its sense of history. You can feel it while driving or walking its tree-shaded streets. Johannesburg’s oldest house is here and a few other historical landmarks remain. Yukon House is one of them. Yukon House was built between 1906 and 1911 and was home to two Johannesburg mayors in the early 20th century. The house suffered periods of neglect as it changed ownership over the years (read this article about the theft of its priceless stained glass windows) but its current owners, Loretta and Henry Chamberlain, have lovingly restored the mansion back to its original glory. I’ve been meaning to visit Yukon House forever but it’s not open to the public all the time. So when I heard Kennedy of Micro-adventure Tours was hosting a historical tour there — including afternoon tea, my favorite meal — I jumped right on board. Tour and Tea at Yukon House This isn’t your average historical house tour. Loretta and Henry live at […]
I was recently invited to have a pedicure at Tenfold, a new nail salon at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Maboneng. I am not a beauty blogger and writing about mani-pedis isn’t my normal thing, but I liked the idea of getting my nails done in a super-old historic building in the middle of downtown Joburg. (Also it was my birthday weekend and this seemed like a nice present for myself.) So I went, and wound up staying at the Cosmopolitan for the entire afternoon. The garden at the Cosmopolitan, which looks spectacular at the moment — amazing considering it’s winter in South Africa. Tenfold, owned by a lovely woman named Georgia Shekeshe, occupies a pretty corner spot in the Cosmopolitan garden. It was a great place to relax with a cup of tea and a foot massage on a cold winter day. It will be even nicer in summer when the doors are open. Tenfold’s green exterior. The salon’s zen interior. I can’t believe I photographed my own feet in such a vulnerable state. Tumi did a great job and the warm towels were welcome on a cold day. Group portrait at Tenfold. Georgia is in the middle with the […]
Welcome to Week 20 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Victorian Secret, a restaurant and bakery in Benoni. I hate to break it to you guys, but the Victorian Secret in Benoni doesn’t sell lingerie. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great place to take your wife or girlfriend. The Victorian Secret’s pastries are every bit as delicious as a sexy lace camisole. Okay, that was a terrible metaphor but I had to do it. Moving right along. I was introduced to the Victorian Secret by Laurice from the Johannesburg in Your Pocket Guide. Laurice grew up in Benoni and took my friend Marie-Lais and me on an exploration of this quirky town just east of Joburg. (In the past I have referred to Benoni as a suburb — as I would to any smallish town on the outskirts of a huge city — but I found out the hard way that some Benoni residents do not take kindly to this characterization. Lesson learned. Sorry, Benoni: You’re a town and nothing but a town.) We didn’t find any flamingos on […]
Afternoon tea is very popular in Joburg and I’ve tried quite a few different ones over the years. I’ve been meaning to do a Jozi Top Fives post on this topic forever. Side note #1: Most of the fancy hotels in Joburg refer to their afternoon tea as “high tea”, I think because high tea sounds more grand. But I was recently schooled on this issue by the brilliant Katharine Love of Lindfield House (read more about Lindfield below), and learned that “afternoon tea” is the correct term for a fancy afternoon meal with tea and cake. High tea evolved as a lower class version of afternoon tea, which is the opposite of what these fancy hotel teas actually are. Read more on the distinction here. A waiter pours hot water to make tea at 54 on Bath Hotel. Side note #2: I’m really picky about my afternoon teas, which is one of the reasons I’ve put off this post for so long. Sometimes even the most glamorous teas don’t meet my expectations. I want every afternoon tea to be exactly like my first one in 1994, at Fortnum & Mason in downtown London. That tea was served by a frowning elderly Englishwoman in a […]
I first visited Lindfield House in early 2011, a few months after I moved to Joburg. I blogged about it then, but after visiting for a second time two weeks ago I now realize that my original post was inadequate. I can’t say enough about how amazing this place is, and the Jozi blogosphere needs a reminder. Lindfield House, at 72 Richmond Avenue in Auckland Park. The house was built around 1910, when Auckland Park was still a distant suburb of Johannesburg. Lindfield House is part museum, part tea room, part events venue, part educational facility. It’s also a private home where a modern-day Victorian lady lives. Katharine Love — the sole owner, operator, curator, chef, housekeeper, and resident of Lindfield House. She conducts all of her tours in a Victorian housekeeper’s uniform. A Tour of Lindfield House Every inch of every room in Lindfield House, from the drawing room to the kitchen to the bathroom to the pantry, is decorated to look like a late-19th-century/early-20th-century home in an English colony. The house is filled with thousands of antiques, collected over a lifetime. Katharine and her parents moved here when Katharine was a young girl, and she and her late mother have been collecting Victorian antiques […]
It is a well known fact that I love high tea, as does the rest of Joburg. I’ve written about it a couple of times before (see here and here), and perhaps it will soon be time for a “Top Five High Teas in Joburg” post. But for now I just want to provide a quick update about an excellent high tea that I enjoyed this week at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa. My Fairlawns high tea plate, ready to be devoured. (There were several more plates to follow.) Traditional High Tea at Fairlawns As I’ve said before, I love traditional high teas. While I won’t say no to spinach mousse cups or expensive sushi on my tea table, all I really want are those cute little cucumber sandwiches, moist scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, tasty mini desserts, and of course, good tea. You would be surprised at how many upscale high tea venues in Joburg don’t prioritize these most basic requirements. I attended a very expensive high tea in which the waiter didn’t seem to know what clotted cream is, and another in which there weren’t enough scones to go around and the waitress acted surprised when […]
October 2016 update: The Jozi Four Seasons has stopped offering afternoon tea. I’m outraged! Joburgers love high tea. I know this because the last high tea post I wrote, High Tea in Jozi, is one of my most popular blog posts of all time. I wrote that post back in October 2013, when the legendary Westcliff Hotel was closed for renovations. Up until that point the Westcliff had been the go-to high tea venue for Joburg’s ladies who lunch, and I figured my readers would appreciate a post about some of the other high tea options around the city. I figured right. I never had the opportunity to have high tea at the old Westcliff before it closed in 2013. (I tried several times during the first few years I lived here but it was always booked when I wanted it.) So I waited eagerly for the hotel to reopen, which it did last summer as the glorious Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff. (I stayed at the hotel several months ago and wrote a blog post about it.) However, the new Four Seasons did not begin offering high tea right away. According to the PR folks I spoke to, the hospitality team wanted […]
If you are in Joburg and haven’t been living in a cave for the last month, then you’ve probably already heard about Happy.me — the new bubble tea joint in Greenside. Just about every lifestyle blog and online magazine in town has published something about it. Read some examples here, here, and here. The Happy.me bubble tea shop. Pardon the mediocre photo — I’ve only been once and didn’t have my big camera with me. Happy.me is in the Village Green Shopping Centre in Greenside, next to the pet supply shop.