Liv­ing it up in Rose­bank

Ner­ineDor­man­ex­pe­ri­ences­some­old-world­charmin­busyJo­han­nes­burg

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2010 -

THERE is an as­tound­ing dif­fer­ence be­tween bustling Rose­bank – with the up­heaval of Gau­train con­struc­tion in full swing out­side – and the foyer of the Man­tis Group’s Monarch Ho­tel.

Step­ping over the thresh­old one ex­changes the rum­ble of traf­fic for ut­ter quiet and some­thing al­most in­de­fin­able – an aura of state­li­ness per­vades this piece of her­itage that has pa­tiently en­dured Joburg’s ever-chang­ing scenery.

Con­structed in the 1930s, the build­ing the Monarch Ho­tel now oc­cu­pies op­er­ated for many years as the Sax­on­wold post of­fice, its clas­sic façade a re­fined con­trast to the con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture sur­round­ing it.

It ex­ists in a time cap­sule of sorts, whisk­ing us away into an­other era down the long, high­ceilinged pas­sages to our suite.

It is hard to imag­ine what it must have been like when this was a busy post of­fice but it must have in­volved leather-soled shoes float­ing down pas­sages ac­com­pa­nied by the mur­mur of voices long gone.

Whereas so many ho­tels choose to adorn their walls with what I term “Mac-art”, this is not the case at the Monarch.

Orig­i­nal prints and in­tensely dec­o­ra­tive ce­ramic cre­ations abound, of­fer­ing con­stant rea­sons to pause and ad­mire. Truly un­usual items can be found, like the very Ger­manic hat stand in the smok­ing lounge, carved in the shape a tree, com­plete with mama bear and two baby bears.

The anachro­nis­tic cre­ative within me leapt for joy at the blend­ing of old and new, hall­ways with a flo­ral mo­tif down a long pas­sage, matched with sub­tly-pat­terned rugs, brass fin­ishes and or­na­men­tal light fit­tings.

Ev­ery room is suf­fused with that sense of pri­vacy and quiet. De­spite what­ever ac­tiv­ity oc­curred out­side, we felt in­stantly at ease and pam­pered to within an inch of our lives, from re­lax­ing on the bed to tak­ing a breather be­fore din­ner or in­dulging in a shower. Re­ally in­dulge.

Not only was I blessed with a su­per-sized shower head from above but four noz­zles from the sides. As much as the Vic­to­rian tub beck­oned, the shower won hands down. Heaven.

Din­ner in the res­tau­rant was a study in à la carte din­ing. My part­ner en­joyed seared salmon while I opted for a melt-in-the-mouth ar­ti­choke dish com­ple­mented by a War­wick Chardon­nay.

It was al­most a sin that we couldn’t re­tire straight to our room after­ward, since we’d promised friends we’d meet them for drinks.

A word on the ho­tel’s lo­ca­tion: it’s a hop, skip and a jump away from Rose­bank Mall, so we took a short walk to the shop­ping cen­tre for a chilled-out night­cap, al­though I must ad­mit the es­tab­lish­ments there seem overly keen to close their doors quite early on week­ends. It’s the sec­ond time now we’ve been chased out be­fore 11pm. And Joburg­ers like to call Cape Town Slaap­stad?

Good­byes to old friends said, we chose a DVD from the Monarch’s col­lec­tion to watch on the plasma screen in our suite.

The ho­tel may not have oo­dles of ti­tles but the se­lec­tion gained our ap­proval in sec­onds and, with a copy of in hand, we slipped into our room, con­tent that we were co­cooned from the world out­side, safe in the em­brace of an el­e­gant hide­away.

The Man­tis Group’s Monarch Ho­tel of­fers el­e­gance and dis­creet lux­ury that is worth ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, even just once in your life. But, be warned, you may well be tempted to re­turn for a sec­ond or third taste.

For reser­va­tions, call 041 407 1000, e-mail reser­va­tions@man­tis­col­lec­tion.com or see www.man­tis­col­lec­tion.com.

HER­ITAGE BUILD­ING: The Monarch Ho­tel is a his­tor­i­cal land­mark in Rose­bank.

CLAS­SIC TOUCH: Flo­ral mo­tifs em­ployed in a clas­sic set­ting.

RE­LAX IN STYLE: The Monarch’s smok­ing lounge.

FINE DIN­ING: Ce­ramic art dec­o­rates the walls in The Monarch’s res­tau­rant.

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