Rest and relaxation at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

Luke Abrahams
Photo credit: Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

From Town & Country

After an 11-hour flight from London to Johannesburg, it goes without saying I was in desperate need of some relaxation and pampering before my next grand adventure in the bush. After a short 35-minute drive from Tambo International Airport, we turned onto a quiet hillside slope and I breathed a sigh of relief as I was greeted by the welcome sight of the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa

Located just outside Johannesburg’s artsy Sandton district, this former 10-acre manor house, which once formed part of the Oppenheimer estate, is the definition of a suburban oasis. Deliciously fragrant jacaranda blooms shoot from every corner of the hotel’s handsome, well-pruned grounds, and pea-green parakeets flit about from one exotic tree to another.

An ideal nesting ground for those on their way to the grandiose lodges of Sabi Sands and Kruger National Park, there’s an air of the quintessential English country house here. Think prim and proper courtyards, decorated by showy and beautifully sculptured florals and hedges that sprout from dainty Romanesque pots. Inside, quirky knick knacks – from lion and monkey heads to birdcage chairs, charming chess sets, mirror- and hat-adorned walls, plus the odd jungle fresco – give the place that extra bit of added pomp.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

The rooms are just as stately. There are 40 in total, including suites and one exclusive-use villa with a private cottage. My Treehouse Studio Suite was a glorious mix of old and new, celebrating local artisan crafts and portraiture, showcasing the best of what South African culture has to offer. A fully fitted and serviced kitchen led out into an overly spacious living-room, decked out in plush sofas and tables piled high with the latest magazines.

Fully air-conditioned, the main bedroom overlooked the gardens and was armed with extra snug bed guaranteeing a comfortable night’s sleep. The bathroom? Exceptionally vast with neat showers and a large tub, well-stocked with designer crystal salts and toiletries from Charlotte Rhys. Wake-up calls are courtesy of the resident hadeda birds, whose wailing screeches come sunrise are impossible to ignore.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

Elsewhere there’s a pretty pool featuring a giant pink blow-up flamingo, but the real draw is the peaceful Balinese spa. Bursting with bamboo fronds, moss-covered water features and a zen pool and relaxation space, it has afternoon pamper session written all over it. Treatments range from expert facials to massage therapies and personal grooming services. As a keen walker, I opted for a quick and firm foot massage using a mixture of QMS Medicosmetics and Sothys’ Gelish products. Fifty or so minutes later, my tootsies were smooth and relaxed to the point I almost felt guilty having to use them again.

Then there’s the food. Hearty, yet finessed best describes the fare here. There are two restaurants, the Manor House bistro and Amuse-Bouche (the fine-dining option), along with the Muse champagne room, which serves up pre-dinner canapés and Perrier-Jouet cocktails. Expect everything from lobster to wagyu beef, pork belly and rainbow salads (a personal favourite) on the menus. Breakfast, a mix of British and American classics with healthy options is best enjoyed outside on the terrace.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

Between all the lounging, eating and spa time, the nearby shopping hub of Sandton is well worth a visit. A short 10-minute car ride away, a string of upmarket boutiques, along with some of the city’s best restaurants and bars offer a taste of what South Africa’s capital has to offer pre-safari or Cape Town beach escape.

Three nights at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa and Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge with the Africa Collection, including flights and transfers, from £3,994 a person (valid from April 2020 to March 2021). For more information, visit www.africacollection.com.