The original cobbled entrance sweeps up all the way to the top of the Westcliff hillside with quaint balcony’s and private entrances woven with courtyards, fountains and gardens providing a wonderful sense of history. All of this atmosphere sets the stage for a weekend in Johannesburg’s most prominent suburbs at one of the world’s most legendary property groups, Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg.
Guests are welcomed by the gates man and ushered to the main foyer where a golf cart either takes you up to your requested restaurant or waits for you by the reception whilst you check-in. In cold and wet weather, the canopy on the sides close tight to ensure that you are always comfortable. The driver has an umbrella with him should there be a need to use one. I would suggest that the elderly or pregnant sit in the inner carriage for their safety as the trip up the hillside can get rather bumpy.
The reception area is tastefully decorated with a restful waiting area to read through a newspaper whilst you wait.
Upon checking in, one of the staff explains the layout pointing out the more important features so that you can quickly familiarise yourself with the Hotel. All of this information can be obtained within the key-card booklet which you can take along with you. The cart takes you up to your room with your luggage.
The guest rooms and suites are a deliberate mix of old and new, combining traditional oak furnishings with modern amenities like flatscreen televisions, iHome docking station for iPads and iPhones and a Power Hub with an easy guest connectivity panel featuring additional power ports. It’s the perfect solution for plugging in today’s hotel guest. There’s no need to lug around adaptors as the Power Hub has local and International adaptors fitted in to it (Refer to image to check whether it has sufficient space to plug in your equipment). The Premier rooms are fitted with an in-built sofabed which can sleep 1 child. It’s also ideally positioned as a TV couch should you not have children staying with you.
The entrance area is spacious with artwork featuring former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on the wall as you enter. The beautiful gilded framed mirror is a nice touch to check your makeup before you leave.
The large wooden shutters open into a private balcony with views over Johannesburg Zoo. I would imagine this to be one of the Room’s best features in the Summer time. Outdoor lunch or dinner would be a given, over candlelight (which I’m sure the Hotel would oblige in having set up if it’s a romantic occasion that you’re staying over for.
Some of the usual features include a kettle stationed at the Mini Bar and a coffee machine. There aren’t any other reading material in the room, so bring your own if absolutely necessary. I had magazines left in my room as a courteous gesture from the Hotel, and they were all relevant to my personal interests.
Guests can choose between Foam and Orthopedic pillows, but that’s not really necessary as the ones on the bed are most comfortable to a restful nights sleep. Be sure to request a turn down before you leave for dinner so that the curtains may be drawn and the bed prepared for the evening. If you would like something sweet to enjoy before bedtime you will need to order this off the menu as there isn’t anything special that’s placed on your night stand.
I especially appreciated the temperature of the room. Housekeeping had left the air conditioning on heat mode so it was toasty when we returned that evening.
The Hotel staff were courteous enough to remove the alcohol in our minibar are we do not consume alcohol, or meat products. Instead, we were presented with a fruit bowl and Macarons as a thoughtful welcome gesture. The remainder of the snacks are available to purchase and range from artisinal chocolates and sweets to packs of dried fruit and nuts. The Suites are also kitted out with tea by TWG and coffee pods so you can enjoy a warm drink during any time of your stay with their compliments.
Four Seasons bathrooms always provide luxurious indulgence. To evoke the spirit of modern Africa, the design features polished marble in sand and dark brown, highlighting double vanity sinks, a private WC, a rain shower and a separate bathtub. In addition there are 2 dressing stations each with sufficient space to hang your clothing or store your footwear.
The bathroom is heated adding extra comfort to your relaxation time. The bathtubs are longer than usual, making it slightly uncomfortable for shorter people, so request an extra towel which you may roll up and place behind your head for comfort. The amenities are minimal, with no real attention paid to brand. I would like to see more recognisable bath and body products in the bathroom. In addition, there are no dimmers in the bathroom, so the bedroom lights would have to be left on to create a restful ambiance. The hairdryer is placed outside of the bathroom in the draw of the dressing table/work space. The thick terry bathrobes and slippers are of a great quality and can be used during your time at the Hotel.
The Hotel chain has gone mobile with the introduction of the Four Seasons App which is suited to guests who prefer to type, not talk. The App combines their legendary high-touch service with high-tech convenience designed to make every visit seamless, enabling you to customise your stay by accessing services and amenities from the palm of your hand.
From checking-in to requesting additional towels to selecting the time that you’d like your turn-down, the app is functional and can be used across their 94 properties across the world. Aside from functional, the service is prompt.
Upon making a reservation (you can also check rates via the app and make a reservation’s too), load the app onto your smart phone. Insert your booking surname as well as a reference number if one has been provided to you (which it should be). It will log you in with your details as well as details of the property that you will be staying at. If you have multiple bookings at the Four Seasons Hotels, the next one will appear after your initial stay.
Available services include Dining options which allows you to order in-room dining via the App. The earliest delivery time is provided to you along with your request. There is a response box which allows you to type in any additional information or requirements. The total is highlighted with a breakdown of the charges including gratuity and tray charge. The delivery time is almost exact (with the most we waited was 5 minutes from the recommended request time).
I suggest browsing through all of the available options upon registering to familiarise yourself with everything that you are able to use during your stay. Forgotten your toothpaste? No problem. Simply request it from the App and avoid the person-to-person encounter of having to ask for one from Housekeeping.
If you have dietary restrictions and not certain whether the person on the other line heard your request for “avoid using the same oil that meat products are prepared with as we are strictly vegetarian”, this App is perfectly suited to your requirements. Everything is noted and responded to and what’s better, is actually provided – like requesting ‘White vinegar instead of Balsamic vinegar’. I prefer this method of interaction. Often, things are forgotten due to staff not hearing correctly, or forgetting what was asked for because it wasn’t written down.
The in-room dining service at The Four Seasons is only as limited as your imagination. Serving Breakfast (there’s an Express Menu with a 20 minute wait time), Lunch and Dinner, the service is available from 12am until 11.59pm (24-hours). The idea of eating dinner in a bathrobe seems compelling, making a night stay at The Four Seasons a very restful one.
We opted for our meal from the Lunch and Dinner menu. Mohamed selected the Pasta with Tomato Salsa and Basil and I had the Conchiglie Pasta with Wilted Spinach and sauteed shitake mushroom with cream and walnuts. Eating in is the new eating out, and with a table laid as if we were sitting at The View or Flames, I’d say that we had done well with Haute cuisine for that afternoon. I appreciate that the table that lunch was laid on was a classic wooden table, complete with little wooden drawers. The set-up was quick and fuss-free and the clean-up was just as prompt. I must add that the service is very well priced, for the comfort that it creates.
We over-indulged with dessert at Flames by Executive Pastry Chef Alexander Daneel. The ‘Candy Bar’ features layers of crunchy hazelnut dacquoise sponge, hazelnut caramel and a crispy chocolate base with hazelnut coffee ice-cream and cinnamon Chantilly.
I’ve had Breakfast at Flames on a separate occasion as a day-visitor. You can read more about my experience here:
Hotel guests are offered a choice of Breakfast (ends at 11am) or Brunch (starts at 11am). We opted to have Breakfast at The View, and a Continental breakfast with an additional item from the Al a Carte menu was included in our stay. The decor is plush; with varied textures from luxurious velvets to earthy linens creating a modern yet comfortable dining space.
Of course, befitting to it’s name, the restaurant is not called The View for nothing! Large windows line the walls and open up to the fresh, crisp Johannesburg air overlooking the Northern suburbs. If you’re sensitive to light, request a table in one of the more shaded parts of the restaurant or take your sunnies with you.
Breakfast is brought out in a tiered stand with a selection of Danish pastry, Croissants and bread rolls. The second and third plated tier is a choice of seasonal fresh fruit and yoghurt. If you eat meat products (our’s was omitted), a selection of cold cut meats replace some of the fruit.
My companion has been the Egg Royale for years (listed as Benedict on the menu, ask for a smaller portion as the portion sizes are large for a lady) and as an extra indulgence, a Belgian waffle dappled with fresh whipped cream (served on a large wooden board). This is a great way to pass a Sunday morning, with a cup of their creamy cappuccino in one hand, and the morning newspaper in the other.
I suggest booking a Spa treatment to enhance your stay. With the key focus on “nature is our inspiration”, The Four Seasons Spa Westcliff provides a sanctuary away from city life. This urban day-spa provides a generous light-filled space overlooking the canopy of trees that make Johannesburg so iconic. Read more about my experience in my article here: Spa at The Four Seasons Westcliff
We spent the remainder of our time wandering through the property and discovering the different views of Johannesburg as we made our way down the varying declines. Be sure to pack a comfortable pair of shoes (preferably flats) as it’s almost impossible to walk on the cobblestone with heels. There are many walk ways to get to the dining areas, ask the staff on duty to point the way out to you. In fact, make it a point to get lost and discover the many fountains and little gardens along the way. If you’re not in the mood to take a walk down, you can request a cart which will fetch you outside of the entrance to the rooms to the main foyer or to any of the dining areas.
I don’t think I’d like to peel back the paint. The former iconic hotel has undergone a full transformation and has taken the luxury experience to newer levels where guests will rediscover the warm, refined surroundings of the hotel ready to embrace its years to come.
Additional Links. A collection of my Four Seasons articles:
Johannesburg, SA: Spa at The Four Seasons Westcliff
Orlando, USA: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
Contact details: The Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff Johannesburg