Why Melrose Arch Is a True Johannesburg Hidden GemBy Heather Richardson
Tucked away in the leafy northern suburbs of South Africa’s dynamic Johannesburg is one of the city’s most irresistible hidden gems: Melrose Arch. This smart, attractive, in-the-know precinct is nestled between business hubs Sandton and Rosebank, offering a leafy haven in South Africa’s biggest city. The precinct houses more than 20 restaurants and cafés, plus shops, gyms, pedestrian walkways — and a range of beautiful hotels.
As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.
Discover a Wealth of Places to Wine and Dine
From Turkish cuisine and coffee to Brazilian grills and cocktails, Melrose Arch has a fantastic variety of food and drinks on offer. Ideal before a busy day, enjoy a full English breakfast at The Restaurant at Fire & Ice Melrose Arch. The hotel also has an impressive range of milkshakes, with 37 flavors available.
The hotel’s Keystone Bistro, meanwhile, lays on a fabulous breakfast buffet, overflowing with freshly prepared offerings. For lunch or dinner, take a look at the bistro’s round-the-world tour of a menu, including the likes of Peruvian ceviche and Moroccan tagine. The bar here is known for its classic cocktails — try an Old Fashioned or a Palma with tequila and grapefruit juice, or a non-alcoholic Komodo made of passionfruit, coriander, ginger and citrus.
Later, spend an evening at the African Pride Melrose Arch Autograph Collection®, starting with late-afternoon sundowners at the Pool Bar or at the new African botanical inspired Aduna Bistro, before an extraordinary fine-dining experience at Sebule Restaurant.
Shop for Treats from the Handmade to the High-End
In addition to well-known chains, Melrose Arch has many boutique stores for high-quality clothes, shoes, beauty products, food and more. Elegance Jewellers is a family business founded in 1967, stocking exquisite watches and bracelets. Ledikana, meanwhile, sells handmade South African fashion and accessories, and is a must-visit for lovers of bright colors and prints.
At the Melrose Arch Flower Market, alongside the brilliant blooms, you’ll find sweets, chocolates and biltong — dried meat, like jerky, and a South African favorite. Over December, the precinct is transformed into a Christmas Wonderland with some of the city’s best illuminations, stalls selling treats from candy floss to ice cream, and fun for kids such as face painting and the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves.
Enjoy Myriad Ways to Work Out and Unwind
If you like to keep active, there are multiple fitness clubs and studios to visit within the precinct, including electro muscular stimulation strength workouts at Body20, in addition to more conventional classes.
There are several golf clubs near Melrose Arch, too, including the Wanderers Golf Club, which lies less than a mile away. For families, Acrobranch is a series of rope bridges and ziplines set up in James and Ethel Gray Park, about a 15-minute walk from the precinct.
Fire Your Family’s Imagination
For those traveling with children, a session at Artjamming is highly recommended. With a range of canvas sizes, paints and brushes to choose from, the whole family can get creative. All ages and abilities are welcome; there are artists on hand to help those who would like a little guidance.
For some inspiration, visit the precinct’s Melrose Gallery, which showcases a mix of established and upcoming African artists with various solo and group exhibitions. If you’re travelling in September, don’t miss SculptX, the country’s biggest sculpture fair featuring artworks from South Africa-based artists.
Indulge In the Comforts of a Fantastic Hotel
Operating as a tightly run cluster within the Melrose Arch precinct, the Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch, the African Pride Melrose Arch, Autograph Collection® and the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Johannesburg Melrose Arch are perfect for meetings and large conferences as much as for luxury leisure stays.
The Protea by Marriott Hotel Johannesburg Wanderers is the fourth hotel in the cluster and lies just a five-minute drive from the precinct via a complimentary transfer. Between the four hotels, there are more than 40 event rooms and more than 21,000 square feet in event space.
Those desiring extra living space, or with a longer stay in mind, might check in at the Marriott Executive Apartments Johannesburg, Melrose Arch, where the elegant, fully equipped apartments feature between one and three bedrooms.
An additional option, the Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Balalaika Sandton lies about a 15-minute drive away, in one of the city’s main business districts.
Need to Know: Getting to Melrose Arch
From Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, order a hotel airport shuttle, take an Uber or collect a hire car and drive the 30 minutes to Melrose Arch. Parking is available.
Alternatively, to avoid traffic, catch the Gautrain direct to Sandton and take a short Uber ride from there.