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By Thami Kwazi

Lifestyle Print Editor


Voco: A hotel with a difference

It’s different enough to stand out from the rest


A staycation in the city is always a good reason to escape from the realities of everyday life – even if it’s 40 minutes away from home.

Walking past the long black building that is the voco Johannesburg Rosebank, you might have misconceptions about what’s inside. But I’m here to tell you that it’s a thriving, snazzy hotel.

It used to be a bank but has been converted into a hotel with restaurants, a business centre and small businesses.

It’s a relatively new addition to the hospitality space and is extremely popular. On the weekend of my staycation, I was met with 50 Russian tourists checking in.

They were handled with skill and professionalism – the service at the hotel is excellent and has drawn international attention with tourists coming from the world over to experience Mzansi’s urban side.

Even though the reception area was packed, the tourists were cleared in less than 10 minutes and I was able to get a speedy and friendly check-in from the concierge desk, with the hotel employee explaining what was on each floor.

Picture: Thami Kwazi

Inside Voco

The hotel’s origins as a bank are clear as you can see what might have been the vault.

The interior decorators have kept the design structure to add a bit of history to the building while keeping guests guessing with the interesting and minimalist art deco-style interiors and décor.

The hotel stands out as the black building on the corner with gold lettering and valet parking.

Dark walls display artwork and messages that are encouraging to guests – some have inspirational wording while others have beautiful images.

Rooms are spacious and if you’re fortunate to book quickly, you can secure the largest suite with a bath.

This may seem odd, but because the hotel is a high-rise all bathrooms have showers only in the interest of space.

Rooms are all above the ground floor that houses the hotel’s restaurants. This is the first hotel I’ve been to that has a three-storey gym.

Picture: Thami Kwazi

Each floor holds a different feature of what many gyms would have – on one floor is the cardio section, another is for weights, and the third is for stretching.

A three-floor gym is advantageous when many people like to work out and don’t want to be confined to one space.

Black walls and bright lighting with statues of muscled Greek gods welcome guests to each floor of the fitness centre.

The beauty of this environment will convince you to work out longer than planned. If you’re in town for business, the hotel has a business centre from where you can work to avoid crowds and noise.

Many companies have hosted events there with catering done by the surrounding restaurants. Rosebank’s main attraction is its buzz.

It’s filled with shoppers, evening pavement sellers, mimes painted in metallic colours posing for a penny, buskers belting out popular tunes while strumming a guitar, and parents taking their kids out to eat.

 Surrounding Voco are restaurants that accommodate hotel guests in case they want to try something else.

On the ground floor next to the hotel entrance is the restaurant, Proud Mary, which serves various dishes, best described as urban luxury cuisine.

This means you can get exclusive dishes that you can get elsewhere for a reasonable price while not compromising on taste and quality. From fish to sushi to tapas, anyone eating there can mix and match their food as they want.

One thing that stands out about Proud Mary, aside from the name which is a popular Tina Turner song, is the stunning décor which is an extension of the hotel’s art deco designs.

The bar provides many Instagrammable moments. When it’s lit up at night, it’s a sight to behold. For lunch, I opted to go next door to the Italian eatery, Fugazzi. It’s decorated in pop art accents with visuals or cans inscribed with the restaurant’s name.

It’s very much in the style of Andy Warhol with a unique touch of Fugazzi. In every corner of the restaurant are features inscribed with the logo.

Picture: Thami Kwazi

I had dinner at the tropical Amazonian restaurant, Mamasamba. Next to Proud Mary, this restaurant probably has one of the best bar areas I’ve seen.

Winding ivygreen carpeted stairs with gold banisters lead to the top of the restaurant, which plays music with beating drums while a wall showcases a moving visual of a lady with tribal paint on her face.

Across the wall stands a large statue of a gorilla, which adds to the eatery’s tropical forest feel. Mamasamba has a Mexican menu and you almost want to try everything it serves. After dinner, I walk the few steps back to the hotel.

It feels safe and the lights twined around the trees add to the ambience. Voco is located in an elegant spot that’s surrounded by top restaurants, grocery stores, and a shopping mecca that speaks of the heart of Rosebank. Not only is it a place to relax, but it’s also a beautiful venue for a staycation.

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Picture: Thami Kwazi

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