With only one night in Johannesburg as a layover to Phinda Game Reserve, we were grateful for the opportunity to stay at The Reef Hotel, a four star. The Reef Hotel is in the heart of Johannesburg – the central business district. It is the perfect location to do some sightseeing and a great hotel to spend one night or a full weekend in Johannesburg.
Full disclaimer: This was a sponsored stay from Joburg Tourism, but our opinions are our own.
The Reef Hotel first opened in 1990, but was remodeled in 2010 to host the World Cup! As soccer players and fans of the game, we thought it was pretty cool to stay in a World Cup hosted hotel. Before it was a hotel, it was an office building – which means that being amongst the skyscrapers in the central business district, the hotel is tall with 15 floors. Each floor has its own purpose:
- The ground floor has the bell desk/concierge, art gallery and Homestead restaurant
- The third floor has the front desk, bar and lounge, Grill Room restaurant and the sun deck
- The fourth floor has conference facilities and meeting rooms
- The remaining floors have the rooms
- The top floor, also known as the balcony, has Elevate Rooftop
Reef Hotel has 120 suite rooms with two options, a standard or deluxe room. Guests cannot go wrong with either room as they are both fully equipped with a modern design. They both have the option of a double or twin bed, city views, air conditioning, a desk, complimentary Wi-Fi, plasma TV with cable, shower, hairdryer, coffee machine and an electronic safe. In addition to these room amenities, the deluxe room also offers a full sized bath and complimentary breakfast. Check out our video below to see the room in full detail!
Each room offers a beautiful floor to ceiling backdrop of a black and white picture that represents Johannesburg’s culture and history. Our standard room had a picture of one of Johannesburg’s mine shafts used to find gold. It was a very fitting room for us as we were excited to learn about Johannesburg’s history.
We found the room to be very spacious and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay, including a fresh bottle of water and toiletries. The bed and pillow (the most important part of a room), felt like we were sleeping on clouds, which was exactly what we needed after a long 18 hour flight.
Features and Amenities
The Reef Hotel offers plenty of features and amenities that are helpful to their guests.
- Complimentary transportation within 3 miles of the hotel
- Airport shuttle for R450 ZAR each way (1 -3passengers), must be booked ahead of time
- Free indoor parking
- A relaxing jacuzzi on the sun deck (must reserve two hours before)
- Conference facilities and meeting rooms for up to 200 people
- Art gallery
- Sun deck
- Disabled access rooms
- Non-smoking rooms
- Laundry services, charges apply
- 24 hour room service
- On-site restaurants
Food and Beverage
The Reef Hotel offers guests dining options from two different restaurants. Their on-site restaurant on the third floor, the Grill Room and the Homestead restaurant connected to The Reef Hotel on the ground level. Every meal we had during our stay at The Reef Hotel was delicious.
We dined at Homestead for dinner right after we checked in, therefore it was our very first South african meal and it was delectable. Homestead focuses on South African food using the freshest and local ingredients. Their speciality is called “bowl’d food” where guests pick their starch, meat, vegetables, sauce and salad – essentially all of the components are served in bowls and placed on a wooden tray. One of their starch options is pap, also known as mieliepap, which is a traditional South African corn porridge, similar to polenta, but prepared differently. Being the foodies that we are, we tried the pap and recommend guests to enjoy it with a meat stew served on top. We both also enjoyed their flame-grilled chuck blade steak, which was amazing! It was perfectly seasoned and tender – one of the best steaks we have ever had.
The Grill Room
The Grill Room was not open when we stayed at The Reef Hotel, but rest assured it is opening near the end of this month! Guests should be excited to dine at their new restaurant as their menu offers an array of beautiful cuts of meats that pair perfectly with any of their seven sauces. From the classic T-bone and ribeye steak to the beautiful tomahawk steak, the Grill Room has it all for any meat lover. In addition to their steaks, the Grill Room also has composed entrees of oxtail, osso bucco, kingklip fillet and chicken breast. The best part, quality food for a great price! The highest priced steak is listed at R210 ZAR, converted to U.S. dollars that is $16 (Oct 2017), that is a steal! We wish we could have dined here because we have no doubt the Grill Room serves fantastic food.
Breakfast is complimentary for guests staying in a deluxe room and R171 ZAR ($12 Oct 2017) for guests staying in a standard room. The Reef Hotel does a wonderful job with their breakfast. Guests have plenty of options to choose from including, fresh eggs cooked any way you want it, bacon, sausage, beans, braised vegetables, hash browns, cold meats, cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt, danishes and more. After a great breakfast like this one, we were ready to tackle our day in Johannesburg!
The bar/lounge is located behind the front desk on the third floor. The 360° bar is centered and serves the best South African wines and beers, as well as spirits and house-made cocktails. Not only does the bar serve alcohol, but they also serve coffee and make a great cup of latte.
The Elevate Rooftop is a luxury venue opened to both in-house and outside guests. It is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 3pm to 10pm, so unfortunately we did not get to experience the fun ourselves, but the staff did let us check it out and it seems like the place everyone wants to be. Elevate Rooftop is an indoor and outdoor venue with 360° views of the City of Gold. These views can be accessed by the rooftop surrounding the inside glassed-in venue which features beautiful lounge spaces, a DJ booth and a bar presented by Skyy Vodka. Check out their website here to get all the details on upcoming events hosted at Elevate Rooftop.
We received a warm welcome when we arrived at The Reef Hotel. The bellman immediately helped us with our bags and the front desk agents were very friendly. In the evening, the front desk serve complimentary apple juice, which was refreshing after our long flight. In the morning, they serve fresh orange juice. The front desk agents were always helpful in providing us with information to make our stay relaxing. Everyone we encountered at The Reef Hotel always greeted us with a friendly smile and excellent customer service. From the bellman, to the front desk and servers – we enjoyed every interaction with the staff.
In our rooms we received a welcome card from our housekeeper, Irene, and a welcome letter from the general manager with details of our visit and information to help with any questions we may have had. We appreciated both these small touches of customer service.
Three Notable Highlights
We enjoyed everything about The Reef Hotel, from our comfortable room, to the customer service and food – we loved it all, but there were three things we truly loved that really made The Reef Hotel stand out to us.
Being in both the hospitality and culinary industry ourselves, we really appreciated The Reef Hotel’s initiative to hire students from a hospitality or culinary school. The students are not full time employees, but in-training to gain first hand experience. We know that is an important role to grow in this career and it was refreshing to see so many students working here. Bravo to the students and The Reef Hotel.
Another huge initiative on The Reef Hotel’s part is their eco-friendliness. Not only are they supporting their community, but they are also supporting the Earth. We found The Reef Hotel to be very eco-friendly with their electricity. The lights in the hallways were motioned censored, it was almost pitch dark when we exited the elevator to our room floor and as we walked down the hallway closer to our room, a light would turn on. This continued until we were at our door. Inside our room the electricity was controlled with our room key – we had to place our room key in a key holder (the power saver) and then all the electricity would turn on including air conditioning, lights and power outlets. When we took the key card out of the power saver, everything would turn off 30-45 seconds later to allow us time to exit. This is also a great way for guests to not lose their key card!
Humor to Make You Smile
One thing that is hard to find in hotels is humor and character. Hotels are always trying to provide excellent customer service, state of the art technology, delicious food and luxurious rooms, but rarely do we ever stay in a hotel where there is character that really makes us laugh and feel more at home. Every hotel room has their own “do not disturb” sign and notepad and they are usually a simple, cookie cutter design. The Reef Hotel takes this basic feature and owns it with humor to connect with their guests by bringing a smile to their faces. We always enjoy staying in a hotel where they go above and beyond or think outside the box and The Reef Hotel does exactly that! Just take a look at the pictures and we guarantee you will smile too.
For travelers coming from outside South Africa, a lot of times we have heard that they never want to travel within Johannesburg because of safety reasons. We can confidently say that we never felt unsafe and really enjoyed The Reef Hotel’s location. Located within the central business district, The Reef Hotel is truly in the heart of Johannesburg, providing easy access to explore the City Centre or travel to surrounding suburbs of Johannesburg for some sightseeing. The City Centre district, which has several bars, restaurants, a stadium and a casino to enjoy, is only a ten minute walk away. The historical Constitutional Hill (a must visit) is only 8 minutes away by car and from there travelers can use a hop on-hop off bus to travel to more sights within the city. Soweto, another location we recommend travelers to visit, is only around 20-25 minutes away by car. Lastly, it is an easy 20 minute drive away from the airport.
We really enjoyed our stay with The Reef Hotel. The staff was friendly and helpful, the food was delicious, the rooms were spacious and comfortable and we enjoyed the location. If you are visiting Johannesburg for more than one day to explore the city, then we highly recommend you stay at The Reef Hotel – it has everything you need to make your visit to Johannesburg enjoyable!
Book Your Stay at The Reef Hotel
For the standard room rate the prices vary around $70 for two people and around $100 for a deluxe room, which includes breakfast for two people. Again, if you are visiting Johannesburg for more than one day to explore its rich culture and history, we recommend The Reef Hotel.
If you think this hotel is a good fit for you, please book it using our Booking affiliate search box! It does not cost you more, but we would receive a small commission for your booking. We would be very appreciative if you do book with us!
Christina + Adam