|If ever there were an oasis in the middle of a big city, then The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg is the perfect example. Frankly, I’m hard pressed to find anywhere that I’d rather not leave … ever. So if you can’t find the hubby and me at some point, check this spectacular hotel first. Indeed, I declared in a previous post that I was never leaving (in the Cape Winelands), but that only reinforced how many incredible spots there are to enjoy in South Africa (click for previous posts).
This hotel has major provenance as it was where Nelson Mandela stayed after his prison release, and where he likewise stayed while writing “The Long Walk to Freedom.” His presence can be felt everywhere on the premises, owned by South African insurance magnate Douw Steyn. The hotel was previously Mr. Steyn’s personal residence in the Sandhurst area of J’berg. For a bit of context, my daily commute in Los Angeles regularly goes through some extremely pricey real estate. NEVER have I seen such huge estates as exist in the hotel’s area — with walls that are at least 12′ high on top of which is barbed wire, plus massive gates with manned security booths prior to entry and guards on top of that. Not sure if that is a status symbol or an unfortunate statement about what is necessary for protection. Our driver Mpho told us things have gotten better in recent times …
We had two nights at the hotel — book-ended by four nights in Mauritius (read here), and would have loved more time to just soak it all in. I would route a future trip via J’berg just to go back …
As for the journey home, I was very happy to find biz class seats using AA miles on Cathay (a One World partner): Johannesburg to Hong Kong (12 hours), then on to LA (13 hours). It was a no brainer to spend the six hours in Hong Kong zipping in to the Kowloon side (30 minutes via taxi) for a pre-arranged appointment at Sam’s Tailor on Nathan Road.
We landed in Hong Kong at 6:30 a.m. After a heart-stopping separation in route to customs — the Hubby walks way too fast for me; he went one way and I the other (both towards Immigration counters) — we finally reunited with a bit of “finger pointing.” I can’t even imagine the scenario if I had to page him … “BY-A-LOS-KEEEEY” !!!
All was well after a brief respite and breakfast (who cares about the $$$$$) at the amazing Peninsula Hotel while waiting for our appointment. Less than an hour after arriving at the tailor — including four different people taking measurements and the inevitable conversation about U.S. politics (people asked EVERYWHERE), it was back to the massive Hong Kong airport. I wouldn’t even try to wrap my brain around the time change.
And then we were home … many movies, several meals and a couple of naps later, and once again enriched from so many wonderful experiences.