Options reviewed are in areas where you'll be perfectly safe and a short distance from some of the city's best restaurants and shops. Johannesburg is not a popular leisure destination, but it is extremely busy for business, so don't leave this booking for the last moment or expect a bargain due to the credit crunch. Those most suited to the leisure market (though with excellent business facilities) are reviewed here -- note that many of them offer much better rates on Friday and Saturday nights, so do try to coincide your visit with a weekend.
A Night In the Cradle of Humankind
You can avoid Jozi completely by heading directly from the airport to the Cradle of Humankind (60-90 min. away) and checking into the decadent and stylish Forum Homini (tel. 011/668-7000; www.forumhomini.co.za; R3,500 double). This is a "Find" not so much because it's unknown, but -- if you're willing to forgo Jozi's attractions -- because you really need look no further. A 600-hectare (1,483-acre) private game farm, the mod lodge-style boutique hotel bears an architectural resemblance to architecture from The Jetsons, with sleek, flat-roofed retro structures with packed stone walls and large glass doors that open directly onto the bush; all 14 suites (or "caves") are gorgeous, each featuring private outdoor courtyards and wonderful lounge areas with quirky designer furniture, stalactite-inspired light fittings, flatscreen TVs, DVD players, fireplaces, and under-floor heating. Bathrooms are another highlight, with massive his-'n'-her showers and sunken tubs (from which you can watch waterbucks grazing outside your window), and you can order spa treatments to your room. The main building, with plenty of comfortable indoor and outdoor lounging areas overlooking a small pond, is where decadent meals are served at Roots, one of the very best restaurants in Gauteng. Self-styled chef patron Philippe Wagenfuhrer combines his French culinary roots with African and Asian influences. It's worth overnighting here simply for the pleasure of enjoying the excellent "wine teaser," a six-course meal coupled with a different vintage and varietal. Staff will help arrange tours of the ongoing paleontological excavations around the Sterkfontein area and visit to Maropeng Visitor Centre, the new tourist-friendly heart of the Cradle, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999; there are also various adventure experiences in nearby Magaliesberg, including hot-air ballooning. The main benefit here is that you're not too far from the city, but you feel as if you're far from the rat race. The option of a fairly tame bush walk (with 20 possible mammal species to see) adds to the value of cleaner air and peaceful surrounds.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.