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Where to Stay in Johannesburg – 5 Amazing Areas & Top Hotels

A panoramic aerial view of Johannesburg with a focus on Hillbrow Tower amidst the urban skyline under a sunlit sky

Howzit travelers! I’m super happy to welcome you on this fun virtual journey around Johannesburg (or, as we locals like to call it, Jozi)! I was born in the city and have lived in it for more than 18 years, so I’m your gal for an insider scoop on where to stay in Johannesburg!

I have tremendous knowledge about the city and have handpicked the best areas where you can stay, and topped that with the best hotels in each neighborhood! And I’ve sorted them all by price. This way, your trip planning will be easy and approved by a local! How cool is that?

The best area for first-timers is definitely Rosebank! This is the new commercial and urban hub of the city where you’ll find the best hotels and be close to the action. Of course, I’ve got you covered with 4 more areas in case you have specific travel preferences!

So all you have to do now is read along, pick your favorite area, book a hotel there, and get going! 

NOTE: Johannesburg, while relatively safe in populated areas, does have safety concerns. We have a pretty high crime rate due to various socio-economic problems. Unfortunately, things like muggings and pickpocketing are a reality in the city, but they are avoidable if you practice vigilance and avoid dangerous areas. All the areas and activities I’ve recommended, like Sandton and Rosebank, are relatively safe to walk around in, but you should always be vigilant. Rather, avoid walking alone and try to keep your valuables hidden. Don’t carry large amounts of cash, and rather leave things like jewelry at home.

If you are in a hurry

Here are the best hotels in Rosebank to book right away:

budget hotel


EASY STAY

Best affordable accommodation in the centre

And here’s a map with the Joburg areas I will be talking about in this post:

1. Rosebank – where to stay in Johannesburg for first-timers

A contemporary blue glass building with geometrical patterns, identified as Oxford Place, behind a street sign directing to an art and craft market, with a no parking sign visibleA contemporary blue glass building with geometrical patterns, identified as Oxford Place, behind a street sign directing to an art and craft market, with a no parking sign visible

The Rosebank district is a mix of chic residential apartments and commercial spots that will give you a taste of African culture but with a touch of European vibes! 

The area is home to tons of art galleries (like the Goodman Gallery), shopping malls (Rosebank Mall is my go-to for absolutely everything), restaurants, and all things cool!

If you’re lucky enough to visit during October or November, you’ll be able to admire Johannesburg’s jacarandas trees, which have the most beautiful purple flowers!

The best way to explore the area and all the tourist spots is with the Hop On Hop Off bus! You can choose the bus route that suits you best, get to enjoy the best panoramic views, and, most importantly, get to explore the city safely! If you want to learn more about Joburg’s history, I’d definitely recommend going on the optional Soweto tour.

Johannesburg is full of trees! So much so that it used to be considered the largest man-made forest in the world! There are fewer of them now, but still, you’ll see trees everywhere! I love it!

This hip and vibrant neighborhood is super friendly, and it’s where all the young people who visit Johannesburg want to stay, not only because it has some of the best shopping stores in town, but it’s where you can party after the sun goes down!

Rosebank is the top location in the city to find amazing bars and clubs. It’s no wonder they hold their festivals and gay parades in this neighborhood. And you’ll also find some cool markets, like the African Handicraft Market and Rosebank Flea Market.

NOTE: South Africa as a whole has rolling blackouts (also known as load shedding). Depending on the electricity demand, the power gets turned off to reduce the load on the grid. The duration of these power outages varies depending on what ‘Stage’ we’re in. They are usually about 2 hours on a good day but can get longer and more frequent when the grid is overloaded. Because of this, I would definitely recommend choosing hotels that are off the grid (i.e. have solar power) or have an inverter, or a generator that will keep the electricity supply during the load-shedding period! Most places will, but if you’re not sure, it’s worth reaching out to the accommodation to make certain. Don’t be alarmed if the power goes out, though; it’s pretty normal, and we South Africans take it in stride (although you might hear a couple locals groan in annoyance). If you can’t find a place that has backup power, you can keep track of the schedule using the ESP app. You’ll just need to find out what area your accommodation falls into.

Luxury hotel

A fabulous 5-star hotel with 3 on-site restaurants, a fitness center, and spacious rooms with modern décor and furnishings! They offer all the premium amenities like an airport shuttle, delicious complimentary breakfast, 24-hour room service, and beauty services!

Other accommodation options in Rosebank

Mid-Range

Enjoy a night swim in the outdoor pool of this hotel which offers breakfast and has a rooftop terrace

Budget

Friendly and modern town apartments that have all the amenities you need, including family rooms and free wifi

Airbnb

Enjoy the city views from the balcony of this modern apartment that offers guests access to free parking spots

Things to do in Rosebank

  • Buy locally made goodies from the African Handicraft Market and Rosebank Sunday Market
  • Explore the city with the Hop On Hop Off bus tour
  • Eat out in Marble (map), one of Jozi’s top restaurants with a view
  • Admire the art at the chic Everard Read Gallery
  • Enjoy the hot nightlife in Keyes Art Mile, dance your heart out at Babylon (map), or watch a drag show at Beefcakes (map
  • See some cool examples of African art at Kim Sacks Gallery and Craft Store
  • Head to Cracker Zacs (map) in Rosebank Zone for some bowling and darts

2. Sandton – best place to stay in Johannesburg for shopping

The grand entrance of Montecasino in Johannesburg with a castle-like structure, showcasing people walking and lush greenery aroundThe grand entrance of Montecasino in Johannesburg with a castle-like structure, showcasing people walking and lush greenery around

This suburb is located in the North part of the city, a 15-minute ride from Rosebank. Sandton is a mixture of tall modern buildings, parks, and houses, and it’s one of my personal recommendations for where to stay in Joburg!

It’s one of the most convenient areas as it’s located just a 15-minute ride with high-speed Gautrain from the O.R Tambo International Airport. And you won’t be more than about 15 minutes away from all of the best Jozi has to offer.

Joburg is part of the Gauteng province in Northeastern South Africa, with Pretoria and Midrand being other popular cities in the area!

Many years ago, when the crime rate increased in the Central Business District (CBD), companies moved their headquarters to this area. That’s why today, Sandton is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and other important businesses.

NOTE: As a local, I would never stay in the Johannesburg CBD due to safety concerns. In fact, I avoid the area completely unless I’m going out to a secure event. While many sites include Joburg CBD as a great place to stay, I don’t feel comfortable doing the same. This is why we’re not including it in this post. Luckily, there are plenty of safer alternatives (and you can always head into the CBD since it’s not far from Rosebank (around 5.5 miles/9 km). 

In Sandton, you can visit Nelson Mandela Square, take a picture of the iconic statue of Nelson Mandela, and eat in one of the nearby restaurants! My favorite place to grab a bite to eat is Tashas (map), a South African favorite.

Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton bustling with activity, showcasing a statue of Nelson Mandela, surrounded by outdoor restaurants and a backdrop of grand architectureNelson Mandela Square in Sandton bustling with activity, showcasing a statue of Nelson Mandela, surrounded by outdoor restaurants and a backdrop of grand architecture

Us Joburgers love markets, so if you really want to get a feel for the local vibe, you have to check one out. My favorite in Sandton is the seasonal Field Market. It’s a great way to spend a weekend with food, craft beer and gin, loads of goodies, and live music. You can check when the next one is on the official website.

I’m a huge shopaholic, and there’s no better place to shop till you drop than at Sandton City Shopping Mall. It’s one of Johannesburg’s top shopping destinations, and you could spend a lifetime checking out all the cool stores and restaurants here! I’d suggest bringing someone along to carry all your bags. 

Take a short 15-minute ride Northwest from Sandton, and you’ll be in Fourways, the fastest-developing commercial hub of the area. This area is packed full of things to do, especially for kids. Jozi X (map) is a great place for a day out and there’s even a Rage Room there! 

Another unmissable place to check out is Montecasino! This casino is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been to (the inside is designed like an ancient Tuscan village), here you’ll find an arcade, incredible dining options, and some of the best theaters in Jozi. I love catching a show at the Pieter Toerien Theater (map).

After all that shopping you might want to spend some time outdoors. Luckily for you, Sandton has many parks and green areas where you can enjoy some outdoor activities. Even if you aren’t staying in the area, this buzzing area is worth a visit!

NOTE: Johannesburg doesn’t have great public transport (apart from the Gautrain). To get around the city, you’ll either need to rent a car (which I recommend) or use Uber or Bolt. Please be cautious when using these though and double check the driver and number plate, and stay vigilant during your trip. Rather avoid using metered taxis, buses, and minibus taxis.

Luxury hotel

Warm up by the fire pit during those chilly nights in this modern South African hotel with great style and a spa center! I’m sure the kids will love the swimming pool, and the parents will fall in love with the spa and city views, which all add great value to this accommodation!

Other accommodation options in Sandton

Mid-Range

Relax in the spa of this hotel that offers air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool, and access to free parking spots

Budget

Have a drink near the swimming pool of this modern hotel that has many amenities and family rooms

Airbnb

This South African home offers guests access to a private kitchen, an outdoor pool, and a spacious room

Things to do in Sandton

  • Take the kids to the playground at Mushroom Farm Park 
  • Explore the Nelson Mandela Square 
  • Head for a shopping spree and a bite to eat at Sandton City (map
  • Catch the sunset and have dinner with the view at The Grillhouse Sandton 
  • Visit the seasonal Field Market (check for dates here)
  • Attend an event at Innisfree Park or go for a breath of fresh air
  • Indulge in the ultimate African spa experience with Africology at the Maslow (map). This is hands down my favorite way to treat myself.

3. Melrose Arch – where to stay in Johannesburg for families

Elevated view of Johannesburg with the Hillbrow Tower prominent amongst other buildings, streets visible with light trafficElevated view of Johannesburg with the Hillbrow Tower prominent amongst other buildings, streets visible with light traffic

This stylish neighborhood is located to the North of the city and 13 miles (21 km) away from the International Airport. Melrose Arch is a convenient place to stay in town if you’re traveling with the family and you want to find hotels in a location close to all the attractions but a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the City Center.

There are some great parks perfect for families who are looking for outdoor activities in Melrose Arch. So if you love spending some quality time in nature with the children, then this neighborhood is the perfect place to stay in Johannesburg for you.

It’s also close to one of Joburg’s top places to eat out, Melrose Arch Shopping Center. This gorgeous spot is filled with piazzas and walkways that offer amazing restaurants, cafes and shops. It’s my go-to date night spot since it’s one of the most romantic places for couples in Joburg. If you’re around on Christmas, definitely visit for fabulous Christmas lights and decorations!

The green areas inside and around the neighborhood are perfect for biking, climbing, or hiking, and Acrobranch Melrose will make sure you stay safe while having the best time ever with your family. 

And if you’re looking for a day trip idea, the Cradle of Humankind (map) is an absolute must, less than an hour’s drive from Joburg! This impressive World Heritage site is where some of the oldest life forms on Earth were found, including 200 million-year-old dinosaurs! Human life is said to have originated here, which explains the attraction’s name!

Luxury hotel

This 5-star hotel in Melrose Arch offers all the luxury and comfort you need for the perfect stay! Enjoy 2 premium on-site restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, private parking, delicious breakfast, and more! The hotel is close to the attractions and has family rooms, making it one of the best places to stay in Jozi for families.

Other accommodation options in Melrose Arch

Mid-Range

Guests can enjoy the garden and city views at night near the swimming pool of this hotel which has cozy rooms

Budget

Perfect for your family trip, this hotel has air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant

Airbnb

An oasis of silence! I love the style of this cottage that has a garden and an outdoor pool, perfect for a small family

Things to do in Melrose Arch

  • Have fun with the children at the Acrobranch Melrose in Johannesburg
  • Check out the cool shops and eateries at Melrose Arch Shopping Center 
  • Enjoy a relaxing walk at sunset with the children in the James & Ethel Gray Park
  • Eat a delicious meal at the PAUL (map) restaurant
  • Spend a whole day with the family at Art Jamming in town

4. Melville – where to stay in Joburg for bohemian vibes

A scenic street lined with blooming purple Jacaranda trees creating a vibrant canopy over a quiet residential areaA scenic street lined with blooming purple Jacaranda trees creating a vibrant canopy over a quiet residential area

Located 4 miles (6 km) South of Rosebank, Melville is a cute little residential neighborhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, and one of the oldest as well! 

Melville still has that South African bohemian charm that some hip neighborhoods have lost due to all the modern features. So, if you want to experience the local bohemian vibe, this is the best area to stay for you!

Filled with farmhouse-style homes, tons of jacaranda trees, and a super diverse high street packed with restaurants and bars that are just a short drive away, Melville has managed to maintain its value and authenticity over time and attract more tourists every year!

Melville is a great spot for thrift and vintage shopping, you’ll find plenty of nice stores around! If you love books, you should definitely pop into Love Books (map), it’s one of my favorite indie bookshops in the city. 

Its close and convenient location to Johannesburg’s universities has made this area super popular with students, so don’t be surprised if all the bars and restaurants are filled with young people and couples!

When you’re bar hopping, 7th Street will deliver! I spent a lot of my university weekends dancing to music, listening to poetry, and chilling with friends in bars along this road. 

Although a few bars in this area that I used to visit are now closed (it’s been a couple years since I was a student), I still think this is a great spot for travelers, especially because it’s more affordable! A beer here will only cost you about US$2. 

And the Lindfield Victorian House Museum is a nice historic home where you can learn about the lives of Victorians in Joburg! This old home is certainly one of the most unique places in Joburg!

PRO TIP: we always tip between 10 and 20% in restaurants! Be kind to your Jozi waiters, and leave them a tip as well! After all, if you’re visiting from Europe or the US, you won’t even notice the difference in your wallet that much!

Luxury hotel

This hotel has a stunning location just a short ride from Melville and offers guests access to amazing city views! The rooms are spacious and have elegant decor, perfect for both families and couples. Enjoy a relaxing time at the spa or near the pool, and eat South Africa’s top dishes at the restaurant of this accommodation that offers free parking spots.

Other accommodation options in Melville

Mid-Range

Enjoy catching a dreamy sunset at this hotel that has a restaurant, spacious rooms, and offers free parking spots

Budget

Relax on the terrace of this lovely guest house that has cozy rooms and many amenities, including a pool

Airbnb

Johannesburg’s best private cottage has a spacious room, a kitchen, and a lovely patio

Things to do in Melville

  • Visit Lindfield Victorian House Museum, one of Johannesburg’s best attractions
  • Explore the bars on the 7th Street 
  • Go for a hike and enjoy some fresh air in the Melville Koppies East National Park
  • Eat a delicious meal at Poppy’s Restaurant (map)
  • Head to 27 Boxes (map) to shop in local South African shops

5. The Northern Suburbs – where to stay like a local

A peaceful lakeside scene in the Northern Suburbs, where ducks and geese gather by the water's edge amidst the backdrop of lush trees and a clear blue skyA peaceful lakeside scene in the Northern Suburbs, where ducks and geese gather by the water's edge amidst the backdrop of lush trees and a clear blue sky

The Northern Suburbs encompasses Parkwood, Craighall Park, Parkhurst, Parktown North, Greenside, Linden, and Parkview districts in the North of Johannesburg. It’s also the part of Jozi that I call home. This is a great area to stay to be close to the action but with a more local vibe! It’s also a pretty safe area. 

You’ll still be a short 10-minute ride from Rosebank and have easy access to the Highway, boutique hotels, incredible restaurants like La Boqueria (map), and nightlife spots like Choo Choo Junction (map). There are also fabulous markets like the seasonal Linden Market. Plus, it’s home to my favorite takeaway pizza restaurant, Nonna Mias (map). 

The Linden Market goes on for 2 days in winter (beginning of June) and spring (end of August/beginning of September), and there’s also a Festive Edition at the end of November / beginning of December. Check the official website for upcoming dates to see how creative South Africans are! You can buy local designer clothes, try craft drinks, listen to live music, and much more! If you’re in town, you absolutely cannot miss this (and you might even see me there). 

I also recommend Emmarentia Botanical Gardens (map) and the Johannesburg Zoo (map) to both couples and families, as they’re nice places to walk and connect with nature. The Botanical Gardens is one of my personal favorite spots for a picnic!

And when you want to relax and grab a meal, I couldn’t recommend more The Whippet (map)! It’s my go-to place to grab a drink with my friend after yoga, and is a perfect place for brunch if you ask me! And their French toast is to die for. 

If you’re in for some adrenaline, Gold Reef City is just a 40-minute ride from Jozi, and it’s great fun for both adults and kids! It’s the perfect place to learn about Joburg’s gold history (and it’s close to the Apartheid Museum)! But nothing beats the theme park, it is one of my all-time favorite things to do in Joburg with friends, the Tower of Terror ride also offers a pretty good view of Joburg (before you drop 50m at a 90-degree angle). Tickets will only cost you around US$20 for the full day!

Luxury hotel

This is probably the most highly rated accommodation you’ll find in Jozi, and I’m blown away by its setting and décor! It’s like your very own 5-star oasis with beautiful King Rooms with balconies, filled with art and style in every corner. They offer free parking and breakfast, and there’s also a cute outdoor pool!

Other accommodation options in The Northern Suburbs

Mid-Range

Cozy rooms, stunning bathrooms, and lovely staff representing authentic South African hospitality

Budget

A lovely place suitable for couples looking for seclusion; a garden with BBQ facilities and free parking are available for guests

Airbnb

A top-rated Airbnb with a homey vibe, a stunning garden, and an outdoor swimming pool

Things to do in The Northern Suburbs

  • Sing your heart out at Saigon Suzy’s karaoke bar (map)
  • Bar hop along Fourth Street in Parkhurst, I especially love Hudsons (map) and I Love the Dough (map)
  • Check out the animals at Johannesburg Zoo 
  • Enjoy all the rides at Gold Reef City Theme Park
  • Check out the Constitution Hill Museum (map)
  • Learn about South African history at the Apartheid Museum

FAQs about where to stay in Johannesburg

Vibrant mural paintings on Orlando Power Station cooling towers with depictions of South African cultural themes, set against the backdrop of the Soweto townshipVibrant mural paintings on Orlando Power Station cooling towers with depictions of South African cultural themes, set against the backdrop of the Soweto township

🔝 What are the best areas to stay in Johannesburg?

🛑 Is Johannesburg dangerous for tourists?

It can be. Be vigilant when walking (I recommend renting a car instead). Don’t carry jewelry, large amounts of cash, and valuables with you, and keep your phone hidden as well. I’d even recommend getting phone insurance. Just practice caution as a tourist, and you’ll be good to go!

🌃 Where to stay in Johannesburg for one night?

Sandton and Rosebank are great areas to stay for one night! They’re some of the safest around, have plenty of things to do, and have some of the best hotels in town. MINT Hotel 84 on Katherine is a great hotel for 1-night stays!

💰 Where to stay in Johannesburg on a budget?

🍹 What is the best area in Johannesburg for nightlife?

Rosebank is the best area to stay in Johannesburg if you want to party all night long, and you can book your rooms at The Winston Hotel, an amazing five-star hotel.

✅ What is the safest part of Johannesburg?

Rosebank and Sandton are generally considered safe areas, although you should practice caution everywhere you go. Other areas I mention in this article, like the Melrose Arch, Melville, and Northern Suburbs, are also fine for tourists.

👗 What to pack for Johannesburg?

A hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, a couple of spare T-shirts, one long-sleeved shirt, a rain jacket, and a travel adapter can all come in handy when you’re visiting Joburg!

💲 How much does it cost to stay in a Johannesburg hotel?

The price for staying in a Johannesburg hotel for 1 night and 2 people ranges from $50 to $200, with the lower end being for budget or self-catering accommodation and the higher end for luxury stays.

🏨 What is the best boutique hotel in Johannesburg?

The Northcliff Boutique Hotel in the Northern Territories is a top choice for its fabulous setup, lush garden, spa and wellness center, and beautiful, cozy rooms!

Conclusion

Night view of the curved, illuminated Discovery headquarters building in Sandton, Johannesburg, with light streaks from passing trafficNight view of the curved, illuminated Discovery headquarters building in Sandton, Johannesburg, with light streaks from passing traffic

That was so much fun! I hope this post helped you decide where to stay in Johannesburg, South Africa, which boutique hotel to book, and which restaurant to check first.

There are tons of amazing hotels here, but here are my two favorite ones:

  • voco IHG Hotel – A luxurious Johannesburg hotel with city views and 3 on-site restaurants
  • Home Suite Hotels – A modern hotel with fabulous amenities and stunning decor

If I were you, I would book all the Johannesburg hotels in advance; as you know, all the good accommodations disappear super fast!

I want to hear all about your trip, which markets you visited, at what restaurant you ate the most delicious food, and which rides were your favorite at Gold Reef City! Leave me a comment below!

Safe travels,

Kathryn


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