Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, South Africa
We had a two day stay in Central Johannesburg for a little sight seeing and city experience. With Starwood Preferred Guest not having any properties in the city at the time of our stay, we opted for our next favourite hotel chain: Hyatt and it’s property in upscale Rosebank, Johannesburg.
This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: South Africa, Kenya & Mauritius via South African Airways, Swiss and Air Canada Business Class
- Vancouver Airport Transborder Maple Leaf Lounge
- United Business Vancouver – Chicago O’Hare
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse B
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse C
- United Business First Chicago O’Hare – Sao Paolo International
- Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare
- United Business Chicago O’Hare – Washington Dulles International
- Lufthansa Senator Lounge – Washington Dulles
- South African Airways Business Class Washington Dulles – Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar
- Dakar Technical Stopover
- South African Airways Business Class Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg International Airport
- South African Airways Baobab Lounge – O.R Tambo Johannesburg Terminal A Domestic
- South African Airways Economy Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Cape Town international
- Westin Cape Town
- A Visit to Robben Island: South Africa’s Most Famous Jail
- Exploring Table Mountain by Cable Car, Cape Town
- Where the Two Oceans Meet: Visiting Cape Point at Cape of Good Hope
- The Test Kitchen
- Le Quartier Français – Franschhoek
- Touring Western Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch and Franschoek
- The Tasting Room
- South African Airways – Cape Town Cyobab Domestic Lounge
- South African Airways Economy Class – Cape Town – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- Hyatt Regency Rosebank Johannesburg
- Soweto & Informal Settlement Tour
- SAA Baobab Premium Lounge – OR Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Mauritius
- St Regis Mauritius – A Beachfront Suite
- St Regis Mauritius – Le Morne Penninsula, Iridium Spa and The House Reef
- Air Maurituis Amédée Maingard Lounge
- South African Airways Business Class Mauritius – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Jomo Kennyata Nairobi, Kenya
- Fairmont Norfolk, Nairobi
- Travelling the Gritty Streets of Nairobi, Kenya
- Air Kenya – Wilson Airport – Ngrende Airstrip
- Fairmont Mara Safari Club
- Locating Elephants, Rhino’s and Giraffes in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Being Surrounded by Lions in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Dancing with the Elders at a Maasai Mara Village in the Rift Valley, Kenya
- Air Kenya Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson
- Swiss Air Business Nairobi – Zurich
- Swiss Air Arrivals Lounge – Zurich
- Swiss Air Concourse D Lounge (non Shengen) Zurich
- Swiss Air Business Zurich – London Heathrow Terminal 1
- Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge – London Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada / SAS Lounge – Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada London Heathrow – Vancouver International
Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa.
“A convenient business hotel in heart of approachable Rosebank Johannesburg, situated close to the Gautrain, and convenient restaurants in the adjacent Rosebank Mall next door, with an excellent spacious Hyatt Regency Lounge”
We ended up staying at the Hyatt Regency because it was a brand affiliated hotel that was located within walking distance of the Gautrain; two requirements, nothing more and nothing less. We had considered the Intercontinental at the O.R. Tambo Airport. However, I generally prefer to stay as far away from airport hotels as possible, given the price premium that they usually command, coupled with the fact that there is usually nothing to keep you entertained once you’re there.
As usual, we booked directly on the Hyatt website. We ended up redeeming Hyatt Gold Passport points for 10,000 points per night for the Regency Club Floor for two nights totalling 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points. I thought this was a reasonable point value compared to cash rates which were over $250 USD a night during our stay. The regular rooms were also available on a redemption for 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. For those on a cash stay, there was a $30 USD up charge for the club level, which I though was also reasonable given that’s its pretty much compound living after dark in South African and at least this way, we’d have a little entertainment after our arrival.
Getting to the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank:
We departed O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and located the connected Gautrain elevated rail system.
Unusually, the Gautrain is an elevated train and the platform is on the top level of the O.R Tambo Airport (instead of the usual airport train locations of being in the basement). The charge was about $15 USD a person one way. The Gautrain is the “safe” subway connection into Johannesburg from the airport. Indeed, there was a security guard physically posted to every single platform at all times and roving guards throughout the train during its journey.
After the one hour Gautrain transfer, the Hyatt Regency was located 100 meters from Rosebank Gautrain North Entrance on a broken and uneven sidewalk (without ramps) just one building past the Holiday Inn Hotel. It’s totally walk-able but I don’t know if your wife / significant other would approve unless they had a traveling spirit to them. Mrs WTS73 was okay with it. I would not attempt if it’s thundershowering or if showers are imminent since the walkway is not in any way covered and you’d get drenched.
The below photo is a reverse view from the hotel. The photo is taken from the hotel, and the station is the area surrounded by the green scaffolding with a white roof.
The Gautrain was a convenient way to get to the hotel, but it shuts down at around 8:30 PM. If you’re travelling with a lot of bags, or have a late airport arrival, a car service or taxi is probably better. The sidewalk between the station and the hotel is also a bit bumpy with curbs – some with ramps.
Arriving to the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg:
We were offered bag assistance as soon as we stepped on the hotel property. We were led over to reception by the doorman and the start of another very “cold” check in experience. At first, the front desk attendant glanced at my wife and asked “Ohh- there are two of you?” with a puzzled look. After some tapping on the computer, the answer was “We only have twins available.” She made a joke out loud about bumping someone else from a king but then ended up standing firm and gave us a twin at Room 826, claiming “It was what you had booked.” I asked if there was really nothing else available? “No, sorry.” I initially chalked this up to jokes sometimes not transferring well across international cultures and thought at the time that we would make the best of it.
We went to the room with the porter. We had twins in Le Quartier Francais in Franshoek (and admittedly not by choice). When we got to the Hyatt room, the twins were very tiny (much worse than I thought) and were unable to be pushed together without major room modifications (i.e. removal of a coffee table and clock and phones in between them). I then made the mistake of re-checking the paper reservation and discovered that I had actually booked a Club King, contrary to the “It was what you had booked” that the reception had told me.
I was pretty much out of patience with all the hiccups on this trip at this point, lost luggage, flight cancellations and other interruptions. and I went back downstairs, paper reservation in hand. I politely asked for a King or complimentary upgrade to the next category of room up. I had made the reservation well over 6 months ago so I felt well within rights to at least ask for the reserved room configuration Furthermore the reservation specifically stated 2 adults, 0 children and we were arriving at 5 PM so not like we were the last guests in for the night. I think it was the fact that she tried to tell me that I had booked something else that was the irritating part of it that prompted me to act.
As a compromise, we were offered a on lower fourth floor and offered to grant us with the Regency Executive Club access. I accepted this compromise at which point the clerk entered into a long discussion with another manager.
A few more clicks and a “manager over ride” and we ended up not back on the fourth floor as proposed, but back on the eight floor immediately next door to our twin room. I wasn’t really clear whether this was some one else’s room or whether it was too much of a problem to grant executive floor key card access with a guest checked into fourth floor room. A bluff or not, but magically a room opened up. Obviously, the check in desk at the Hyatt Rosebank isn’t monitoring the inventory of what is available, who has checked in, or what has been reserved or aren’t telling their guests accurate information.
I’m no interior decorator, but the look and feel of the elevator looks nothing like the lobby or the upgraded restaurant areas.
The Room: A Regency Club King
Finally to our assigned room for two nights. The room itself was nice and lightly upgraded although it was obviously an older property and showing some signs of wear under the surface.
The room also had. chair as a small seating area.
The room must have had a soft update as there were some older touches to the property. The shower door didn’t close due to sagging. As a result, we had some water leaks throughout the floor after a shower. The gold motif also seems a bit dated these days. The toiletries were mid scale / upscale Pharmacopia.
They must have a few power cuts here – given the supplied flashlight. We were okay throughout our stay.
We noted another “lock up your valuables” sign, similar to Cape Town. Wow – many people must have gotten taken by this that they have to install signs everywhere.
Keeping our security in mind, we attempted to use the safe. Except that the safe doesn’t fit a standard 13” Macbook laptop inside; it’s too small. Furthermore the safe is broken and not working as it doesn’t appear to have any power. On our way to dinner, we stopped by the front desk to address the safe issue. We requested someone to stop by to fix it. This time, a different staff member “I’ll send someone right up”. Sure enough, back at the room after dinner, some 90 minutes later, safe remains broken, unfixed and unusable. This type of apathy, or lack of follow up, seemed to be a theme during our stay.
The Regency Club on the 8th Floor:
I booked an club / executive floor since hotel stays in Johannesburg are pretty much compound living after dark. We spent some time in the lovely executive Regency Lounge. Usually, hotel executive lounges are mild afterthoughts without much space or nice features; sometimes relegated to tiny spaces off to a corner. The Regency Lounge itself was in an open concept format with no separate controlled entrance, which I think added to the appeal of this place. High ceilings also provided a nice airy feel. In terms of an executive lounge, this place has to rank within my top five in terms of space and comfort. It was among the best hotel lounges I’ve had the opportunity to experience.
The Regency Club’s overstuffed couches made for excellent relaxing. MrsWT73 in blue has me on ignore as usual. (laughing)
Food in the Regency Lounge: Evening Snacks
The Breakfast Hours were posted as 6 AM -11 AM, with Evening Snacks were scheduled from 5 PM – 8 PM. Our impression certainly improved after spending a little time here. There were double height windows that offered a great view of J’Berg and it’s Jacaranda trees. There also happened to be thundershowers tonight so it was a pleasant watching place. The complimentary hot / cold appies started at 6 PM, with free Wifi offered in the lounge only.
There was a complimentary bar service available in addition to self pour South African Wines.
We experienced very pleasant staff in lounge. They were willing to get everything at drop of a hat. This was a contrast based on our other experiences in other parts of the hotel.
Food and Beverage around the hotel:
Our first impression of the lobby was a large contemporary space. It had obviously recently been renovated with newer oranges and purples giving the impression of a very sleek space. This hotel was previously branded as a Park Hyatt but after closer examination, the property was clearly showing it’s age in both soft and hard product. After some time, it was apparent that only parts of the property had received the full refurbishment whereas a partial update had taken place on some other parts of the property.
On our first evening, we decided to stay on the property and have dinner in the lobby lounge. It was thunder showering outside and the lobby has large glass windows that look outside. It appeared that the roof had a problem with water containment as the rain was leaking through the roof and onto the floor next to the table. Overall, dinner was a slow affair taking 45 minutes to get food ordered and on the table. The staff didn’t seem to happy either. . . The food was pretty average but adequate for an on hotel restaurant, rain drips in the restaurant not withstanding.
Immediately next door to the hotel is an outdoor mall called Rosebank Station. The area shows much better than the map on the website. There are quite a few reasonably priced restauraunts, including a Spur Steakhouse. It’s safe to walk from the hotel as access is via a security guarded walkway on the mall property. Despite the amenities and the upscale nature of Rosebank, Johannesburg as a city had an overall dreary feel of desperation to it.
My thoughts on our stay at the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg:
Overall, the hotel looks great on the surface. The rooms are nice and clean and generally functional. I had a great time laughing at all the issues with my wife; safes that don’t work, restaurants and shower stalls that leak water and rooms that comes available at a moments notice. Aside from the issues, the star of this place is the pleasant Regency Lounge with its high ceilings and comfortable lounging experience. However, admittedly, if I was traveling here on a business trip on my own, it would be a pretty meagre experience. There was little effort to resolve problems aside form the usual “I’ll look into it” with minimal follow through. However, I would stay again with some slightly adjusted expectations.