Amidst the hustle and bustle of busy Sandton City is an unruffled piece of heavenly bliss. Nestled in the lush suburb of Morningside Manor, Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa is internationally recognised as one of the most beautiful, romantic and exclusive hotels in South Africa.
Owners John and Anna Thacker have successfully created an upmarket sanctuary offering exclusivity, convenience and exquisite splendour to business and leisure guests in what was previously their private home. Visitors are greeted at the front gate before being awed by the breathtaking charm and beauty of the grounds and buildings. The property was originally bought from the Little Brenthurst Trust of Oppenheimer fame and consisted of 10 sprawling acres of immaculately maintained green lawns with horses and stables.
Whilst a significant portion of the property has been sold in recent years, the grounds have still retained their stately, park-like ambiance and boast many mature trees, complemented by prolific bird life. Step inside and one is automatically transported to a surreal world of total relaxation.
Received by a contingent of warm and friendly staff, exemplifying an admirable professionalism, you quickly see why the hotel has been voted 20th in the top 25 hotels in South Africa by discerning international travellers in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards. After a seamless check-in process consisting of a delicious welcome drink and plenty of pleasant banter, I am swiftly whisked off to my suite by a polite and pristinely dressed butler.
The internal décor wonderfully complements the elegance and grace whilst retaining a modern flair that is reflected throughout, and I am told that a great many of the designs have been sourced during the owners’ travels abroad as well as from their private bespoke collection.
Each of the 43 suites, including the majestic Presidential Suite, is individually decorated to lend a unique charm and complement the timeless Palladian architecture whilst still retaining the warmth and beauty of the luxurious fabrics and collectables favoured by the owners. My suite is imposing in size and takes on an African theme, whilst, next door, a style representative of Southeast Asia takes centre stage. Resplendent with high quality fixtures and fittings, including a more than comfortable seating area, coffee station, fireplace, large television and the gentle sound of classical music in the background, I struggle to find fault anywhere in this palatial room.
The hotel has accommodated a host of international celebrities over the years thanks to its fondness for total isolation. For those desiring ultimate seclusion, the Private Villa Residence ticks all the boxes. Launched last year and located within the tranquil Fairlawns estate, but privately appointed from the hotel, the place comes complete with two en-suite bathrooms, a dining room, lounge, private pool and pristine garden. An additional attraction is the privately situated cottage on the Villa Residence property – offering sought-after solitude and total escapism.
Having been serenaded by the sheer grandeur of my room, I am drawn to my grumbling empty stomach and begin the hunt for food.
The Victoria Tea Lounge is ideally situated overlooking the romantic gardens and offers a range of delicacies and sumptuous cakes to complement a vast selection of teas and award-winning champagnes from across the globe. Served on delicate fine china and created by executive chef Gerhard Venter and his talented creative team, the delightful assortment of treats is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning high-tea aficionado.
I try the créme brulée and am left salivating for more. The superb a la carte Terrace Restaurant is fashionably popular with both in-house guests as well as locals wanting to savour a leisurely breakfast from the Breakfast Table or enjoy sundowners after a tough working week. Here, I try a tantalising salmon and cream cheese capered croissant and am quickly satisfied.
Thoroughly refuelled, I take a walk through the elegantly decorated hallways. Completing the full range of guest services is a sought-after conference centre for sophisticated corporate and private functions and a fully equipped gym and pool, which I promise to try out later. But first, I head to the Balinese Spa.
Having won the 2014 Best Luxury Wellness Spa in SA award, this is a true haven for wellness and restoration. I am easily tempted by the Swedish full body relaxation massage and am led inside to sip delicious French champagne and complete the relevant paperwork. An atmosphere of peace and tranquillity prevails in the Spa Garden, allowing one to experience unique moments of pleasure – a stunning refuge for those wanting to relax and empty their mind. The 90-minute treatment is designed to provide essential relaxation and a practiced therapist using gentle touches and the finest products achieves just that. I am left feeling calm and in a state of complete zen.
Successfully being in the hospitality industry for almost two decades, the management at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa has mastered the perfect balance between tranquillity and convenience to near perfection. Timeless grandeur, a professional and personal service and unparalleled serenity ensures this hotel remains a benchmark for luxury boutique hotels across the country, if not the world.