Gold and the desire for it have always been a part of this place and people continue to be lured here in search of shiny stuff. The richest city in Africa, Joburg has plenty to offer the luxury traveller, from fashion to fine dining and exclusive spaces to enjoy. Here's our guide to where to enjoy some of Joburg's most luxury experiences.
FASHION, ART AND DIAMONDS
The label 'Handmade In Africa' is steadily becoming a byword for high quality and craftsmanship, particularly in the world of fashion.
For the dedicated handbag hoarder Joburg-based accessories brand Via La Moda is a must. Founded in Joburg in 1989 by third-generation leather craftsman Hanspeter Winklmayr, Via La Moda is one of South Africa's most luxurious accessories labels. Working with a range of high quality leathers, skins are dyed and hand-stitched at the studio of Via La Moda Joburg Showroom, easily rivalling the quality and class of Europe's most established luxury leather labels.
Joburg-based knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo is a young South African who has recently been catapulted to international stardom with his luxurious knitwear label Maxhosa by Laduma. Laduma's designs reference the traditional geometric patterns of the Xhosa people and his clothing has been featured in Italian Vogue and even mentioned on Beyonce's blog.
Marianne Fassler is another major local name whose fashion label, Leopard Frock, pairs traditional motifs with expert tailoring and originality. Fassler has an enduring position amongst Africa's fashion royalty after more than 30 years in the business. Her design style is bold, eclectic and electric, using vibrant colours and African-inspired motifs long before Europe's top design houses 'discovered' African prints.
To add to your art collection, browse Strauss & Co auction house's catalogues of international and South African art and other collectable pieces online. With online auctions, phone bids and international shipping there's no reason not to buy a coveted art piece during your leisure time.
At Bryllianta Diamonds and Tanzanite you'll be treated to a diamond education in a plush showroom, visited by appointment only. Plush and private, this secure jewel boutique offers personalised service and drop-dead gorgeous views of Sandton while you shop. Owner Bryna's many years of experience will ensure that you can tell the difference between your carats and your carrots, and understand the quality and value of stones before you buy your sparklers.
DRINKING AND DINING
Many of Joburg's most exclusive dining experiences are found inside the city's top hotels.
At the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, the fine dining restaurant View epitomises understated contemporary chic. Led by Durban-born chef Farrell Hirsch the menu takes inspiration from Asian cuisine with a choice of five or seven set courses with a wine pairing.
A little further afield but most certainly worth the trip is Mosaic at the Orient. Based in an eclectic countryside hotel around an hour's drive from Joburg, Mosaic is led by the world's "Best Female Chef 2017" Chantal Dartnell who was also placed at number 32 in the Best Chef Awards Top 100 list for 2017, the highest positioned woman and one of only three to make the top 50. Dartnell's delicate yet layered and innovative dishes are presented like works of art.
To rub shoulders over cocktails with the city's creative industry movers and shakers and pioneering young business moguls head to Mesh Club in Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank. Africa's first curated members club is a super stylish and exclusive work and play space for budding and established entrepreneurs. From 4pm play replaces work and the club's slick bar, which is decorated with exquisite contemporary and historic African masterpieces, including several works by JH Pierneef, opens to the public for champagne and cocktails.
WINE AND SPIRITS
If looking to fill up the wine cellar back home, luxury travellers to Joburg should drop into local wine and spirits merchants Norman Goodfellows flagship store in Illovo, who stock one of the biggest and broadest ranges of South African wines. Staff are extremely knowledgeable and can advise on international shipping. Stocking all the biggest French Champagne labels, this is the place when you are in desperate need of a bottle or two of Moët.
There's still a long way to go before South Africa can rival Scotland or Japan in the premium whisky stakes, but local craft distillers are already well ahead of the curve when it comes to other premium craft spirits. You can pick up bottles of excellent local craft gin by labels like Time Anchor Distillery (based in downtown Maboneng precinct), Musgrave or Inveroche for under R500. However if you looking for the country's most exclusive gin you'll find it being made at Cape Town's New Harbour Distillery, where there's already a long waiting list to buy bottles of the limited edition Protea Gin (R1200 for 500ml).
If you do love to spend on good whiskies visit the exclusive Whisky Brother shop in Hyde Park Corner which specialises in premium whiskies from across the world, or book a whisky tasting at the Eighteen05 bar at the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, the first Johnnie Walker Whisky Bar on the African continent.
HOW TO TRAVEL
Whether you need a luxury helicopter or a presidential jet, book a VIP trip with Execujet, who have offices at Lanseria Airport, Cape Town International and Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. Included in the service is a secure private lounge facility and a concierge to ensure seamless transfers between your Joburg hotel and the next villa or luxury safari experience on the itinerary. Private helicopter and luxury jet charters are also available at O R Tambo International Airport courtesy of E Oppenheimer & Son's Fireblade Aviation. Clients also benefit from the use of Fireblade's exclusive VIP lounge which has a bistro, spa, gym and day bedrooms.
Alternatively for travel at a much slower pace the 27-hour journey from Pretoria to Cape Town with the world famous Blue Train is a refined call back to the grace of Victorian luxury travel. The food and service is second-to-none, rooms are fit for travelling royalty, complete with en-suite bathrooms and butler service, and you'll arrive feeling supremely rested and relaxed.
And finally, if going just about nowhere, slowly, is more your pace you can't do better than a hot-air balloon ride over the glorious Magaliesburg Valley with Bill Harrop's Balloon Safaris.
WHERE TO STAY
A bastion of all-out luxury perched on top of Westcliff ridge the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff boasts some of the best views over the city. This is the Four Seasons brand's first hotel in a major sub-Saharan African city (Four Seasons also have resorts in Mauritius and the Serengeti) and perks include an opportunity to sample the fine-dining restaurant View and adjoining cocktail and tapas bar Pre View, and the glorious Four Seasons Spa Westcliff.
At the sumptuous Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, owned by one of South Africa's richest tycoons Douw Steyn, each room is fit for royalty and designed for absolute comfort down to the last detail. Built for leisure the hotel is an island of tranquillity set within ten acres of landscaped gardens just a few blocks away from Sandton's business capital. Among the hotel's many famous visitors – Nelson Mandela stayed at the property while he wrote Long Walk to Freedom.