GET THERE WITH THE GAUTRAIN: The Leonardo is a seven-minute walk from the Sandton Gautrain station.
Contemporary art at The LeonardoAside, of course, from its immense height, one of the most distinctive features of The Leonardo is its astonishing art collection. Over 100 artists were commissioned to create works especially for the building and The Leonardo contains almost 1,500 unique artworks by African contemporary artists. At the entrance (where you'll be greeted by Sandton's most stylishly dressed doormen) look up at the immense chandelier work titled The Ancestor, a giant metal swirl constructed from half a ton of glittering copper, brass and stainless steel, a reference to the City of Gold, the origins of Johannesburg.
Inside the grand lobby an impressive floor-to-ceiling mural by Mbongeni Buthelezi greets you at the entrance and stretches across a voluminous area leading up to the hotel reception area. Mbongeni Buthelezi's signature style of heating plastic to create an oil-painting-like effect (you see more of his work in the lobby of sister property, the Da Vinci Hotel Hotel and Suites Nelson Mandela Square) represents a slice of South African history.
There are specially commissioned pieces in the elevators and stairwells, inside the conferencing rooms and all of the apartment suites managed by The Leonardo. Among the many notable large-scale works that feature prominently in the reception area are sculptural works by artists Bronwyn Lace, an incredibly intricate hedge-like wooden sculpture by artist Winston Luthuli and some breathtaking textile works. Call The Leonardo to book a guided art tour of the building's contemporary art collection. It's a great way to start your visit before drinks or a meal at Aurum restaurant.
Aurum at The Leonardo
Among The Leonardo's numerous dining destinations are Leo’s Lounge, Bar and Deli Kitchen, the swanky restaurant and wine bar Aurum on the 7th floor roof terrace and a more casual wood-fired restaurant-bar Octo Bar (also on the 7th floor). On the rooftop of the building is the exclusive Alto234 Bar (bookings essential). At a dizzying 234 metres above the ground it is the highest bar in Africa.
The 250 capacity Aurum Restaurant is one of the most glamorous restaurant settings in Sandton. As soon as you step inside the cathedral-like space with its vaulted ceilings you'll be struck by the ribbons of gold mesh that spool out above you. The restaurant opens out onto the roof terrace overlooking a 25-metre pool. This is also where the spa is located.
The light-filled Aurum is a great stop in the day for a casual brunch or lunch, while dinner presents an opportunity to dress up and enjoy lavishly plated contemporary cuisine and cocktails (for more on what to expect at Aurum read our restaurant review here). The pool deck is perfect for afternoon drinks, and if the mood strikes, an extended stay over to lie by the poolside. Enquire about details with your Aurum booking.
Alto 234 Bar
Sitting at the very top of the building at a dizzying 234 metres above the ground, you can’t get higher than the Alto234 sky bar. This is an exclusive spot offering unparalleled 360-degree views of the entire city and of course Moët & Chandon Champagne is the drink of choice. For snacks there are gourmet nibbles like oysters, wagyu beef biltong or langoustines on offer.
Prior booking is essential and a R300 entrance fee applies (includes a complimentary glass of Champagne). You can book a time slot starting from 11:00, but of course the sunset hour is the most covetable.
The Legacy Balance Spa at The LeonardoIn addition to apartment hotel rooms, a range of dining options, the rooftop pool and a variety of meeting spaces, The Leonardo also (of course) has its own wellness and beauty spa located next to the pool on the 7th floor deck.
Serviced apartment stays at The LeonardoThe Leonardo contains some 241 apartments, including a super-sized penthouse apartment set across the top three floors (rumoured to be Africa's most expensive apartment).
Visitors can rent serviced apartments for short or long stays managed through Legacy Hotels. There's a choice of expansive one or two-bed apartment suites (located on the upper floors of the building), with fully equipped kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, and of course spectacular views. Breakfast is served in Leo's Lounge or you can opt to pick up something from the deli counter to enjoy in your apartment.
In 2022 ten floors of hotel rooms managed by the Legacy Hotel group are also set to open. Occupying floors 39 to 49 of the building, the views will be spectacular.
Meetings at The LeonardoLocated in the heart of the Sandton Central business district (the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is barely 200 metres away) The Leonardo has always had business in mind so offers superb conferencing and events facilities. The largest event space can seat up 250 people banquet style and we are told there is even space to drive a car around (a super-sized service lift was installed specially).
We spent a day working at The Leonardo. There's also a choice of smaller boardrooms that can host up to seven people (ideal for smaller team meetings and business discussions) and larger meeting rooms seating between 20 and 30 people. We found the boardrooms to be spacious and the accompanying tech (including audio/visual equipment) top-notch. The dedicated service that comes with the meeting rooms makes for a seamless experience, with refreshments appearing almost as soon as we'd thought about asking for them.