ONCE upon a time there was a private residence built in the 1950s. The family home had changed hands just once in 40 years before James Peech discovered and realised the vision of a boutique hotel deep in the heart of Joburg suburbia.
The Peech Hotel opened in 2004, and with the addition of its new luxury rooms which opened to the public two weeks ago, it now offers 32 rooms and suites. These include two heritage rooms which are in the original residence; as well as spacious suites with over-sized bathrooms and open-plan living spaces, and classic rooms which have private patios or balconies facing onto the gardens.
The garden is an enormously important feature at The Peech, with a majestic oak tree that came with the property; the previous owners made it a condition of sale that it would not be cut down. From this departure point, the garden has grown over the years and offers a tranquil haven for guests to relax. Now in summer, when Joburg gets its rainfall – often accompanied by thunderstorms – the myriad birds rejoice in song after the short downpours.
My room was a classic, on ground level, so it had the private little patio, screened by plants. These rooms are in double-storey “units” of four, and it is interesting to note that although they were built back in the beginning, their exterior design has not dated at all and still works well with the new rooms on the other side of the property.
The Peech is owner-run, supported by a team of friendly and efficient staff. Arriving on a rumble of thunder, as the heavy wooden front door opened, a cat – in typical cat fashion – streaked outside. This was Pippa, with whom I wished to become fast friends but other than allowing me to touch her head, she had different ideas and sadly did not sneak into my bed in the dead of night.
I was warmly welcomed and checked in (even though I was early). Armed with a bottle of red wine and a room service order for an excellent ostrich burger, I retired to my room. In the comprehensive book on the desk I discovered – along with details suggestions of places to visit while in Joburg – that instead of a boring old Do Not Disturb sign, there is a cute little pillow which says “Go Away, I’m Asleep” which you hang on the door handle. Already being a fan of the Do Not Disturb sign, this delighted me. Even better was being told I could take it home as a souvenir.
The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast in the bistro – where all meals are made to order so expect a little bit of a wait – Vicky Peech took me on a tour of the new rooms, and told me more about their policies.
The hotel was Fair Trade certified in 2010, and responsible tourism is a key strategy. This includes sustainability, eco-friendliness, recycling water, solar power, and supporting local industries, businesses and artists wherever possible.
For example, double glazing provides warmth in winter and cool in summer; Oggie hardwood flooring is sourced from sustainable forests; more showers, fewer baths; heat pumps which use less energy than geysers; and award-winning Kalahari bathroom products which are made using only naturally harvested botanical ingredients.
Attention is paid to every detail, including the bistro menu where elements conducive to well-being are used to refresh and rejuvenate guests. When The Peech is a mid-journey destination for visitors en-route to or from the nature reserves and game parks of the northern regions, this is a welcome respite from the ravages of travelling.
“It’s like home…only 10 times better,” smiles Vicky.
The Peech is 10 minutes from the shopping and business centres of Melrose Arch, Rosebank and Sandton, and 45 minutes from OR Tambo Airport. It has two outdoor swimming pools, an acre of gardens, boardroom, library, bar, and gym access (private entrance to adjacent Planet Fitness gym with small charge). Across the road is the James Gray Park and the Wanderers International Cricket Stadium is nearby.
Where: 61 North St, Melrose North, Johannesburg
Telephone: 011 537 9797
Email: [email protected]
- This story first appeared in Independent Travel on December 15, 2018