Protea Hotel Fire & Ice
Location: Melrose Arch – Johannesburg, South Africa
Stepping into the hotel lobby I felt as though I’d just emerged from a time machine taking me back to 1950s Hollywood. You could be forgiven for expecting James Dean to be sitting at the bar smoking, or for Marilyn Monroe to be checking out, surrounded by designer luggage. Unfortunately there was no time machine – I had just walked into the über retro Protea Hotel Fire & Ice. Everything from the dining chairs to the bathroom fittings were black and white with chrome finish. The bedrooms were beautifully designed with a boudoir feel, and the funky corner style shower was a nice touch. The over-sized chaise longue and the mad hatter tea party-style chairs screamed art deco, and I loved it!
I decided to try the hotel restaurant rather than to venture around the Melrose Arch compound, and I wasn’t disappointed. As a vegetarian, I had thought my food choice would be somewhat limited in meat-loving South Africa, but I was pleasantly surprised by what was on offer. There was an excellent selection of pasta and rice dishes, from which I chose the mushroom and goats cheese ravioli – a dish that was not only packed full of flavour, but also enough to satisfy even the healthiest of South African appetites!
The house red wine (Pinotage) was very pleasant and, as with the food, came in very generous measurements. Just one glass was enough to see me through dinner! The buffet-style breakfast the next morning offered a wide choice of cooked meats and eggs, and a beautiful selection of fruits and pastries – some of which I’d never heard of despite having traveled all over the world. Poached eggs have always been a favourite of mine, and there’s nothing more devastating than an over-done ‘poachie’ – something I didn’t have to deal with here, as they were cooked to perfection!
The Melrose Arch Compound, where the hotel is located, is not only immaculately clean but also boasts round-the-clock security to instill a feeling of complete safety, should you decide to take a walk and explore the various shops and amenities. On arrival I was told that the hotel is famous for its milkshakes – something I decided to treat myself to following an afternoon stroll. I chose the butterscotch option from a menu of over 30 different alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, and it was to die for!
My criticisms of the Protea Hotel are few and far between. The lobby staff could have perhaps been a little more approachable as they came across a bit short at times, and first impressions count for so much these days. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in this quirky and characterful hotel. Strongly recommended for couples and business travelers, and I would definitely return in the future.
Price: $100-$150 per night
Overal rating: 4/5