Checking in at The Michelangelo Hotel, Sandton
The Michelangelo is a landmark hotel on the celebrated Nelson Mandela Square, which is situated in the heart of Johannesburg's upmarket business and shopping hub of Sandton. Its grandiose Tuscan style interior is adorned with light stone, beautiful marble and plush furnishings in rich hues. This hotel has long been the gathering place for the traveling elite from all over Africa and beyond. Being part of the prestigious The Leading Hotels of the World, special treatment comes standard from the moment you enter the regal lobby. Smiling suited doormen welcome you with a memorable greeting, and the capable reception staff swiftly takes care of checking you in. The hotel also boasts an esteemed Les Clefs d'Or concierge, one of only a few operating in the country.
As the sizable property is over 20 years old and one of the first luxury hotels in Sandton, a commanding air of legacy fills the expansive premises. There are 242 rooms/ suites, and my deluxe accommodations had a view of the renowned square below, showcasing Madiba's imposing bronze statue. Even though the decor is a bit dated, my room was spacious and perfectly comfortable, with everything being well maintained and brilliantly clean. If there is one observation I'm compelled to mention, it would be the lack of soundproofing - I could hear the fuss from the piazza late into the night (if you're a light sleeper, perhaps request a room that doesn't overlook it). The Michelangelo has recently spruced up its suites, and I'm sure other room categories will follow suit - hopefully a revamp will also include improved window treatments.
Piccolo Mondo is the hotel's fine dining restaurant, featuring a lavish interior motif with thick drapery, mahogany carpentry and patterned burgundy carpets. The menu comprises of several standard international favourites and also a few interesting local specialities. As far as their breakfast goes, you simply cannot miss it! Bragging an enormous hot/ cold buffet spread with a huge variety of food items as well as unique à la carte options, there is ample opportunity to indulge...
Onsite leisure facilities include a spa, pool and gym. The splendid round indoor swimming pool, which rests under a colossal domed glass ceiling, was quite a sight to behold. There are also saunas and steam rooms available, and the spa has an outdoor terrace with jacuzzi. For such a big hotel I felt that the otherwise well-equipped fitness centre was a tad on the small side. However, for me the signature trademark of this property is its design - the vastness of its central classical atrium, which forms the heart of the hotel, creates an impressive kind of grandeur that is entirely distinct to this place.
The service at The Michelangelo was nothing short of fantastic. All members of staff I encountered were genuinely hospitable and competent - exactly what one would expect from a revered luxury establishment that has been around for over two decades. Where I found the personnel to be most outstanding was undeniably in the lobby lounge and restaurant, delivering a truly world-class level of expertise that I won't forget soon...
Overall, The Michelangelo remains a formidable force to be reckoned with in the luxury lodgings arena of South Africa's City of Gold. Its striking Renaissance inspired architecture, untainted reputation of service excellence and convenient location makes this an ideal place to call home when visiting Johannesburg. Viva il Michelangelo!