I've stayed several times in the Protea Fire and Ice hotel in Melrose Arch in Jo'burg and each time I feel torn between liking it for its quirkiness and despairing over its, well, quirkiness. The hotel seems to want to attract two very different audiences at one time, namely the business traveller and the local night-life crowd.
To be business traveller means you tend to judge a hotel on the level and speed of service, the comfort and cleanliness of the rooms and the location. All the basics are in place for this. For example, the rooms are to a high good standard, very clean, and (once you've got over their decision to put the shower more or less in the room next to the bed and the ubiquitous photos of Natalie Wood in Breakfast at Tiffany's that plaster the walls) quite large. The front of house staff I found to be very friendly and helpful and the usual list of services and amenities available.
However, on the minus side, there are some drawbacks. One is a ridiculously complicated system to gain and then re-gain access to the wi-fi, while another is the distracting decor in the rest of the hotel, which is for the most part designed for show and not comfort or taste. A third would be the bizarre efforts made by the hotel to create a menu where every dish has a twist, and sadly where the food on offer in the restaurant is quite awful. Luckily, Melrose Arch has several very decent restaurants and cafes within a few minutes walking distance (outdoors, too, which is a plus for the visitor), so one is not forced to try any of the dishes.
There is a pool, which be warned is right in the middle of a courtyard and overlooked by dozens of windows, and a small gym. The bar and restaurant faces onto that courtyard on the first floor and gets crowded and noisy in the evenings (which is presumably the other target audience for the hotel), but the noise is turned right down by about 10:30 or 11.
The breakfast could be a lot better, in my opinion, since it is a bit limited in choice and not always the best quality. Finally, my last groan, why are the elevators so dark?? There is virtually no light in them, so it feels like you're stepping into a tiny little night-club.
I would like to end on a plus, since all things considered, the hotel is trying (in some areas, too hard) and since the location is a lot lighter than, say Sandton City, and say thank you to the receptionist who knew my name when I walked in! Either she remembered my from my last trip, or she had had a look at who was expected in that day, but either way I was impressed. My tip? Talk to the staff, they are actually a very chatty bunch...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The urban, experiential and edgy Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch is the hot-spot in the trendy Melrose Arch Precinct, a unique city within a city, which boasts a variety of trendy retail, gourmet restaurants & leisure amenities. This experiential hotel guarantees to spice-up any visit to Jozi and is aimed at the traveller who enjoys being amidst the energetic urban vibe of the cool city life. The hotel offers the ultimate convenience and accessibility to the M1 highway, Sandton business centre and OR Tambo International Airport. Shuttle transfers to and from the Sandton Gautrain Station are also available. Take full advantage of the innovative 24-hour internet station, to catch up on emails, social networking or perhaps a bit of work. Try our conference facilities and create an energetic ‘out-of-office’ experience that will definitely heighten the creative senses required in any boardroom or meeting situation. Old Hollywood glamour flows through to your dining experience, at the trendy in-house restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch & dinner daily, with sumptuous cuisine in an intimate and relaxed dining environment. Return to your room, which offers an LCD television, open plan bathroom and an urban style that will take you back to a bygone era of old Hollywood glamour. And if it’s too early for bed - the Bar, which is open from 10h00 until 04h00 serves specialty cocktails and gourmet milkshakes, in an energetic and lively setting. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Protea Hotel Fire And Ice! Melrose Arch