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“Unique Jo'burg experience” 4 of 5 stars
Review of 12 Decades Art Hotel

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12 Decades Art Hotel
2.5 of 5 Small Hotel   |   286 Fox Street JHB City, Johannesburg 2094, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #130 of 262 Johannesburg B&B and Inns
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
158 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“Unique Jo'burg experience”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2012

Like the famous Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, every room in this hotel features a local creative mind. Similarly, too, this hotel is part of a programmatic rehabilitation of a rundown, post-industrial/post-manufacturing zone of the city center, deserted after the end of apartheid as white-owned businesses and affluent consumers decamped to the northern suburbs and created a "new" city in Rosebank/Sandton. As in Amsterdam, creatives—artists, architects, designers—take leading roles in this downtown Jo'burg revitalization, driven, though, by one developer, who owns the hotel, the apartments on the lower floors, and the arts mews, called Arts on Main [Street], two blocks down. The precinct is called Maboneng, meaning "place of light" in the Sesotho language of migrant laborers. Arts on Main houses several galleries and studios for artists and designers, and a vibey Sunday market, with some of Johannesburg's more interesting minds relaxing with hangovers, sunglasses, and some with kids, at outdoor cafes within the precinct. Though the surrounding area is gritty, there is CCTV and security. When the flashier wealth decamped, the predators followed their victims north, so you are probably safer here than in Sandton. Come sundowners, the Sunday party moves to the roof of the 12 Decades for magnificent vistas across the entire city, or, if you are feeling punchy, you can box into the punching bags at the rooftop gym. Do NOT book in here if you like cookie-cutter "business" hotels or pine for a normal life -- in fact don't be in Jo'burg if that's what you like. If you can tolerate, even relish, some impracticalities, like slippery tiles in the bathroom and beds on raised platforms, you will only find 12 Decades' rooms a pleasure, and savor the hotel's originality and courage. In fact, the rooms are more like art installations than anything else: they embroil you into an act of performance. You are on stage; you are a work in progress. The staff is eager to help and smooth out wrinkles in the "hotel experience": extra towels, ordering takeouts from the restaurant next door, plugging in space heaters in winter (this is the old merely "Modern" Johannesburg, no central heating or cooling). Their view is that they are on the road to better service. You probably will never forget your stay—and you are likely to meet truly interesting people. You can bring them home to entertain, cook for them: the suites are really self-contained apartments. Or take them to the on-site art cinema for an off-beat film. Even native Johannesburgers find the 12 Decades a trip, and a novel experience. You should hire a car, and you can park it indoors, on-site. Stay here to experience the City of Johannesburg in a way few others will. I highly recommend this for creative types, art lovers, and those with a sense of adventure. Our son aged 6 loved it, too. Our bed was vast, big enough for 6, like a huge, soft, playpen.

Room Tip: Each of the 12 suites is unique, created by one artist to represent one of the 12 decades of Johanne...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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38 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
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English first
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2010

As a concept for an inner-city hotel in a business revitalisation zone, the 12 Decades is great. Each room has a unique interior decor, representing one of the 12 decades of Johannesburg's history. Fascinating, innovative and beautiful. However, pretty decor does not compensate for having to climb seven floors of stairs because the elevator doesn't work, the loudly echoing interior spaces, and the raucous noise from the all-night shebeen across the road. Even earplugs were not sufficient to get a good night's sleep. The first priority for a hotel should be the business traveller's comfort. Renovate the elevator machinery, Install double glazing, add sound-absorbing cladding to passage floors and walls, provide air-conditioning and heating, and pay attention to small things like towel hooks and bedside mats on the cold concrete floors. Only once you've got the basics right is it worth getting the artists in for the interiors.

Great concept, poor execution.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled on business
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about 12 Decades Art Hotel

Address: 286 Fox Street JHB City, Johannesburg 2094, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Gauteng > Greater Johannesburg > Johannesburg
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #130 of 262 B&Bs / Inns in Johannesburg
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — 12 Decades Art Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With rooms conceptualised by some of South Africa's most celebrated Artists & Designers, 12 Decades traces the history of Johannesburg from 1886- 2006. Each decade has been interpreted by the individual designers to illustrate the most prominent features of the particular decade in Johannesburg's history. 12 Decades is part of the second development in the Maboneng Precinct, meaning “ Place of Light”. The development of this precinct forms part of a city improvement initiative by the development company, Propertuity. The Urban regeneration has been applauded by the City of Johannesburg, and as such, further developments are underway in the precinct, forming part of a vision to breathe new life into the old industrial area in the Eastern CBD.In addition to the 12 designer rooms, there are standard modern luxury hotel apartments for the not so adventurous to choose from. ... more   less 
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