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“Beautiful Grounds But Disappointing Hotel”

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Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
Ranked #9 of 47 Hotels in Sandton
Certificate of Excellence
Birmingham, Alabama
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Beautiful Grounds But Disappointing Hotel”
Reviewed January 9, 2008

My husband and I stayed here on our honeymoon for one night in October 2007.

Our room, while large and nice (and very large bathroom), felt to us as though it had not been occupied in a while (like someone had gotten all the dust out just prior to our arrival). The staff is pretty stuck-up and pretentious.

The restaurant was terrible. You sit at your table forever and wait for the food. When it arrives, it is awful. Neither what my husband ordered nor what I ordered was very good at all.

The grounds, as you can see from the pictures, are very beautiful.

I would not want to stay here again, especially for the money.

I'm not sure where one would stay in Johannesburg. A friend of mine was with a group that stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental at the same time (October 2007) and their room was robbed of all valuables.

My advice - just stay away from Johannesburg unless you know someone who lives there, can stay with them and they take you around. Even the nicest of hotels, as was mine and my friends' experience, are seriously lacking.

  • Liked — The Grounds
  • Disliked — The Restaurant, The Stuck-Up Staff
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3 Thank Southern_Gal_AL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2006

We have stayed in many luxury hotels around the world and I have to say that this one was a signficant disappointment. The best way to describe our opinion of the physical appearance of the hotel was shabby and in need of some maintenance. It has clearly been a beautiful stately home and grounds, but they seem to have let it go somewhat. It could definitely do with a fresh coat of paint and just a few things to smarten it up.

Our best guess is that this is all down to cost-cutting measures. These were apparent everywhere. The soaps / lotions / etc in the rooms were all old plastic bottles that had been used so many times that the lettering had worn off and they were dented -- clearly seen better days. Even in the spa - only one of 3 showers worked properly and the only shampoo and amenities to be found were actually empty bottles sat around for decor only.

The spa was nice; however, it definitely wasn't 5-star either. Our treatments began 15 minutes late, but they ended on time -- resulting in cutting our treatments 15 minutes short. This meant that they just left off the last part of the procedure which was an important part of the treatment. Also -- we had body wraps which require you to shower off mid-way through the treatment. We had to walk through the relaxation area and through the main lounge of the spa (past the entrance / front desk) to get to the showers -- twice. Not exactly relaxing.

The manager (we presume) of the hotel was on-sight, but spent his time reprimanding staff regarding a few cigarette butts on the ground and the like rather than focusing on whether the guests were happy. He passed us several times and never even nodded in our direction.

We weren't helped with our bags upon arrival (even though they knew that we had arrived because you must buzz through two gates) nor on departure (even though they had been storing our bags for the afternoon.) We were just sent along our way.

None of these things are signficant deficiencies on their own, but when you are staying at a 5-star luxury hotel, the little things make a world of difference. The pool was dirty -- it was never cleaned in the two days we were there. Broken glass remained on the floor for hours after an accident in the restaurant. Getting a waiter's attention was almost impossible and when you did get their attention, the service was poor and slow. Three times we were brought the wrong thing. For example, it took over an hour for two sandwiches and a salad to arrive and when they did arrive they were different than what they said on the menu. We asked for maintenance to come to the room and they never showed up (even after two calls). My husband ended up taking out some of his own tools to fix a clogged sink. Also, the toilets for general use in the main house (near the restaurant) smelled horrible.

We won't be back and we have advised our travel agent not to send guests here expecting a true 5-star luxury as well.

  • Liked — The on-sight dog
  • Disliked — Poor service
  • Stayed December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7 Thank MrsDLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed April 19, 2006

I have stayed at the Fairlawns a few times now and have just booked to stay next week. I am taking my partner with me on this occaision so I tried to book somewhere central but why? I was offered the same rate as last year this time including my partner and there is a free shuttle to the shopping malls daily. About the Hotel, WOW...no other words best describe. The finest detail is taken care of...to the bed being turned down each night with the TV times open on the day and remote ideally situated for use. I have stayed in one of the Premier Suites...you must try...huge rooms...even bigger than the normal rooms. I say normal...there is nothing normal about this hotel..it's just great. I spoke to a collegue a few months back who also travels alot and he said that the Fairllawns in his view is the best Hotel he has ever stayed in and I second that. Please try to stay at this hotel so you can experience something different and make your trip outstanding.

  • Stayed August 2005, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1 Thank doughty400
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cork Ireland
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed March 23, 2006

Having been to Johannesburg many times had it not been for Trip Advisor I would not have known about this small, low profile hotel. Well situated and very different from the usual and standard offering from the likes of the Sandton Sun Intercon or Hyatt.

One point to mention, and not at all aimed specifically at The Fairlawns, is that Johannesbug hotels are now asking prime London money and I've been coming here since the Rand was 6 to the Pound, up to 20 and back now to 10. So it is not simply FX rates responsible. Given the cost disparity in terms of wages, real estate and food I can only say I feel this is excessive and am personally not prepared to pay those rates here. It is not really the hotels to blame, but the guest's fault for paying up meekly. My advice would be to always seek a deal and question the rates because this is not London and prices will simply continue to rise if no one objects. I did shop around and was shocked to find a general 40% uplift in the 18 months since my last trip. The Fairlawns matched the price I paid at The Chesterfield in Mayfair recently, but their rack rate was far above it. Johannesburg = Mayfair????

Back to my stay. Over a 9 night stay I enjoyed the use of an 84m2 Suite with a bathroom larger than most hotel rooms, and was very comfortable in it. Everyone was very keen to help and very friendly. A bit like "Cheers" in that everbody knows your name, which helps you feel at home. Decor good standard and kept clean. Standard overall very good, though I hold back one star from an "excellent" rating because good though it is, and I will certainly stay again if offered a good deal, is that it is still Africa and it is just the little attention to details that stops me saying "excellent". These are only perhaps petty things, such as tea and coffee or kleenex not replaced when used, but soon corrected when pointed out. A bedside central light switch would also be useful. My order of Weekend FT was delivered as I asked, only I was woken up very early to take delivery. Why not leave it at the door like everywhere else? I was also woken early on the Sunday, ie 7am -ish, by the broom repeatedly hitting the stairs the other side of my headboard wall. A disaster? By no means. But irritating? Yes just a little.

I didn't use the restaurant except for breakfast. Breakfast was not bad, and was cooked freshly to order, but neither was it top class. A full teapot of water needs more than one teabag and the coffee so very, very strong I declined a second cup. Eggs Benedict does not usually have spinach in, that's Eggs Florentine I believe, and a muffin on the bottom rather than a slice of toast is usual. Small details again as the food was okay - but was not great either.

Unlimited use of the Internet at R50 pd in your room or free at the hotel pc in reception was very useful to me and a major plus for The Fairlawns. I always look for hotels with free WiFi, which can swing a decision for me, but this deal was acceptable.

If taking a partner, Johannesburg is not a cityto be walking about in as an inocent tourist. Commendably the hotel offers a free shuttle to local shops etc and has a reasonably priced spa and gym within the grounds. There is excellent shopping and dining to be had within a very few minutes drive of the hotel. Restaurant prices are still pretty good but I found the prices in the shops in Sandton City Mall to be as high or higher than Europe now so didnt do my usual large amount of shopping this time

Overall, having tried a good few of the local hotels over the last 10 years, I was very happy at The Fairlawns and have found somewhere I would be very happy to return to if the deal is good next time.

  • Stayed March 2006, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4 Thank Kinsaledweller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 29, 2005

This is a beautiful, fascinating hotel; very clean, expensive furnishings, plush linens, gorgeous grounds. We were picked up from the airport in a Rolls Royce! The staff couldn't have been friendlier and the food at the restaurant was out of this world. The hotel is surrounded by high walls and is quite secure, even though it is within an already secure suburban area. Everything is elegant and of absolutely superior quality. I simply cannot say enough about this hotel; I hope I can go back someday.

  • Stayed February 2003
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

Property: Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
Address: 1 Alma Road | (Off Bowling Avenue), Sandton 2090, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Gauteng > Greater Johannesburg > Sandton
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Sandton
#4 Business Hotel in Sandton
#5 Spa Hotel in Sandton
#8 Luxury Hotel in Sandton
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa is a unique and exclusive five-star sanctuary for today's business or leisure traveller. Conveniently situated in the Sandton suburb of Morningside Manor, major business hubs and shopping centers are a mere 4km away. The 40 luxurious suites are each individually decorated to the highest world standards with the Presidential Suite playing host to many local and international celebrities. Also on offer, is the popular Villa Residence (2 rooms, Lounge, Dining Room and private pool), perfect for families. A sought after conference centre, fully equipped gym, Balinese spa and superb a la carte restaurant complete the full range of guest services. In addition, the hotel offers complimentary transfers to the Sandton Shopping District. Airport transfers and transfers to other areas can be arranged at an additional cost. Golfers will not be disappointed as Fairlawns has an arrangement with the nearby Johannesburg Country Club, which offers two world-class golf courses. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel And Spa
The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel Sandton
Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa Sandton, Greater Johannesburg

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