Our neighbourhood of Maboneng has been written about in many places online and attracted media attention from some huge publications. Forbes listed it among the ’12 Coolest Neighbourhoods Around the World’ and Vogue has called it the ‘coolest neighbourhood in Johannesburg’ – we have gotta agree on both counts.
We’re proud to be part of the neighbourhood and of the role we have played in the area’s regeneration. That’s why we thought it was time to show you Maboneng through our eyes…
The name Maboneng is derived from a seSotho word meaning “place of light” – a fitting epithet given that the area has become a hub of creative entrepreneurs, artists and designers. If you’ve been browsing Instagram while planning your trip, you will definitely have seen this sign once or twice.
Taking a stroll around, you’ll notice that this neighbourhood is anything but sleepy. There’s always something to grab your attention, from street performances to amazing fashion and events. It has its own distinct atmosphere and is the perfect place for people watching.
Arts on Main is a cultural hub in the heart of the neighbourhood. This century-old abandoned warehouse has been renovated and transformed into art galleries, boutique shops and restaurants. The courtyard is home to restaurant Canteen which serves up bistro dishes and great cocktails.
If you’re in Joburg on a Sunday, then you gotta head here for Market on Main – one of the city’s best food and design markets which is popular with locals and tourists alike. Browse the stores for vintage threads and unique design pieces to take home. And be sure to bring an appetite as there’s food to try from all over the world, from Spanish paella to spicy Cape Malay curry.
You will also find colourful stalls lining the streets selling traditional African jewellery, prints, scarves and more. Browse for some bargains here and pick up special souvenirs to take back home.
As you explore more, you’ll notice that the neighbourhood is covered in colourful public artworks and murals. Some of the biggest names in the business have decorated the walls here and you’ll see many of the key pieces on our Inner-City Tour, including this mural by Nelson Makamo and the below piece by Falko One, one of the country’s leading graffiti artists.
Situated just over the road from us on Fox Street, Che adds a taste of Argentina to the long list of cuisines up for grabs in Maboneng. The Argentinian owners, Oscar and Bernardo, started their business selling their famous empanadas (traditional stuffed pastries) down the road at Market on Main – this proved so popular, that they expanded into other food items before opening Che. Today they serve up arguably the best steaks in the city along with sharing platters straight from the streets of Buenos Aires. The restaurant itself is built in a historic warehouse building and features an open kitchen, rustic-meets-modern décor and antique furniture.
Bertrand Coffee Shop is a new kid on the Maboneng block but is fast becoming one of the most popular spots in the neighbourhood to get your caffeine fix. Described as a ‘straight-out-of-Paris’ café, the two French-Congolese owners were inspired by the Latin Quarter of Paris and brought this vibe back to the streets of Joburg. The space is crammed with unique antiques and colourful sofas, but the best spots can be found on the outside tables where you can sip an espresso and watch the neighbourhood happenings unfold.
Housed in a three-storey building, AGOG art gallery showcases changing exhibitions of contemporary art. It’s part of a wider venue that occupies the three floors, with a wine bar on the ground floor and Q Club rooftop bar (complete with whiskey and cigar lounge) on the top floor.
On the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht Streets stands The Cosmopolitan – one of the city’s most elegant and iconic buildings. Dating back to 1899, the building was originally a hotel and bar but sadly fell into disrepair in the late 1980s. Now restored to its former glory, the building houses a bar, restaurant, gallery and upmarket retail space.
Located on Fox Street in the heart of the neighbourhood, our hostel has a history closely linked to South Africa’s own past. During the apartheid era, our building was the premises of the Pacific Press printing company which published material for the ANC and Black Sash. The company was said to have offered refuge to struggle stalwarts like Nelson Mandela and Joe Slovo.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of our neighbourhood. Of course, there are lots of places we couldn’t include in this post, so you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.
Planning a trip to our hood? Head to our Joburg page for more info or book your stay today using code 2CITIES for 15% off.