This hidden gem is about to become Joburg’s most treasured not-so-secret locale. Pablo House, a boutique guest house, boasts the rarety of sweeping views of Johannesburg, elegant design and every creature comfort conceivable. The luxury retreat sits at Melville’s highest point and is ideally located to the city centre, cultural hubs and the quaint surrounding suburbs. My time there left me feeling so refreshed that I can’t wait to go back.
On arrival, the property is seemingly inconspicuous. Nothing but the art deco railings would make you think it’s different to any of its neighbours on the street. That is, until you’re greeted by a light-filled entrance and living area complete with chic, contemporary design, an impressive art collection and plush touches that give an instant sense of calm. A few steps and you see the very reason owners Leigh and Louis bought the property; an epic view spanning the Melville Koppies, UJ’s sports grounds, the forested residences to the West, Sandton high rise business district and reaching as far as the Magaliesburg on a clear day. Although Joburg is set in a series of hills and valleys, viewpoints like this are hard to come by. The space is made up of an industrial bar, a custom emerald green Chesterfield sofa and a separate chill-out zone with slouchy seats for late night chats or sharing early morning coffees. The attention to detail is impeccable, with a beautiful balance of texture and jewel tone pops of colour throughout.
We arrived just before sunset and after a quick check-in, we settled in post haste so we could back to sun terrace for sundowners. This outdoor area is set up for intimate chats and reclining in the sunshine, but also has space to host dinners for guests on request. Pablo House has accommodated gatherings like parties, weddings and launches.
On the way to our room, we were taken past the shared terrace three rooms look on to. This long terrace has sliding doors that open up to an uninterrupted western view. Each of these three rooms has a small seated area and screen for privacy but keeps the option of opening up to the panorama. Our path takes us down a wooden staircase to two more private rooms nestling in treetops. Pablo House has retained exclusivity by only having 7 rooms, they are each a decent size with chic but cosy interiors.
My first thought on walking into our room was that I could not wait to spend the night! Our suite was a generous size with two windows letting in tons of late afternoon light. I got my camera out as soon my bag was out of my hands so I could catch the last rays of light from the day. I think what appeals the most about hotels is entering a space that is uncluttered, it has a calming effect that you don’t even notice. The use of bright colour and art are carried through here and enhanced by minimalist furniture, simple styling and soft, neutral touches. The lavish king size bed, a large flat screen TV (with Netflix), Nespresso and tea set up for you and a vintage-style Marshall speaker made me feel at home. The bathroom featured a rain shower, pure white subway tiling and uncomplicated fixtures. After a couple of hours driving, I knew a night in was just what I needed and Pablo House was delivering everything to make that happen. Being in a quiet part of Melville, it’s fairly tranquil but rooms are soundproofed so that you can be completely at peace if it’s what you need. Apparently, our neighbours for the night were party animals who came back after 3 am but we were none the wiser ’till chatting with them in the morning.
For those who are interested in the Melville nightlife, there are tons of options. By day Melville’s shops, restaurants and cafes are lively but by night the bars thrive. Choose between Hell’s Kitchen, cocktails at recently opened Mootee Bar, Lonely Hearts Club or picking out classics on the jukebox at Joanna’s Melt Bar. Milpark’s 44 Stanely and Parkhurst are also very close and filled with dinner options. With living areas so refined and relaxed, we decided to spend the night hanging out there before making an early retreat to the sanctuary of our room.
We got to meet an interesting couple from America and chat travel with them over a couple of drinks on that brilliant green sofa. Pablo House offers personal chef-tailored dinners on request. They had prepared for our new friends but graciously offered to us too. Co-owner Louis is also one of the founders of Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar, so we knew his meal would be a treat. I was set on ordering in using Uber Eats because of the many restaurants and cafes in the area to choose from and my slightly odd eating requirements- you’ll know what I’m talking about if you follow me on social media. What I didn’t realise was how many of the restaurants would be closed on the Sunday evening of a public holiday weekend. I went for Simply Asia, a takeaway go-to for me, and had my meal in 20 minutes flat. That’s an Uber Eats delivery time record for me.
The next morning I woke up a little later than usual but early enough for a yoga practice on the decked terrace. A night’s booking includes a R100 voucher for breakfast at Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar and Pablo House will book a tuk-tuk to take you there! In the interest of keeping our morning relaxed, we didn’t book a breakfast time (or tuk-tuk) but the advice is to head to Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar before 10 am if you’d like to avoid the queue.
This popular all-day breakfast restaurant has become one of the area’s most popular in its 2 years since opening. The founders dug deep into their heritage, putting Meditteranean and Middle Eastern classics at the forefront of the menu. Think shashukas, Yemeni flatbread, hummus and Isreali salads. They are a part of Johannesburg’s rapidly developing coffee culture with their own blend of beans available and speciality drinks beyond the usual espresso and cappuccinos. The Coconut Coffee is something I’ll go back for again and again. We shared a Green Shakshuka- more light and summery than it’s traditional red tomato counterpart- and Kitka French Toast. My love for generous portions knows no bounds, but I managed to make sure these dishes went back empty.
For anyone lucky enough to visit or live in Johannesburg, I can highly recommend spending a night (or maybe more) at Pablo House. Rooms range between R1100 and R1300 per room per night, including breakfast. Visit Pablo House’s website for more information and to book your stay.