The energetic and ever-changing Johannesburg, or Jo’burg or Jozi has finally veered out from the shadows of South Africa’s Cape Town. The sprawling, well-planned city is brimming with boutique shopping experiences, sleek modern architecture, and Pan-African dining experiences. The title of ‘gay capital’ might belong to Cape Town, but Johannesburg is no less gay friendly. In spite of falling behind on social acceptance of LGBT rights, the city has a surprisingly accepting and progressive attitude. This is evident in the profusion of gay hotels that Johannesburg, South Africa has. Although there’s no discernible gay village, there’s a vibrant gay scene in the gayborhoods of Melville and llovo. From chill lounges to luxe nightclubs to saunas, gay hotels Johannesburg has it all. What’s more, the city also plays host to the annual Pride of Africa festival. The best part? It’s the biggest LGBT Pride celebration on the continent!
Although Johannesburg is no Cape Town, Jozi is, after all, the biggest city in South Africa. ‘The City of Gold,’ as its moniker goes, is home to important sights. This includes the Apartheid Museum, Nelson Mandela’s House, and the FNB Stadium, one of The World’s 15 Most Amazing Stadiums. Moreover, it’s also the gateway to the spectacular Kruger National Park. Finally, it’s also just an hour from National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, one of the 25 Largest Zoos In The World. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot to explore in Johannesburg too. To that end, here are the top 11 gay hotels in Johannesburg, South Africa.
If you’re an LGBTQ traveler looking to explore the new, exciting, and creative side of Jo’burg, then the Hallmark House is where you should be. This trendy new hotel sits at the eastern edge of the Fashion District and is one of the first high-end accommodations in the neighborhood. And although the gayborhoods are a 15-minute drive, there in the neighborhood too.
The hotel’s style is retro-urban industrial with tons of abstract, contemporary art. The structure has spent a former life as a diamond-polishing workshop and a warehouse both, before being repurposed into a hotel. Aside from a 24/7 reception, the hotel has a coffee shop, a 70s-style retro bar, and a restaurant. Besides a huge breakfast buffet with made-to-order eggs, the restaurant also serves African-inspired fare. What’s more, the hotel even has a superb outdoor swimming pool and a small spa, both of which are ideal for unwinding. If you want to work out, then there’s even a gym. However, the rooftop bar is the buzziest space on-site.
The smart and contemporary rooms feature a grey, white, and black palette with a splash of color with African batik-style wall hangings. Kettles, flatscreen TVs, and complimentary minibars are mainstays in all, as are spacious bathrooms. If you want to splash, go for the Executive rooms with bathtubs or the ones with balconies.
The Peech Hotel, Johannesburg
Nothing says ‘romance’ better than The Peech Hotel, one of the coziest and intimate gay hotels Johannesburg has. Sitting on lush, landscaped acres in the heart of lush, upmarket Melrose, the hotel is also a mere 10-minute walk into gayborhood Illovo. Moreover, the property is no more than 10 minutes from Jo’burg’s main shopping, business, and sightseeing hubs as well.
The hotel is a cluster of sleek standalone pavilions and annexes sitting around a 1950s heritage home. The entire setting is tucked into a two-acre garden filled with blooms and birdsong, with a dash of sunny South-African charm. Lots of natural light and local craftwork like handwoven metal screens add a sense of place to the boutique hotel. Even though there’s no spa, you do have two outdoor swimming pools to choose from. Two restaurants, one of which is only for guests, serve both local and international fare. Plus, there’s also a lovely light buffet breakfast of French Toast, eggs Florentine, cold cuts, pastries, and more. Finally, the hotel also has access to the Planet Fitness Gym, in case you want to work out.
32 airy and breezy rooms, including two-bedroom villas, feature natural materials, bold grey-blue color palettes, and modern interiors. The en-suite bathrooms are minimally luxurious. if you want to splurge, we’d suggest the villas which sit in standalone garden pavilions.
The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg
The Michelangelo Hotel is one of the most refined and romantic luxury gay hotels Johannesburg has. Located smack dab in Sandton, the hotel offers Renaissance-style luxury in the very heart of Johannesburg. Not only is some of Jo’burg’s best entertainment and shopping just minutes away, but even the gay scene at Illovo is a mere 10-minute drive.
The seven-storied atrium of this grande dame is one of the most photogenic hotel spaces in Jozi. A glass dome apart, the place features a circular bar, sculptural art, and even a koi pond. Moreover, you’ll gape at the sight of the glass lifts making their thrilling ascents. There’s no mistaking the theme – ‘old world Italy’ – right from the honey-hued exterior to the imposing and classic arches. Besides a residents’ lounge, there’s even a small spa, complete with steam rooms, saunas, treatment rooms, and even a glass-domed pool area. While the restaurant and bar are par-excellence, it’s the breakfast that’ll enthrall you, for it’s the best in the city. The well-rounded buffet serves everything from dim sums and fresh continental classics to a made-to-order menu of local fare, waffles, crepes, and more.
Rooms are very spacious, with highlights being the cloud-like beds, massive bathrooms with separate showers and tubs, and flatscreen TVs and coffeemakers.
The Residence Boutique Hotel
Located in the upscale neighborhood of Houghton, the Residence Boutique Hotel is one of the most bespoke gay hotels Johannesburg has. The one-of-a-kind boutique hotel is the perfect place to stay if you’re traveling with your partner and are looking for a serene hideaway in the city. What was a former residence is now a hotel that’s made of three double-story mansions, resulting in one gorgeous labyrinth that’s easy to get lost in.
There are small and thoughtful touches throughout that make you feel like you’re at home, rather than a hotel. For instance, the property has lots of secluded nooks, including two private lounges, for tranquil lounging. The gardens are like lush hideaways and feature lovely paths that are lit up by candles at night. Interiors are sophisticated with welcoming touches like the aroma of lemongrass and the dulcet tones of a piano in the evening. Along with a restaurant and bar, there’s a continental buffet breakfast on the offer. You can choose from three outdoor swimming pools, including a heated one, each with sun loungers underneath parasols. Besides a tennis court and gym, there’s also a spa with a couple’s suite that’s perfect for unwinding.
The 18 lavish designer suites range from one-bedroom suites to the pol villa and penthouse. Antique furniture, plush fabrics, silk drapes, and Persian rugs lend elegance. Besides a slew of mod-cons, interesting additions include an outdoor area with loungers and hot tub and in-room fireplaces in all rooms!
Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
If luxury in Jozi is what you want, then the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa it is. The peaceful suburban oasis lies right outside the swanky Sandton, and brims with birds and jacaranda blooms. The hotel was formerly a 10-acre manor house and is perfect if you want to get away from the bustle of inner-city Johannesburg. The best part? It’s extremely gay friendly.
The hotel looks nothing less than a grand English country house; think Romanesque pots, foliage-fringed quiet courtyards, and a lion’s-head water feature sculptures. The silence is welcoming, to say the least, broken only by the twittering of birdsong. On the inside, you have bohemian bric-a-brac like phrenology busts and gold monkey pots to monochrome tiles. The Balinese spa gardens make for cozy spaces to lounge or enjoy a walk, complete with moss-stained statues and bamboo fronds. The standout feature in the gardens is, undoubtedly, the gorgeous pool surrounded by greenery and monochrome sun loungers. Two restaurants take care of all hunger pangs and cravings, including buffet breakfast with à la carte options.
On the other hand, rooms are a mix of 40 suites and one exclusive-use villa. All rooms are restfully decked out with moody paintings, low-slung chandeliers, and plush fabrics. The only thing standing between the massive bathrooms and the rooms are bi-folding latticed doors, which is almost as sexy as the freestanding bathtubs for two.
It’s not surprising that one of the best gay hotels in Johannesburg, South Africa is one of its best hostels. Welcome to CURIOCITY Backpackers, a fun-filled hostel that dispels all myths you’ve ever had about inner-city Jo’burg. It lies in the up-and-coming, slowly gentrifying urban redevelopment area of the Maboneng Precinct and is one of the best places to stay in town. To begin with, you’ll be impressed by the digs that are not just immaculate, but one of the most spacious you’d have ever seen in hostels. You have the options of 4/6/8/10/12-bed dorms, which are both female-only and mixed. What’s more, you also have the choice of private rooms, which feature twin or double beds, as well as a killer loft one. High ceilings, crisp white sheets, and extension cables for bedside charging make it one of the most thoughtful dorms ever.
The hostel is one buzzing space and is very popular with locals too. So, you end up not only meeting other backpackers, but also the locals and get to know how they live their lives. The place has a number of buzzing hot spots, including an outdoor jacuzzi (bye-bye heat!), a chilled-out balcony, and a hopping bar. Sprawl on the comfy bean bags and guzzle a cold one while chilling out with your new friends on the balcony. The barbeque nights are also an excellent way to mingle, as is the games room. Plus, there are bicycles which you can rent and explore on your own. The well-equipped shared kitchen is perfect for whipping up meals, and the hostel even offers walking tours of the most interesting areas of town.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff
A mere 10-minute drive from Jo’burg’s snazzy gay nightlife in Melville lies the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. It’s the best hotel in the city to spy sweeping views of Johannesburg’s urban forest. The hotel is a cluster of hillside villas linked by winding cobbled streets and feels more like an urban resort. Today, the fabulous, classy, and contemporary hotel is one amazing gay hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Just like other Four Seasons hotels, the facilities, amenities, and service is par excellence. There’s a laundry list of facilities, including an amazing outdoor pool peppered with sun loungers and shaded partially by the lush foliage. Unwind with your partner at the excellent spa and lap pool. The best of the lot is the outdoor bar and two main restaurants, which lie right at the top of the property. There’s no doubt that they enjoy the best views on the property. It’s where a superb breakfast is also served, complete with rising-sun views of the lush greenery. Everything comes together beautifully with thoughtful service, right from complimentary sun cream at the poolside, or the stunning turndown service.
117 rooms across five categories are spread across nine structures and vary across sizes and views both. We’d recommend the Superior rooms with city views or any category that specifies ‘panoramic view.’ Nevertheless, they’re all contemporary with dark- and duck-egg blue offset by marron or mustard cushions. Aside from the slew of mod-cons, the highlight is the supremely comfortable and bespoke Four Seasons beds. Minibars and marble bathrooms with showers and tubs mean you can keep the party going all night long.
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers
For a real local experience, Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers is one of the best gay hotels you can find in Johannesburg. Located in the western part of the city, this justifiably celebrated establishment started off as a backpackers hostel. However, today it offers a whole range of luxury options as well. So, not only do you have the choice of comfy dorms, but you also have single or double rooms, and also space to pitch your own tent in the lovely back gardens! What’s more, it allows you to stay within your budget and rather spend it on exploring the Top 6 Things To Do In Johannesburg!
Also, Lebo’s offers a whole range of facilities too. To begin with, there’s a shared kitchen where you can whip up quick meals. Begin your day on a lovely note with a homemade cooked breakfast. Moreover, the hosts even whip up home-style meals and hold get-togethers around braais, South-African style. The standout is the lush garden, which is nothing short of a green oasis in the middle of the city. It has hammocks beneath the trees, a beach bar, and more. You can even book a local cooking experience with home-grown garden ingredients! Finally, Lebo’s also offers tuk-tuk tours, walking and cycling tours of the neighborhood and the city.
Once in Joburg
When it comes to budget gay stays in Johannesburg, it’s hard to ignore Once in Jo’burg. The hostel, or rather ‘poshtel,’ is for those who want the finer things in life with the budget of a backpacker. To begin with, the smiling staff hands you a welcome kit, complete with local tour info, breakfast vouchers, Wi-Fi password, and the room key. The activity board right there is easy to check what’s on the schedule each day. You can choose between female-only and mixed four-bed dorms or private rooms. Besides comfy beds, dorms also feature individual lights and charging stations, plus immaculate bathrooms. The private rooms are no less than hotel rooms, complete with flatscreen TVs, coffee/tea-making facilities, and more.
You’ll be impressed like anything when you see the facilities here. Breakfast is a lovely spread of muesli with yogurt, bagel with a yummy spread, a piece of fruit, juice, and even a hot drink. The first-floor common area is spacious with a shared kitchen and lots of hammocks, bean bags, and comfy couches. There are even a pool table and a well-stocked book exchange that helps break the ice with fellow travelers. Also, in good weather, the large balcony is the perfect place to chug a cold one. Moreover, the hotel’s activity board overflows with offbeat and quirky sessions like an Instagram Grafitti walk or heading to the Botanical Gardens.
The best part? The hostel sometimes has a “No Power Hour” at the bar, where it provides drinks but you cannot bring your phone. It’s a fantastic way to meet other guests and strike scintillating conversations with new people.
54 On Bath
Dive into chic urban luxury with 54 on Bath, one of the best boutique gay hotels in Johannesburg, South Africa. Both gayborhoods of Melville and Illovo a mere 5-10-minute drive away. In fact, the fabulous Babylon gay bar is a few blocks right down the street. That, combined with the fact that it sits adjacent to one of Johannesburg’s biggest shopping precincts makes this one amazing choice for a boutique gay hotel in town.
This sexy number impresses right from the outset with a foyer as opulent as it gets. Think plush sofas, crystal chandeliers, mirrored columns, and even a white grand piano! A chilled welcome drink and a warm towel later, you’re shown around the property and the room. The hotel has a tie-up with the Life Day Spa, where you can head to via the complimentary shuttle or order in-room massages. Besides a gym, the hotel offers a superb high tea and breakfast at the fine dining restaurant. A cold buffet is accompanied by croissants, fresh fruit platters, and, of course, made-to-order eggs. The restaurant leads to the stunning garden terrace, complete with manicured green lawns and a historic red brick exterior. During warm weather, it’s the perfect place to enjoy alfresco meals. Rounding up everything is the elevated swimming pool with panoramas of the city.
Rooms have views overlooking the city or the hotel gardens and boast contemporary monochromatic décor with striking artwork all over. All standard mod-cons aside, the hotel features soft beds, slippers, plush bathrobes, and even a pillow menu. What’s more, all bathrooms have bathtubs! The highlight is the assortment of complimentary snacks that await you, along with iced tea and chocolates at turndown. Talk about luxury!
12 Decades Art Hotel, Johannesburg
Discerning gays, take note – 12 Decades Art Hotel, Johannesburg is not so much a stay as it’s an experience. Every space of the hotel captures a distinct part of the city’s past, combined with modern living aspects. The result is a guest experience that’s half an art installation and half a hotel, sitting in the urban renewal precinct of Maboneng. Since the entire focus is this hotel is the rooms, there aren’t many facilities here. However, the hotel does have bicycles for rent, tons of tours for exploring the city, and more activities. There’s even an on-site café, but it’s better for light meals and snacks. But, there are superb options close-by.
That said, it’s the 12 loft-style rooms that are the highlight here. Each one is designed by a different artist and is themed after or inspired by a specific era in Jo’burg’s history between 1886 and 2006. So, you have everything from the ‘Randlords’ and gold rush to the working-class life and even one of the most tumultuous periods in South Africa history. For instance, the Sir Abe Bailey Suite and ‘This is the house that Jack Built’ room take on gold rush themes. On the other hand, ‘perpetual Liberty,’ which represents the 1996-2006 era focuses on contemporary and features a plush bed and jaw-dropping views. Since it’s an apart-hotel, all rooms have kitchens.
Just So You Know:
- South Africa was the first African nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
Get Some Culture in Johannesburg:
- Johannesburg Pride: This historic event that dates back to 1990 is the first-ever LGBT event to take place in Africa! The event boasts a unique “Pride of Africa” flag which is inspired by all 54 African countries. The events end with a huge parade from the Gay Village.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Johannesburg:
- Ratz – This eclectic and sociable gay bar has become a sort of LGBT bastion in the city.
- Babylon, The Bar – This chic and stylish Sandton gay bar is one of the best gay nightclubs in Jo’burg.
Best Gay Saunas in Johannesburg:
- The Rec Room – This fun gay sauna and steam room is also a bar! It’s been around for nearly 20 years and features three maze areas, private cubicles, and indoor jacuzzi, and two video lounges.