Review of the InterContinental Sandton Towers, Johannesburg

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This is my review of the InterContinental Sandton Towers hotel in Johannesburg.

In early April I went to Johannesburg for a few days to test South African Airways’ new business product. The review of my South African business class flight is here and it is worth a read if you are planning a trip to Africa.

I booked the InterContinental Sandton Towers with Rob’s IHG Rewards Club points.  At just 30,000 points per night it is good value, and was even available for 15,000 points per night on PointBreaks last week although the room allocation has now gone.  Due to Rob’s Spire Ambassador status I was guaranteed an early check-in (9am) and a late check-out (4pm) which gave me almost two and a half days at the hotel.

My plan for the few days in Johannesburg was to sit by the pool and get a tan. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great which meant on the first day it was too cold, on the second day it was raining with thunderstorms and lightning and on the third day it was still grey and cold.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

Instead I had a lot of time to explore the rest of the hotel and the two shopping malls next door.

Check-in

I walked up to the check-in desk, gave them my name and passport and was sent to the 24th floor as I had been upgraded to a Club room (hello Club Lounge with free food and drinks!)

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg reviewMy room

The InterContinental Sandton Towers is one of the older InterContinental hotels.  Rob remembers spending time there back in 1998 in his banking days and I’m pretty sure the hotel has not been refurbished since then as the style was a little bit dated. That said, even though the room had a little bit too much brown for my taste, the room was spacious and bright with the large windows letting in a lot of natural light.

The bed was very comfortable but had a second sheet between the sheet and duvet which was made of an odd stiff cotton fabric and I had to throw it out of the bed.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

The desk was large and had several drawers. There was a speaker on the desk which you could only use with an old school ipod – and even I don’t have my 80GB classic anymore.

Review IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

Good news for coffee and tea drinkers. There was a Nespresso machine as well as a kettle in the room. However, there was no fresh milk.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

In between the room and the bathroom was a walk in wardrobe with ironing board, safe, robes and a lot of storage.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

The bathroom itself had a bathtub as well as a shower and a toilet behind a separate door. Again there was a lot of storage including room around the sink as well as several shelves.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

The hotel is a triangular shape and you could look all the way down to the ground floor with the reception, bar and restaurant.

In the top left bit of the picture below you can see one part of the club lounge. The other part with the meeting room is to the right.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

The Club Lounge

The InterContinental Sandton club lounge was quite small with only 12 seats and got very busy in the mornings. Kids under the age of 12 were not allowed and older children had to be accompanied by an adult.

The lounge was open from 6:30am-10pm every day.  During the day there were snacks, fruits and soft drinks and you could order complimentary sandwiches and coffee.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

From 5:30pm – 7:30pm it was happy hour with hot and cold canapes and wine, beer and mix drinks.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

I had breakfast in the lounge the first morning but it was so busy I couldn’t find a seat at first.  Breakfast is served from 6:30am until 11am.

The food selection was good with bread, fish, cheeses, yogurt and a menu with egg dishes to order.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

Breakfast in the restaurant downstairs was by far better than in the lounge. With a larger selection of everything they had in the lounge and a Japanese corner.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg review

I ordered an egg benedict which was very good.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

Being a bit lazy I ordered room service in the evening. I was surprised how cheap the dishes were.  Don’t judge me but I had a burger and a beer. Including a side salad I paid around £13.

IHG Sandton Towers Johannesburg

Conclusion

The InterContinental Sandton Towers is a decent hotel in the financial and business district of Johannesburg.  It has a skywalk connecting the hotel to two shopping malls with a large amount of restaurants and also the convention centre.

As the weather wasn’t great and I couldn’t use the pool, the lounge access came in handy to have snacks and coffee during the day and wine and canapes in the evening.  There is no guarantee that you would get a similar upgrade, of course, even as a Spire Ambassador.  As a redemption, it is surprisingly good value at 30,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

The InterContinental Sandton Towers website is here.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Joe Jam says:

    IMO, it was one of the better deals to be had in the latest iteration of Point Breaks.

  2. Tony says:

    You were lucky with the double upgrade. IHG really is poor with regards to its highest elite status. As a Spire Ambassador I can stay at a Crowne Plaza and the majority of times be upgraded to a Club room with lounge access yet have never had that at an Intercontinental. I was at the Intercontinental Warsaw this weekend and was told no after politely enquiring about the possibility of access.

    • Matt says:

      Spire Royal Ambassador is the highest elite status.

      I’m not too bothered about the lack of lounge access upgrades etc because I’ve ‘cheated’ my way Spire Amb simply via credit card spend and virgin transfers. I like that IHG scheme has very easy points earning via credit card and accelerate, so I can redeem for stays at beautiful properties like Paris, Amsterdam, Bordeaux etc for weekend breaks. If I was a true hotel elite status achiever doing 50/60/75+ nights per year, I certainly wouldn’t choose IHG as my preferred hotel scheme!

      • Tony says:

        It is and it isn’t… Royal Amb is a tier within the Ambassador programme, supposedly invite only. Spire is the highest within IHG and is poor compared to say, Hilton. You’re right though I’d be even more annoyed if I had obtained the status by stays rather than topping up with Virgin miles.

  3. zark says:

    I stayed in this hotel many times in the ’90’s. The Butchers Shop Brasserie in Sandton Square shopping mall was excellent in those days.
    An odd memory was from the time of the major elections of late April 1994. Met the CNN film crew in the bar. One of them told me that they were leaving that evening. When I pointed ou that the elections don’t fininsh for a couple more days, he said ‘no violence, so nothing to film’…….

  4. Seat54 says:

    IHG is just terrible these days or perhaps I’m noticing others are better. Just cancelled my IHG 4 day stay in Sydney, one night being a reward night and they contacted me for AUD50 to upgrade that night when I was spending AUD1200 for the other nights, all because they were upgrading the other nights.

    Their attitude stinks to ask for a further $50 for the reward night upgrade is ridiculous, just the principle of the thing and what was I getting more, a harbour view ! I told them I don’t need a harbour view on any night, they then told me I would have to move rooms as the others would be upgraded and this one night won’t.

    Cancelled reservation, off to Marriott Pier One instead

    • Matt says:

      Agreed that’s an annoying pesky charge when you’re paying cash for the other 3 nights. However the points + £27 to be upgraded to a harbour view room is a good deal in my book. Out of interest what status level are you?

  5. Rivo says:

    The Gautrain Radisson Blu is my hotel of choice when staying in Sandton. Very handy for the airport train.

  6. Scallder says:

    “it is worth a read if you are planning a trip to Africa”

    Yes this is pedantic, but you’re not going to fly South African Airways to most of the continent given you’re going back on yourself…

    Africa seems in a large amount of press/blogging to get lumped as one place which is grossly unfair given the huge range of countries and cultures.

  7. Roger I* says:

    Thanks, Anika. Good report. We were there almost at the same time, staying in a club room as Platinum Elite (with the IHG black credit card). Pity about the weather.

    We had a 7-night stay, consisting of 1 free credit card night, 2 Ambassador nights (2nd night free) and 4 nights on points (mine and my wife’s). We stayed in the same room throughout. Unfortunately, we had to check in and out and update key cards 4 times in spite of advance contact and the promise of being able to use the same key cards throughout. Never mind, we survived. 😉

    My Ambassador gift was a decent pair of headphones. My wife’s was a nougat bar. 😀 For some reason, she was disappointed. (She now has the headphones; we shared the nougat bar.)

    I wanted to return for another 7-night stay last week but the IC wasn’t available for the whole period because of a big conference at the next door conference centre. I booked at the Balalaika (Protea using Marriott points). Poor stay. We left after 2 nights and had a great 5-night stay at the Sandton Hilton on points. There’s much more upmarket choice in Sandton now.

    Yes, the IC is a little dated but is still one of my go-to hotels in Sandton.

  8. Kevin says:

    We stayed for a night at the IC Tambo Airport over Easter.

    We had interconnecting rooms. The Executive double was especially nice and came with a decanter of sherry in the lobby. Room service was very good value there as well. Ambassador gift was a free drink and a large chocolate rabbit.

    We took the Gautrain into Sandton to see Nelson Mandela Square and the bewilderingly large shopping mall. Gautrain was quick, safe and expensive.

    • Roger I* says:

      Yes, bewildering is the word for the Sandton mall. It was bad enough before but has doubled in size since my last visit. No printed maps/location plans either.

      The Sandton City mall is walkable via overhead link from the IC. Sandton Square and N Mandela are walkable via the Convention Centre link in the other direction.

      Most major hotels run shuttle buses to Sandton Square.

      Kevin, did you ever use the BA/VS arrival lounge at Tambo? It was on the ground floor of the Tambo IC. I used it regularly but was often alone.

      • Kevin says:

        I didn’t see the lounge and a quick google search suggests it isn’t there any more.

        We came in on Air France and weren’t offered an arrival lounge. JNB doesn’t have a fast track for immigration either.

        • Roger I* says:

          Correct. The IC arrivals lounge is no more.

          AFAIK the only arrivals lounge at JNB is that of SAA. I don’t know whether it is available to other *A premium passengers – I suspect not.

  9. flibby says:

    I was a very regular visitor to Joburg a few years ago and have stayed at all the hotels around Sandton. The IC would not be my first (or even second/third) choice. While the Gautrain Radisson is the handiest for the Gautrain, I liked the Da Vinci the best (and not just because the cute young woman on reception always remembered me!). Not being part of a chain I used to book that through hotels.com and rack up the one in 10 free nights from there.

  10. Mistercutts says:

    A burger and a beer, nothing wrong with that!

  11. Robin says:

    Thanks , Anita, could you explain how the guaranteed 9am check-in works? If the hotel is fully booked the night prior what do they do? Drag existing guests out of bed?!

    • Highly unlikely in a hotel that size that a) it would be 100% full and b) no-one would have left by, say, 7am (for work, for the airport) in order to clean a room by 9am.

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