Four star-graded hotels gained sudden favour with government employees when staying at five-star establishments was considered too wasteful while the three star-offering and below seemed relegated to the budget traveller looking for the no-frills stay.
A comfortable bed (including comfy pillows), good bedside lights, loo and powerful shower are essential - and the desk is a nice touch as well.
This will change when guests see the three-star graded Protea Hotel Manor in Hatfield, Pretoria. From my perspective, as a luxury writer, there aren't many things missing from this experience.
Things like robes, slippers and 24-hour room service synonymous with five-stars are always nice to have, but essentials such as a great bed, strong shower, scrumptiously clean rooms and loo are must-haves.
A cool experience
I was really impressed with our room both in terms of size and the standard of furnishing. It was certainly upscale and fairly glamorous with silvered turned legs on the bedside units. I liked having a large velveteen wingback armchair in the room and an empty, freestanding fridge to keep whatever I might want to, chilled. A pod-coffee machine was a big bonus.
The public areas are well appointed.
There was a good timber-topped table with the silvered turned legs to match the bed units working space, and something too many hotels fail at, great reading bedside lamps. With the TV recessed into the wall the room has a clean look about it.
Public areas had a sophisticated, New York-feel to them with dark colours and brocade fabrics. I very much liked how they incorporated Pretoria views into the interior by using large format photographic wallpaper and added drama with over-sized carver chairs and dramatic lighting - feathery shades in the restaurant among them.
A drawback or two, but the food is great...
Based on the interior and service we received, I'd expect this property to be graded five stars. Perhaps Protea Hotels is upping its game in anticipation for the Marriot rebranding but I'm certainly not complaining.
Drawbacks are that the pool is tiny and there is no gym on site. That said, there is a Virgin Active in the very next building and the hotel has arranged discounted fees.
The food was for the gods... and the writer, naturally.
Another unexpected plus was the quality of the food offering. We had both a buffet dinner and breakfast there. Because there were a number of conferencing guests in-house, the group had requested a braai, which, frankly I thought, would be awful. Not only was it delicious but they'd grilled chicken pieces and chops on open flames and then, in the open demo-style kitchen, grilled boerewors, tenderised steaks and other goodies to order. There was also an excellent side buffet and plenty that I could eat on my low-carb diet. Best among them was a chicken liver salad with spinach and peppers in a creamy sauce. It had a chilli kick and, on account of the livers being cooked just to pink, was luscious on the tongue.
Breakfast was equally excellent.
I would not hesitate to stay here again. It is within walking distance of the Hatfield Gautrain station but not much else I can recommend. If fast food is your bag, your location here is smack in the middle of fast-food heaven with Burger King etc on the doorstep. The university, government departments and parastatals are nearby.
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