A Once in a Lifetime Experience in Johannesburg
I thought my love affair with hostels was over after I heard people farting and snoring and what not in a 32 bed dorm in Norway – thanks, you expensive (yet still amazing) country!
But then I met Claudi from Once in Cape Town. And once I met her, she introduced me to everyone there and within a week I felt like I was part of the family. I didn’t even stay at Once; yet, I still found myself at this hostel almost every single day for two months straight. Why? Because it’s got such a feel good vibe and one of the trendiest bars in Cape Town – Yours Truly – is located right next to it.
So when the brand invited me to work with Once in Joburg, a poshtel rather than a hotel or hostel, of course, I said yes, and not only that – I said hell yes! They wanted me to cover the Afropunk festival, plus their Rebirth event leading up to Afropunk and create more content for them.
Now, here’s my honest review of the poshtel that I’d always recommend in Joburg as well as in Cape Town. I’m going to start with the best part:
1. Their staff goes beyond their working hours to make your stay amazing
The staff at Once really makes your stay a once in a lifetime experience. Not only are they helpful, but they’re willing to go above and beyond to make sure that you’re having a great time. They even invite you to private events or their homes. They will show you around, party with you, and always advise you on where to go or what to do. If it weren’t for them, my stay would not have been as awesome!
Because someone will always be there, you will absolutely never feel lonely.
A special thanks goes to Lucky, KG, Thobs, Zodwa, Marcell, Shevon, Dylan, and Nanz – if you visit them, tell’em Jenny sent you and give them a big hug 🙂
Only some of the awesome people are represented here 🙂
2. Spacious, clean, modern rooms
Once in Joburg has 4 bed dorms as well as double or single rooms. The rooms on the second floor all have access to a huge, nice balcony.
The poshtel is only about one year old; hence, all equipment is new and working well and looks new. Beds come in American twin sizes. You get conditioning shampoo, soap and a shower cap upon arrival, but they will also refill these items should you stay longer.
Rooms are also cleaned daily. Laundry is available as well and costs ZAR 28 (not even USD 2) per kilogram, as of the pub date of this article.
My favorite room is 210 because it doesn’t only have balcony access, but also a lot of space.
While you can’t hear what’s going on in other rooms, the downstairs bars play music; during the week until 10 p.m., on the weekends even longer, so don’t expect this to be a quiet place.
3. SO many community areas to chill and work
The first floor is the hangout space where everyone gathers. With two office rooms, the best, most comfortable cinema room ever and the communal room with plenty of seating, a pool table and a large kitchen, where you can cook up a storm, you’re guaranteed to meet at least one person there.
You can also hang out in comfortable chairs or bean bags by the reception area. On the ground floor as well, you’ll find “The Immigrant,” a busy student hangout with good food and drinks at great prices.
4. Events that let you dive deep into Joburg culture
Once in Joburg has weekly events such as a graffiti walk, Wine Not, bike tours, hikes, and soon some work-out and dance classes with Shevon – the best dance teacher out there. He taught me more in an hour than other people have in weeks or even months.
For every day of the week, Once will suggest you different things to do.
One of their multiple day events was Rebirth – An Afro-Awakening – which led up to the Afropunk festival on the New Years Eve weekend of 2017/2018.
For Rebirth, Once in Joburg had their GM Dylan cook amazing traditional meals two nights in a row, organized a Zulu beer tasting (including an amazing dance party) in Soweto, movies, poetry, and a bike tour, so you could really dive deep into Jozi culture. You were really able to feel the thoughtfulness and passion that went into Rebirth and how the planners really wanted to make you get closer to their city and feel at home away from home.
5. Central location in a lively student neighborhood and artist hub
Once in Joburg is located in Braamfontein, a bustling student neighborhood, which is extremely quiet however, when the students are off for their summer holidays (Christmas and New Years) – just keep that in mind.
“Braam,” as Braamfontein is also referred to, offers many restaurants in walking distance, a Pick n Pay, and plenty of other shops. The neighborhood is also known to be a hub for creatives and you can find many art galleries and local designer shops there. The oldest bar in Joburg, Kitcheners, is right down the street and its usually poppin’ in there. Great Dane is right around the corner. In both places you can get your dance on. Around the time of Afropunk, there were parties in a basement in Reserve Street, right across from Once, which was an awesome location playing lots of South African music.
For more orientation: Constitution Hill is right up the hill from Once and Maboneng is about a 15 minute Uber ride away (ZAR 54, not even USD 4).
6. Included breakfast
Breakfast at Once in Joburg is included. You’ll get a voucher for “The Immigrant,” which you can use for a bagel and spread or yogurt and granola, both with a hot drink and a banana or apple. If you don’t have breakfast, use your voucher towards a meal at “The Immigrant,” it’ll be ZAR 20 less.
Check out these 11 best things to do in various Johannesburg neighborhoods!
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to stay in Joburg, read about my opinion and safety tips here.
Also, have a look at my photo essay Faces of Joburg.
Feature image from Your Next Big Trip
A big thank you to Once in Joburg for hosting me on my trip to Johannesburg. As usual, all opinions are my own.
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