Joburg: 7 hours layover.

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  • evelyn

    Any suggestions for the seven hour layover? We arrive in on Air Seychelles and leave on British Airways. Business class on both airlines. End of October.
    Was wondering about a hotel with a pool or something more interesting.
    Thanks in advance


    If you haven’t been before, I’d suggest a trip to Gold Reef City and/or the adjacent Apartheid Museum, but you need to allow roughly an hour each way for the journey as it’s on the opposite side of JNB, certainly for the return to the airport as the traffic can be dreadful. I would prebook a transfer/guide and not rely on taxis (be careful, as the airport is swarming with illegal taxi touts) or Uber. This would give you about 4 hours there, depending on if you will have been able to check your luggage through.

    If you feel that would be a bit of a rush, adjacent to the airport is the Emperor’s Palace/Caesar’s Palace complex where you can go and have a meal and a swim – I’m sure they have day visitor facilities and that’s just a few minutes away.

    You could also go into Sandton, Johannesburg, or Pretoria on the Gautrain.

    Or you could take a guided tour into Soweto, which is a bit further, and quite interesting, something I resisted doing for many years until persuaded by my wife and son to do it and to see the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace prize winners lived.

    There’s not much else that comes to mind but someone else may have other ideas.

    You are obviously aware of the dangerous reputation of JNB, please rely only on professionals for transport and assistance and the risk is then minimal. I would not recommend hiring a car due partly to the time involved with pick up and drop off and also unless you know exactly where you want to go and are confident, there is a greater risk than using a transfer.


    capetonianm +1

    To simply relax, go to Emperor’s Palace complex. Twenty minutes tops in a taxi/Uber.Very reasonably priced. I have spent two New Year Eves there for various reasons and it was very agreeable.


    I can highly recommend Quills restaurant in the Intercontinental OR Tambo which is about a two minute walk from the international arrivals area. I know it might not sound as attractive a proposition as somewhere with a swimming pool, but you might find that seven hours will go very quickly especially if you are recovering your luggage at OR Tambo and will be checking in again for your flight to London. Security can be slow at OR Tambo especially as (unless things have changed very recently), there’s no fast track for premium passengers. So make sure you factor in sufficient time for all of this. Whilst the BA lounge at ORT is being refurbished I understand they are using the SLOW lounge which is very good.


    Thanks for all the suggestions.
    We were in Joburg last year so have done the obvious touristy things.
    I have tried to contact Emperors palace, 3 emails so far, but get no reply from them.
    Am still hoping for suggestions of hotels accessible from OR Tambo with pools that would offer day rate.
    Happy to use Gautrain but dont feel enough time for a relaxed visit to Pretoria.


    You could try Kopanong in Benoni. I used to go there but it was about 12 years ago and since then it has been taken over by one of the big groups and I think it mainly serves conferences, not sure if they are interested in day visitors. It was a pleasant place to spend a day – I had a friend who worked there so I may have had privileges not extended to the general public!

    aha Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre


    The Intercontinental, just opposite the terminal, do have a day rate. This is also where you’ll find Quills restaurant. On the top floor is a spa with swimming pool which you can use for a fee.

    Personally I wouldn’t go into town and would stay in the airport area.


    This is not relevant for JNB but there was an article in the DT this morning mentioning an operator showing hotels offering day use facilities. I had a quick look and they all seem to be high end properties in Italy and the UK but it may well expand.

    The launch of new online platform, A Fine Hour means that travellers can now access premium hotels from groups like The Luxury Collection – without having to stay the night.

    Before your mind leaps to the obvious, the visitors using this service are here for the hotel’s luxury amenities only.

    Think state-of-the-art spas, pools and gyms that often stay hauntingly empty as guests eschew in-hotel treadmill sessions for city walking tours.

    While hotel residents may prefer to make use of these sorts of facilities early in the morning or late in the evening, there are those who would relish the chance to use them in daylight hours, myself included.


    I used to stay at the Intercontinental but we now stay at City Lodge OR Tambo. I think the Intercontinental is a bit of a rip off. City Lodge OR Tambo is convenient, has a pool and has day room rates. Not the most luxurious hotel but it has good rates and is perfectly fine for a layover. I too would just stay at the airport for 7 hours. We once spent about 2 hours just trying to get through Johannesburg immigration. Doesn’t happen often but it does happen.

    Below is the link to City Lodge OR Tambo. If you book, be careful to make sure the City Lodge has OR Tambo in the title as there’s another City Lodge.

    Good luck.


    We went last week to the Cradle of Humankind centre, and hour and a half or so’s drive north of Jo’burg. You start off in a boat going through an underground tunnel to give you an idea of how cave dwellers lived, then there are two floors of well documented and informative displays. Plus a stunning collection of life size bronzes of men and women central to the Rainbow Nation’s history, spanning 300 years or so, outside. I sensed they could do with all the visitors they can get.

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