BACKGROUND: BON Hotels, which owns, operates and manages hotels throughout Africa, added BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central to its South African portfolio. The hotel was rebranded from its Protea affiliation and opened on 1 July 2016.
WHERE IS IT? On a busy street in the centre of Bloemfontein. It forms part of the Bloem Plaza shopping centre which provides parking and leisure facilities for guests. If you’re being chauffeured to the hotel, there is a designated drop-off zone right outside reception so that cars don’t create traffic jams.
ROOM FACILITIES: There are 115 rooms, with a choice of standard, superior and suites. My superior room was wonderfully spacious and stocked with all the things I’ve come to expect from a hotel – crisp white linen on a comfortable queen-sized bed, a flat screen TV with DStv channels, a desk with ample plug points, a comfy office chair, aircon and a kettle for tea and coffee (with full-sized coffee mugs instead of tiny tea cups). There was even a mini fridge, which can be stocked on request (I didn’t). The laminate wood flooring made a nice change from the carpets that are usually laid in hotels. My room on the third floor overlooked the outdoor function area where a group of guests were enjoying their Friday night; unfortunately the windows aren’t sound-proof and I had to be up early the following morning. The bathroom offered a shower over the bath – fair for a three-star hotel.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: On the second floor is the Judges Bar and the Courtroom restaurant. A buffet breakfast is served in the Courtroom, with all the usual suspects and a few less common ones. Eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes for the full English breakfast, and cereals, pastries, fruit, nuts and yoghurt on the cold buffet. Pancakes and omelettes are freshly made in front of you. But my favourite was the French toast, keeping warm on the hot buffet. The waiters brought coffee and tea to the table, while the ice-cold fruit juice was self-service. The bar serves pub-style lunches with specials including T-bone steak, fried hake, spare ribs, grilled chicken and lamb cutlets. For dinner, the Courtroom serves a carvery, which is also offered for Sunday lunch. The food is not Michelin star haute cuisine (which I appreciated), but what comes out of the kitchen is fresh and tasty.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel has a fairly extensive conference offering, with capacity for 420 people in six rooms on the second floor. The space can be configured for small or large groups, as the six rooms can all open into a single venue. There is a separate kitchen servicing the conference rooms, ensuring that delegates are well-fed. On the ground floor, just past the reception desk, is a mid-sized room that can be set up to check in large groups or welcome conference delegates without causing a problem for other
LEISURE FACILITIES: There are no on-site leisure facilities, but guests receive a preferential rate at the gym in Bloem Plaza. The hotel is located close to all transport nodes, businesses and tourist attractions and offers a complimentary shuttle service to all guests around Bloemfontein and to and from Bloemfontein Airport which is just 10 kilometres away. The Loch Logan Waterfront is a popular attraction for its great selection of shops and restaurants. Other nearby attractions and activities include hiking, city tours, game drives, golf, tennis, bowls, horse riding, water skiing and squash.
VERDICT: A solid three-star city offering. The General Manager Pieter van Rooyen has been managing the hotel for 17 years and makes you feel instantly welcome, as do the staff. And with the exception of some slightly over-salted hake goujons, the food was excellent.