Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo is the driving force behind the 4-star Soweto Hotel, having opened it as a Holiday Inn in 2007. The hotel was re-branded in 2009, with the owners relinquishing the Holiday Inn branding rights to the InterContinental Hotel Group. Sangweni-Siddo is now the Managing Director of the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre and the Soweto Hotel. That’s after joining forces with Birchwood in July 2011. The start of the Birchwood partnership also saw the development of a new conference centre, seating 20 to 60 delegates.
Where is it?
The hotel is on the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, on the corner of Union Avenue and Main Road in Kliptown, Soweto. It is about 45 minutes to Sandton and a similar time to O.R. Tambo International Airport. Vilakazi Street – originally home to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and a popular tourist destination – is about 10 minutes’ drive away. Here there are a few bars and restaurants, including the Sakhumzi Restaurant, where we enjoyed an outstanding buffet meal on a buzzing Friday evening.
The hotel has 48 rooms made up of 26 Deluxe Madiba Queen rooms, 20 Deluxe Madiba Twin rooms, and two suites. We were accommodated in the OR Tambo Presidential Suite, which is a luxurious two-bedroom suite featuring a cosy lounge with flat-screen TV (with selected news, sport and movie channels), lounge suite, work desk and tea/coffee station. The bedroom I found on the small side, although very comfortable with king-size bed, TV, safe and lounge chair. The bathroom was arguably bigger, with large bathtub and separate rain shower, two basins, hanging space and complimentary toiletries. Altogether, a comfortable suite with just about all you need. Additional facilities include room service, laundry and dry-cleaning services, whilst Wi-Fi vouchers are available at reception. I tested the speed and it was pretty impressive.
Restaurants & Bars
We had breakfast at Jazz Maniacs and the fare was fairly standard, but well done – scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, tomato etc – although the spread was fairly comprehensive, with inviting-looking omelettes on offer, along with cereals, yoghurt, fruit etc. The restaurant does breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the chef offers a pretty wide variety of offerings: a la carte and set menus, cocktail menus, light lunches, and the hotel’s popular ‘Traditional Township Fare’, such as Farida Omar’s chicken curry and the traditional Shisa Nyama (barbequed meat), pap (ground maize) and trio of chakalakas (spicy relish). Rusty’s Bar is at the entrance to Jazz Maniacs.
Business & Meeting Facilities
The hotel has two boardrooms and the conference centre already mentioned. The boardrooms can accommodate 10 and 14 delegates, respectively. All three facilities are fully-equipped with audio visual and IT equipment, and that includes hi-tech gadgets such as electronic drop-screens and full audio visual speakers, wireless connectivity, E-beam technology to facilitate easier white board discussions, and teleconferencing facilities. The hotel also provides refreshments. Meals are served in Jazz Maniacs.
No on-site gym or swimming pool, but the idea is to use the hotel as a base from which to explore Soweto. There are plenty of historical sites in the area, including the Hector Pieterson Memorial and the Mandela House Museum. It’s also only 10 minutes to the Apartheid Museum and Gold Reef City Theme Park, Casino and Theatre, as it is to FNB and Orlando sports stadiums. The hotel is also renowned for staging events on the property, such as braai (barbeque) evenings and Sunday jazz.
The perfect hotel from which to explore Soweto, and if you’re looking for a comfortable property in the area, then this is for you. Maybe not, if your business is in Sandton, but if you’re looking to take in Soweto and its sites – both historical and contemporary – well worth a try.
Address: Cnr Union Avenue and Main Road, Kliptown
Tel: +27 11 527 7300