Some of South Africa‘s cities become a haze of purple in October-November, when the jacarandas (‘fragrant’, in Guarani) are in bloom – they were imported from Argentina or Brazil in the 1880s but through their sheer numbers have become a national icon. Never mind that this is the wrong time of year. The gal was still blown away by their beauty, as in this photo adorning one of the all-brick walls of oneNINEone restaurant in the 244-room Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, the Rosebank area’s top luxury hotel. Oh so suitable, as pale lavender is apparently the signature colour of the brand world-wide. Yes, one learns something every day.
And this colour actually set the tone for my short stay here. First, GM Mike McBain rushed in, marvellously dressed in suit and tie, the tie matching the purple hues in panels that designer Nick Human has put into the glass wall that separates the operative part of the lobby from the lobby lounge, behind – from which you look through to the greenery of the hotel’s private garden. In the operative part of the lobby, just inside the front door in fact, there is a darker purple carpet (that was the last colour I was to see, later, as I left to walk, accompanied by concierge Jon-Jon, a full hundred yards to the excellent Gautrain public transport to OR Tambo International Airport).
I guess I could just say that the early evening view over Rosebank from room 805 had just a slight purple tone to it, or is the imagination running away with itself? At the right time of year I would undoubtedly be looking down at jacarandas. 805 is a highly desirable room, by the way, on the same floor as the Hyatt Regency Club business centre and, further along, the Club Lounge itself. There are absolutely charming attendants (‘it is my PLEASURE to print out your boarding card’) and quality products. At breakfast, they have gourmet Deneys Swiss Dairy yoghurts, both thicker, in jars, and drinking, in bottles. Evening cocktail hour included three red wines, one of which was Miss Molly In My Bed Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013, which the Club agent and I checked on my Vivino app – photograph the label, and up comes very quickly, 3.5 stars and average retail price, for some reason in England, of £28.
After that I went down to oneNINEone to dinner. As I said, the restaurant has bare brick walls, which focuses attention on the full working kitchen – as well as the jacaranda photo, there is more purple as servers wear white shirts, cream chinos that match the marble floor, and long purple aprons. I loved the ceramic-look Steelite china, so rustic on dark wood tables. Hyatt always manages to make dining fun (and I do not say that about all luxury hotel groups). I started with a delectable three bites of lavender – yes, more purple – and goats cheese panna cotta with mango, flower salad and pancetta hazelnut granola but I am sorry to say I shied away from a subsequent ‘composition’, say harissa ostrich fillet with potato cumin hash and apricot gel, and went for one of the plain grills instead. Next time ostrich….