A trip to Illovo and Melrose North: Bohemia harmonising with trendsetting

It is always such an indulgence travelling down Oxford Road starting in Rosebank, taking the split to the right into Corlett Drive, first entering the suburbs of Illovo and then Melrose North. The reason for this uplifting sensation is the apparent mix of upmarket old-style Johannesburg with the contemporary.  It is not a collision of the old and new, but rather a harmonizing mix of the bohemian with trendiness.  It is one of the stellar examples in Johannesburg of organic urbanisation – the mixture of cultures and different worldviews.

On taking the Oxford/Corlett split, avant-garde Wolves Café is one of the first welcoming sites on your left. It is known for being the brainchild of Shane Durrant (lead singer of Desmond and the Tutus), his wife, Angie and their friend Greg Rom. One can see mostly young people with beards, man buns and sandals engaging in intense conversations. Wolves is known for hosting local bands – on 28 September Steven Jarvis and Devin Harmer will be howling from 20h30.

Wolves Café Illovo

Wolves Café in Illovo

Travelling down Corlett, leaving Illovo behind and entering Melrose North, the unconventional-pink self-catering apartments, Premiere Classe Suites, invite one for a closer look. And they do not disappoint. On entry the local “guard dog” Jagger, awaits you with a friendly tail-wag. Apparently he is the local attraction and has even received reviews from guests staying at these pet-friendly dwellings.

Melrose North Self Catering Accommodation

Jagger is a favourite with the guests at Premiere Classe Suites in Melrose North

He is not the only sociable “welcomer of guests”. After spending a considerable time bonding with Jagger, one is greeted at reception by newly appointed, Maki Bike. Together with manager, Kathy de Wet, they share stories of interesting guests.

Melrose North Self Catering Accommodation Staff

A friendly Maki Bike greets at Premiere Classe’s reception

Melrose North Self Catering Apartments

Premiere Classe Suites’ one- and two bedroom apartments have been awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and Travellers Choice 2016. This 3 star TGCSA graded self catering hotel has received a rating of 8 on booking.com.

Many stay at Premiere Classe to attend sporting events happening at The Wanderers Club which is within walking distance. Recently, teenagers participating in the Junior Tennis Tournament, filled the corridors with rampant hormones. The Junior Discovery Soccer team has also stayed there, as well as regular Snooker tournament participants. In October the North West Dragons Cricketers will be staying for the T20.  Take note that on 27th October, The Wanderers Club is hosting The Dead Dinner Festival.

The Dead Dinner Festival Wanderers Club

Premiere Classe is in particular popular with group bookings from business people, as the suites are so affordable for long stays. Impressive Melrose Arch is just down the street. It is then here where we enter the contemporary, the shiny black cars and very expensive shops domain. Premiere Classe’s Kathy tells of long stays by guests undergoing retail training by upmarket fashion stores located in Melrose Arch. Not to be missed are the large bodies of art currently on display until 8th October around the Arch and curated by The Melrose Gallery.

Melrose Arch Art

Sculptures displayed at Melrose Arch until 8th October 2017.

Yes, a trip to these suburbs is soul nourishing. It underpins what makes South African diversity so distinct and one can say, almost other-worldly.