Hotel check: Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa



Villa d’Este on Lake Como meets England’s Easton Manor in Morningside. Set in four acres of manicured garden with established trees and bird life, Palladian architecture, high ceilings and quality finishes enhance the stately, park-like ambience. The welcome absence of traffic noise and highrise buildings makes the city seem remote, even though Fairlawns is just minutes away from Sandton’s CBD by car.


Alma Road, Morningside Manor Ext 6, Sandton, just off Bowling Road. Transfers to and from airports can be arranged. The hotel offers free transfers within the Sandton area.


Nineteen comprise 12 Courtyard Suites, six Premier Suites and a 240m² Presidential Residence, with three en suite bedrooms, walk-in dressing room, steam room, double showers, lounge, dining room, study, kitchen, guest cloakroom and private entrance. Three of the 84m² Premier Suites have balconies; others open onto an oak-shaded terrace. Some suites have guest cloakrooms, most have separate lounges, and all have double basins, bidets, showers, jet baths, under-floor heating and working fireplaces.


Free wireless and broadband connectivity, international adaptors, DVDs and flat-screen TVs keep boredom at bay, while laundry and valet services ensure you won’t have to lift a finger. Dressing gowns are provided and slippers are available on request. The  bathroom was enormous with a jet bath,  separate shower and dressing room.Each individually designed suite with bespoke furniture overlooks the garden. We stayed in the Smuts Room, a lush mix of comfy armchairs, sleigh beds, a mahogany writing desk, Delft pottery and Thomas Baines prints.Guests can help themselves to a preprandialsherry from a crystal decanter, though I would have welcomed a complimentary bottle of water even more. It was, of course, available from our mini bar but I thought R24 a bottle a bit steep.

Restaurants and bars

The Italian-influenced à la carte Rose Terrace Restaurant seats 36 (20 indoors) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think fine linen napery, silver cutlery, and a comprehensive international menu prepared from local produce by gifted chef, Alicia Gliomee. Light lunches are served at the pool, on the terrace, or in the suites. We washed down a salmon starter and roast duck main course with a smooth Meerlust 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and finished off with a Baked Alaska, easily big enough to share. Both food and service were impeccable. Breakfast was as good as dinner with a pleasing array of fruits, smoked salmon and the best croissants this side of Paris. Our Eggs Benedict were exemplary. The bar’s wine list, an oenophile’s dream, has netted it a Diners Club Diamond award and three, Platinum Wine List of the Year awards. The restaurant and bar are also open to non-residents for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


There’s an outdoor pool and a fully equipped gym with steam and infrared sauna facilities. The Balinese Spa is splendidly set in a private garden where trickling water and birdsong soothes the soul of the stressed exec. Fairlawn’s spais included in the Best 100 Spas in South Africa and was a runner-up in the Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Best Day Spa in 2007. Day packages are available. Fancy a four-ball? Golf is easily organized along with tennis and horse riding.


Conferencing facilities for groups of between 10 and 80 delegates comprise the airy La Scala venue that opens onto the garden; the 16-seater horseshoe Cecil J Rhodes Boardroom, which overlooks the Balinese Gardens; the Executive Boardroom with its adjacent sitting room, and the larger De Beers and Barney Barnato rooms. Banquets, corporate and private functions for up to 100 guests are catered for with operational staff ensuring discreet but attentive service on the day. There is free secure parking for delegates, and the installation of a 500 Watt generator prevents Eskom from sabotaging those important business meetings. Facilities include data projectors, wireless connectivity and flip charts. Day conference packages are available.


Weekend specials that include breakfast and two massages are offered at R2 300 for a Courtyard Suite or R3 300 for a Premier Suite, per night, until the end of the year. Corporate rates are negotiable.


A tranquil bolt hole for the high-earners, Fairlawns is the perfect antidote to the nine-to-five grind on a par with the best Europe has to offer. Live-in owners John Thacker, and his wife, Anna, run it spectacularly well, wrapping us in a blanket of charm from the moment we arrived. Service managed to be attentive yet unobtrusive, the way service should be.


Tel: +27 (0)11 804 2504-3,

Caroline Hurry