The City Lodge OR Tambo is a convenient stopover.
City Lodge OR Tambo: Our full report
About 300m from 'International Arrivals' at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, the City Lodge, which opened in 2010, is a modern hotel with 303 rooms. It's one of two hotels within the immediate airport complex (the other being the InterContinental), making it very convenient for stopovers.
Access to the City Lodge from the airport is easy. It is reached via a well-signposted corridor, which also serves a multi-story car park, and thence by a private escalator. The escalator's doors are barely five minute's walk from the 'International Arrivals' section of the airport, and airport luggage trolleys can be wheeled right up to these doors.
Although only accessible by lift when we visited in 2011, there are plans to change this, and put in some stairs from the corridor to the hotel.
Each of the 303 rooms at the City Lodge, are of the same standard; laid out in long corridors, they have been designed carefully to be comfortable and highly functional. Judging by the computerized locks, smoke-detectors and sprinkler systems, we believe that they've built into the hotel, modern security, Health & Safety and fire prevention systems.
Some rooms are twin-bedded and others have king-size doubles; there are interlinking rooms available for families. The hotel's access is wheel-chair friendly and we understand that they have one disabled room (paraplegic room).
Inside, the bedrooms are compact but not cramped. The beds are firm, with high-quality linens, and either side are bed-side tables and wall-lights, with light switches carefully positioned in easy reach. There's a chair and writing desk, above which a socket panel accepts plugs of various different types, including South African (three round pins), British (three square pins), American (two flat pins) and continental (two round pins).
This socket panel also houses an Ethernet cable port for internet access – although virtually everywhere in the hotel has WiFi access (vouchers for this are purchased at reception; prices are reasonable). The room's telephone has a direct-dial facility. There is also a flat screen TV on one wall.
The wardrobe is small, but does come with coat-hangers. Beside it a tea-point has a small kettle, cups and some basic tea/coffee/sugar sachets. Below is a digital safe, which is wider and hence larger than many which we have encountered. There was one large, double-glazed window in our room which looked onto an internal courtyard; a very efficient and controllable air-con unit meant that we didn't open it. We were not disturbed at all by noise (of aircraft or any other sort) during our stay – which isn't bad for a hotel immediately next to an airport!
The room's en-suite bathroom is clean and functional, and we found the separate shower to be really very good – good pressure and fairly static temperature control.
The main areas of the City Lodge are as modern and well-designed as the rooms. There are a number of sitting areas, some are part of the restaurant/lounge area whilst others are separate. The high ceilings of the main large restaurant do make it feel a little like an aircraft hanger – but all is forgiven as they serve food from 07:00-22:00, and can organize deliveries from local eateries (eg: Nandos, on OR Tambo's main concourse) around the rest of the clock. See below for more details comments on the restaurant and its food.
Reception is staffed 24-hours and we found it to be efficient. Beside it you'll find a bank of flat screens displaying live departure information for flights, linked to the airport's system. Around the corner from these, a little tucked away, is a small bank of highly polished chrome pay-phones and a vending machine. Conveniently, the porter at reception can organise a left luggage facility for guests for which there is no charge.
We found the City Lodge at Jo'burg's main OR Tambo Airport to be exceedingly convenient, efficient and actually much better than we'd normally expect of an anonymous airport hotel. The food here didn't excel, but it wasn't bad either – and the hotel's ability to provide meals 24/7 will be very welcome for some travellers. This City Lodge has been exceedingly well designed and is well run, and currently we think it's by far the best value option for a stopover near Johannesburg's main airport.
Ideal length of stay: Just for a stopover
Owner: This City Lodge OR Tambo is part of a much larger group, "City Lodge Family of Hotels", with over 50 hotels across South Africa.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Room Only
Food quality: City Lodge's restaurant is open for breakfast on weekdays 06:30-09:00, and 07:00-10:00 at weekends and public holidays – and then for lunches, dinner and snacks from 12:00-22:00. The staff here were very efficient when we visited.
The lunch menu is fairly limited, with four or five different salads, and a similar range of wraps and toasted sandwiches – all costing around R40-50 (in May 2011) – plus a handful of more substantial dishes like lasagna, stroganoff and a casserole all around the R70 mark.
We had a wrap of steak strips for lunch. It was combined with lettuce, tomato, rocket and onion marmalade, and served with a small side-salad and potato crisps. The steak was good and it was fresh – even if the onion marmalade did dominate the taste a little.
The drinks menu majors of South African wines, costings typically around R80-150 per bottle, with a range of spirits for around R10-20 per shot, and beers for R16-20. With soft drinks around R10-17, we feel that most of these drinks prices are very reasonable indeed.
Drinks included: No drinks are included.
Further dining info: No – but there is a 'home-delivery' option, sourced outside the hotel; from Spur & Nandos.
Attitude towards children: The City Lodge welcomes children of any age.
Property’s age restrictions: Children under 16 sharing the same room are free.
Special activities & services: Has cots, also adjustable add-on chairs for kids in the restaurant.
Equipment: No babysitting possible.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is WiFi throughout – paid for as an extra.
TV & radio: Mnet movies and sports channels. BBC or CNN are not in the rooms – but there are a few TVs in the communal areas which can receive these channels.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Fire safety: The hotel has smoke detectors in every room, and a sprinkler system.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: The hotel has no exchange facilities.
Accepted payment on location: Credit cards, US$ and Euros are accepted as payment. It may be possible to use other major currencies foreign currencies – but these can take time to arrange.