When the urge or desperate need for a reboot sets in – for the sake of your energy levels, general health and sanity, you had better heed that call and press pause. MR SIPHIWE MPYE took a one night break from his daily madness and spent a night at a stylish urban cocoon that has had just over a year to break itself in. Here’s the verdict.
Parents will be familiar with this: the desire for quiet time, away from your domestic terrorists, a time to switch off your phone and take back your sanity. But you need not be ducking from little bundles of equal parts cute and pure horror, to induce an itch for a brief escape. The single, child free and carefree also need to call a time out, if only to recover from endless late nights, unreasonable deadlines, under performing football teams and the anxiety of the unfinished to-do list.
The ingrained appeal of hotels – the good ones at least – is their knack for transporting you from the banalities of your daily toil, even if they are but a few kilometres from your own home, which was the case, with my recent stay at Hotel QSL on 44. This cool urban hideaway, opened its doors in the just over a year ago, with the promise of creating an affordable, hip, luxurious, urban abode for the casual and business traveler. It promised raw, urban aesthetics, with consideration for the guest who didn’t mind a little grit with their contemporary, chic style.
“Good hotels have a way of transporting you from the horrors of your daily toil, even if they are but a few kilometres from your own home.”
You may not be a millennial, but if you are reading this, chances are that you have similar tastes to one and QSL caters to that with free WiFi, scooter and Kindle rental, movie/series streaming and access to everything from deadly (the good kind) eggs benedict, quality menswear, antique books, vinyl records, craft beer and art next door at 44 Stanley.
The 10 boutiques style rooms all sport their own personality while maintaining a uniformity in the contemporary urbanity achieved by interiors designer Letizia Verona and Architect Pieter Greyvenstein. That uniformity extends to the service, which is friendly, helpful – we got a surprise upgrade to the bigger ‘Media Room’ with a large slanted window looking onto the first floor balcony overlooking the bustle of Milpark and a bit of the Jozi skyline – but not too familiar or intrusive. The co-owner, Mr Shaheed Rawjee ( business partner and older brother to Mr Rahim Rawjee, the founder of ROW G, the fine menswear custom tailor on the same premises), came down personally from his loft on the top floor of the building to set up Showmax on the Smart TV in our room (Game Thrones Season 5, episode 7. I was catching up. I caught up in time to catch the Season 7 premier, if you care to know).
After a year experimenting with hospitality in a building that has seen various evolutions in the past, it seems more pivoting is on the horizon. Before checkout, after a complimentary breakfast at Salvation Cafe at 44 Stanley (the Kitchen-less Hotel’s standard breakfast arrangement stands) Nina, the lovely receptionist showed us around the premises, including areas earmarked for co-working space and I predict, a loft event space of sorts. The hotel delivers on some urban sophistication in the easy, stylish, no-fuss manner of its promise, but it can always improve and my overnight companion and I shared some notes on how it could get even better:
- A bar at reception level would be a nice touch and attract more of the cool set living and working the area. Although the Hotel doesn’t offer any meals, an occassional chef’s evening with cocktails and a DJ wouldn’t hurt.
- Some of the rough edges allowed by the urban setting could be a tad less rough. There is an argument for a touch up of plaster, upping the luxe, without losing the grit.
- The air conditioner in our room was not adequate and if that is the indication for all the rooms, then an overhaul may be required. Underfloor heating would be a more expensive, but good long-term investment.
- The hotel should source their coffee from Bean There Roastery at 44 Stanley. A set up like QSL requires a good house brew, not the Nescafe in a packet in the rooms and at the reception lounge.
- The communal balcony on the first floor outside the guest lounge could do with some green (some pots, a vertical garden etc.) and some new outdoor furniture.