Travel South Africa: The Catalyst Hotel

Recovery. It’s what happens after a big trip. How you best overcome the fatigue and neverending wanderlust often requires an ideal setting.

One of the best ways to get rid of travel blues, I’ve found, is honestly to just keep going. Book yourself into a chic stop-in on your own turf, and reacclimate to being back home, in a place that straddles the line between wanderlust and home.

Grainy-eyed, I shuffled out of my international flight in the dead of night, got efficiently checked in at the 24-hour reception, and faceplanted into a plush bed.

Premium comfort – that was The Catalyst Hotel’s welcome.

The Hotel & Locale

The Catalyst Hotel is, by definition, the quintessential embodiment of an aparthotel.

“the concept of aparthotels isn’t necessarily new—i.e. a serviced apartment with hotel-like amenities that attempts to elevate the experience to something beyond both—what is new is the popularity of aparthotels in the post-pandemic era.”

Laura Parker, for FORBES. (2022).

South Africa has steadily warmed to the concept and it’s resulted in quality contributions to the hospitality industry at large, from the near coastal escape of TotalStay’s Latitude Hotel, to the elevated luxe spaces offered up by urban chic The Halyard in Cape Town.

Johannesburg is a city also consistently bustling with business travellers (much like South Africa’s Cape Town and Durban), and that seems to make up the bulk of this 206-bedroom hotel’s current guest list, along with couples.

Image courtesy of Newmark Hotels

But the mark of an aparthotel is also what makes mixed-use The Catalyst suited to families, solo travellers, and a fair few other traveller types.

To start: they offer both short stays and long-term stays & it’s a great opportunity for people to safely and ‘reasonably’ live in this part of the bustling city for a steal, by all rights!

Guests can opt in for compact spaces complete with apartment essentials, or the more roomy upscale suites which double down on workspaces and facilities to unwind properly. Booking in also means your spaces are serviced, and that’s peace of mind for nearly every traveller, so a Catalyst Hotel stay ranks even higher for convenience too.

This urban sanctuary of a hotel is designed to also richly stand out within the tree-lined suburb it makes its home. Sandton has a reputation for affluence, and the refurbished hotel, which is only about two blocks from what’s arguably Africa’s wealthiest mile stretch, is designed to reflect that, while also being accessible.

Travellers, for example, are able to head to the vicinity of the hotel via the dependable Gautrain, which has a station 700m away from the hotel or be contented with the plentiful parking available at the hotel (above and underground), or to do as I do, and Uber from the airport. With diligent gate security, you’ll feel welcome to stay once you’ve been vetted!

As part of the incomparable  NEWMARK Hotels, Reserves, Lodges & Residences portfolio, The Catalyst holds up the brand’s demand for excellence, comfort, and uniqueness – all with the sheen of polished elegance.

One need only see their generous conference facilities (and the 24-hour package) to be reassured of The Catalyst’s red carpet rollout for business and pleasure too.

The Rooms & Experience

Check in to one of the 206 bedrooms offered here, and you’ll be privy to home comforts finished with high-end hotel hospitality. It’s the best of both worlds, and doesn’t try too hard to deliver it.

Choose between:

  • The Deluxe Room – think convertible twin beds or a king-sized bed, air conditioning, an electric kettle, a bathroom with a shower, and all the free Wi-Fi you can enjoy
  • The Premium Suite – with its king-sized bed, a full bathroom, satellite televisions, a kitchenette (with a minibar), and a rather generous lounge and dining area

Additionally, guests can opt to book non-smoking rooms, store their own food and beverages in the apartment facilities provided, and plug in immediately into the abundant sockets in the spaces, to work or play.

“The property is destined to be a home away from home…”

Neil Markovitz. (2021). Chief executive of Newmark Hotels.

The interiors are calm but surprisingly not dull.

It’s not too hard to make greyscale appealing, to be honest, thanks to the rise in neutrals and calm tones in fashion and interior design trends these past 5+ years. So, The Catalyst leans into dark hues, crisp white, and greys, with marble finishes and some of the most exquisite artwork I’ve ever seen in a mid-range hotel too.

The pops of colour, including gold and emerald greens, serve to infuse life and aesthetic symmetry across spaces, and it results in an overall sophisticated suite.

Light is one of the features which opens up the spaces in this hotel. The large suite windows, for example, looking out to the expansive cityscape, removes any chance of claustrophobia, while also offering what feels like a comfortably intimate and airy setting.

Call me simple, but quality of sleep is something that really makes a difference in my hotel review experiences, and the plush Restonic mattress in my own suite, cossetted in 300-thread count linen, made for one of the best sleeps I have EVER had, locally and internationally.

Truly, I adored the bedroom enough to spend most of my stay there, watching bad tv shows and eating copious amounts of the in-house restaurant’s filling feasts.

Dining or a Drink?

In truth, the food doesn’t fully mesmerise at The Catalyst’s 190-seater restaurant & bar, Keshew.

It fills though, and can leave you content; in keeping with its rustic thematic – and that’s nothing to sniff at!

The restaurant is, however, popular among locals, and it begins at breakfast time.

The buffet lays out the freshest in seasonal fruits, continental breakfast pastry choices, and cold cuts fit to pair with the quality cheeses also displayed in a circular table the hotel guests happily revolve around.

At some point between ordering from the À La Carte menu, I became fixated on the poached eggs. I cannot, for the life of me, tell you what made them different, but I thoroughly enjoyed Keshew Restaurants serving of the beloved breakfast food.

By lunch and dinner, the menu continues the trend of unpretentious food, offering up Small Plates (do try the Grilled Lamb Sliders) and hearty portions of food beloved by locals and international travellers (like good ol’ Grilled Chicken)- usually sauced up with the spicy South African twist prominent in SA’s fusion restaurants.

The Blue Cheese & Mushroom Gnocchi is one of the most tempting (and vegetarian) dishes any foodie worth their salt, should try at Keshew.
I’m planning to return for it!

I say linger for the drinks.

Whether you’re a non-alcoholic drinker or not, there is plenty on the menu and it quenches any parched throat. The wine menu reads like a medley of some of the finest vintages produced in the famed appellations of the Cape.

A glass of Boschendal’s 2021 Nicolas, Tokara’s Sauvignon Blanc, or Steenberg’s Sauvignon Blanc are just three of my favourite recommendations – in part because they pair so well with a fair few of the restaurant’s menu choices.

At Keshew Restaurant, the service, easy atmosphere, and relaxed decor allows people to linger from sun up to sundown, over coffee, bespoke cocktails, and everything in between.

Come here solo or with a troupe.

Either way: once the sun (or warm breeze) hits you on the small deck, you’ll be set for a pleasant time.


With the hotel prioritizing discretion, business-traveller essentials (like international adaptors), and quality, it’s no wonder I’ve heard barely a whisper of critique of the establishment.

They’re good.

Walking the rather long corridors to my suite allowed me to spot the glass-walled gym equipped with the new but basic gym equipment most hotels come with. Plenty of folks were already sweating through their workouts within it – a testament to the functionality of the hotels’ facilities. The gym-goers were likely also motivated by the beautiful and warm light streaming in from the view overlooking the parking bay.

With a Spa and plunge pool (heated, for swimming even when it’s chilly) in-house too, The Catalyst further levels up its ability to provide relaxation and spaces for their guest to unwind beyond their rooms.

It helps too, that they are meters from popular shopping districts (with retail stores offering famed designs by locals like Maxhosa and, international fashion houses like Gucci), business centres, and attractions, such as Mandela Square, Sandton Convention Centre, and Sandton City.

Bored? Or looking for an urban exploring itinerary?

Ask the brilliant 24-hour concierge desk to organize you one of their excursions. Guests can book themselves experiences like a Soweto Bicycle Tour, a safari, or even visit the Cradle of Humankind.

What will set them apart for the future, is likely how they also fit in with Sustainable ‘Green’ Travel – them taking the first steps towards it by having 90% of The Catalyst Hotels power supplied by roof-mounted solar panels. 

From the Ben Sherman bath & shower range, to the sensational staff’s service, and a backup generator so remote workers need not fear being cut off during rolling blackouts, this upscale aparthotel (in South Africa’s financial capital) is a solid addition to the roster of premium South African aparthotels delivering world-class hospitality.

By my Recommendation: The Catalyst Hotel, by NEWMARK

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