Around The World In 21 Days: Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport


  1. Introduction
  2. Delta Comfort+ ECP-ATL-JNB
  3. Hilton Sandton
  4. British Airways Economy JNB-PLZ
  5. Conrad Pezula
  6. Knysna and the Garden Route
  7. Westin Cape Town
  8. Exploring Cape Town + Penguins!
  9. British Airways Economy CPT-JNB
  10. Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport
  11. Kenya Airways Economy JNB-NBO-DXB
  12. DoubleTree Hotel Jumeirah Beach
  13. Exploring Dubai
  14. Kenya Airways Economy DXB-NBO-SEZ
  15. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort
  16. Exploring Mahe Island
  17. Kenya Airways Economy SEZ-NBO-BKK
  18. W Bangkok Hotel
  19. Exploring Bangkok
  20. Vietnam Airlines Economy BKK-HAN-NRT
  21. Back In Tokyo!
  22. Delta Air Lines Main Cabin NRT-DTW-ATL
  23. DoubleTree Atlanta Airport
  24. Delta Air Lines Comfort+ ATL-ECP
  25. Conclusion

With a nearly 10PM arrival to Johannesburg and a noon departure the next day towards Nairobi and Dubai, I just didn’t have it in me to find a hotel in the city and have to deal with getting there and then getting back to the airport with absolutely zero time to do anything. As a Hilton and SPG elite member that meant that given the airport hotel options, I wasn’t going to be staying “within the family” with somewhere that I had points or status at. There were a few IHG choices, a number of independent hotels, and a good few options that were part of the Protea Hotels brand. Protea Hotels had been acquired semi-recently by Marriott and thus was now part of Marriott Rewards. While I didn’t have status with Marriott, I figured that I would at least stay at one of their properties and earn either a small amount of points or SkyMiles. Plus, in looking, the Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport actually looked pretty decent for a basic airport hotel, and for just under 1400 ZAR, the right price! I made my reservation through the Marriott website, which coincidentally, had better rates that the Protea site.

I arrived at the hotel via the complimentary shuttle from OR Tambo Airport that they provide. I did have to wait a little bit longer than I would have thought, but the ride between the airport and hotel didn’t take very long at around 10 minutes.

The driver unloaded all of our bags into the lobby of the hotel, which was actually pretty neat…the floor was an enlarged aeronautical chart! Actually the entire hotel is aviation themed which I thought was pretty awesome being the aviation buff that I am. Heck even the TV behind the front desk was looping a DVD of takeoffs and landings.

Lobby Floor

I got in the relatively short line to check in, but it took relatively forever to finally get to me. First of all, the agents weren’t exactly the fastest. I don’t know if perhaps they were having computer issues or something else, but the average check in seemed to take 10 minutes per guest. On top of this, when I was next up, some jerk decided he was going to cut me and step up to next agent (curse me for looking away from the desk for a moment). Probably about 20-25 minutes after arriving I finally was up to be helped by an agent who was able to check me in pretty quickly. Honestly this surprised me considering how long it took to process all the other guests. I mean, perhaps I just had bad luck and all the other guests in front of me had reservation issues, or credit card issues or something. Not really sure on that one…

The Room
I was given a room on the 5th floor away from the elevators, which suited me perfectly. I opened the door and was presented with a basic, although somewhat stylish hotel room. Obviously given the layout (and the fact that it primarily for people going to/from the airport) you can tell they tried to maximize the number of rooms on the property. Since to me this was nothing more than a bed/crash pad, not having a lot of extra space wasn’t a really big deal. In fact, despite being on the smaller size, it was plenty spacious for my quick overnight stay.

Welcome To Room 512

Upon entering the room you had the toilet immediately next to the entry door followed by the sink, bathtub, and shower. The toilet was the only thing that was physically separated from the rest of the room, making this less than idea for two people traveling together who aren’t…close. They did have the thought though to put a curtain along the glass wall next to the bed that so that you can at least kinda hide (but I wouldn’t count on it!). The shower was pretty small, but definitely functional. It wasn’t like trying to squeeze into a shower in my basement room at an easyHotel in London back in 2009…

Room Entrance

Shower + Tub


Once past the bathroom, you’ll find yourself in the bedroom, where there is (obviously) the bed, a small desk, small closet, and a TV. In other words, basic hotel amenities. What was a little disappointing was that the window which is behind a curtain is nowhere near as large as the curtain. In fact it was a little square window about shoulder height off the ground. It looked out to a parking lot though, so I guess I wasn’t missing much of a view.

A Fairly Comfortable Bed

Yep, Not Much Of A View…

I had contemplated getting a drink in the hotel bar after getting to my room, but by the time I threw down my bags and took a shower, all I wanted to do was be lazy and lay back on the bed and watch TV. That means, I never did try their dinner offerings or bar service, but I did go downstairs for breakfast the next morning.

I’m not sure if there was a set menu that you could order from or not, but there was a pretty decent spread of a breakfast buffet. Upon entering the restaurant, I was directed to sit wherever I pleased. I picked a table near the back that was free and made my way towards the options. Everything was pretty standard fare breakfast with a good selection of fruits, breads, meats, and an omelette station. The one thing that was lacking though was service. There were people busing tables, but no real servers up and about. Thankfully there was juice available at the counter, but it really would have been nice to get some coffee. Overall the food was fairly decent, but the lack of service just sucked. Although, I will say the man working the omelette station was very friendly and engaged with patrons in conversations while they waited for their eggs to be ready.

When it was time to leave, and considering that I had not been successful in finding a server, I just went to the hostess station at the entrance. They printed me a bill which I signed there – I didn’t see anyone else do this, so maybe I was just the unlucky one who couldn’t get a server? Either way, it could have been worse!

Departure and Conclusion
Check out, unlike check-in, was a breeze taking no more than two minutes to be processed. From there it was right outside to jump on the waiting shuttle bus back towards the airport. During my ride, I chatted with a pilot who flew for Mango, which is South African Airways low cost subsidiary. As always when it comes to friendly flight crews, it was an interesting conversation that touched on his profession and the trip that I was in the middle of. Of course one can only touch on so much though when it comes to a single 10 minute van ride.

Overall, the Protea Hotel OR Tambo Airport works well as a crash pad if you have an overnight layover in Johannesburg. While the service left a lot to be desired, the room itself was more than ample for this purpose and it was a very clean property. If I was back in the area with the same situation I would certainly consider staying here, however I also might consider staying somewhere else if anything just to try to get better service. I also realize that it could have been a fluke, I just don’t know. Perhaps someone else out there can try it out and let me know how that goes…

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