Midnight in Johannesburg

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“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” ― Ernest Hemingway

In the rush of wild mushroom fricassée, espresso martinis and winter moonlight, each second feels like a feast. A Moveable Feast. Champagne and cigars, a fire sizzling in the bar. I have to pace myself, remind myself of the limits. Is there ever any middle ground in a feast? It is midnight in Johannesburg, at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, in the eddy of the City of Gold, a retreat that merges the higher and lower frequencies of the city, leaving it up to you which to choose. The initial frenzy settles as morning comes, as the hadeda take to breakfast on the lawn and the sun shimmers through the oak trees. Morning is part of life’s natural feedback system to keep you from the edge. Slowly faces start to stand out, you learn everyone’s names and histories and love affairs and it becomes less like the last day on earth and more like the first… You connect, you come down, and you realise that you’ll never quite manage to leave this place. AtholPlace.

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The people of AtholPlace are hard to shake; my moments with them and their tales from other lives now form my view of Johannesburg… Tau, the driver, with his philosophy on the power of cartoons, his fiancée, head of housekeeping, Melinda, with her hopes for a Victoria Falls wedding, assistant Brandon and his tales of wild trapeze artistry in Mauritius, Chef Wynand’s wontons and pan roasted line fish and the love story that led him to AtholPlace – the tale of how he followed his girlfriend, General Manager, Heidi, to the hotel. Heidi, the beautiful British girl who left sister lodge, Morukuru, in the bush of Madikwe for a new era in the city.

Moveable, memorable, and forever captured in our photographs below, this is AtholPlace.

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“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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