JOHANNESBURG GUEST HOUSE
When I lived in South Africa, my sis and I ran a small design studio. One of our first and favourite projects was to design the brand identity for a new guest house in Johannesburg, called 2 Mokolo. The project was for Sandra de Witt, the then Creative Development Officer at the Jupiter Drawing Room, and her husband Graham Hickson. Both nature lovers and avid birders, Sandy and Graham sought to create a refuge for visitors in search of a nature filled respite from the bustling surrounding city. On my resent trip to South Africa I decided to stop by and say hello.
The 2 Mokolo guest house is situated in the beautiful Johannesburg suburb of Morningside in Sandton, a stone’s throw away from the Outspan Bird Sanctuary. With its natural canopy of wild olive and white stinkwood, the garden itself is home to an abundance of bird species and 100% indigenous flora, which makes it the perfect retreat for bird and nature lovers.
The bed and breakfast has recently expanded to include an elegant 4-star guest house called Annex at 18. Each of the luxurious rooms have wooden decks where guests can relax in the sun among giant palm trees. Sandy and Graham designed louvred sliding screens, to provide complete privacy while allowing access to the surrounding garden.
The rooms are vibrant and friendly, each with a brightly painted barn style sliding door that opens into a luxurious en-suite bathroom with beautiful bath and huge shower. The spacious bathrooms open onto the private deck as well, giving them an almost spa-like feel. My favourite is Annex III with it’s pewter bath and private outside shower.
As a film maker, Graham’s love for story-telling is visible throughout the guest house. Quirky elements like repurposed tripods (now used as bedside lamps) and old tin cars and wooden toys, add to the inviting character of the interior. The couple’s love for birds and the african bushveld is also evident in the collector-like aesthetic, choice of fabrics and use of materials.
Sandy, who’s won numerous awards at Cannes, D&AD, One Show and the Loeries during her corporate career as Creative Director of TBWA South Africa, now runs 2 Mokolo with equal fervour. So it’s without surprise that the guest house has such an excellent traveller rating on Trip Advisor.
2 Mokolo is central Joburg’s first BirdLife SA accredited birder-friendly establishment, but it’s not just nature lovers and birds that are welcome here. The guest house has it’s own beehive too. So aside from Graham’s delicious home-made sourdough bread and preserves, guests can enjoy honey from the resident bees!
As always, thanks for reading!
Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers