The Peech Boutique Hotel: Joburg’s best kept secret

The Peech Boutique Hotel in Melrose North was built in the 1950s and was, for over 40 years, a private residence and family home.

Owners James and Vicky Peech bought the property in 2002. The hotel first opened in November 2004 as a small boutique hotel offering six guest rooms.

During the first three years of operation James expanded to 10 rooms, then 16 rooms in 2009. In 2015, they purchased the neighbouring property, and in 2018, doubled in size to 32 exclusive guest rooms.

Later this year, The Peech Boutique Hotel will lay claim to 17 years of offering an unrivalled home-away-from-home personalised experience.

The property is conveniently situated, close to Johannesburg’s main business districts and shopping centres. It is also opposite the neighbourhood James Gray Park and close to the Imperial Wanderers Stadium.

“We pride ourselves in having established ourselves as one of Joburg’s original boutique hotels. We aim to be ‘Joburg’s most inspiring place to stay’, offering our guests an experience that is just like home, only ten times better,” says Vicky.

Inside The Peech Boutique Hotel

Vicky explains that the entire property measures two acres including the family home, which may one day be integrated into the hotel as the Owners’ Homestead.

The original property, which houses the main heritage house consisting of the reception and concierge areas and the Basalt Restaurant, occupies an acre.

“As an arrival point for many international and local travellers, The Peech Boutique Hotel offers a relaxing semi-bush-like experience at the start and end of their holiday.”

The property has two swimming pools, abundant birdlife and indigenous plants throughout the gardens, offering a calm and peaceful environment.

Vicky says there is also a small conference centre that can accommodate up to 12 people, a library, and a small gift stall selling locally produced items.

Rooms start from around R2,500 and measure from 40m2 for the Classic Rooms, up to 85m2 for the Peech Villa.

The Classic Rooms have either a private balcony or a patio. The Luxury Rooms, new additions that were opened in December 2018, are spread throughout the property’s gardens. Expect oak flooring, huge walk-in raindance showers and spacious patios.

Located in a particualarly quiet part of the gardens, The Peech Suites offer expansive open-plan living spaces with all the home comforts.

For couples or families looking for a night out of town, the Peech Villa ticks all the boxes in terms of design, style and comfort. It has two bedrooms, a private outdoor space with al fresco dining area and a water feature.

 “We live on site and are involved in all aspects of the daily operations. We enjoy meeting most of our guests in person, and they appreciate the discreet personalised service we offer at The Peech Boutique Hotel,” says Vicky.

Award-winning property

Operating a successful boutique hotel requires skill and dedication, which James, Vicky and the entire staff team have in abundance.

The Peech Boutique Hotel is consistently ranked as one of TripAdvisor’s top Johannesburg hotels. It has received the Travellers’ Choice Award every year since 2012, and was named the ‘Best City Boutique Hotel in Africa’ at the World Boutique Hotel Awards in London in 2014.

“Although not yet publicly announced, The Peech Boutique Hotel has been advised that it has been awarded ‘Best Boutique Hotel in Johannesburg 2021’ at the Global Tourism Awards for 2021,” points out Vicky.

Architecture and design elements

Furthermore, in 2019, the South African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Steel Awards named the property as the winner in the ArcelorMittal South Africa Architectural Category. The Steel Awards celebrate innovative and creative steel designs.

The Peech Boutique Hotel appointed Meshworks for the extension of the acquired neighbouring property bought in 2015. The award includes the new Luxury Rooms and the Peech Villa.

“We wanted design elements that respected, blended and that would build upon the best features of the existing hotel,” she says.

To achieve this balance, Meshworks designed the new rooms as pavilions ‘floating in the garden’, sensitively integrated with extensive landscaping to make it feel as if the rooms have always been there.

 “Due to the openness and lightness of the arrangement, the master plan has been conceived as a garden-path-meets-village-high-street that guides guests to their rooms, punctuated by a series of moments of discovery,” explains Catherine de Souza from Meshworks.

She calls the concept ‘garden urbanity’, and the aesthetics and materials of the pavilions reflect the steel, concrete and wood of urban infrastructure. The sculpted landscaping brings the largely indigenous vegetation right up to the rooms.

Additionally, the look and feel of the interior designs gives consideration to the location and features the workmanship of South African designers and locally based craftspeople.

Gastronomic experience

The Peech Boutique Hotel has two restaurants, with the original hotel offering guests fresh, light and seasonal meals throughout the day.

In September 2019, the Basalt Restaurant was opened with Chef Freddie Dias (formerly Head Chef at Luck Dale Roberts Pot Luck Club, Cape Town). “We wanted to offer hotel guests and local patrons an elevated dining experience. Our in-house guests have an opportunity to taste the best local South African ingredients and wines without having to leave our property.”

Vicky says they closed the restaurant temporarily in March 2020 due to national lockdown. When it reopened later last year, Chef Freddie had moved on to open Sejour at The Houghton Hotel.

It was then that the idea of uniting Joburg’s best Chefs to host the Guest Chef Pop-up dining experience was born.

Basalt has featured top chefs including Chefs Tim and Tyeya from La Petite Maison, Chef Alex Windebank from Farro (Illovo), and Chef Candice Philip (ex GREI at the Saxon Hotel in 2018) and now Chef in Residence at the Basalt.

“Chef Candice presented two full weeks at Basalt, and we felt like we could have done so much more. We kept in touch, and at the beginning of 2021, we mutually agreed to go ahead with a residency,” says Vicky.

Initially, the residency agreement was for three months; however, Chef Candice has extended her residency until further notice.

Vicky describes her as an incredibly talented chef with boundless imagination and creativity. “She is one of the most passionate, optimistic and diligent people I have met. Most importantly, she loves the Basalt space and continues to be well supported by guests and local patrons, many of whom have enjoyed her menus at previous locations.”

For Chef Candice, it’s not only about bespoke dining experiences, it’s about connection and bringing people together. “Dining at the Basalt enables patrons to reconnect through sharing an amazing experience, one that inspires and delights through taste and the creation of brand new memories,” says Chef Candice.

Basalt serves a six-course fine-dining menu inspired by the changing seasons, bringing great local ingredients and artisan producers to the fore. In June this year (2021), the Basalt Restaurant was given two awards at the Luxe Restaurant Awards: Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year –  Basalt Restaurant and Pop-Up Experience of the Year – Chef Candice Philip at Basalt.

Chef Candice previously worked under chefs David Higgs and Luke Dale Roberts. In 2018, she was awarded the Mercedes-Benz Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star award, the Young Chef of the Year Award by Condé Nast House & Garden SA Gourmet Restaurant Awards and the ‘Haute Property’ award by the Gourmet Guide.

Sustainability

Since 2010, The Peech Boutique has been Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) certified and the current certification is valid until June 2022.

Vicky says the FTT accreditation acknowledges hospitality establishments that adhere to the following specific criteria:

  • Demonstrate effective business practises and human resource management
  • Maximise social and economic benefits to the local community
  • Ensure focus on preserving cultural heritage
  • Prioritise benefits to the environment and minimise negative impacts.

“At The Peech Boutique Hotel, we are passionate about responsible waste reduction and recycling programs and efforts. To this end, we have implemented various measures to reduce general waste and ensure materials are effectively recycled.”

In 2018, the hotel was named as one of Gauteng’s Top 10 Glass Recyclers in Hospitality by The Glass Recycling Company.

Doing business in a time of Covid-19

The Peech Boutique Hotel business and brand are fairly well-established, and has managed to keep its doors open.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone, but particularly for the tourism industry with restraints on trade and lock down implications for travel and hospitality. Traditionally, more than 80% of our guests were foreign travellers to South Africa,” notes Vicky.

Most of the business since lockdown has come from the local market. Currently, the hotel offers local South African residents a ‘Dine and Stayover’ package, so they can experience renowned Chef Candice Philip’s dining experience.

“Moving forward, we will look to keep attracting these visitors to The Peech Boutique Hotel. We are positive about the future and look to brighter days when travel returns and the hospitality and tourism industry stabilises,” Vicky adds.

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Edited by Gudrun Kaiser

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.

Author

4 Responses

  1. This sounds divine. A place to “get out of the city” for a weekend break while being perhaps 30 minutes drive from home. To Dine and Stayover feels romantic.
    Just one thought, or question. A Boutique Hotel conjures up thoughts of a small luxury, unique place. Peech, with 32 rooms begins to feel as if it could be large and busily overcrowded.

    1. It is quite an exclusive boutique hotel. I can understand that 32 sounds big, however, you don’t get that sense at all, in fact, you’ll wonder how they managed to have 32 rooms. The design and those gardens give it privacy, you will love it!

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