About two years ago, I got stuck in Johannesburg during my adventures with South African Airways. I stayed a night at the Protea Hotel Transit that’s just inside security at O.R. Tambo Airport’s international terminal. You are only supposed to use the transit hotel if you have an international to international connection – a domestic to international connection should not work. While you may circumvent that with an online boarding pass, I gave up trying this trip.
I instead opted for the other Protea airport hotel which is next to the airport – the Protea Hotel O.R. Tambo Airport. This can be used whenever you go through immigration at JNB.
The shuttle bus leaves from the ‘bus terminal’ right behind the InterContinental Hotel; it’s a bit hard to find, but eventually there are plenty of signs. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes – on the hour and half-hour – though the times are loosely kept. Our shuttle showed up at 10.45PM and the driver offered no explanation as to why it was 15 minutes late.
Check-in was just cold and wordless. The front desk staff at almost all Proteas I have visited are such failures that I can’t believe Marriott lets it happen. There is a wordless exchange of documents and then you are charged BEFORE the night’s stay IN FULL and then given a room key. All this can take forever (although it was rather fast here) and it is just so frustrating. None of my questions were replied to or understood. Keep in mind here that South Africa is a country that has a very high level of English literacy. Oh well.
There was also no Gold upgrade (the front desk had no idea what Marriott Rewards is) and no breakfast (which is not a published benefit anyways).
The room was very clean and modern and came with the trademark excellent Protea bed. The shower and sink were part of the room (there was only a tiny room for the toilet). That isn’t my favorite design but it worked well here, except for the issue that it’s so easy to mistakenly flood the living room; since the shower barely had any overflow, it drained right into the living room.
The room was cooled down to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I did not use the AC, since it was plenty cold anyways. To my surprise, the internet was stable and worked at 2 Mbit the whole night – something no other Protea I stayed at had pulled off so far.
The hotel is right next to the freeway and part of the apron of Johannesburg Airport. It can get really loud at times and the rooms have no noise insulation to speak of. Bring good earplugs if you would like to sleep well.
There are seemingly lots of conference facilities at the Protea Hotel O.R. Tambo Airport and there were plenty of conferences that morning, so the hotel was busy. There is also a gorgeous sitting area and small pool outside, but they’re right next to the freeway so you can’t use them without noise cancelling headphones.
Weirdly enough, the parking lot is the quietest area – so ask for a room near there unless you like to see planes taxiing in the morning.
The shuttle in the morning was ready when I walked down and the ride was just 5 minutes with a friendly driver.
The hotel posts rates around $120 for most days or can be booked for 10,000 Marriott Rewards points.