Thoughts of our capital city don’t exactly conjure visions of an exotic holiday destination. However, chances are good that you are going to have to cross the “boerewors gordyn” (boerewors curtain) at least once in your life to visit one of Pretoria’s many embassies, educational institutions, hospitals or sporting facilities. In recent years Pretoria has shaken off her dusty historic image and is ready to show you her quirky side on your next visit.
We’ve picked a few hidden gems to explore if you have a few hours between appointments or are tempted to cross the Jukskei and make a day of discovering the fun and creative side of Pretoria.
Stay: A Fashionable Hide- Away
Have you always wondered what a day in the life of a fashion designer looks like? Tucked away in the leafy suburb of Waterkloof, Milner Fashion House (MFH) boasts two gorgeous guest suites set in a lush garden. However, it’s the bustling fashion studio on site that gives you a glimpse behind the scenes. When you visit MFH you might encounter models and photographers pitching up for a shoot or stylists and celebrities popping in to create magic in the onsite studio.
Known for dressing the likes of Oscar nominee Terry Pheto and HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco – ERRE, the fashion designer duo label located at MFH, is a beloved fixture on the South Africa fashion scene. Staying at MFH gives one a rare opportunity to see the exquisite detail of runway garments up close or view the objects, images and textiles that inspire the ERRE team.
Even if fashion isn’t your scene MFH is the ideal base for a business stay. Just 10 minutes from the nearest Gautrain station and with the city centre, numerous embassies, universities, schools and sporting facilities minutes away, your commute becomes a breeze. Free WIFI and meeting facilities mean you can even schedule all your meetings on site.
And if you would like to visit – but don’t need to stay over, keep an eye on their social media. MFH often hosts small-scale events, everything from fun crafting classes to live music or foodie demonstrations.
Taste: Sweet Discoveries
The sweet tooths among us had better make a note of this hidden gem! In their own words, Jack Rabbit Chocolate is a “humble but fancy AF artisanal dessert studio based in Pretoria, South Africa.” On entering their beautiful little store, you are drawn to a display case filled with stunning handmade chocolate bonbons – each an exquisite miniature work of art. The available flavours change from time to time, so check their social media to keep up to date with the flavours of the week. When we visited, the Burnt Butter Burbon was our absolute favourite! A handpicked box of these beauties will make a gorgeous gift to the chocolate lover in your life. It was a real struggle leaving there with a reasonable amount of chocolate – the proverbial kid in a candy store comes to mind! Besides the bonbons, there is all manner of snackable chocolate-covered treats – think everything from almonds and pistachios to cherries and peanut butter stuffed dates.
Remember to leave some space in your tummy, because right next door awaits a lovely old fashioned ice cream parlour – Whisk Away Ice Cream. Ice creams, sorbets and ice cream cakes are handmade from only the best locally sourced ingredients and with no nasty artificial additives. We got some ice cream cones to enjoy on their veranda and can highly recommend both the passionfruit cheesecake and Turkish delight flavour – out of this world delicious. A container of pear and pecan ice cream also went home with us – the perfect after-dinner treat!
Both these treasures are located at the Waterkloof Heights shopping centre – a small centre punching far above its weight with regards to excellent foodie choices. Also, check out the Magic Bus – Latino Street Grill and Pride of India restaurants.
Stroll: A Secret Garden
If you need a change of scenery after a day spent inside – a stroll through a beautiful green space is just the ticket. Gariep Plants is a retail succulent nursery situated in Faerie Glen in the east of Pretoria. Their garden is home to a large collection of succulent plants, bulbs, and many other perennials and shrubs. The wide variety of plants in the garden abounds with colour and flowers throughout the year – however, a visit during the winter months is worth your time to see their collection of indigenous aloes in bloom.
They have a large selection of succulents for sale – so you can take a bit of the magic home with you and make your #plantmom dreams come true. We lost a good amount of time pouring over the fascinating collection of succulents in the nursery – from weird alien shapes to mesmerising patterns – the creativity of nature never ceases to amaze.
Explore: Antique Route 6
If you get a kick out of unearthing hidden gems in dusty little antique shops, then set a day aside to explore this meandering route! The route comprises of seven antique stores each with its own quirky flavour scattered through the beautiful and leafy historic area of Pretoria Moot. With some of the stores packed to the rafters (looking at you Sinkhuisie) you will satisfy all your treasure hunting cravings.
Little Treasures is a worthy first stop on the route with true antique pieces in their collection. They have a large selection of antique clocks, we found this out to our delight, when we stepped into the shop on the hour and heard dozens of different chimes going off at once! They also specialise in repairing clocks.
Retro Rabbit is difficult to miss due to the enormous scrap metal rabbit on the roof! We enjoyed their collection of crazy 80s wedding dresses – the vast amounts of ruffles, sequins and lace is something to behold. They restore and revitalise vintage lifestyle items to suit the taste and style of the modern consumer. Family owned and operated, they offer bespoke up-cycled furniture and funtiques to folks who seek something unique.
has been a Pretoria highlight since 1999. They specialise in items from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s – so if that retro look lies close to your heart – visit them!
Sinkhuisie Antiques – everything and the kitchen sink applies here! We were left speechless by the sheer amount of stuff contained in this space. According to their website, they stock more than 4 million Rands worth of antiques, collectables and garden art. They can also assist clients with any restoration needed to bring back much-loved items to their former glory.
Get the map of the route here:
Pretoria is evolving from a strait-laced capital into a quirky, fun city, ready to show off all her hidden delights to you.Next time something comes up and you need to visit the Jacaranda city – make sure you seek out these unique places and experiences!
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