There's a sense of occasion on arrival at The Johnson as guests pass under a black proscenium arch and cross a small square to enter a light-filled and perfumed foyer. This hybrid tower of designer flats and hotel includes 93 guestrooms on lower floors andthree penthouses. Bland grey corridors lead to funky apartment-style rooms with concrete ceilings, pale wood-panelled kitchenettes and a palette of neutral textiles with bursts of colour that reference namesake artist Michael Johnson's bold paintings, found in all rooms and public spaces. A fantastic 50-metre pool fringed by gay sunloungers and umbrellas reinforces the sense that The Johnson is not so much a city hotel as an urban resort.
The beds are a highlight of The Johnson's rooms. Custom-made by AH Beard and available to take home, these plump king and queen affairs promise deep relaxation at any time of night or day.
Hire a blue Lekker bicycle from the hotel to explore the neighbourhood and city riding tracks.
Tumbling Stone restaurant, named for one of Michael Johnson's works, is an all-day affair that serves à la carte breakfasts of coconut chia pots and smoked salmon soldiers with poached eggs. At lunch and dinner the grill rules; crowd-pleasers include chicken suprêmes and Rangers Valley sirloins. Call room service (until 10pm) for the likes of chicken wings, wagyu or chicken burgers, and warm carrot cake.
Tumbling Stone has an appealing range of Australian gins and craft beers, and a decent list of Australian and New Zealand wines. Cocktails twist the classics. Exhibit A: a Salted Caramel Martini.
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Hotel Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.