The Rand Club, Johannesburg
Did you know?Numerous portraits line the Rand Club walls, including those of past Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
Once upon a time, the area where the Rand Club has stood since 1887 was a windswept dusty area of farms and scrub, but when the world’s greatest gold deposits were found there, the city of Johannesburg was born, grew at a lightning pace and prospered. Today the Rand Club sits plumb in the middle of one of the most important financial and mining centres in Africa.
Legend has it that when Cecil John Rhodes had firmly established that there was indeed gold in ‘them thar hills’, he walked to a point where the fledgling Commissioner Street meets the present-day Loveday Street and imperiously exclaimed, ‘here we must have a club'. And so one of Johannesburg’s great institutions was born and took shape.
That shape has changed radically since the first brick-and-thatch structure went up in 1887. Less than two years later, that first single-storey club house became an impressive two-storey building with a bar (of course), a billiard room (the pursuit of gentlemen in those days), a dining room, various offices and a kitchen.
The South African War, where Boer battled Brit and was finally defeated, got in the way of further building plans, but in 1904 the Rand Club was reborn in an even grander manner, modeled on one of London’s top clubs.
It now boasted four-storeys, imposing columns, a splendid stained glass dome (it was completely restored with new stained glass after a disastrous fire in 2005), bars, billiard rooms, libraries, offices and a fine restaurant.
However, the presence of Cecil John Rhodes’ presence is still keenly felt in the Rhodes Room, where a life-sized portrait glowers over members and guests.
Although times have changed and even women members and lady guests are now allowed (founder members are probably turning in their graves at the thought) the Rand Club remains a Johannesburg icon of tradition, status and opulence.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Rand Club
Tel: +27(0) 11 870 4260
How to get here
The Rand Club is situated at the corner of Loveday and Fox streets in downtown Johannesburg.
Tours to do
An excellent way to see Johannesburg is on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. It has 12 exciting stops including one in downtown Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum, the World of Beer, Gold Reef City Theme Park, and the Origin Centre at Wits (University of the Witwatersrand).
What to pack
There’s a strict dress code that disallows jeans, tracksuits, golf and sports shirts, or sandals for gentlemen. Ladies’ wear is smart casual.
Where to stay
If you are a member or reciprocal member you may stay at the Club, but there is only a limited number of bedrooms and demand is high, so book well in advance.
What to eat
The Club has an excellent restaurant with a resident chef.
Poker nights, business club, library club, chamber music evenings – see the in-house function calendar on their website.