Johannesburg – like many cities worldwide – is transforming its inner city. A visionary project is Main Street Life. Once a drab industrial building, it’s now an edgy and vibrant space to live, work and eat. Check out the creative offices, shops, restaurants and cinemas, along with a daringly different boutique hotel.

Did you know?

Main Street Life also houses a boxing gym and a dance and music rehearsal space.

Main Street Life – the new name given to a once largely forgotten and seedy part of Johannesburg – has now, like the proverbial phoenix, risen from the ashes of an industrial past and become one of the city’s trendiest, edgiest and coolest places to live, work and play.

Main Street Life is part of the on-going Maboneng Precinct project, which kicked off with the hugely successful Arts on Main, a development that took over some old inner city offices and warehouses and renewed, recycled, refurbished and rebuilt where necessary.

Today Arts on Main is an eclectic mix of art galleries, advertising agencies, artists’ studios and retail spaces.

Following the success of Arts on Main, it was time for visionary property developer Jonathan Liebmann, who created Arts on Main with architect Enrico Daffonchio, to move on to the next stage of the Maboneng Precinct – Main Street Life.

Another old, run-down industrial building was acquired and transformed into a modern, funky but functional complex that houses everything from small apartments to penthouses, shops to restaurants, creative workspaces to a roof venue with a stunning 360º view over the city. Cinderella is transformed almost overnight into a classy inner city princess.

Her crown – and the high point of Main Street Life metaphorically and literally – is the 12 Decades Johannesburg Arts Hotel.

This self-catering boutique hotel embodies a unique concept: Leibmann asked some of South Africa’s best-known designers and artists to take the 12 rooms of the hotel and have them represent Johannesburg’s past 12 decades.

Choose ‘This is the House that Jack Built’, themed around mining, or ‘Ponte Obscura’, where the room becomes a camera obscura filled with inverted views of Berea, Hillbrow and the iconic Ponte Tower.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Main Street Life
Mobile: +27 (0)72 880 9583

12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)11 026 5601
Email: reservations@12decades.co.za

How to get here

Main Street Life is found on the corner of Main, Maritzburg and Fox streets in downtown Johannesburg. There is plenty pf parking available and the area is well-served by both taxis and buses.

Best time to visit

Any time is good, but you'll get great sunset views from the rooftop.

Around the area

Arts on Main is a collection of artists’ workshops, galleries, Bailey’s African History Archives and the Canteen Restaurant. On Sundays there’s an organic market in the undercover parking area.

Where to stay

The 12 Decades Boutique Hotel, part of the Main Street Life development.

What's happening

Johannesburg's theatre district is nearby so check out what’s on in the local press.