Review: Protea Balalaika Sandton Johannesburg

On our trip to South Africa, M and I stayed in multiple Protea hotels like the unique Protea Kruger Gate. After its acquisition by Marriott in 2013, Marriott’s footprint in the African continent significantly increased.

Travellers to the gold city of Johannesburg are no stranger to the posh neighbourhood of Sandton. It is touted as one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in the busy city.

We’ve stayed 6 nights at the hotel and this is a review of our experience in Protea Balalaika Sandton Johannesburg.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – Booking

We’ve booked our stay at the Protea hotel using 42,500 Marriott points.

The Protea brand of hotels represents one of the best redemptions for Marriott points. Even though cash rates at these hotels usually run for US$100-200 a night, you can typically redeem a night here for ~10,000 Marriott points.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – Location

Protea Balalaika Sandton is located in the heart of the Sandton neighbourhood in Johannesburg.

It is strategically located 5 minutes away from the famous Mandela Square shopping area and right beside a mall.

However, if you’re planning to head to downtown Johannesburg where most attractions are, that’s a 30 minutes Uber ride which can be pretty far for a daily commute.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – Check-in

The check-in process at Protea Sandton Balalaika was very smooth. We were immediately greeted by the staff and they were very friendly and professional.

She explained everything we needed to know about the hotel, including the restaurants and amenities available.

She also mentioned that we were pre-upgraded to a balcony room as Marriott Gold members.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – King Guest Room Balcony

King Guest Room Balcony in Protea Balalaika Sandton.

The soundproofing in the room is not the best. As it was a connecting room, we could hear the loud conversations from our neighbours very clearly.

King Guest Room Balcony in Protea Balalaika Sandton.

The large 50” TV in the room is the most modern and streaming-friendly TV ever. It supports Apple TV and Google Chromecast. For guests who prefer watching their own content as compared to live TV (and didn’t bring their own HDMI cable), this is a godsend.

Complimentary tea and coffee in the Protea Balalaika Sandton hotel.
Working area at the Protea Balalaika Sandton hotel.


The bathroom is fairly large with a separate shower and bathtub area.

The only downside to the bathroom is that the doors can’t be closed fully. Whenever we try to close the door, it will slowly open by itself.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – Restaurants

There are plenty of food options available within the hotel compounds.

There’s the Lords Bar for drinking and hanging out, the Conservatory where breakfast is held, and The Bull Run which is a main dining steak house.

M and I don’t usually try restaurants in city hotels as there are a lot of other options available outside. However, for this stay, we’ve decided to give The Bull Run a try.

The Bull Run is a steak house/bar located at the front of the hotel, sharing the same entrance road.

Although the food was great, what really impressed us the most about The Bull Run was its service. The waiter was patient and built up a strong rapport with us.

We felt that the service provided here was the best out of all restaurants we’ve visited in the country.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – Amenities

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is located in the middle of the living compound. Our room’s balcony faces directly at the pool.

During our stay, we didn’t see anyone using the pool at all. This is likely due to the fact that it was autumn which was pretty cold (around 10-20 degrees celsius) to take a dip in the unheated pool.


There’s a very small gym area in the hotel. You have the bare essentials to do a proper workout.

If you’re looking for anything more, there’s a proper gym studio at the connecting shopping centre. For guests of Protea Balalaika Sandton, there’s a running promotion for gym day rates.

Protea Balalaika Sandton – WiFi

The Wifi in Protea Balalaika Sandton was the fastest we’ve experienced so far in our travels. This is fibre internet level speeds and we were really impressed with it.

Extra Services

There is a free shuttle service to Mandela square which runs every 30 minutes.

Shuttle bus service provided by the Protea Balalaika Sandton hotel.

The Mandela Square is a large upscale shopping area in Sandton where you can find many popular international shops and restaurants.

Although you can walk there in 15 minutes from the hotel, we’d recommend taking the 5 minutes shuttle instead.

Final Thoughts

The Protea Balalaika Sandton hotel in Johannesburg is a great choice for accommodation if you’re in the city.

It is located in one of the most upscale districts in the entire city. Guests won’t have to worry about finding things to do around the area.

We’ll highly recommend the hotel to anyone visiting Johannesburg.

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