Today downtown Joburg is a cacophony of hooting taxis, vibrant pan-Africanism and frenetic energy, but there was a moment, not so long ago, when silver cutlery and starched white linen were the order of the day.

In a city regulated by repressive segregationist laws, extreme wealth and abject poverty often rubbed shoulders on the same sidewalk. In the midst of this incongruous dynamic existed a bevy of glamorous hotels that hosted the city’s who’s who and even international celebrities. These bastions of 20th-century decadence were famed for fine dining, chic design and up-to-the minute amenities...

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