Joburg neighbourhood named as ‘one of the coolest in the world’ [photos]

Residents of Melville, Johannesburg might just be going about their daily business on Thursday with an extra spring in their step. After all, not everyone can wake up in ‘one of the coolest neighbourhoods’ on the planet. The Gauteng suburb has made Time Out’s prestigious list, climbing 15 places from the year before.

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Bassline Jazz Club is a local institution – Photo: Derek Smith / Flickr

Melville – the coolest place in South Africa?

The pure heart of this small community has made a huge impression on the global stage. Coming in at #33 on the list, Melville ranks higher than the exclusive Porta Venezia quarter in Milan, and Tokyo’s culturally-rich Kabutocho district.

Melville is set to celebrate its 125-year anniversary next year, in what we hope will eventually become a pandemic-free environment. Everything from its roadside cafes to the innovative ’27 Boxes’ shopping centre has managed to capture the imagination. Iga Motylska, involved in compiling the list, lavished praised upon Johannesburg’s hive of social activity.

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Street art forms a key part of Melville’s identity – Photo: Flickr

Why Time Out picked Melville as one of its ‘coolest neighbourhoods’

“Melville is a joyous, everyone-knows-everyone kind of place. Just north of the city centre, this largely residential neighbourhood’s tree-fringed main road brims with coffee shops, restaurants, and bars that spill onto the pavement. Antiques fan out in front of family-run stores. Artists hawk their creations on street corners.”

“Very few parts of Johannesburg, in fact, are better for a casual mooch than the area’s commercial centrepiece, 27 Boxes – once Faan Smit Park, now a 51-store shopping complex comprising colourful stacked shipping containers.”

Time Out

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The famous 27 Boxes structure – Photo: Pascal Parent / Flickr

Johannesburg suburb gains international acclaim

There are over 30 guest houses in the vicinity, and Melville is a popular stopover in Johannesburg for tourists. On 7th Street, in addition to restaurants, there are several bars and a tattoo studio; the street is a popular hang-out for the cosmopolitan crowd. It’s a picturesque location with stunning views of woodlands to the north.

Portuguese and Mozambican influences have made Melville a foodie’s delight, too. Add that to its string of exquisite coffee houses and the raucous night-spots, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for ‘cool’ in an instant.

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All the colourful characters are on show – Photo: Derek Smith / Flickr

Where are the coolest neighbourhoods in the world?

America and Australia can both claim to have two of the top ten ‘coolest neighbourhoods’. Barcelona is home to the winner, whereas China and Hong Kong also have suburbs on the list. Melville, as it turns out, is the only African ‘hood featured.

  1. Esquerra de l’Example, Barcelona – Spain
  2. Downtown, Los Angeles – USA
  3. Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong City – Hong Kong
  4. Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York – USA
  5. Yarraville, Melbourne – Australia
  6. Wedding, Berlin – Germany
  7. Shaanxi Bei Lu, Shanghai – China
  8. Dennistoun, Glasgow – Scotland
  9. Haut-Marais, Paris – France
  10. Marrickville, Sydney – Australia

However, it’s #33 that is doing the most for us. Kudos, Melville…

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Remember where you’ve parked up… – Photo: Derek Smith / Flickr

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