Melville has its perks when wanting to stay up to date with what is constantly trending. What was once an old-fashioned suburb, has turned into a colourful neighbourhood. Students from the University of Johannesburg and the University of Witwaresrand are frequently in the location. The home of local TV drama, Sewende Laan, also pushes tourists and residents towards the Bamboo shopping centre, jazz venues and the nature reserve, Melville Koppies. Day or night - the energy is alive. Some of Mellville’s best bed and breakfasts are made out of the finest houses built in this cultural hub. Bistros and cafés are always packed, with the night life on full blast of live music and dancing. One of the area’s favourite restaurants is Buzz 9 - boasting its tasty menu and wide assortment of cocktails. With never a shortage of accommodation, and easy travelling routes, Melville is the place to kick back.
The lively suburb of Melville, west of Johannesburg, is known for its down to earth meets trendy, coffee shop vibe – and its bustling nightlife. More like a café-style village lined with quirky shops, bistros, restaurants and clubs, peppered with a cultural mix of art and antique dealers, clothing and beading shops, Melville has become famous among locals and visitors as not to be missed for a night out in Gauteng.
A great old suburb established in 1896, Melville is a fantastic place for travellers without access to a car. Getting around is easy. Walk or take a quick bus to tourist attractions nearby. The suburb is also on the backpackers Baz Bus route.
Start by exploring Seventh Avenue, the setting and title of a local TV drama, Sewende Laan, where you’ll find plenty to delight you, whether you’re shopping by day or pub-crawling by night. Spend your day investigating quirky shops such as Robin’s Nest, an emporium of antique clothes and accessories, or The Bead Shop, which has arguably the largest selection of beads in Gauteng. Also on this street are enough book dealers to satisfy your inner bibliophile.
There are restaurants and bars aplenty. Start at the bottom of the street with Lucky Bean, a haven of local South African bistro cooking, make your way to the top via Xai Xai Lounge, all the way to Nuno’s that specialises in Mozambican cuisine, with plenty in between to suit all tastes, such as Café de la Créme – Melville’s top-class Greek/Turkish coffee shop that offers delicious pastries and sweet treats.
But don’t restrict yourself to Seventh Avenue – explore Main Street, where you’ll find some of South Africa’s oldest entertainment venues, including Roxy’s Rhythm Bar, an entertainment institution offering live music for at least 20 years. Don’t miss Catz Pyjamas, one of the few eateries still open 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Just at the entrance to the suburb, you’ll find the bright little Bamboo shopping centre (53 Rustenburg Road), home to the popular eatery the Service Station, Wine+, the furniture and home store Bright House, Botany florists, Fever graphic designers and an art gallery. On Saturday mornings, visit the Melville Farmer’s Market at the top of the centre. And while you’re there, pop across the road and inspect the quirky shops, with wares ranging from original art by Sue Pam Grant to the cutting edge of local fashion.
There are also numerous antique shops, clothing designers, pubs and clubs dotted around the suburb – take the time to explore it on foot so you don’t miss out on the latest happening, be it comedy night at Catz Pyjamas or live jazz at Back2Basix.
With two universities within walking distance, the suburb is full of young people, and you can feel it in the atmosphere as you stroll around – this is an ideal place for connecting with locals and possibly making lifelong friends.
The suburb lies at the foot of Melville Koppies, a nature reserve and Johannesburg City Heritage Site. It is the last conserved remnant of Johannesburg’s ridges as they were before the discovery of gold in 1886, and its geology is 3-billion years old.
There’s also no shortage of accommodation, as many of the suburb’s houses have been converted into guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and backpacker lodges, ensuring you find somewhere to sleep no matter how large or small your budget.