10 best budget accommodation spots in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, colloquially known as Jozi, is the coolest city in South Africa. This is something that’ll be argued about – for eternity – between inhabitants of Jozi and those of Cape Town (and those in Durban, too)!

While both Cape Town and Durban have incredible things to offer, they’re just not as vibey and cosmopolitan as Joburg. The city is a commercial centre, and people are brought together by their commitment to hustle. People are funky, progressive and uber-friendly, and there’s something cool happening every minute of the day.

Travel hub and safari launchpad to Kruger, Botswana & beyond

OR Tambo airport is Africa's busiest and best connected, serving over 20 million passengers a year. Most of our safaris to the iconic Kruger National Park start and end in Johannesburg. If you’ve got some time to spare, we’d highly recommend a couple of days in this city – it’s rich in history, culture, and it has an incredible vibe that you won't find anywhere else in Africa.

In this post we’ve listed our ten favourite budget accommodation spots in Jozi. There are plenty of them, so it was hard to pick just ten, but we did … and here they are:

  1. Once in Joburg, Braamfontein
  2. Authentic African Tours and Backpackers, Soweto
  3. Curiocity Backpackers, Maboneng
  4. Life on Third, Melville
  5. HomeBase, Melville
  6. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, Soweto
  7. Birches Backpackers Lodge, Linden
  8. Ghandi’s Backpackers, Kensington
  9. The Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square, Soweto
  10. Outlook Lodge Lakefield, Benoni

*Please note that cost was correct at the time of going to press (February 2019). We have included a link to each place’s website, so please head over there to check most recent pricing.

Once in Joburg

Located in the cultural hub of Braamfontein, Once in Joburg is the perfect base for exploring Jozi. They offer accommodation to suit all budgets and desires: from shared dorms to en-suite private rooms. A communal area has everything you need to self-cater, and regular social gatherings are held here so you can meet your fellow travellers.

Briony ChisholmOnce in Joburg - Briony Chisholm

The staff are fantastic and there is loads of info on where to go, what to do and who to do it with.

It’s fabulously central and next door (there’s a walkway) to The Grove, a happening little square where, on hot summer nights, music spills out from Eighty Six Public Pizzeria and Velo Café,  as people eat dinner and quaff drinks al fresco before setting off to the numerous happening nightspots in Braamfontein. Looking for good coffee and delectable breakfasts? Look no futher than Galata, also on the square. Their Turkish breakfast is divine.

Facebook86 Public - Facebook

If you’re not wanting to move an inch, The Immigrant Bar is on the ground floor of Once in Joburg. It offers great food, fabulous drinks and cool events (check their Facebook page for event info). Breakfast is also served here – get the shakshouka, it's phenomenal!

Bonus: Once in Joburg is the first hotel company in South Africa to pass their Fair-Trade accreditation with 100% on their audit.

Cost: From R200 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: De Korte Street, Braamfontein.
Room types: Shared dorms (including female-only dorms), twin/double/triple rooms, deluxe rooms.
Cool factor: Braamfontein is happening. It's within minutes of many cool spots to hang out.
Accommodation type: Hotel/Hostel/Poshtel.

Authentic African Tours and Backpackers

The best way to truly experience a place is to stay with the locals. At the Authentic African Tours and Backpackers in Soweto, you can do just that. Owner and tour guide, Lungi, grew up here and now he’s opened it up to visitors.

FacebookAuthentic Backpackers - Facebook

Accommodation is in private rooms, either twin or double and the house has a communal TV lounge, shared kitchen and garden with braai facilities.

The best part of this place is Lungi himself. He's a mine of information on the area. He offers walking, bicycle and car tours around Soweto, filled with both historical and personal stories.

An added bonus, if you’re a football (we call it soccer) fan: it’s close to Orlando Stadium, home to one of South Africa’s top soccer teams, Orlando Pirates. If your timing is lucky, you may even be able to witness a local derby.

FacebookChaf Pozi - Facebook

Wanting to entertain your inner adrenaline junkie? You can bungee jump or just climb the nearby Soweto Towers for incredible views. When you’re done, enjoy some local food and cold brew at the fabulous Chaf Pozi

Cost: From R390 per room. Check prices and book here.
Location: Mbele Street, Soweto.
Room types: Double, twin.
Cool factor: There’s nothing cooler than experiencing a place like a local.
Accommodation type: Backpackers.

Curiocity Backpackers

The Maboneng Precinct has fast become Joburg’s creative centre and Curiocity sits perfectly in its middle. The building itself has an interesting history having originally been the premises of Pacific Press during apartheid. Here, material for the ANC and Black Sash was printed and is said to have sheltered struggle heroes Nelson Mandela and Joe Slovo.

Rooms range from shared dorms to private and premium rooms. There’s a chill lounge, a balcony from which to watch the world go by and the Hide Out Bar which is open all day, providing your first coffee to your nightcap. They also offer loads of activities, both in the area and further afield.

Past Experiences@Mars_graffitti - Past Experiences

While there, go on a walking tour with Main Street Walks or Past Experiences to see the incredible street art in the area and get the inside scoop, or watch a classic film at The Bioscope (or enjoy a pizza and a craft beer at The Chalkboard).

Cost: From R180 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: Fox Street, Maboneng Precinct.
Room types: Dorm rooms, private and premium rooms.
Cool factor: Maboneng is just cool – it needs no further explanation!
Accommodation type: Backpackers.

Life on Third

Melville is known to be bohemian. With its beautiful tree-lined avenues, it’s one of those places that thrives on street life. Pavement cafes interspersed with antique shops, bars and galleries make it an ideal spot to walk around.

MelvilleLife on Third - Melville

Life on Third is a beautiful guesthouse set in green gardens, with the price tag on the upper end of 'budget'. It’s a stylish place offering a variety of room types, all en-suite with breakfast included. Life on 3rd is perfect if you’re looking for a quiet, upmarket spot that has reasonable rates.

FacebookLucky Bean - Facebook

There's plenty to do in the area: stop in at Ratz – they have daily specials on drinks and host great parties, get a glimpse into 1920’s New York at Hell’s Kitchen or sample the fare at Lucky Bean.

Facebook27 Boxes - Facebook

While you’re there, be sure to check out 27 Boxes, an innovative shopping ‘centre’ constructed from recycled shipping containers which showcase fashion, design and artisanal foods.

Cost: From R550 pppn. Check prices and book here.
Location: Third Avenue, Melville.
Room types: Single, double, luxury, family.
Cool factor: It’s in Melville. Melville is cool.
Accommodation type: Guesthouse

HomeBase Melville

Also in Melville, and good for the budget traveller, accommodation at HomeBase Melville ranges from a tent (with electricity) to dorms to private rooms and sweet wooden ‘cabanas’ and family rooms, some with shared bathrooms, some en-suite. There’s something to suit every budget and there’s also a fabulous pool.

MelvilleHomeBase - Melville

Cost: From R200 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: First Avenue, Melville.
Room types: Dorm rooms, tent, double/twins, triples, family.
Cool factor: It’s close to the vibey Melville street life.
Accommodation type: Backpackers.

Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers

Lebo’s is a Soweto institution. Located in Orlando West, an area rich in history and culture, it’s the perfect place from which to explore Soweto’s plethora of attractions.

Accommodation offered ranges from camping to backpackers’ accommodation to a self-catering guesthouse and Lebo’s prides itself on an interactive community experience. Home-cooked meals are served and walking, bicycle and Tuk Tuk tours of the area are offered.

Richard MatthewsMandela House - Richard Matthews

Just ten minutes away lies Vilakazi Street, where both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu lived. Mandela’s house is now a museum not far from which lies the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, commemorating the Soweto Uprising of 1976.

Cost: From R205 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: Pooe Street, Orlando West, Soweto.
Room types: Camping, dorm rooms, twin/double rooms, family rooms, self-catering rooms.
Cool factor: The cool kids hang here, and it has a fantastic community vibe.
Accommodation type: Camping/Backpackers/Guesthouse.

Birches Backpackers Lodge

The Birches Backpacker Lodge is situated in the leafy suburb of Linden. Did you know that Joburg is the world’s largest man-made forest? Okay, that’s an urban myth but Joburg has about 5 million trees, some of whom reside in the garden of this peaceful backpackers.

ShutterstockJacarandas - Shutterstock

Rooms range from shared dorms (male/female) to singles, doubles, twins and family. A braai is held each weekend on a ‘bring ‘n braai’ basis – you bring the meat; the fire and traditional accompaniments are supplied.

FacebookCraft Beer Library - Facebook

A quick bus trip – the bus route runs past – into the CBD, it’s a great base for exploring the city. It’s also within safe walking distance of some of Jozi’s best places to spot the city’s cool crowd:  enjoy a red cappuccino at The Whippet, taste some locally crafted beers at Craft Beer Library or enjoy lunch under the trees at Paputzi’s.

Cost: From R200 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: Anton van Wouw Street, Linden.
Room types: Male/female dorm, doubles, twins, family and singles.
Cool factor: There’s free Wi-Fi and Netflix and it’s close to many of Jozi’s coolest spots.
Accommodation type: Backpackers Hostel/Lodge.

Ghandi’s Backpackers

Many people don’t realise that Mahatma Ghandi spent 21 years in South Africa, from the age of 24.  Almost two of those years were spent in jail (four separate sentences) for his role in the struggle against apartheid. Rumours say that he stayed at this house a hundred years’ ago.

Whether that’s fact or fiction is irrelevant, this beautiful historical building – built in 1889 – has been converted into the fabulous place that is Ghandi’s Backpackers. Accommodation ranges from dorm rooms to single, double/twin, triple and family en-suite rooms. An open plan kitchen, thatched bar, pool table and swimming pool offer fantastic spaces to meet your fellow travellers.

FacebookThe Rusty Lady Bistro - Facebook

There are numerous good restaurants in the area, including The Rusty Lady Bistro and Bennigan’s Restaurant.

Cost: From R210 pppn (dorm-style). Check prices and book here.
Location: Doris Street, Kensington.
Room types: Dorm rooms, singles, double/twins, triples, family.
Cool factor: It’s easy to be cool with the poolside bar.
Accommodation type: Backpackers.

The Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square

Wanting to splash out a little and experience true Soweto hospitality in a boutique hotel, at a price that won’t break the bank? The Soweto Hotel is the place to go. It’s the high-end of budget, but well worth the price for a night. Situated in the middle of historic Kliptown, on Freedom Square, it is Soweto’s first four-star hotel.

KliptownSoweto Hotel - Kliptown

The hotel offers standard and presidential rooms, all en-suite. There is an on-site restaurant, The Jazz Maniacs and cocktail bar, Rusty’s.

ign11Walter Sisulu Square - ign11

From here, you can take a walking/bicycling/taxi tour with local guides who’ll intersperse the history of the area with their personal stories. You can also follow the journey of the Freedom Charter on Walter Sisulu Square.

Cost: From R735 pppn (sharing). Check prices and book here.
Location: Corner Union Avenue and Main Road, Kliptown.
Room types: Dorm rooms, singles, double/twins, triples, family.
Cool factor: It’s easy to be cool with the poolside bar.
Accommodation type: Backpackers.

Outlook Lodge Lakefield

If you’re looking for a place to stay close to OR Tambo International Airport, Outlook Lodge Lakeside is the perfect spot. It’s just ten minutes from the airport and offers clean and comfortable accommodation in a leafy suburb.

BenoniOutlook Lodge - Benoni

The guest house has two standard double rooms and five standard twin rooms all with en-suite bathrooms. There is a beautiful garden and the swimming pool to keep cool in the summer.

Cost: From R530 pppn (sharing). Check prices and book here. https://www.outlook.co.za/outlook-lodge-lakefield.html#prices
Location: Ambleside Avenue, Lakeside, Benoni.
Room types: Double, twins.
Cool factor: It’s a hop, skip and a jump to Or Tambo Airport (and the Gautrain).
Accommodation type: Guesthouse.

So, there you have it – ten of our favourite Jozi spots. Perfect for a couple of days before or after your dream safari. Contact one of our knowledgeable travel consultants and book that safari now!

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