Hell’s Kitchen — Johannesburg

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Hot as Hell

Johannesburg speakeasy Hell's Kitchen summons the devilish glamour of 1920s New York...

Speakeasy bars are de rigueur right now, and Hell’s Kitchen is bringing a bit of that Prohibition-era American glamour to Johannesburg. It’s best to make the venue your first stop of the night so your mental faculties are up to finding your way around the place; StudioA has designed Hell’s Kitchen’s whiskey lounge — complete with floating installation of top hats — to be accessed via a Cluedo-esque fake library shelving secret entrance. Once you’re in, don’t expect to be leaving in a hurry either. The devilish décor and vampire-glam, eternal youth vibes (many a prematurely-dead hedonist gazes down on the patrons) suggest you may part with your soul as well as the price of a round of drinks in this seductive place.


This is not a bar for the well-heeled of Jo’burg, although it may end up attracting that sort of clientele looking for a bit of rough, in the nicest possible sense. Hell’s Kitchen is in Melville — a regenerating neighbourhood gradually emerging from dereliction — and StudioA was driven by a desire to reflect the edgy surroundings in the interior design as a change-up from its usual large-scale swanky projects in the posh parts of town. Grungy rock’n’roll mixed with some easy jazz is both the sound and the look here, with nods to 1920s New York not only in the name, but in the Moooi Rabbit Lamp bases used as pendants in the bar – a reference to the Irish-American street gang The Dead Rabbits. Let’s hope those meat cleavers are securely fastened to the wall…

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