So much is changing on Ilha that it feels like the island is going through a new Golden Age.
The opening of a university campus has certainly had an impact, bringing in new people and injecting life into some of the empty buildings. Its also helped to strengthen the island’s reputation as a centre of learning with institutions like the Smithsonian, Uni Eduardo Mondlane and Gulbenkian now supporting the Slave Wreck project, Underwater Archaeological centre, preservation of the Sacred Objects collection and more.
In arts and culture there are new events popping up all the time, some shifting the focus to Makuti Town. And in the environment there’s greater emphasis on conservation along with international recognition that the sea off Ilha holds one of the few Humpback Whale birthing grounds in the southern hemisphere, something that is underpinning the establishment of internationally recognised Responsible Whale Watching here.
In response accommodation providers are upgrading or expanding their hotels and guest houses and there are a few new ones being built and many new places registered on Airbnb.
A quick round-up of the changes.
Newsflash – Ruby’s is closing down. 31 March 2019 is the last day for Ruby’s Backpackers. Will be sadly missed, a great local institution and the island doesn’t have any other backpackers hostel.
New places that are now up and operating include Dar Diwani, a prestige guest house. Casas Annie, Pahari, Beira-Mar I, II & III, Maya and Ellen all on the water’s edge with sea views to die for. Casa Fabula in the very centre with the best restaurants on either side, and Casa Mique in the narrow lanes of the oldest part of town.
Under construction is the Hotel Omuhipiti which is just getting the final touches. On the Contra Costa where Indico was, a new stylish guest house is being built and just across the road is a massive place that according to rumour will also be a new guest house when finished. On the opposite side of the island and close to Villa Sands the first phase of the Docklands Apartments is now underway with completion expected by the end of the year.
There are now more than 20 places listed on Airbnb. Some are true to the original Airbnb idea of a spare room in somebody’s house while others are magnificent waterfront properties – well loved homes that are available when the owners are away. But there’s also a trend for hotels and guest houses to promote their regular rooms through airbnb which can be misleading sometimes.
Note: Accommodation rates have now been removed from listings. Best that you check prices with management before making a booking.
Escondidinho – Hiding Place
This light and airy place is right in the centre of Stonetown. Rumored to be a former slave market it is now a comfortable mid-priced guesthouse with spacious rooms most with en-suite bathrooms. The swimming pool at Escondidinho is the best on the island, situated in a shady garden. It’s a good place to escape the midday heat and do as the name Escondidinho suggests and hide away.
The rooms are large and elegant and each a bit different, which in my mind adds to the appeal. Try for room 17 which is a favorite for those in the know.
The restaurant which was once one of the best places to eat on the island seems to be getting back on track with tasty western and traditional meals available with efficient service and at very reasonable prices
Lots of singles, couples and occasionally families stay here, and the bar restaurant is a popular meeting spot for business people & NGO workers.
All rooms have A/C and most have en-suite bathrooms. There is also a very large room that sleeps 6, good for a family or group of friends but no a/c
Includes: breakfast, use of swimming pool and good wifi
Contact |Ph: +258 843898628 E: [email protected]
More info |www.oescondidinho.net
Tel + 258 84 3898628
Feitoria Boutique Hotel
The Feitoria boasts “resort style with sophisticated trimmings”. Its more chintz than chic, but it still gets 10 out of 10 for Wow factor.
Located in a very central position in Stone Town, next to the bank and overlooking the sea. The reception and conference facilities are situated in the main heritage building, and the resort style is provided by a large open area with swimming pool and a restaurant / bar on the terrace by the sea.
While the buildings are distinctly Portuguese Colonial, the fittings have an exotic Indian theme in keeping with the islands eclectic cultural mix.
Most of the accommodation is built into what were once separate warehouses. All have their own front door and window, ensuite bathroom and there’s a choice of twin or double beds but rooms are quit small. If you need more space the large suites are up the magnificent staircase along with the conference facilities for up to 25. Car parking is in reserved spaces at the adjacent park.
The restaurant is popular and while the menu isn’t very creative the food is good and well presented
All rooms have hot/cold water, wifi, TV, hair dryer, robe, sandals and arrangement can be made for extra childs bed in the suites
Standard: 4 rooms, all double beds.
Superior: 8 rooms, 5 twin 3 double
Suite Junior: 3 suites 2 double 1 twin, 1 with sea view
Suite Senior: 2 suites, all double with terrace and sea view
More info |www.feitoria.co.mz
Coral Lodge 15.41
Coral Lodge is located in the most stunning place you’ve ever seen*
The lodge describes itself as “a beach sanctuary which tastefully blends luxury and comfort with the authentic feel of Mozambique style and simplicity” and who could argue with that. The setting is world class and the rooms and excellent cuisine guarantee a wonderful stay. There are 10 luxury villas, some facing the ocean the other facing the saltwater lagoon.
Coral Lodge is not actually on Ilha but 3km across Mossuril Bay. The best way to get there is by Swahili sailing Dhow, a gentle and romantic journey which helps with the transition to the slower pace of life in Cabeceira. There are many dhows making this journey every day
Being so close to Ilha makes Coral Lodge a good place to use as a base from which to explore the World Heritage site and the other nearby islands. However, Coral lodge tours and transfers are very expensive and not necessarily the best so its worth checking out the alternatives. Of which there are quite a few
- Air Conditioning above your bed (this is clever and works really well)
- Electronic safe
- Coffee & tea making facilities
- A fully-stocked private bar
- Indoor and Outdoor shower
Prices: International rates include full board. Special rates for locals
*A big part of the appeal of Coral Lodge has always been the remoteness of the setting; think empty beaches and uninterrupted views, but this is changing. Several new accommodation places are being built close by and Coral Lodge have even added their own beach bar and have plans to install a windmill.
Jardim Dos Aloés Boutique B&B
According to the owners, ‘Jardim’ strives to provide “elegance and comfort for discerning clientele looking for something special”.
Situated in the narrow lanes of Stonetown, entrance is through a wooden side gate.
Here the simple entrance provides no clues as to what lies behind. This property includes several heritage buildings all being carefully renovated to a very high standard by a slightly eccentric Italian/Mozambican couple, Bruno and Judith (who you will see a lot of during your stay). The Jardim Dos Aloés prides itself on old-fashioned style and service and the food is excellent, using fresh, locally procured ingredients wherever possible. “5 star breakfast” is included and additional meals are available by arrangement. (Let them know if you have tours or other commitments so that breakfast can be prepared earlier)
King, Queen or 2 single beds, suite/apartments all with A/C, fans and quality fittings.
Contact | +258 84213 1488 or +258 87 8274645 | [email protected] | Jardim Dos Aloés Facebook page
More info | www.jardim-dos-aloes.com
Hospedagem Monteiro, A Nivukhu
Situated in a side street between the Central Market and the old Capatania Building. There are 16 rooms squeezed into a fairly small space. I don’t know of anybody that has stayed here but my hunch is that it appeals to government employees and other medium income earners visiting the island for work.
Double with ensuite with or without a/c. Twin or single room with outside bathroom
Contact |Ph: 82 6696880 or 84 9299059
A large Stonetown guesthouse with endless character. Situated at the narrowest point of the island, the sea is within 200 meters in either direction. To the left as you step out the door is the Contra Costa and to the right is the Museu beach and the Pontão. Its also within meters of the best restaurants and casual cafes, bottle shop and attractions like the Palace Museum.
This impressive heritage building has a large upstairs ‘sala’ with period fittings and windows that are open onto the street. Three of the bedrooms also share this view, while the two other upstairs rooms open onto the large and lush garden behind. The downstairs suites have been improved to make them more comfortable, even so they lack the character of those upstairs.
All rooms have private bathrooms with hot water, fans and A/C and sleep up to 3 or 4. Includes breakfast
Omakuthini – Casa Luis
This was for a long time the only tourist accommodation situated in the south of the island, right in the heart of Makuti Town. For most people Casa Luis is too far from the island’s main tourist attractions but for others, it’s the very reason they go there.
This family run place is very friendly, clean and rooms are all comfortable. It’s one of the cheapest options and consequently attracts the more price conscious travellers along with those seeking an ‘authentic’ cultural emersion. Almira is the owner and guests rave about her wonderful traditional meals which she can prepare for a small extra cost
Contact | +258 824367570 or +258 845631513 | [email protected]
It appears Omuhipiti is having a ‘soft opening’. Some guests have already stayed but the hotel is still not inaugurated.
Formerly the government run hotel, Om’uhipiti is well situated in a large area of landscaped garden at the northern end of the island. Close to the Fortaleza and two of the best beaches but further away from most shops, cafes and bars. Om’uhipiti’ can boast that all rooms have a sea view, and that’s something no other accommodation has.
Over the past 2 years the hotel has been fully renovated. Not sure just yet how it will be for comfort and service buts there’s plenty of bling if thats what you are looking for. Contact details below may not be correct
Contact |Ph: +258 826965500 E: [email protected]
Located to the south of the Slave Memorial Garden and overlooking a pretty beach.
Each year the owners take time to build and redesign the place and each year it gets closer to the vision they have.
2 King rooms and 1 Twin room with shared spacious living room, bathroom and private kitchen. All 3 rooms can be rented as a three-room suite.
2 King room suites with Private Bath, DSTV, 24/7 coffee/tea, juice and water, mini fridge.
1 Deluxe Suite which provides a gorgeous sea view with private living room, DSTV and fully-equipped full-sized private kitchen for quiet dinners at your convenience.
All rooms come with air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, and full breakfast.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +258 852200600
Ruby Backpacker Closing down 31 March 2019
This cosy backpackers is a local treasure. There are Dorms and one double room, a lively public bar, a rooftop terrace and a small shady courtyard garden for guests.
The popularity of this place is mainly due to the sociable staff and dedication of the first owners who lovingly transformed this near ruin into a lively and stylish hostel. Somehow they managed to keep most of its original architectural features and added their own kooky improvements.
The appeal and the importance of this friendly affordable backpackers is set to increase as other accommodation options get caught up in the trend to be Afro-chic, with corresponding upwardly mobile price tags.
No A/C. Shared bathrooms
Includes: Breakfast. Laundry service or wash your own clothes in tubs provided
Contact |Ph: +258 84 8660200 or 82 46 70524 E: [email protected]
Terraço Das Quitandas (T.Q.)
A large property overlooking a pretty beach and one of the most expensive places to stay on the island.
There’s a grand staircase, 6 well appointed rooms and lots of cosy seating areas overflowing with African and Asian artefacts. Currently there is some major construction taking place which will eventually double the number of rooms available.
Terraco is something of a retreat with a reputation for keeping itself separate from island life, a reputation reinforced by a ‘guests only’ policy in the building. The style is Grand Colonial, with a nostalgia for a bygone era that some people may not be comfortable with and an eversion to modernity (no swimming pool and the last place on the island to get wifi).
The location is as central as its possible to get and it also has the advantage of being close to the beach, although separated from it by an unfriendly looking, spiky garden.
Terraco appeals to well-heeled couples as well as individuals seeking solitude and minimal interaction with local life. Apart from the two lovely Labrador dogs there isn’t much to interest children so I wouldn’t recommend it for families.
4 rooms with king size beds
2 rooms with twin beds, one of which also has a queen size bed, which normally works as a family room. More rooms being built
All have A/C and en-suite bathroom. Price includes breakfast and now wifi
Contact | +258 846131243 | [email protected]
More info | www.terracodasquitandas.com
It’s not easy to do chic on a remote island but this modern and stylish hotel is giving it a good go. Once a warehouse for storing cashews, it has been completely transformed by Swedish owners into a spacious waterfront hotel. Recent renovations have increased capacity to 14 rooms/suites, there’s a public restaurant, swimming pool, bar and a small conference room.
From the outside Villa Sands can look a bit like a backpackers hostel with a random collection of rental bikes, kayaks and faded sandwich boards cluttering the footpath. But don’t let this fool you, step inside and you will see why the hotel has been featured in so many luxury magazines.
The hotel lobby is expansive, with a high wooden beamed ceiling supported on massive stone columns, there are antique mirrors and comfortable seating where you can arrange to meet people or just relax with coffee and a book. There’s an outdoor deck area overlooking the sea and upstairs is a spa room where massage and other body treatments are available by appointment. The restaurant is open all day and the bar often keeps going late into the night.
For years Villa Sands stood out as the most expensive and therefor ‘the best’ hotel on Ilha. But now there are more accommodation options to choose from and many are challenging Villa Sands’ status by providing better value and a more professional service, especially in the reception and restaurant.
Villa Sands is popular with couples, business and government types, conference groups and on the weekends day visitors from nearby Nampula and Nacala.
All rooms have A/C, fans, en-suite bathrooms. Some downstairs rooms are without windows which can be strange. Breakfast is included, as is the use of pool and wifi in the reception and public areas.
Contact | +258 827447178 or 84 7447178 or 26 6100160 | [email protected]
More info | www.villasands.com
A locally run accommodation very conveniently located in Stonetown on the central road between the Market and the Hospital. It’s a cool shady place (hardly any windows), a little bit basic but clean. All rooms are different and the front one on the left as you go in is the cheapest and in my mind the nicest with daylight and a breeze from the street, but may be noisy at night.
Double room with en-suite & A/C
Double room with shared Bathroom no A/C
Contact | Ph: +258 84 8540403 or +258 82 4551420
Casa Das Ondas
Located on the Contra Costa, which, because of its large (and normally empty) official residencies is generally quieter than elsewhere in Stonetown and has the added advantage of a constant cool breeze from the sea. This 3 room guesthouse gets some long stayers and lots of repeat visitors (in fact we often stayed here on our first visits to Ilha). Rooms are large and clean. All rooms have a/c
Laundry service available
Double bed and ensuite
Twin single beds and shared bathroom
Extra mattress available
Contact | Nina 82 4386400
On the Contra Costa, the space is shared with local family. Popular with Peace Corp volunteers and others looking for a truly local, and consequently more affordable option
Laundry service available and Dona Khero can cook for guests
11 Rooms all with a/c
4 twinwith ensuite bathroom, A/C
5 twin shared bathroom A/C
2 double shared bathroom
Contact |+258 26 610034 or 84 48 0366
Casa Dos Quatro Ventos
A large place fully furnished with antique pieces from Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Located in a peaceful street close to everything. Here guests rent the whole house complete with kitchen. One double room has a/c and all rooms have fans. Large garden, rooftop terrace up a set of wooden stairs, perfect for party or other social/business event
3 rooms, 2 with double beds and private bathrooms and 1 twin shared bathroom
Contact | Email [email protected] Ph: +258 84 5350795 or 82 07 96610
Casuarina Camping Jambesse
On the mainland to the left of the bridge is Casuarina Camping. Situated on a beach with views across the water to Ilha de Mozambique. There’s a simple restaurant on site and plenty of shops and market stalls just 200meters away in the busy Jembesse village.
Casuarina Camping has ample parking making it suitable for over-landers and camper vans but its location on the ‘wrong’ side of the bridge rules it out for most visitors to Ilha
Rooms with double bed and shared bathroom
A small house, double bed, en suite bathroom
A larger house closest to the water, en suite bathroom, several beds that can take up to 5 people
Camping with Casuarina’s tent or bring your own tent
Price includes: breakfastContact | +258 824545960
Casa Annie could compete with Magic Ilha for the best Airbnb on the island. Its in a similar location on the Corridor and overlooks the pretty beach behind and has an equally fantastic terrace. The difference is that Casa Annies has a more traditional style, not so ‘James Bond’ but very attractive and relaxing all the same.
From the street the door opens onto a wide passage that goes straight through to the beach. A 200-year-old stone staircase leads to the upstairs and opens onto the living area, kitchen and 2 good sized bedrooms. There’s a terrace that is shaded in part and then fully open at the rear, and this is the place for lazy breakfast, sundowners or star-studded dinner after dark.
Annies has 2 bedrooms both with double bed. The best restaurants and attractions are within meters
Contacts and booking through Airbnb
Casa Pahari belongs to Harry Potter/Genito a local tour guide and small business operator.
The main thing you need to know about this place is its location. Like Annie’s and Magic it is in the corridor, backing onto one of the beaches and a busy street in front. Probably the best location you will find
There is just one bedroom and the bathroom is shared with the owners of the apartment. The bedroom window opens on to the street not the beach
It’s a bit cheaper than other places in a similar location and that probably reflects the ‘work in progress’ aspect it has. Still, there are good reviews on trip advisor with guests describing how they enjoyed meeting Harry and his Girlfriend Kira.
Dar Diwani is a new guesthouse, exclusive bed and breakfast, set up by a Swiss/Greek couple
Everything about Dar Diwani speaks of attention to detail and the style is beautiful traditional Swahili with modern comforts.
Each of the 3 bedrooms has an en-suite, king-sized bed, air conditioning, fan and wifi. It can be rented as a whole (and this way guests get to enjoy the professional kitchen) or room by room. There’s an internal palm courtyard, rooftop terrace and private swimming pool.
Dar Diwani is within meters of the beach and this guarantees a cooling sea breeze and spectacular sunsets. But, being the place where the dhows come and go from you wouldn’t really go swimming here – better to take photos and absorb the traditional feel that has changed little over the centuries and go swim somewhere else.
+258 87 7759692
Café Central is leading the field when it comes to making the most of online booking platforms. 2 years ago it barely existed but now, thanks to the rapid adoption of digital booking services and very competitive pricing, it has become one of the most popular choices
Located in the middle of Stonetown and near to all the key attractions Café Central is a rambling place with rooms going off in all directions, even below ground. It is part of a bigger hotel development and has ongoing construction work going on.
Because of the nature of the place it’s impossible to describe the rooms, or even to say how many rooms there are, but from what we hear guests are mostly happy with what they get. One criticism is that staff are not that helpful when it comes to providing local information, either they don’t know or just don’t care, and they are not that good with serving food or drinks either – but there are plenty of other eating and drinking options nearby so don’t be put off.
Free wifi and a continental breakfast included
Booking is best made through online platform like Airbnb or Booking.com
Casa Ellen is located on the Contra Costa, close to the road that divides Stone Town from Macuti Town. It’s a large recently built property that the owners use as a holiday home when they visit.
The lounge room has fold back windows to make the most of the fresh sea breeze and stunning views across to Ilha De Goa. The lounge itself is large with plenty of seats for relaxing, a long dinning table and the kitchen at one end. There are 3 bedrooms each, spacious with mosquito net and ceiling fan. One room has 2 beds. The on suite bathrooms all have hot water.
Everything about casa Ellen is new and fresh feeling, and that’s appealing. The style though is a bit unusual. From the gaudy colour to the multitude of arches, this is a property that has chosen not to blend in, and that’s confronting in a destination working hard to preserve its uniformity and very special World Heritage status.
Rate includes breakfast and off road parking. No wifi or TV.
Rent by the room or the whole property, perfect for a large family or big bunch of friends.
Casa Fabula is as centrally located as you can possibly get. Next door to Anchora D’Ouro, the islands most popular café and lively meeting place. It’s across the road from Karibu which is fast becoming the number 1 restaurant and within meters of the Palace Museum and Pontao (jetty). There are other bars, restaurants and even a bottle shop nearby.
The property is an old 2 storey town house that has been lovingly restored to a very high standard. From the busy street you enter into a large living room/kitchen with a doorway leading on to the rear courtyard and wooden stairs. There are 3 bedrooms each with en-suite bathroom.
The whole place has a hushed feel. The old limestone walls are thick enough to keep out the noise from the busy street and the few windows allow sufficient light without the midday glare.
Although the rooftop terrace hasn’t been developed as a seating area its worth going up to appreciate the view.
Rent the room or whole house
Book through Airbnb
Casa Beira-Mar I, II & III
3 Very well located apartments overlooking the sea. I haven’t been inside and I don’t know anyone that has stayed there yet but I know the owner and I’m sure he has done a great job of preparing them.
Look forward to any feedback
Book through Airbnb
This is a great example of what ilha has to offer. An upstairs apartment in an 18th century house, stylishly restored with architectural flourishes and modern comforts.
The location is perfect, busy street at the front and lovely beach behind. All the fittings are quality and there’s even a built in swimming pool with portal windows that you can look into from the room below. The views form the terrace are second to none, I’m convinced that this is the place where James Bond would stay if he were visiting.
Magic Ilha is well maintained. There are 2 bedrooms and space for extra mats. Book through Airbnb