Although Maputo is rarely considered a destination in its own right, the Mozambican capital is, if nothing else, an important gateway to the country as a whole and neighbouring South Africa. It’s an earthy port city with touches of faded Portuguese grandeur, some elegant jacaranda-lined avenues and hotels largely geared to the tastes and requirements of their main clientele: businessmen, diplomats and a trickle of passing-through tourists.
Swaying palms help frame the idyllic beachfront location of the Southern Sun on the southern edge of the city. Following a complete renovation and upgrade in 2014, the vaguely colonial-era feel of the hotel – including mosaic floors and vaulted ceilings – is somewhat masked by an understated faux-heritage exterior. A curvy infinity pool faces the Indian Ocean while the restaurant and bar are pleasingly stylish with much of the offerings oriented around Mozambican and Portuguese dishes, seafood in particular.
Simple and compact yet tasteful rooms seemingly honeycomb the modest glass and grey-cladded StayEast building beside the main coastal road. It’s clean and modern while a cheerful functionality is bolstered by a pool with beach views along with a small bar and breakfast-only dining room. The slightly far-flung location means guests are often directed to the large mall behind the hotel for the eateries and restaurants, gym and general shopping.
Set among the broad avenues in one of the best neighbourhoods in downtown Maputo, the Avenida has a modern, if rather corporate, look in an angular bay-windowed high-rise. A small rooftop pool, solarium, Turkish bath and gym might offer relief to stressed-out business types if they’re not seeking solace in the piano bar’s cocktails or cosmopolitan restaurant. A recent refurbishment lends an air of polish and slickness.
A block inland from the docks and ferry jetty just where the Mbuluzi River joins the ocean, the Prestige offers comfortable, unfussy rooms and suites with stripped floors. There’s a bar, restaurant, tiny pool and a fitness centre, and a certain winning charm to the extraordinary metal sculpture in the lobby depicting a life-size fisherman hauling in nets.
The Radisson’s ultramodern faintly space-age architecture – a pair of oval towers perched atop a curving podium-like building – neatly reflect its sleek interiors matched by polished service and amenities. Rooms and suites are spacious, many featuring ocean views with floor-to-ceiling windows; apartments include kitchens and private balconies. Those yearning for Italian cuisine might find gastronomic dolce vita in the Filini restaurant.
Completed in 1922, this palatial hotel was almost ahead of its time in the African continent, instantly becoming a national landmark. It remains one of the best hotels in the country. Patronised variously by presidents, royalty, spies and secret agents, the hotel’s aura and reputation was revived by a thorough yet sensitive renovation in the early 2000s. The alluring colonial-chic ambience is bolstered by superb facilities, from manicured gardens and a magnificent pool to tennis courts and a ballroom.