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From luxury spaces that merge contemporary and traditional culture in Senegal to intimate, organic dining experiences in Marrakech, discover the glamor and grandeur of these regional residences.
  

By Marris adikwu

Dec 30, 2021

Wherever in the world you reside, it’s no secret that the sheer expanse of the world’s second-largest continent encourages a lifetime of discovery.

Industrie Africa’s round-up of must-visit boutique hotels merge art, design, and architectural elements, providing extraordinary offerings for those that prefer the luxury of intimacy, adventure and locality. 

Perhaps you want to explore a private Zanzibari beachfront resort that prioritizes your wellness with specialized therapies; or is immersing yourself in an opulent Tunisian family-home-turned-hotel steeped in local history more your pace? Whether you’re seeking an oasis of calm and old-fashioned elegance, or prefer an environment boasting a marked joie de vivre, what connects these respective places is their discreet service, superb cuisine, and thoughtful amenities—each curated detail an experiential tribute to the cities they call home. Read on for five exceptional properties to know and book for your next escape.

1.

DAR EL JELD

Tunis, Tunisia

Inside Dar El Jeld, Tunis. Photo: Courtesy of Dar El Jeld.

Set in the Abdelkefi family’s majestic 18th-century, 16-room home, deep in the Tunis medina, Dar El Jeld allows guests to feel right at home in the simple and elegant surroundings. Whitewashed walls, carved ceilings, ancient arches, and beautiful mosaics are a significant part of the hotel’s style, offering the first glimpse into local history before you step into the busy city center where tradition and modern living collide.

Just a short walk away, you can find nearby attractions like the covered bazaar, the University of Tunis El Manar, and the Bardo Museum which houses one of the finest collections of Roman mosaics. After a long day of exploring the city, head back to the hotel to meditate among the lemon trees and the soothing sound of the fountain in the interior garden, or take in the encompassing views of the medina from one of the hidden courtyards. Besides, the traditional Turkish baths in the hotel’s spa share a glimpse into ancient wellness techniques and body therapies, giving visitors the chance to unwind after a day of exploration.

The rooftop restaurant and bar present the ideal setting for daytime dining with a remarkable view of the hills around the city. But for dinner, make your way down the narrow cobblestoned street to the candlelit Dar El Jeld restaurant. You’ll experience the rich taste of popular Tunisian dishes, such as the succulent stuffed lamb shoulder served with rice or the delicate fish couscous accompanied by local wine.

2.

DORP HOTEL

Cape Town, South Africa

Inside Dorp Hotel, Cape Town. Photo: Courtesy of Dorp Hotel.

Cape Town is well known for its picturesque scenery, but what better way to experience it all than gazing from a hill that showcases the city in full glory. Dorp, which translates to ‘village’ in the native language of Afrikaans, is nestled high on the slopes of Signal Hill, giving guests a brilliant view of Table Mountain and its accompanying Devil's Peak. The Georgian-style establishment features a few individual buildings surrounded by terraces, balconies, and arbors flanked by an Instagram-worthy garden.

Inside Dorp Hotel, striking design meets keen attention to detail in double volume spaces. It houses rooms with dusty pink walls, bathrooms with panoramic views of the city, twin mirrored staircases that set one room apart from the other, bunched curtains that serve as a replacement for doors, and a conservatory featuring a built-in shower. Ambient music fills the rooms in the Arcadia wing, and black-and-white photos of South African drag queens from the 1950s cover the game room walls. These unique design elements come together to provide an overall sense of decadence with a welcome dash of camp.

Dorp’s restaurant’s menu includes dishes that are just as indulgent as the Persian rugs and arched glass windows of the dining room. The homemade gypsy ham served with potato salad, grass-fed fillet, spinach, and ricotta ravioli with burnt sage butter is highly recommended. Located in Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, a devout Muslim community, Dorp Hotel has no liquor for sale, but guests are welcome to bring their own or have their locker stocked upon request.

3.

JNANE TAMSNA

Marrakech, Morocco

Inside Jnane Tamsna, Marrakech. Photo: Courtesy of Jnane Tamsna.

This eight-acre boutique hotel in Marrakech presents a stylish retreat for couples, families, and solo travelers alike. One of few Black-owned hotels in Morocco, Jnane Tamsna embodies a rich African identity to encourage guests to experience the culture and tradition of the country with local architecture, art, and ingredients. Moreover, the rooms are adorned with large sheets of ancient calligraphy and local tapestry, depicting the country’s rich heritage. In the spacious riad, Arabic arches and hand woven floor cushions allow visitors to revel in the wonders of Moroccan design, and the Green Syrian wing overlooks a large grove producing one of the country’s staple ingredients: olives.

At the Jnane Tamsna, luxury comes with a homely touch. The hotel contains expansive private villas and five swimming pools, but cozy fireplaces and verandas give 24 rooms a warm and snug feel. Around the hotel, date palms, organic vegetables, and an assortment of plants and herbs can be found flourishing, and most of the dishes served at the restaurant are made with ingredients from the vast on-site garden.

The Jnane Tamsna is situated away from the bustle of the ancient medina. However, there’s never a dull moment within this serene environment with a long list of bespoke activities in which to indulge. In addition to on-site yoga sessions and tennis coaching, you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage tour, a trek on the Atlas mountains, or a three-day cooking program with the house chef. Here, you’ll gather ingredients from the herb gardens, vegetable patches, and citrus groves to whip up classic Moroccan dishes such as the fish chermoula and bissara, a rich soup of dried broad beans. After a jam-packed day, treat yourself to a leisurely evening stroll along the sandy pathways around the oasis surrounding the hotel’s perfect vantage point to take in the majestic North African sunset.

4.

SEKU BI 

Dakar, Senegal

Inside Seku Bi, Dakar. Photo: Courtesy of Seku Bi.

Breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and its picturesque sunsets are a prime selling point for Seku Bi, a white-walled boutique hotel located in the heart of Dakar. Tucked away in a serene part of the city, the French-inspired villa takes its name from the Wolof word for ‘parrot,’ an homage to the birds inhabiting the surrounding frangipani trees.

Blending African and European cultures, Seku Bi consists of seven spacious rooms with terrazzo tiled floors, thick walls, and a selection of contemporary African art, including upcycled metal furniture, bowls from Botswana, and wooden stools hand-carved by local artisans. Senegalese fashion designer Adama Paris designed the uniforms for the staff who are on hand to welcome you warmly with a juice of bissap and ginger, or a fresh gazelle, as soon as you step onto the hotel’s idyllic grounds.

The mix of cultures extends to the culinary options at Seku Bi. Their in-house Italian-inspired restaurant called Il Pappagallo uses fresh and locally sourced ingredients to recreate Italian cuisine with a Senegalese twist. Cafe Bunna, the hotel’s coffee house, also celebrates rituals around legendary coffee making and drinking ceremonies in Ethiopia. Coupled with a library that contains volumes on Senegalese traditions, Seku Bi represents the preservation of history with a hint of modernity.

5.

ZURI

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zuri, Zanzibar. Photo: Courtesy of Zuri.

Blue skies, azure waters, and ancient architecture surround the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. This essence is succinctly captured at Zuri, a stylish resort with its private beach and a range of upscale bungalows, suites, and villas. Named after the Swahili word for ‘beautiful,’ Zuri promises a great view of the Indian Ocean from high-ceilinged rooms, as well as full access to the vibrant spice garden, which covers a quarter of the property.

The hotel’s expansive, park-style design makes it easy for guests to channel their inner explorer, walking through rows of carefully landscaped trees and flowers that reflect the rich abundant tropical legacy of Zanzibar. The greenery provides an excellent backdrop for Zuri’s wellbeing activities, which include the Maua Wellness program, featuring a range of signature massages created with local plants, herbs, and oils, and the Elements Retreat, a five-day yoga, and meditation session structured around different natural elements including water, air, wind, and fire.

The cuisine is another exceptional part of the Zuri experience. Choose from three restaurants around the resort, such as Maisha, a poolside spot where you can ease into a seat on the terrace and savor the best prawn tacos and crayfish linguine. The more understated Bahari restaurant offers round-the-clock dining, and you can sit at the bar to tuck into juicy king prawn skewers with chimichurri sauce. The hotel’s premier restaurant, Upendo, serves a fusion of African, Indian, European, and Arabic dishes, but the Swahili fare truly stands out. With a mouthwatering selection of fragrant chicken pilau, chapatis, fried bananas, smoked aubergine slices, and mango chutney, guests are treated to a fine mix of the sweet and savory flavors of Zanzibarian cuisine.