Best hotels and hostels in West Africa

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé & Príncipe

    Bom Bom Resort

    It's hard to find fault with this slice of tropical paradise, for while that term is highly overused, it does apply here. The resort has an extraordinary location encompassing both a coastal peninsula, where the bungalows are, and tiny Bom Bom island, where the bar-restaurant is. The two are connected by a 140m-long wooden bridge flanked by two gorgeous beaches. Think long arcs of golden sand with swaying palms and no one on them. The bungalows are spacious, if an older style, and the farm-to-table food is now the best in STP, thanks to a new Angolan chef with international flair. The only problem is how much you will eat! There's a nice natural pool near reception, but it's hard to imagine why you would use it when you could be snorkeling instead. For trips further afield, the resort has an excellent activities center, which offers kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, excellent guides (particularly Ruben), and the not-to-be-missed trip to Baía das Agulhas. None of this is cheap, but the resort does deliver on its promises. There is also an automatic upgrade policy, and full occupancy is rare, so that entry-level room may be worth more than you think. Finally, the resort welcomes day trippers. A €20 consumption fee is offset against any purchase, so a nice option is to use the beach for the day and eat lunch at the restaurant (menu €30). Credit cards accepted. Airport pickup.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé

    Mucumbli

    STP's finest ecolodge is situated in a cliffside forest overlooking the sea. Nicely designed wooden bungalows offer plenty of space, light and dreamy views for two to four people. But it's hard to leave the dining area, with its coastal vista, convivial atmosphere and superb food (mains €6 to €12; visitors welcome). This is your launch pad for multiple itineraries, and great value. For onsite exploration, a scenic descent leads you to a picturesque, if rough, stone beach. Local outings include a hike up a canal through caves to a waterfall (€25), longer national park hikes, and various roça (plantation) visits, including Santa Margarida, Vista Alegre and remote Binda, beyond the end of the EN-1. Mucumbli also arranges the classic Pico de São Tomė climb and the Volta a Ilha trek. Guides here are particularly good, and some speak English. Mountain bikes (€10 per day) can be rented (Mucumbli owner Tiziano Pisoni is the head of the Cycling Federation), offering the excellent opportunity to bike the EN-1 along the coast to its end. The entrance is located on the right 1km south of the fishing village of Neves.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Ghana

    Lou Moon Lodge

    Perhaps the loveliest beach resort in the country, Lou Moon sits on a beautiful and private sheltered bay backed by thick forest. Rooms and chalets – all polished plaster, huge windows and crisp white linen – are an exercise in understated chic, and the daily changing menu offers a small choice of delicious dishes, including kids and veggie options (C45 to C95). Unlike the majority of Ghana's beaches, the water here is clear, calm and perfect for swimming. And if you're fed up with eating and sunbathing there are tons of activities on offer, including kayaking, volleyball and paddle boarding. The resort is equally popular with visitors from over the border in Cote d'Ivoire.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Mole National Park

    Zaina Lodge

    Luxury Zaina Lodge is a game changer for Mole, and one of the nicest places to stay in all of Ghana. Entrance gates, built in traditional northern mud-and-stick style, give way to a stunning triple-height lobby/lounge with vistas over the saffron savannah – views also shared by the elegant tented rooms, the terrace and the infinity pool. Food is outstanding, and at breakfast entertainment is often provided by a host of animals – elephant, antelope, warthog, baboon – visiting the watering hole below. Zaina's professional and knowledgeable guides provide day and night game drives as well as walking safaris.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Nigeria

    Nike Ambassador Guest House

    It's essential to book ahead to stay in this wonderfully tasteful home, decorated with artworks inside and out. It's centred around an internal courtyard, where you can read at low sofas beneath the paintings. Vivid sculptures made from recycled metal dot the garden. You eat breakfast out here with the peacock, and the in-house team can arrange trips and meals. They can take you to Nike's traditional Yoruba craft workshops for Nigerian youth as well as the village where local women make traditional black soap. They can also take you to the sacred grove and to Ile-Ife.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Malabo

    Magno Suites

    Malabo's only boutique hotel, this is a superb choice in the upmarket suburb of Paraíso. It has swish modern decor, king-size beds and an excellent restaurant. An airport shuttle service is offered free of charge. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted. Once called Mango Suites, the name had to be changed after a dispute with the clothing chain of the same name.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Liberia

    Kwepunha Retreat & Villas

    Run by Californian surfers in conjunction with community initiatives, this blue-and-yellow beach house offers pleasant, breezy rooms with wooden four-poster beds. You can join grassroots-style surf retreats here, or book the rooms independently. The house is situated on Fisherman's Beach, where you can tuck into fish tacos and margaritas.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Loango National Park

    Loango Lodge

    This impressively remote and high-end lodge operated by the National Parks Board is a wonderful option if you want to visit the northern end of the Loango National Park. Comfortable wooden chalets are dotted around a beautiful garden along the lagoon. The central bar and dining room open out onto a wooden deck that stretches into the water and has great views across to the park. The food here is excellent. The lodge offers various excursions, all including a pirogue ride across the lagoon. The lodge keeps a vehicle there, inside the park, for wildlife watching. Visiting the gorillas is a very special opportunity; there are also half-day safaris, hikes in the forest, whale-watching trips, night excursions to see crocodiles, and game fishing. Satellite camps of Loango Lodge are the Akaka Forest camp in the south (one hour by boat, then on foot), in a forest and swamp area where animals roam and elephants swim in the river; and Tassi in the savannah (2½ hours by road) which is best from November to April. These two camps can be visited for a day, or you can stay overnight for the same price as the lodge. Note that on top of the daily rate, there's a charge of €230 per person for the return journey from Port-Gentil (three hours by boat and two hours by 4WD), or €90 to and from Omboué.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé

    Praia Inhame Ecolodge

    At the remote southern end of the island, this ecolodge has been a great success due to its excellent management, which pays attention to details. Nicely situated on its own private beach, with a view toward Ilhėu das Rolas, it offers clean wooden bungalows on stilts. The bungalows are of various sizes, with comfy beds and wide decks nestled in the trees. You can hang out for hours in the waterfront restaurant, which has a varied menu including a wide selection of fresh fish (menu €12–16) and a well-stocked bar. The ecolodge survives on wind and solar power, and its own clever water system, thanks to one of its owners, an agricultural engineer. Water is heated by burning coconut husks. Activities include far-ranging boat trips, snorkelling, exploring nearby beaches, observing nesting turtles (October to March) and whale watching (July to August). You can also make a day trip to Ilhėu das Rolas, or launch the two-day Volta a Ilha trek. Avoid the fishing unless you like hand-lining.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé & Príncipe

    Roça Belo Monte

    This beautifully renovated and fast-expanding roça is the best of its kind in STP. High up on a hill, it affords marvellous views of the coastline from various points, most notably its lovely veranda. There is a great variety of spacious rooms in a quadrangle of outbuildings, the most luxurious being in the main house, as well as several well-appointed cottages. The professionally designed interior blends contemporary and colonial themes, creating a refined old-world feel throughout. You will feel like the guest of a well-heeled private estate. The cuisine is good, but does not rise to the same level as its surroundings. Further afield, the resort includes world-class Praia Banana. A shuttle makes access easy, or you can walk downhill past a lovely mirador (overlook), adding an entirely different experience to the hotel above. There is also a broad slate of activities on offer, for residents and nonresidents, including the island's only dive centre, boat tours, quad-bike tours and guided coastal hikes. Airport pickup.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Guinea-Bissau

    Ponta Anchaca

    Superlatives don't do it justice. Gorgeous. Idyllic. Heavenly. You won't want to leave after disembarking onto a long postcard-perfect white-sand beach. And some guests don't, choosing to buy one of the resort's charming and sophisticated beachfront bungalows. While there's much to do – fishing, kayaking, trips to other islands – it's tempting to simply do nothing for once. Days can be spent moving from one relaxing spot to the next – from your tree-shaded bungalow porch to a lounge chair by the well-supplied infinity pool, to a bar stool or a table on a deck set above the water and mangroves. There's a breakfast buffet and three-course lunches and dinners can be tailored to your liking. The resort is run by Solange, a charming Frenchwoman who built it from scratch, and managed by a very professional Senegalese man named Alain. Closed late May to September.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé

    Pousada Roça São João

    This budget charmer is the best roça to stay in on the island. It's a classic administrator's house, with two stories of wraparound veranda and endless interior rooms (including its famous restaurant) full of books and art. There's lot of places to hang out, including a hammock in the restaurant (grab it!). A herd of ducks guards the entrance. Rooms vary, but many are large with high ceilings and tranquil wooden balconies. The entire pousada (heritage hotel) is definitely lived in, but at this price it is a bargain. Activities in the area includes the Roça Circuit, which starts nearby. The village offers nothing of interest and is not a very pleasant sight.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Senegal

    Espace Sobo Badè

    Perched over a wave-battered stretch of coastline, Sobo Badè has the wondrous look of a Gaudì creation, with its imaginative brickwork, shell-lined archways, steeply pitched thatched roofs, and mosaic-covered fountains and railings. Haitian-born artist Gerard Chenet (b 1927) is the visionary behind this imaginative space, which has become a magnet for artists, musicians and other creative types. In fact, the sea views from the restaurant (and some of the rooms) is only a small part of the appeal of Sobo Badè. It's also a cultural centre, with classes in dance, pottery, batik-making and drumming offered from the annex across from the guesthouse. It also operates the Théatre de L'Engouement outside of the village.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé

    Ondas Divinas

    STP needs more of this! Trailblazing entrepreneur Yves has built five fantastic beach cottages on a cliff overlooking the sea, with spectacular views from all rooms. A precipitous walkway takes you to the castaway beach below. Arrive with all your groceries, or sign up for the delicious half board (€20), as Yves was a professional chef. Sea breezes and wave sounds will defuse the most stressed-out urbanite. Don't expect perfection, as there is a home-made aspect to everything, but it's all part of the charm, and the on-site staff can handle anything. The nearby resort, Club Santana, is also a great resource for its restaurants, bars, beach and activities.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in São Tomé

    Sweet Guest House

    The budget traveller's salvation, this hotel performs its role perfectly. It feels like a cabin, with a large wooden balcony on the 2nd floor, and panelled rooms. While not in the cheeriest neighborhood, its walled compound has 24-hour security (with parking). One of the few backpacker havens in STP, with an interesting array of global travellers to match. It's a short walk to downtown, laundry is a block away and breakfast is available (€8). As you pass Pensão Atlantico heading out of town, look for the unmistakable wooden balcony set well back across the street.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Sierra Leone

    Rogbonko Village

    Experience life in a rural Sierra Leonean village at this excellent, community-run initiative, where guests are invited to take part in daily village life and sample (or even learn to cook) local country food. The village is beautifully set in native forest, and surrounded by rivers, ripe for exploring. Accommodation is in traditional mud brick houses, lit by lamp-light in the evenings. Water is drawn daily from the village well, and there's an open shared kitchen space with a traditional charcoal stove. Rogbonko is a 20-minute drive from the town of Magburaka.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Serekunda & Atlantic Coast Resorts

    Ngala Lodge

    Much loved and fussed over by its owner, the Ngala Lodge has 24 bright, spacious handsomely furnished suites, the best of which have original artwork and sea-facing balconies. They're all set amid beautifully landscaped gardens perched over the ocean. Perfect down to the frosted glasses and thoughtfully chosen book collection, the Ngala also has one of the top restaurants in Gambia. It's not one for families (children aren't allowed), but it's perfect for couples, and the Macondo suite with private dip pool and ocean-facing terrace is ideal for honeymooners.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Republic of Congo

    Ngaga Camp

    The jewel in the crown of the Odzala camps, this magical place is located deep in the rainforest within easy walking distance of two groups of habituated lowland gorillas. The accommodation, in just six entirely secluded rooms, is gorgeous, with beautiful furnishings including a terrace, an unusual copper bathroom and massive, super-comfortable double beds. Above the rooms on a hilltop is the supremely stylish communal area, where guides dine with you and you can spend time sitting around the fireplace and taking in the sounds of the rainforest all around.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Sierra Leone

    Ategbeh Garden

    Run by a British–Sierra Leonean couple, this little guesthouse, surrounded by flourishing tropical gardens and local farms, is the perfect antidote to busy Freetown life. The little cabins are calm and cool, with high ceilings, hardwood floors and verandas overlooking the birds and the trees. The food, cooked by your hosts or a local village cook, is wholesome and delicious. It's not in a touristy part of the peninsula, but that's part of its appeal – it offers the chance to interact with the local community in a rural and peaceful setting.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Sierra Leone

    Tacugama Sanctuary Lodge

    Near enough to Freetown for an overnight visit, yet deep enough in the mountains to feel as if you're lost in the wilderness, Tacugama is a wonderfully romantic experience. The four cabins, two of which have bedrooms level with the treetops, overlook mist-shrouded forest, so you can fall asleep to the sound of chattering chimps. Rates include a sanctuary tour. If requested in advance, meals are available for US$15 per person, and you can buy drinks at the sanctuary gift shop. There's also an open-air kitchen area for self-caterers.