After the glorious paradise island of Medjumbe in the Quirimbas, in the northerly Cabo Delgado state of Mozambique, it is time to fly to the far south of Mozambique, to its capital, Maputo. Is there any tonic water in town? Yes, plenty, and lots of gin. And what luxury hotels does this city of 2.2 million offer? The answer, the gal was to find, is not many. At the moment there are only two. The old – the 1922-vintage Polana, beautifully restored and truly historic. And the new – the three-month old Radisson Blu Maputo.
What a sight the 11-floor Radisson Blu presents. It looks a bit like a mini Burj al-Arab, though it is on dry land, about 30 yards from the Indian Ocean. Owned by the same Dubai-based philanthropic entrepreneur who started what will be Anantara Medjumbe Private Island (apparently he has poured over $500 million into Mozambique to help its infrastructure), here is the finished hotel, with two adjacent towers for offices and residences, both in progress. Both the architect, Marc James of Stauch Vorster, and designer, Wendy Stevenson, are from Johannesburg.
Go in and you look up through the triangular open atrium, decorated from its 11th floor rooftop down to ground level with a black, white and grey tiled pattern by a local artist, Naquib. My room, 1015, was so high that actually I preferred the view looking down, as shown. I was soon to find this is a very practical, modern-luxury hotel. The Technogym is open 24/7. You know it is the gym for the frosted silhouettes of people exercising on the glass entrance wall (and a whole-wall painting of locals-a’leaping, inside). The beauty salon, next door, similarly has frosted silhouettes of brushes and combs.
1015 is the owner’s favourite, apparently. Part of the dividing wall, between office-salon and bedroom, can be pulled across, for privacy. The overall colour scheme, of soft moss, putty, and greys, is business-like but non-aggressive and a curved cornice above all-wall windows hints of the sea. The bathroom, which is partly open to the bedroom, has incredibly generous sizes of Anne Semonin toiletries. I can look down, at the complex of outdoor pools on the ground floor.
I head down for dinner, in the all-day, inside and out, Filini, which serves Italian with both local and international touches. I go for octopus marinated in olive oil, and follow it with long-line grilled fish with fries (I know, I should have done my duty and had a pizza Filini, with Parma ham, mozzarella, tomato and rocket). I could have had a glass of Pongracz sparkling, from South Africa, or even Laurent-Perrier or Moët, but we stuck with a Pinotage, 2012 Winemaster Reserve from Nederburg, the Paarl estate founded by Philippus Wolvaart in 1791 (now I have a copy of Platter’s South African Wines 2014 in front of me I am going to be a real bore…).
In the morning, the view out of 1015 is brilliant. I am looking towards Polana and I cannot wait to have a city tour, and see the other luxury hotel. Sadly the bike down in the hotel lobby is not for touring – it does not have a saddle, it is merely ‘art’.