São Tomé and Príncipe, consists of two archipelagos, 140km apart, off the west coast of central Africa.
Following a tour of Sierra Leone, we spent two weeks enjoying winter sun on both islands.
Omali Lodge is part of the HBD (Here Be Dragons) Group and we also stayed at two of their other properties on Principe: Roça Sundy and Praia Sundy.
Omali, means ‘ocean and source of life’ and reflects its location opposite Lagarto Beach.
The 30 rooms, in an attractive pale blue, are in blocks of four arranged in a horseshoe around the free form swimming pool and beautiful gardens.
As we were staying for five nights, we splashed out on a junior suite, ominously room 13, which had a king size bed with white duvet and plenty of pillows. Two padded stools at the end of the bed were ideal for our suitcases. There was a room safe and long dresser with tea and coffee making facilities, whilst the fridge underneath could be stocked with our favourite drinks. The floor was practical tiling with a large rug, and facing the wall mounted TV, were two comfortable wing back chairs and coffee table. The AC and Wi-Fi were both efficient and easy to use, and although the lighting was good, a long low wicker shade had to be ducked around.
We also had a separate small room with a dining table and four chairs – the junior suite was said to be “ideal for self-catering” but there was a lack of cooking facilities. As the wardrobe was useless with little shelving, we turned the table into a repository for our clothes.
The good-size bathroom had a large walk-in shower with plenty of powerful hot water, single sink and loo. Complimentary toiletries were in environmentally friendly containers, the hairdryer worked well, there were sufficient towel rails and in addition, a wooden rack to dry clothes.
We were on the ground floor and had a two-seater sofa and coffee table on our small patio.
There were two options for eating, either the restaurant or the outdoor terrace at the front of the hotel and all menus were online via a QR code. Unfortunately, having asked for G&Ts on our first night, I was presented with a range of gins not shown on the menu, and, which due to language barriers, we couldn’t ascertain the price of. However, they were served well, and we eventually discovered that both, including tonic, were €15.
Having arrived late on our first night, we opted to eat on the terrace, along with the mosquitoes. Having been served a rather bland toasted cheese and ham sandwich with fries, on the following nights we ate in the restaurant. Here the menu had international choices with large portions, so we began sharing a starter (e.g. ceviche, avocado tartare) and a main (e.g. pizza, chick pea curry). Home baked bread came with three flavoured butters – their own cottage cheese, an interesting cacao pesto, and spicy pepper butter). One night I indulged in their ‘world renown’ chocolate mousse which was delicious with crunchy pieces of chocolate on top. The first time we ate there we ordered a bottle of Marinara Portuguese white wine and enjoyed it, so stuck with it on subsequent nights.
Breakfast was served in the restaurant from 6.30am and we quickly discovered that due to Covid, all cutlery was placed in paper bags, including individual tongs for use at the buffet which was arranged around a central station. Interestingly, in the evenings, the cutlery was brought to the table by the waiter and set as normal. Breakfast was good but became a little boring as it didn’t change during our five nights. There was fresh orange juice, natural yoghurt, papaya and pineapple, and a cereal which looked to have suspicious amounts of chocolate in it. There was also a dish of scrambled egg, savoury and sweet pastries, cheese and ham, but it wasn’t until the third breakfast we discovered the toaster and unsliced loaf on a separate table.
A comfortable indoor lounge had squashy sofas and interesting art and sculptures, but as it served drinks only, was mainly used by people who had vacated their rooms, but were waiting for their evening flights.
The pool area had several loungers on the grass and in the free-form pool two waterfalls splashed down and there was a small island with palm tree. Having spent our days sight-seeing, we only really used the pool at the end of the day, although the sun disappeared behind buildings around 4.30pm. However, it was pleasant to sit and relax with a chilled beer from the pool bar.
The hotel had a tennis court and a gym which could only be used by one person at a time.
As we discovered during our stay, the English of some staff was much better than others (they speak Portuguese).
As the property is only a 15-minute drive from São Tomé’s airport, we had a day room booked before flying home later that evening. The room was ready on arrival from Principe at 11am, but this time, it was a different standard and whilst functional, it was smaller than our original room and needed redecorating. However, the advantage was that it was available until we were taken to the airport for our 10pm flight.
We enjoyed our stay here and would definitely recommend the hotel, which is possibly one of the best on the island.