- Style Desert-island digs
- Setting Miles from the mainland
With its thatched-roof villas on sun-soaked shores, Azura hotel on Mozambique's Benguerra Island is a shipwreck fantasy with a side of luxury. Join in on one of the ongoing conservation projects or simply relax near the shimmering blue lagoon to watch sunrise, sunset and the melodic tides in between.
Need to know
- Rooms 16 villas.
- Rates Double rooms from $1500.00.
- More details Rates include all meals and most drinks, butler service, a 15-minute massage when you arrive, a Landrover drive around the island, a dhow cruise at sunset, laundry and medical insurance, but not a US$10 daily donation each to the Rainbow Fund.
- Facilities Diving centre, spa, gardens, gym, free WiFi in the bar and lounge, and a library of books and DVDs. In rooms, minibar, universal plugs and a selection of books. There’s a boutique selling swimwear, flip flops and handmade jewellery.
- Poolside Each villa has its own sea-facing infinity pool, with teak decking, day-bed, sunloungers and deck chairs.
Children Cots are free, and extra beds can be added. Babysitting with hotel staff costs US$10 an hour and, ideally, should be arranged when booking. The chef is happy to discuss dedicated meals on arrival, but younger children are asked to eat at 6.30pm.
- Eco‐friendly The hotel is committed to sustainable and responsible fishing, as well as building projects to help the local community. The Rainbow Fund was used to build the island’s school, and there are plans for a clinic. It also sponsors the football team, and provides English lessons.
- Also There’s a remote chance of malaria-carrying mosquitoes on Benguerra Island, so it’s best to be cautious and take some medication.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms With a separate DVD-stocked kids’ lounge, and an extra bed for a nanny, two-bedroomed Villa Amizade is perfect for families. For the most secluded setting, go for villa 4 or 7 – they’re the furthest from the hotel’s communal areas. If there’s a few of you, blow the budget on the Presidential Villa, a glamorous complex of three bedrooms, including a split-level master suite, a 16-metre pool and a party-friendly deck with a lounge in an octagonal treehouse.
- Packing tips Bring some pencils, crayons and pads along for the hotel to pass them on to the local school.
- Also Down on the beach, the spa offers treatments that make full use of the local ingredients and traditions: get wrapped up in a blend of African body butters and oils, including the prized mongongo nut oil.
Food and drink at Azura
- Hotel restaurant Jelly Fish, a wood-beamed, thatched hut, is the main restaurant, but guests are encouraged to eat all over the island, and your butler will surprise you with different dining options: breakfast with your toes in the sea, a private lunch in your villa or a beach-set dinner under the stars. The modern Portuguese food uses Mozambican ingredients, and there’s plenty of fresh seafood. The chef puts on a seven-course tasting menu, as well as regular barbecues. Lunchtime picnics can be packed, too.
- Dress code Floaty maxis and elegant linens all the way.
- Top table There may be several choices, but you can’t beat dinner in the abandoned wooden dhow (a boat), romantically lit with candles. For shade from the midday sun, have lunch under a parasol on the Gecko Deck.
- Last orders It’s up to your butler: all meal times are arranged through them.
- Room service Jelly Fish's menu can be served in-villa between 7am and 10pm.
- Hotel bar Star Bar is an open-sided, shaggy-fringed cabin serving colourful cocktails and wine from the owners’ estate in France. Your butler will be able to get you anything else that isn’t in your minibar (including a selection of premium wines and spirits, which cost extra).