Part of my work responsibility is to also look after the market Angola. So, once a year I make my way to our office in Luanda and see what can be done in this vibrant market. I skipped my visit last year, so it had been two years since I was last there. A lot has changed since then. One can see and feel the transition this city is going through. A transition from a typical African city to “the Dubai of Africa”. It is still a long way to go but you can already see that the way is paved. During my last visit the “Marginal” was still under construction, during this visit I took the opportunity of taking a nice evening stroll along the promenade on two evenings. It is a nice, palm-tree lined walk of about 3 km one way. Next time I will take my running shoes and join the dozens of runners who make use of this beautiful part of Luanda.
Where to stay
There are only a few hotels in Luanda that are up to international standards. On this recent trip I stayed at the hotel “El Presidente”. Hotel Presidente Luanda is part of the GJC Hotels. The hotel is located in the centre of Luanda, where guests can enjoy beautiful views over the Bay and the port. It is currently being renovated which gives the lobby and the restaurant / bar area a modern contemporary African look. I was lucky enough to get one of the renovated rooms.
Free of charge internet is available in all rooms via a network cable. WiFi is only available on the 8th floor where the bar and the restaurant are located. So, any iPad or iPhone user, not willing to spend a fortune on data roaming charges, will sit around there.
Where to eat out
One evening we were taken out for dinner to a stylish and hip restaurant on the Ilha. The restaurant is called “Cais de Quatro”. It offers a spectacular view of Luanda’s skyline which, at night, can be easily compared with the skyline you find in Dubai or any other high-rise city. There is a saying about Luanda that fits perfectly: New York at night, New Delhi by day!
The tables are all on a huge deck or on the terrace on the first floor, no ceiling anywhere in the seating area. All tables were booked with a nice mix of young and old, casual and business dinner guests, locals and foreigners. The menu is interesting, creative and serves for everyone’s taste butts. The service could have been more attentive, I guess staff was overworked with a full restaurant. Nevertheless is was the perfect restaurant to spend the last night of my visit.
(More details here)
Another great restaurant is the Naquele Lugar (Fortaleza). Hidden away in the backyard of a house in a residential area. From the street it doesn’t look like a restaurant at all. Only once you have arrived in the backyard you can see the tables and chairs. It also doesn’t feel like you are in Luanda. The look and feel of the backyard is very mediterranean. It could be in Portugal or Spain or Greece. Just beautiful.
All together, I was really impressed by the vibe and energy of Luanda. Sure, this city still has a long way to go but considering the speed it is going, there is no doubt that it will become the “Dubai of Africa” in couple of years.
To live the good life in Luanda you need to earn a good salary. Things are expensive there.. really expensive, e.g. a bottle of still water $10, a simple pizza easily costs around $30, a gym membership $400, a nice 2-bedroom apartment $18.000. In fact Luanda is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Especially for expats who want to maintain a certain “western” standard.
I am not sure, if I’d like to live there, but I am definitely looking forward to my visit next year!