Luanda, Angola

Photo: Thomson Art House

It’s hard to predict where you’ll be traveling soon. Some places, like Paris and Sydney, never go out of style. Others, including the Azores and Oman, are newly popular. Then there are those that are sure to become hot spots soon. Luanda is one of those locations in Africa.

Luanda is the capital of Angola, a large country on Africa’s west coast that sits in between Namibia, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its large port was vital to the Portuguese, who arrived in the 15th century, making Luanda one of the oldest colonial cities on the continent. As the slave trade grew, so did Luanda. The oil-rich city is now the largest Portuguese-speaking capital in the whole world. If construction is any indicator, it shows no sign of slowing down.

You’ll spend most of your time on Ilha de Luanda. The Island of Luanda is actually a sandy strip of a peninsula that separates yacht-filled Luanda Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The long, white-sand beach is considered the heart of the city. On weekends, it becomes a tropical playground whose thatched huts cover lively bars, flea markets, and seafood restaurants. The whitewashed Fortress de São Miguel stands at the beginning of the peninsula. Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Cabo, the first church that the Portuguese built in Angola, is in the middle. While Farol da Ilha, a red-and-white-striped lighthouse, is on the far tip.

Across the street from the beach, there’s also a bold—in every sense of the word—boutique hotel. Thomson Art House’s building is bright blue and covered with colorful murals. Its 13 rooms and three suites were individually themed and decorated by local artists. There’s a common room with breakfast and dinner, sculptures and garden access. Bikes, boogie boards, and paddleboards are available to rent. Plus Botanico, the rooftop bar, features sail umbrellas, 360-degree views, and sunset drinks. The staff, who goes out of their way to make everyone feel at home, will have you acting like a local in no time. It’s a prediction that’s almost guaranteed.

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