If you’re trying to decide which of the handful of São Tomé and Príncipe hotels to choose for your holiday to these beautifully remote equatorial islands, then you’ve come to the right place. We spent a couple of weeks trying out some of the best places to stay in São Tomé and Príncipe and as a result hope this post will help you work out which luxury hotel or eco-lodge is going to be suitable for you.
Best Places to Stay in São Tomé and Príncipe
There aren’t many hotels in São Tomé and Príncipe, because the islands are tiny and tourism has only recently come to the island. As São Tomé and Príncipe becomes more popular as a holiday destination, we hope that thanks to its remote location and biosphere status, development won’t suddenly take off like it has in other parts of the world, in some cases destroying the environments and habitats that makes them so special.
There are hotels on São Tomé and Príncipe for all budgets, from rustic guest houses to luxury beach resorts. Many people choose one hotel as a base on each island, which works well since it’s really easy to get everywhere thanks to the fact the islands really are tiny. Yet we recommend staying in a couple of hotels on Príncipe to get a true flavour of the island. Perhaps start with a boutique plantation hotel before finishing your trip with a few days at a Príncipe beach resort.
Top Luxury Hotels in São Tomé and Príncipe
We stayed in four São Tomé and Príncipe luxury hotels – Bom Bom Resort, Sundy Praia, Roca Sundy and Omali Lodge, as well as personally visiting some of the others on the islands. We enjoyed them all, but they were very different, so your budget, location and style preference will help determine where you should stay.
Bom Bom Island Resort (Príncipe)
The Ultimate Luxury Castaway Island Experience
What: A dreamy private beach resort nestled between two pristine sandy beaches on the edge of the rainforest.
Where: On the northern-most tip of Príncipe.
Who: Honeymooners, families, friends.
Rooms: The 19 bungalows come with air-conditioning, internet, bed with mosquito net and private verandas. One of the best places to stay in São Tomé and Príncipe is a Bom Bom Beach Bungalow where you can simply step out of your door on to one of the most gorgeous beaches on the island. Garden and Sea Bungalows are also a good option, with great views, but we felt the Pool Bungalows were less private, and of course the views aren’t as good.
Facilities and Activities: There’s a small pool in the gardens, but most people just swim in the sea. There’s also a spa and gym if you’re so inclined. From Bom Bom Resort you can go snorkelling direct from the beach, enjoy boat trips, 4×4 island tours or go hiking along some of the numerous forest trails.
Food: The pool bar is great for an informal lunch, but the main event is the stylish modern restaurant which is accessed across a wooden walkway on a tiny islet off the coast. Meals here are delicious, with lots of fresh fish that you know was in the ocean just moments before.
Our Verdict: This was our favourite place to stay on Príncipe thanks to the superb location, the friendly staff and the relaxed vibe. And Bom Bom is in our opinion the best beach on Príncipe for swimming and strolling! If you want a hotel on the beach on Príncipe, then this is the one!
Sundy Praia (Príncipe)
Paradise Island Indulgence
What: The most luxurious place to stay in São Tomé and Príncipe by far.
Where: On the northern coast of Príncipe, a short distance east of Bom Bom Resort.
Who: Honeymooners, special occasions, big family gatherings.
Rooms: The interiors of the 15 tented suites at this luxury lodge on Príncipe are like something you’d find in a 5* city hotel, with absolutely everything you could possibly need (or want) having been thought of. Each suite has its own private balcony, although only the front row (which are more for families or larger groups with two or three adjoining tents, some with a private pool) has direct beach access. Definitely THE place to stay if you want a true luxury hotel on São Tomé and Príncipe.
Facilities and Activities: The infinity pool here is stunning, overlooking the beach with private day beds perfect for couples and an attractive pool bar. There’s also a spa and the restaurant is made from bamboo! All the same activities as Bom Bom are available here, including boat trips, 4×4 explorations and watersports.
Food: This was the best food in São Tomé and Príncipe we had during our entire trip, and we loved the huge choice at breakfast, and the Principe themed evening with a local guitar player. They also do romantic dinners by the pool or beach for special occasions.
Our Verdict: If you’re looking for high end luxury and a São Tomé and Príncipe hotel with an infinity pool, then Sundy Praia is where you must stay. The architecture, furnishings and decor are just superb, and we loved that the environment and local community has been made to feel part of the development, rather than being negatively impacted. Of all the lodges in São Tomé and Príncipe, this really is a top of the range, 5 star hotel.
Roça Sundy (Principe)
A Boutique Cocoa Plantation
What: A boutique colonial mansion hotel surrounded by plantation and rainforest.
Where: Just a 20 minute drive up the hill from Sundy Praia, on the same plantation.
Who: Groups, couples, history enthusiasts, people on more of a budget.
Rooms: Two buildings make up this Príncipe hotel: the more traditional Colonial House has 6 rooms as well as the restaurant and bar, whilst the Plantation House has 9 rooms and is more contemporary in style.
Facilities and Activities: Despite not being located on the coast, you can do all the same activities from Roça Sundy as you can elsewhere. Guests can also use the pool and beach at Sundy Praia. It’s fun exploring the ruins around the plantation too, and did you know this is where Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was proved back in 1919?!
Food: We found the food here to be really inventive, and loved trying new things that we’d never heard of before. There’s a lot of fish!
Our Verdict: We loved the contrast of staying in an historic colonial house, it’s very different from the beach resorts and we’d recommend coupling it with either Bom Bom or Sundy Praia. Certainly one of the more unique Príncipe hotels.
Roça Belo Monte (Príncipe)
Another Historical Plantation Hotel
What: A classical boutique hotel on a former plantation.
Where: In the northeast of Príncipe, up in the hills but not far from Praia Banana (the famous Banana Beach).
Who: Couples, families, history buffs.
Rooms: The manor house at Roça Belo Monte has 3 suites – classic, luxury and premier. The entire first floor can also be booked as a unit for larger groups. The former clinic has 4 suites overlooking the tropical gardens, and the plantation rooms have forest views and come in various sizes.
Facilities and Activities: There’s a restaurant, bar and lounge (which looked super comfy for those pre-dinner drinks), as well as 5 private beaches to explore! The small museum in the grounds is really informative and gives you a good idea of what Príncipe is all about.
Our Verdict: We didn’t actually stay here, but visited on the way to Praia Banana (Banana Beach) which is on the same plantation land. Unlike Roça Sundy, there aren’t any people still living on the plantation, so it felt very quiet and more like a hotel than a house.
Omali Lodge (São Tomé)
The Best Place To Stay On São Tomé For A Few Days
What: A superbly-located boutique hotel just across the road from the beach.
Where: On the east coast of São Tomé, not far from the airport.
Who: Anyone really, plus those wanting to base themselves centrally whilst on business.
Rooms: 30 functional rooms and suites dotted around the grounds, with air conditioning (you’ll need that when you first arrive!), and some come with private verandas or patios. They also do day rooms at reduced cost for when you return from Príncipe and have to wait a whole day for your evening flight home.
Facilities and Activities: As well as the onsite restaurant there are 2 bars, a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and a gym. Omali is in a great location for day trips around the island, which we highly recommend.
Food: The menu was pretty varied, and Omali Lodge was the only place we stayed which had a few more ‘western’ options like pizza (which was scrummy).
Our Verdict: If you’re looking for where to spend the night in Sao Tome, then this is it. Staying here was a great introduction to São Tomé, and we loved just how handy it was for those early flights out of the airport (it takes just 2 minutes in the free hotel shuttle!). We’d certainly stay here again, and after LOTS of research, it certainly seemed to be one of the best São Tomé hotels on offer.
Jalé Ecolodge (São Tomé)
The Place To See Turtles!
What: A rustic ecolodge on a paradise beach.
Where: At the end of the road on the edge of Obo National Park at the very southern tip of São Tomé.
Who: Backpackers, nature enthusiasts, adventurous souls.
Rooms: The 3 coconut tree bungalows have all been constructed using materials from the local environment, and are right on the beach!
Facilities and Activities: As well as seeing the turtles hatching and scrambling down to the sea in season, there are beaches, forests and mangroves to explore. Here it’s all about nature immersion far away from the crowds.
Our Verdict: We didn’t stay at Jalé Ecolodge, just popped in whilst visiting the beach. The lodge represents some of the more basic São Tomé and Príncipe accommodation, and is very remote so not the easiest to get to (which is part of the charm) or take day trips from, but the beach location can’t be beaten on São Tomé.
Pestana Equador Ilhéu das Rolas (São Tomé)
Right On The Equator
What: Large Resort Hotel on the Ilhéu das Rolas where you can stand on the Equator.
Where: An islet off the very southern coast of São Tomé, accessed by boat.
Who: Families, couples
Rooms: Double rooms and suites are available, all come with a private balcony with stunning views.
Facilities and Activities: This hotel is the sort of place you wouldn’t need to leave (although we highly recommend exploring more of Sao Tome), and is great for a beach resort holiday on Sao Tome with pools, beaches and bars to keep you entertained.
Our Verdict: We didn’t stay here, but it’s a popular place to stay on São Tomé if you prefer more of a beach resort vibe.
Hopefully we’ve answered your questions about where to stay in São Tomé and Príncipe, and these options really are the best choices if you’re looking for comfort, class and a relaxed beach vibe.
Have you visited São Tomé and Príncipe? Do you have anywhere you think we should add?
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