Matemwe Lodge is situated beside an 11 mile-long beach (17 km) near the village of Matemwe in the northeast of the island. Opposite the lodge is the diving haven of Mnemba Island. As with the whole east coast, the sea here is tidal receding up to a kilometre at low-tide. The beach can also be affected by seaweed between September and November.
Style and Character
When you arrive at Matemwe you’ll be struck by two things: the luxuriously flowering tropical gardens and the vibrant African décor and prints that match the dazzling flowers and the impossibly blue sea. Rather than trying to compete with the beauty of the setting, the lodge works hard to complement it with breezy, open-sided thatched structures, two organically-shaped pools and secluded seating areas, a bar and spa set within the riotous foliage. Environmental principles are also taken seriously here so much of the furniture is made from recovered driftwood and the hot water and electricity is supplied by solar power.
Service and Facilities
The lodge is owned by Asilia Africa, one of the continent’s best safari providers. Aside from their stellar commitment to conservation, Asilia are renowned for their high standard of service and Matemwe Lodge is no exception. Staff are delightfully friendly and the four Retreat Suites have their own butlers. On site you’ll also find a PADI dive centre offering trips to Mnemba Island as well as snorkeling, sea kayaking and kite-surfing.
Northwards along the coral ridge you’ll find 12 spacious, independent suites with deep verandahs strung with double hammocks. Thick strands of palms and pines shield them from each other and create a private cocoon. Inside, high beamed ceilings and louvred blinds circulate cooling air around the sitting area and bedroom making air-conditioning unnecessary. Décor is bright and breezy consisting of woven rugs, brass-studded Zanzibari chests, handmade furniture and platform beds dressed in bright kikois (sarongs). Bathrooms are vast with double sinks, walk-in showers and separate bath tubs. Some rooms have a mezzanine level for extra beds and two have a private plunge pool.
Food and Drink
Breakfast is a smorgasbord of tropical fruit, cereals, mini croissants, yoghurt and eggs. Likewise, lunch is buffet-style with a range of salads and light seafood dishes, while dinner is a three-course menu featuring grilled meats, hearty stews or line-caught fish. All the food is sourced locally and ethically which means no net or spear-caught fish. And there’s always a vegetarian option. Friday is barbecue night and a spoiling Swahili dinner is served on Sunday.
Children under five are welcome in the Beach House, which has a private chef (they aren’t allowed to dine in the main restaurant). Otherwise, those aged five to 15 can be accommodated in the Lodge Suites at reduced rates.