Anyone looking for a coastal retreat that is tranquil, traditional and right off the beaten track will delight in the two houses at Takaungu – both are very much family homes and have been designed and decorated and with individuality and charm. Comfortable and unpretentious, the houses are furnished with lovely coastal and colonial antique furniture, paintings, prints and all kinds of eclectic treasures collected by the owners.
Perched on a bluff overlooking the sea and the long white beach, the The Private House was the original house on the site – built many years ago by an Arab trader as his summer seaside retreat. The walls are thick limestone and coral rag and the ocean breezes keep it cool, and all bedrooms have standing fans.
There are two double bedrooms with four-poster beds – one ensuite and one with a separate bathroom, and one twin bedroom with large antique Arab beds and an ensuite bathroom. An additional bedroom with smaller twin beds provides additional accommodation for children. The living and dining room is airy and nicely-furnished and gives on to a large veranda overlooking the private swimming pool.
“We spent three nights for our anniversary at Takaungu House – the beachfront and architecture were enchantingly beautiful – it was a wonderful getaway.”
Takaungu Main House also started life as a single-storey cottage but has grown over the years into a substantial 3-storey building, designed and built in a traditional Zanzibari style, with generous rooms, ceilings and outside spaces. Downstairs is a large and airy veranda along with elegant drawing room and dining room with Moorish arches.
The top floor of the house, 2000 square feet in all, comprises a vast bedroom, an open ensuite bathroom and a morning veranda which also has a big Arab bed for an occasional guest or family member – making this this room ideal for parents plus child. The views from here are stunning and the open front makes it probably the coolest room on the coast. There are two further double bedrooms, both with ensuite bathrooms, and which share a veranda.
The adjoining cottage annex ‘Wishies Cottage’ was built as a separate but self-contained Granny Flat – it comprises a big double bedroom and twin beds in the adjoining sitting room area which share a bathroom – making it ideal for children. The cottage has its own veranda and can easily be used as extra accommodation for either of the houses.
“Sometimes reality fails to live up to website pictures – here, it is the other way round – reality exceeds all expectations. This house is a historic dream. Restored with incredible attention to derail yet retaining an authentic ‘old’ feel and all of that with an ocean view. The staff are as friendly and helpful as they are discreet and the cooking is simply exquisite. Really hope to be back before too long”
The houses have numerous staff on hand to ensure that your stay is as comfortable and easy as possible. The man in charge is the very capable and experienced Bakari – he is also the main cook and is assisted around the houses by Selina, Binti and Joseph. Steven and Wanja look after pools and gardens and Mama Chadi is a local legend who keeps an eye on all of the above, as well as night watchmen Husseini and Mwalimu.
Delicious fresh fish and seafood is always available from the local fisherman. Bakari and Selina have years of practice in the kitchen and a wide repertoire of recipes both local and international. They will help you source whatever you need locally and Selina’s lemon sponge cake is legendary!
The houses are surrounded by several acres of colourful tropical gardens and are only a few steps away from Takaungu’s wonderful and often deserted white-sand beach – there is excellent swimming (but please beware strong currents at high tide) and the snorkelling is great just off the reef at low tide. The “cool pool” at the southern end of the beach is a safe place to swim or wallow area at any stage of the tide and is a perfect place for aspiring toddler swimmers, and the rag coral caves and rock pools are other great places for children to explore.
“What a wonderful location. All was perfect and the staff are so kind and helpful. But best of all, the cooking. So much better than any restaurant. Thank you so much for a truly delicious stay!”
Susie and Alan, UK