Mantis St Helena - Hotel Review

Mantis St Helena, Africa

Long before Napoleon was exiled to St Helena Island (where he died in 1821) officers of the East India Company used Jamestown’s handsome Georgian buildings as their barracks. All the charm but none of the military austerity of their original use has been retained in the 1774-built property’s restoration and rebirth as boutique hotel Mantis St Helena: airy suites, pillowy beds, warm hospitality and food that scoffs at the very notion of rations.

Where is Mantis St Helena?

Mantis St Helena, Africa

SItuated roughly midway between South America and Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean, this is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. Weekly flights depart from Johannesburg; the inbound flight stops in Walvis Bay, Namibia, to refuel. Once you’ve checked in, you’ll find everything you need just steps from the hotel entrance: a public swimming pool, beach, tourist office, transport links to historic sites such as Napoleon’s house and tomb, and the 699-step Jacob’s Ladder, which soars up the hillside behind the hotel to Ladder Hill Fort.

Room types

Mantis St Helena, Africa

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The hotel’s history is preserved in the eight suites and rooms that occupy the original building; an extension houses 22 contemporary rooms. Heritage elements include polished floorboards, dark wood furniture, high ceilings and a lounge which evokes all the elegance of a colonial-era drawing room. Pops of colour enliven the neutral palette in the modern suites. All rooms are equipped with ensuite bathrooms, satellite TVs and air-conditioning.

Restaurants and bars

Mantis St Helena, Africa

The cuisine served at the restaurant, bar and two outdoor terraces reflects centuries of settlement from Africa, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Britain: goat curries, bacon plo (a rice dish), fishcakes, samoosas (as they’re known here), a St Helenian version of black pudding, plus teatime treats like coconut fingers and the island’s famous tomato paste sandwiches. French food and Western staples feature on the menu, too. South African wines – which Napoleon loved – flow freely.

Travel for work

Put your out of office on – this hotel is best for adventurers and holidaymakers.

Spa and gym

The island is your wellness playground with its ample self-guided walks and striking natural environment. As well as swimming at the public pool a short walk from the hotel, try ocean-based activities such as dolphin and bird-watching boat tours and whale shark encounters (from December to May).

What you need to know

Pull up a seat at the bar and be lulled by the barman’s lilting, whimsical St Helenian patois.  

Best for: History buffs and nature-lovers
Number of rooms: A mix of 30 heritage and contemporary rooms
Rates: From GBP190 per person per night, twin share
Wi-fi: Available up to a daily limit; additional airtime can be purchased from reception
Parking: On-street parking is available
Address: 1-3 Main Street, Jamestown, St Helena
Telephone: +290 25505

Mantis St Helena, Africa

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