Accra's best swimming pools

Where to cool off with a superlative dip in the Ghanaian capital...

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© Daniel Neilson

Golden Tulip

The Golden Tulip is one of the most popular hotels in Ghana, thanks to its sizable rooms, conference facilities and location near the airport. The pitched roof lobby is one of the most spacious in the city (there’s a life-size wooden giraffe greeting arrivals), the staff are more alert than most and the pool area is seriously inviting. Its stylish lower ground floor restaurant, Branche, is a further selling point – dining spots this tastefully designed are rare in Accra. It’s an unpretentious space, with unpretentious pricing too – it’s not cutting-edge cuisine, after all. There are five meeting rooms and the hotel has wireless throughout, as well as a business centre. The accommodation comprises suites, apartments, chalets and regular rooms. And if US$435 for a double seems not enough money to be ridding yourself of in a day (in the last issue a double was $240), there’s a large casino (open Sun-Thur 1pm-4am; Fri, Sat 1pm-5am) immediately next door. It’s a pretty grand affair – one of the two biggest in Accra, along with the one at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel – and has roulette, stud poker and blackjack set over three adjoining levels.

  1. Liberation Road, Airport
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Labadi Beach

Labadi Beach is a well-maintained high-end resort that retains its colonial cool –the lobby is all ceiling fans, dark leather sofas and gold-coloured standing lamps. While tropical gardens, a turquoise pool and spotless rooms do come at a cost, this is has long been the top spot for quality accommodation in Accra, but competition is becoming fierce – especially given the eye-watering rack rates of these rooms (keep an eye on promotions). Labadi’s pristine rooms and luxury suites, all renovated, each come with a private balcony, and the outdoor area features a sizeable swimming pool, with a smaller children’s pool and fountain. Sporty types will be more than satisfied with the gym, floodlit tennis courts, volleyball court and table tennis equipment; sauna and massage services are also available. The resort has two bars and a restaurant to choose from. A new health centre will be opening in August 2013.

  1. Labadi Beach
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Holiday Inn Accra Airport

This hotel is a cut above what you might have come to expect from the Holiday Inn brand elsewhere in the world, and the cluster of expensive suits usually found milling around in the bar area is an accurate sign of the property’s popularity with the business world. The lobby is a stylish, airy space full of floral displays and modern African wood sculptures, but from a leisure aspect it’s perhaps the Med-style pool – a ridiculously inviting sight on a hot day – that’s the main draw (despite the building site of new hotels around it). The rooms are good, with all the amenities you’d expect. It makes sense to take the Superior over the Deluxe which are around the same price. There’s a wide food offering from the pool-side bar – hugely popular on Friday evenings – a bar in the lobby and the Wiase Restaurant which does a superb buffet, especially on Sunday afternoons with a vast Ghanaian buffet, much loved by locals.

  1. Plot 19 & 20 Airport City
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La Palm Royal Beach

This hotel was once one of the best in Accra, but it is being eclipsed by the new openings: Mövenpick and other improved offerings. With that in mind, it is going through a needed refurbishment process. The rooms have always been good. The 152 rooms (when they are all open) are based in round ‘chalets’ – the idea is it’s a village complex. Standard rooms are large, clean and well laid out, with a flatscreen TV, safe, wireless. The rooms are clean, air conditioned and spacious with comfy beds. It’s the lobby and bar that need work – it’s not the best introduction. This is a shame, because behind it is one the best pool complexes in Ghana, an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday. New is the La Palm Kids Theme Park, a pleasant and safe enclosed park right by the pool. All pool facilities are open to non-residents; be sure to make use of them! Facilities include a casino, fitness centre and spa and sauna. Meals can be taken in the bar. There are several restaurants, including the Royal Dragon Chinese restaurant and the Continental Restaurants – we’d avoid those and head to the open-sided and thatched Ghanaian Village (0302 215 100). There’s often live highlife on weekend evenings – one of the few places to see it. Overlooking the beach, the thatched setting of the Ghanaian Village restaurant is also a highpoint, and a great place to sample Ghanaian dishes such as red red (bean stew with plantain).

  1. By Labadi Beach
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Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel

  • Critics choice

Backed by 16 acres of palm-studded grounds and a sweeping azure pool, Accra’s newest luxury bolthole is certainly living up to its hype. Waiters on roller blades glide across the gleaming patio, supplying fresh snacks and icy drinks to holidaymakers stretched out on loungers around the pool; the onsite luxury shopping centre is filled with high-end goods, from high-end fashions at Stellar Deluxe to Afrocentric homeware at Joe’s Perspective; Sankofa restaurant pleases with an array of international flavours, and the one2one cocktail lounge expertly whips up any favoured tipple. There’s a great little deli by the shopping galleries, and the restaurant is becoming very popular. It’s also worth saying that the breakfast is the best in the city right now.

  1. Independence Avenue, Ridge
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