La Varangue is a charming guest house which combines colonial and Malagasy architecture that reflects the vibrancy of the capital city of Antananarivo. Situated in an upmarket suburb next to the office of the presidency in the centre of the city, the guest house offers an intimate atmosphere, charming interior decoration and some of the best cuisine in the area.
La Varangue is ideally situated close to the international airport, as well as the historical, cultural and natural attractions of Tana. The guest house is adorned with a large collection of antiques - including old musical instruments, vintage artwork, radios and photographic equipment - that acts as a fascinating point of interest for visitors. The restaurant is renowned for its gourmet cuisine, stylishly merging complex French dishes with Malagasy specialities. Overlooking a pretty garden, the terrace is a wonderful place to enjoy the food and the extensive range of wines from the cellar.
Situated on the chain of mountains that runs down the centre of Madagascar, Antananarivo, meaning ‘the city of a thousand hills’ is a bustling capital city with immense spiritual significance, a colourful history and vibrant culture, along with a scattering of natural attractions.
Tana, as it is more easily known, can be broadly divided into a lower town and an upper town. The lower town is dominated by the Avenue de l’independence, which is lined with shops, snack bars and hotels. A short walk away, the upper town is more upmarket, with jewellers, art shops and craft boutiques lining the streets.
The hilly terrain around the town is a patchwork of paddy fields, overlooked by traditional red clay houses and steepled churches. Remnants of history can be seen in the defence ditches that were used to try and repel the victorious French in the wars of the 19th century. White Merina tombs dot the landscape, while the imposing Rova Manjakamianda palace and 12 sacred hills are today some of the region’s most fascinating tourist sites.
Nature lovers can visit the tranquil paradise of the Tsarasaotra Park, which surrounds a lake that has been declared a Ramsar wetland site. Nine species of lemurs can be seen at Lemurs Park, 22 kilometres north of the city. Tana is also perfect for excursions into beautiful reserves such as Anjozorobe and Ambohitantely, where Madagascar’s dazzling variety of wildlife can be encountered in its natural habitat.
Once an ambassador’s residence, the guest house has a grand look, and brims with character inside, featuring an extensive range of antiques, clean-cut Malagasy decor and elegant wooden floors. With its terrace and warm interiors, the restaurant is a characterful place to enjoy the chef’s colourful and innovative cuisine. Pre-dinner drinks, including French, South African and Malagasy wines, as well as an array of traditional flavoured rums, can be savoured in the stylish bar.
The guest house features just nine rooms, split into single rooms, deluxe rooms, junior suites and senior suites. Every room is appointed with a fan, mini bar, safe, telephone, television and free wireless internet. Coming with either a bath or shower, the single rooms are perfect for a cosy overnight stop, while the more spacious deluxe rooms have double beds leading to bathrooms with double basins and a bath with an overhead shower. The junior suite has a separate living area, while the en-suite bathroom boasts double basins, two toilets and a shower. With its huge bed, large living area, corner bath and shower, not to mention spectacular views over the city, the senior suite is the romantic jewel in the guest house’s crown.
One of the highlights of a stay at La Varangue is undoubtedly the food, which is regarded as some of the best in Madagascar. Dishes could include everything from carpaccio and organic vegetable salad, to melt-in-your-mouth seafood dishes and decadent desserts, delighting the palate with a variety of expertly crafted flavours.
The guest house is perfect as an overnight stop, while also being ideally suited to those who want to get out and about in Tana. At the end of a varied day of exploration, the charming La Varangue and its amiable staff will ensure that you enjoy the accommodation as much as the experience.