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Plaster Detail or Zidaka  
  • Shela Village
  • Traditional architecture.
  • 3 Bedrooms, 5 Bathrooms
  • Roof Terrace
  • Garden
  • Self-catering with full staff
Madakani (or Carla's House as it is more affectionately known to all in Shela) is a delightful home exuding the wit and personality of its owner. There are little treasures in every room, collected with an eye for the surreal and placed with humour all combining with the authentic Swahili architecture, to transport you as surely as a magic carpet, out of your familiar world to somewhere altogether more romantic.

Madakani House

About Madakani House

As soon as you pass through the traditional daka or entrance porch into the kiwanda (courtyard) of Madakani House you feel the centuries of history. Every surface has interacted with the elements born on the sea and salted with time to create rich textures and colours. Creepers spread tendrils through cracks in the coral plaster and the light filters through the translucent leaves of the lush garden plants. Everywhere you look something interesting and a little quirky grabs your attention with a hint of the same twinkle that you cant help but catch in Carla Serantoni's eye as she welcomes you into her home.

This Retreat probably represents the most traditional example of Swahili architecture in the portfolio. The ground floor of the house boasts sitting areas and the main dining room, plus a sleeping alcove or ngao which may be used as a day-bed or childrens' accommodation. The kitchen is off the courtyard as is the charming and secluded garden. There is a downstairs loo and shower and Arabic bath which have been restored to the traditional style (with plumbing added!). At the top of a narrow staircase from the courtyard is the Coral Room, a single en suite bedroom traditionally thatched with coconut palm. A second door leads from this bedroom out onto the first floor verandah and the main sitting area of the house with another dining area suitable for breakfasts. Behind the living room is a dressing room and study off which lie the master bedroom and a large bathroom.

Another set of stairs takes you up to the family apartment, an enormous room containing two three quarter beds and a single four poster, quite large enough for two adults and a handful of children. There are verandahs on two sides of this room and the louvred windows allow the breeze in from the sea. It is a charming room with its own bathroom on the landing.

A final stairway leads to the enormous roof terrace, with a view across the rooftops of Shela to the channel one way and the dunes the other. A wonderful space for long, lazy afternoons, informal Swahili dinner parties, and overflow bed space the roof terrace adds an extra dimension to this lovely house.

The chef will shop and cook for guests and you can have as much or as little to do with menu planning as you wish. Either take a break from thinking about groceries and meals or be inspired by the simple, subtle and delicious Swahili cuisine which mixes such tropical delights as coconut and tamarind with Asian infusions of coriander, lime and ginger. Mix in seafood brought to the door straight from the dhow and you have some world class food at affordable prices.

A few minutes walk from Carla's door will lead you through the village, down to Peponi Hotel. Try if you can to not get sidetracked into the bar, or you may never make it to the beach! For those with a weak will it may be safer to avoid temptation altogether and head for the dunes behind Carla's house and once you have scaled these, drop down to the beach beyond the hotel.

The house offers room rates but is small enough and so economically priced that even a couple would easily afford to take the whole house and enjoy all its features. For a foursome or family it represents a perfect option, and because of the courtyard and garden also suits small kids. As a honeymoon hideaway Madakani House has lots to offer whilst still being big enough to ensure privacy in the event that you have to bring the in-laws with you!