DESIGN STAY | Two charming boutique hotels in the heart of Saint Louis, Senegal’s old colonial gem

by Alice Dottori

ph Alice Dottori


I will admit it, in the past four years Senegal has been spoiling me with its many beauties:  amazing landscapes, bright sun and mild temperatures, nice people, history and culture.

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Besides my daily life in Dakar, what I am really enjoying here is visiting around and get to know better the country;  and four years are long enough to identify your special places. You know, those ones where you need to escape once in a while; those that have the power to disconnect you from the rest of the world and make you feel special.

I have a few of them, but on top of my list are two charming boutique hotels in Saint Louis, ancient capital of the French colonies in West Africa.


About Saint Louis, Senegal’s old colonial gem

Located near the mouth of the Senegal river, the modern Saint Louis keeps expanding on the mainland, resulting in a lively and busy city. The old town, instead, is a colonial bijou enclosed in a narrow island, reachable through a spectacular arched metal bridge originally designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, THAT Mr. Eiffel).


Saint Louis bridge, originally designed by Gustave Eiffel- ph Alice Dottori

Colonial buildings in Saint Louis- ph Alice Dottori

A decadent allure of a once stunning beauty – ph Alice Dottori


Today, Saint Louis old splendor is gone and despite the UNESCO patronage, most of the old colonial houses are crumbling.

Other buildings, instead, as the boutique hotels Au Fil du Fleuve and Jamm, have been magnificently renovated maintaining their original colonial appearance but with the addition of design and décor elements.


AU FIL DE FLEUVE Boutique Hotel in Saint Louis, Senegal

Located in the southern part of the island, a few meters from the river, this 19th century building was originally the warehouse of a rich merchant. 

At ground floor, the common spaces give onto an internal shaded patio populated by lush plantains and palms. All around, precious details such as old braziers, carts and baskets.


External façade via

Internal patio via 

Old braziers among the decorations of the internal patio – ph Alice Dottori 


The three bedrooms upstairs, accessible from an arched wooden veranda are light, perfectly decorated and enriched by local artworks. And what a nice surprise to find the bathroom filled with local organic products such as shea butter soaps and shampoos.


The bedrooms are spacious and bright via 


JAMM Boutique Hotel in Saint Louis, Senegal

You can enjoy the same timeless, elegant and quiet atmosphere in the hotel Jamm  peace in local dialect). Dark wooden balconies and a carved heavy portal embellish the yellow façade.

The carved wood heavy portal via 


Inside, every tiny decorative detail has been arranged with attention and taste: from local sculptures to the many historical books and findings displayed in the common areas. From the internal patio, an impressive wooden staircase leads to the upper veranda and to the four lovely bedrooms where all is perfectly set and decorated in local style.


Local artworks and decorations – ph. Alice Dottori

Upper floor wooden veranda – ph. Alice Dottori



Both the owners, Marie Caroline and Yves respectively, are excellent hosts. Their service is virtually impeccable, as well as their cordiality and attention to details. Their breakfasts, served in the shaded patios are simply amazing: home made bakeries and preserves, local cheese and milk, fruits, juices and other goodies.  

And what is even more remarkable, is their desire to share their endless knowledge of Saint Louis’s story and traditions. As their breakfasts, their aperitifs are definitely not to miss: not just for the delicious home made nibbles you will taste, but also for the unusual and deep historical insights of the city you will get.


Excellent service and attention to details via 



Every year, early or mid May, the city hosts the Saint Louis Jazz Festival,  the most internationally renowned festival in Africa. On that occasion,  thanks to the presence of famous artists and musicians, the quiet old town bursts into life, becoming a crowded carrefour of people and cultures. The atmosphere is magic then, a must see and not just for jazz lovers!  

Saint Louis Jazz Festival, 2018 edition via 

|| Be inspired about African design and decor:

|| Discover these other beautiful boutique hotels in:

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