1) THE BEACH
Kamp Ikare Beach
A private beach resort accessible only by boat, Kamp Ikare Beach Resort is a great day trip alternative, for an individual traveller or group. By making a reservation in advance, you can depart from Ikoyi and make it to the beach within 30 minutes. The day package includes a boat trip, extensive buffet spread, and access to beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Kamp Ikare has private cabanas fun to share with groups, a full service bar and a pool. On Sundays, many of Nigeria’s elite retreat from the Lagos hustle and bustle to spend time in private beach homes built on islands accessible only by boat. Kamp Ikare Beach resort will replicate that experience, taking you to and from its full-service beach house in Takwa Bay.
Kamp Ikare also has overnight accommodations for singles or doubles. Visit http://kampikare.com/kamp for additional information.
La Campagne Tropicana
If you’d like to venture to the beaches of Epe by road instead of boat, set off early to La CampagneTropicana. An hour away from Lagos, the resort is a massive stretch of land with diversified recreational activities for an individual or group. Go hiking, fishing, canoeing and engage in an assortment of other sporting events on the compound.
Visit http://lacampagneng.com for additional information.
2) THE CULTURE
(Plot 137, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island)
This place is a mainstay for any business traveler, as the atmosphere, internet connectivity and central location in Victoria Island allow you to stay in touch with business affairs back home while enjoying a mini-cultural experience. The space hosts plays on Wednesday and Sunday nights that are entertaining and showcase local artistic talents. The library is stocked with African books and the art gallery with high-end African artwork. Any of the grilled fish dishes with jollof rice and plantain are the most tourist-friendly. If you’re like to try something hot and spicy, go for the catfish pepper soup. My favorite thing to do in this place is enjoy the complimentary chin-chin (Nigerian snack pastry) and order a bottle of Star and Sprite (Shandy). Credit cards accepted.
Day Trip to Badagry
If you’re interested in history, make a day trip to nearby Badagry, two hours outside of Lagos. Badagry is a former slave-trading port with the bulk of Lagos’s cultural monuments and museums. Make sure to go with a credible guide. A major caveat — make it back to Lagos before dark!
(Awolowo Road, Lagos Island)
The National Museum in Onikan is often overlooked by locals, but has historical artifacts that may be of interest to visitors. If the 100 Naira entrance fee is an indication, however, better not to go in with too high expectations.
3) THE MARKETS
Elegushi or “Lekki” Market
(Second roundabout, off Lekki-Epe Expressway)
The Elegushi Market at the second roundabout in Lekki is a must-do. It is an arts & crafts market with authentic African jewelry that is not at exorbitant prices. This is a great place to get gifts that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
(Broad Street, Onikan)
The Balogun market is a more authentic African market, where vendors sell a wide variety of African fabrics. Nigerians create custom-made outfits for special occasions ranging from weddings to funerals, making this a bustling center of activity on Saturday mornings. Just remember – whatever price you are given, offer half!
4) THE HOTELS:
The Blowfish Hotel
(No.17, Ojo Olobun Street, Off Bishop Oluwole Street)
This a good place for business travelers and offers a Lebanese-fusion menu with a unique twist on the American hamburger. You’ll enjoy the food, ambiance, and if you’d like—the pool. I used to go there frequently to swim, hang out with friends and pretend I was in paradise in the middle of the city. Subtle house music is played by the poolside on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which draws a crowd. Credit cards accepted.
The Four Points Sheraton
(Plot 9/10, Block 2, Oniru)
Not only is this hotel up to world-class standards, but it offers a diverse range of activities friendly to the business traveler. The décor is breathtaking. The gym is luxurious and state of the art. Excellent food can be found in any of its five restaurants. Look out especially for the Adrenaline Bar,the sports bar. Nigerians love premiere league football and are a great crowd to have around while supporting your favorite teams.
The Southern Sun
(47 Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi)
This hotel is a hub for business travelers because of its internet connectivity, lounge seating, and blend of continental and local food. It is a great meeting place if you need to set up back-to-back meetings and avoid traffic. You will run into major finance and consulting professionals coming in and out of Lagos during the week, and a more laid back brunch crowd on the weekends. Credit cards accepted.
(9 Maitama Sule St. South-West Ikoyi)
This small boutique hotel in the heart of Ikoki has wireless internet, interesting artwork and a diverse menu of food options. The chili prawns are my favorite. With jollof rice and plantain on the side, you can’t go wrong. In the evenings there is sometimes a live music performance in the courtyard.
5) THE WELLNESS SPAS
(33 Sinari Daranijo Street, Off Younis Bashorun Street, Off Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island)
Take a beginning yoga class at the Lifehouse, a cultural /recreation center with a café, yoga studio and clothing boutique. You can take a class, linger afterwards for lunch and meet other Lagos “wellness” enthusiasts while exploring the latest local fashions. Instead of confining yourself to the hotel fitness center, try the beginning DaYoga class. It’s a great way to break a sweat and meet new people!
The Clearessence California Spa and Well Resort
(13 Alexander Road, Ikoyi)
This exclusive wellness spa is just off Bourdillon Road, but feels like an oasis located in Southern California. The spa treatments are imported from California, and the menu is designed for healthy eating. Overnight accommodation is available.
BMS Spa and Gym
(4 Magbon Close, off Macpherson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos)
BMS, like Clearessence, transposes you to another country, with Bali-inspired treatment and hospitality services. The gym is unfortunately exclusive to members on the weekend, but a spa treatment followed by lunch in the courtyard is well worth it.
6) THE LOCAL FOOD
(27 Oju Olobun Close, Victoria Island)
Cozy African restaurant with large portions of continental and international dishes. (Try the Combo Platter with Prawns if you’d like a mixture of both. The prawns are excellent by any international standard and the “EfoRiro” vegetables with plantain are a good starter dish for foreigners.) The Tropical Prawns are also a good dish for foreign travelers wary of gastrointestinal issues. Credit cards accepted.
7) THE WESTERN FOOD
(42 Raymond Njoku Street South west, Ikoyi)
For a hearty breakfast in Lagos, venture out of your hotel and head over to La Saison in Ikoyi, off Awolowo Road. It is a favorite for foodies with discriminating taste and provides a lot more than the standard Nigerian breakfast.
(20-24 Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island)
Great food and massive outdoor terrace on the waterfront. The restaurant will be on your way back from Lekki, so stop by if you’re in the mood for a casual, predominantly continental meal. Very healthy portions. Credit Cards accepted.
Skye Lounge, Eko Hotel
(12th floor, Eko Hotel & Suites, Plot 1415 Adetokunbo Ademola, Victoria Island)
Formal fine dining experience with breathtaking views of Lagos and world class continental/fusion food. The Skye Lounge is generally uncrowded during the daytime and full of ex-pats. The bar area is a good place to enjoy the view and enjoy exotic cocktails, but they are VERY expensive. Credit cards accepted.
Ice Cream Factory
(Plot 1613b Omega Bank Ave off Adeola Hopewell, VI)
Nothing breathtaking or revolutionary coming from the U.S., but if you want to cool down and get a taste of home, try out the Caramel Waffle. It’s to die for! This is a good spot for an afternoon snack or coffee date, but it tends to be crowded with law school students at lunch and late afternoons. Credit cards accepted.
8) THE INTERNATIONAL FOOD
(Off Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island)
Sushi in Lagos? Yes. Built right on the waterfront, Fusion Restaurant is within a picturesque complex of restaurants in the heart of Victoria Island. Fusion has by far the best sushi in Lagos, intermingled with Lebanese cuisine. Try the Unagi Crown special roll or the enormous sushi combo platters. Remember to bring cash though. The sushi menu items are pricey and they only accept cash!
(7 Bishop Aboyade Cole, Victoria Island)
Saipan is a Chinese classic in Lagos. At the top of the Dream Plaza building, it has pleasant views of the Lagos skyline with stunning Oriental interior design. The lounge area on the first floor is a great place to meet for a drink or enjoy a casual night out. The upstairs dining room is more formal — great for travelers on expense accounts. Private rooms are available.
(30 Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island)
This restaurant is the best authentic Thai food in Lagos. Their new location on Adeola Hopewell Street is sleek and trendy, with a bar area good for singles, and private rooms upstairs that are great for groups. While their food stays true to Thai cuisine, their assortment of exotic cocktails and blended drinks make it a prime social spot.
9) THE SHOPPING
(BIS Way, Lekki-Lagos)
The Palms is a shopping mall up to any international standard. For visitors interested in the more traditional retail format, with a food court, movie theater, bowling alley, and ready-to-wear clothing, the Palms is your best bet. Though anchored by Shoprite, the South African food retailer, the Palms has everything from Nigerian couture designer, Tiffany Ambe,r to European fast fashion chain, Mango. If you are homesick, visit Café Vergnano for the best cappuccino in Lagos, or good old KFC.
(14 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island)
For a more basic items and functional shopping needs, visit Mega Plaza in Victoria Island. It is a housewares / home appliance megastore, complete with personal electronics and office equipment. Aside from the “big box” items in the main store, the rest of the mall is sprinkled with other attractions, including Lady Cobbler, the best place to re-heel shoes, and an outdoor food court with assorted local and international cuisine. The “suya,” or barbecued meat at Megaplaza is amazing!
The Silverbird Galleria
(133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island)
This mall has a much younger crowd, with candy stores, a multi-media store, video arcade and a movie theater. Barcelos, a fast casual restaurant chain, is the main dining option. Silverbird, despite its crowd of local teenagers and families, is the best place to catch a movie. All the latest international releases are shown here and the best of Nigerian movies as well.
10) THE NIGHTLIFE
(14 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island)
This is an amazing space built above Mega Plaza, a mall located on Idowu Martins Street. It has a swanky interior décor and an outdoor seating area overlooking most of Victoria Island. The restaurant is open for business, but the lounge/bar upstairs is the perfect place for afterwork drinks. At 11 p.m., Marquee erupts into one of the hottest clubs in Lagos with hits from the increasingly rich and dancehall-like Nigerian music industry.
Dinner and a Movie -Silverbird Cinemas and Manuela’s Residence
(133 Ahmadu Bello Way, 13 Taslim Elias Close, Victoria Island)
The Silverbird Galleria is a massive shopping complex and movie theater located in Victoria Island. Go see an early flick at Silverbird, then head to a small close on Taslim Elias Street for an Italian-owned guest house that makes you feel like you’re in Italy! Amazing pizza. Authentic Italian cuisine. Casual dining.
By Feyi Olopade, MBA Candidate 2012, The Wharton School (former Investment Officer, African Capital Alliance)