Where to Stay in Zanzibar: Best Towns and Hotels

The identify Zanzibar evokes photographs of a tropical paradise, with picturesque islands, white sand seashores, shimmering turquoise waters, stunning sunsets, and palm timber swaying within the ocean breeze. Certainly the island is all that, but it surely’s additionally extra. Zanzibar is a mixture of cultures. The ‘Spice Island’ has lured vacationers for hundreds of years; from the Sumerians, Assyrians and Egyptians, to the Chinese language, Indians and Persians, and later the Arabs, Portuguese and British… Zanzibar has seen all of them. Throughout the Omani rule the island was the primary slave market in East Africa. As soon as slavery was abolished, within the late 1800s, the spice commerce grew to become the centerpiece of Zanzibar’s worldwide commerce. This has culminated in an island that’s a heady mixture of sights, sounds and smells.

With regards to the place to remain in Zanzibar, there’s one thing for everybody. For those who like castaway cool with driftwood vibes, then you definitely’ve come to the fitting place, however should you’d desire one thing extra luxurious and particular then additionally, you will discover that right here.

Stone City

Stone City, a World Heritage Web site, is Zanzibar’s historic capital and no go to to Zanzibar can be full with out exploring its jumble of slender, cobbled streets, its individuals, the mosques, church buildings, bazars, structure and meals. Round each nook lies one thing totally different; a crumbling wreck, an ornate palace, a Persian bathhouse, a spice market or an elaborately carved wood door and it’s modified little for the reason that nineteenth century.

It is a place I’m more than pleased to get misplaced in. Take a guided tour, or just wander at your individual tempo, and when the night attracts close to, head to one of many rooftop vantage factors to gaze out over the Indian Ocean because the solar goes down.

Double Tree by Hilton Resort Zanzibar Stone City

The Double Tree By Hilton is housed within the outdated courtroom home, that had fallen into disrepair, earlier than being renovated and introduced again to life to grow to be the resort. It’s completely located within the coronary heart of Stone City, amongst the winding alleyways and the historic buildings. The resort is a block from Baharia Hindi Seaside, and near the Forodhani night time meals market and the Previous Fort. You are feeling immersed within the outdated city as you wake to the muezzin’s name to prayer because the day dawns.

Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace and it’s scrumptious (significantly the fragile slices of smoked tuna!). From the breakfast desk we regarded out over the rooftops of Stone City on the vibrant blue ocean, just some streets away, watching as a small, white sailed, conventional dhow navigated its approach amongst the big passenger ferry and big cargo ships. The outdated and the brand new aspect by aspect.

The Hilton is in my favorite a part of Stone City; there’s nonetheless the winding maze of streets right here, however they often open up into tree stuffed courtyards, and it doesn’t really feel fairly so frenetic and busy as different elements of city. As an added bonus, the resort has a gorgeous indoor swimming pool, excellent for cooling down after a day wandering by means of the city.

Zanzibar Palace Resort

The Zanzibar Palace Resort is a boutique resort situated proper within the coronary heart of Stone City. Constructed between 1885 and 1890 by an Indian service provider, and later inherited by his sons, who lived within the higher flooring, operating business ventures downstairs. Following the revolution in 1964 the constructing was deserted for a few years. In 1978 it was restored, changing into a resort in 2005.

It is a small and private resort, with solely three rooms on every of its three flooring. Every room is embellished in Zanzibari type, and the resort is filled with authentic options, from the heavy wood staircase that runs like a backbone by means of the middle of the home, to the extremely thick partitions, tiny wood balconies opening off the rooms, and even the outdated hooks and pulleys nonetheless imbedded within the plasterwork from its buying and selling days.

We stayed within the Dunia Suite on the highest ground, with its enormous Zanzibar mattress, so excessive off the bottom that we needed to climb into it by stepping on an outdated wood trunk, positioned by the bedside for that very function! Our toilet was on an upstairs terrace, with views wanting over the rooftops of Stone City and right down to the port.

Emerson on Hurumzi

Within the coronary heart of Stone City is the superbly restored Emerson on Hurumzi resort. The constructing was as soon as the house of Tharia Topan, one of many richest males within the Swahili Empire and monetary advisor to Sultan Bargash.

One of many highlights of the resort is dinner within the Tea Home Restaurant on the resort’s rooftop, with 360° views of Stone City and throughout to the ocean. Arrive for cocktails at sundown and dinner begins promptly at 7pm. You may select whether or not to take away your sneakers and sit on the ground cushions to dine, or you’ll be able to take your home at a desk should you desire. Dinner is a 3 course set menu celebrating Zanzibari delicacies; combining the flavours of Swahili, Persian and Omani influences. Dinner is accompanied by conventional music and singing by musicians from the Dhow International locations Music Academy.

If in case you have time earlier than dinner, name in on the Princess Salme museum beside the primary entrance to the resort. Right here you’ll be able to study some of the well-known of Zanzibar’s ladies, Sayyida Salama bint Stated (additionally known as Salme), a Princess of Zanzibar and Oman. Born in 1844, she was the youngest of the 36 kids of Stated bin Sultan, Sultan of the Omani Empire. Salme grew as much as trigger such scandal along with her love affair, being pregnant, and in the end marriage with German service provider, Rudolph Heinrich Ruete, that she needed to flee Zanzibar and settle in Germany. She is the writer of Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar revealed in 1886.

Staying on the seashore

Leaving Stone City behind we labored our approach across the island clockwise, staying is quite a lot of particular properties…

Chuini Zanzibar Seaside Lodge

Our first cease was the west coast. There are fewer lodges on Zanzibar’s west coast and it feels a bit of extra distant. The west coast is after all residence to Stone City, so we didn’t have far to journey for our first night time out of city.

In 1873 the Chuini Palace was constructed for Sayyid Barghash bin Stated al-Busaidi, the second Sultan of Zanzibar (brother to Princess Salme talked about above). Constructed to have operating water in a time earlier than electrical energy, the palace was a powerful building that occupied either side of the bay. Sadly a lot of the buildings within the advanced burnt down in 1914. Chuini Seaside Lodge is constructed amongst the ruins of the palace and its mosque, giving it a reasonably distinctive really feel. Morning yoga underneath an arch of the now ruined mosque, searching over the ocean, was the right begin to the day.

Chuini is situated on the very fringe of the island, perched on the rocks, with stunning sundown views. There’s a small, non-public seashore, down a number of steps, beside a tiny working bay the place native fishermen moor and restore their boats.

Nungwi Goals

Heading north, an hour’s drive, we reached Nungwi. As a normal rule, the north and north east coasts are typically the island’s prime areas, and most of Zanzibar’s top-end lodging is discovered right here. The diving can also be wonderful right here, as there’s not a lot tidal variation and the archipelago’s finest reefs (round Mnemba Island) lie a few kilometre offshore.

Nungwi Goals exceeded my expectations. Our room was fashionable, smooth, vibrant, and positioned simply metres from the seashore and the turquoise water. With two swimming swimming pools to select from and the gorgeous heat ocean just some steps from our room, we have been spoilt for alternative. At low tide, when the water was a bit of too distant for a fast swim, I walked alongside the white sand and had it just about to myself, aside from some native girls, who’d come to forage for shellfish, and a few pleasant fishermen who have been striding alongside the seashore, chatting as they went. My husband spent a day scuba diving at close by Mnemba Island and I relaxed on the spa and bought a tremendous sports activities therapeutic massage and normal pummeling from the deceptively petite and surprisingly sturdy masseuse.


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The primary night time we ate on the buffet and dinner was accompanied by native musicians, the following night time we went as much as the roof high ‘sky bar’ and loved vibrant cocktails because the solar went down, and determined to remain on the roof for dinner. It was a full moon and a silvery path of moonlight streaked throughout the floor of the ocean.

With 56 room and 1 villa, though it’s positively a resort type place, with all of the comforts you’d anticipate from a luxurious resort, underneath the skilled and pleasant administration of GM Richard von Lauenstein, it’s nonetheless sufficiently small to really feel pleasant and private.

Elewana Kilindi Zanzibar

A brief drive away, and nestled in a tropical backyard alongside a secluded beachfront on the north-west coast of Zanzibar, we arrived at Kilindi. An oasis of luxurious, with 15 white-domed pavilion visitor rooms, set in 50 acres of pure bush and tropical gardens, a uncommon piece of protected vegetation and a haven of tranquility in what has grow to be a reasonably too busy northern a part of the island.

Initially designed for Benny Andersson, of 1970’s pop group ABBA fame, the structure is dramatic, with white wood shutters and broad arched glassless home windows searching over ocean. We actually felt part of the panorama right here, with birdsong throughout, and vibrant geckos, bushytailed squirrels, and the uncommon Sykes’ monkeys, all taking turns to go to the villa. A large-eyed bush child joined us at dinner, scampering alongside the close by balustrade, and we even noticed a guinea pig sized, black and rufous elephant shrew (endemic to Zanzibar and neighbouring Mafia Island), rustling within the undergrowth as we walked between our villa and the eating space.

With our personal non-public plunge pool, rooftop verandah overlooking the ocean, and personal butler, we not often wanted to go away the villa, and the rainfall bathe room actually gave us the sensation of being a part of the encircling nature. This actually is a particular place.

Matali Boutique Resort

Subsequent cease was Matlai Boutique Resort on the north east coast. There are two villas at Matlai, the 4 bedroomed Asili Home and the 2 bedroomed Villa Kidosho. It’s exhausting to determine which of the villas is the very best, each have stunning views out over the azure ocean, every has its personal beautiful and personal pool, effectively positioned hammocks and solar loungers, and there’s a spa and personal open air cinema; all this just some steps from the seashore.

The minute we arrived we have been drawn to the ocean, and easily dropped our baggage, donned swimming costumes and grabbed masks and snorkels. Wading out, it didn’t take lengthy until we discovered a beautiful patch of coral that we had all to ourselves. Tiny seahorses bobbed up and down, vibrant fish darted out and in amongst the waving tentacles of anemones, a large purple starfish lay on the gleaming shite sandy backside, and a clam shell, hidden amongst the coral, slammed closed as I swam previous. We have been fairly actually in shoulder deep water, simply off the seashore from the villa, and we couldn’t imagine our luck that such a tiny little treasure was simply there ready for us.

Again within the villa we spent the afternoon enjoyable on our verandah because the palm timber waved within the ocean breeze. To complete of the relief course of, a shower in claw foot tub with regionally made clove and neroli scented tub salts, was the right factor. Dinner by the seashore, with sand underfoot and scrumptious morsels on our plates was the top to an ideal day.

Le Mersennne

Solely a few kilometers additional south on the Michamvi Peninsula is Le Mersenne, a a lot bigger resort, with quite a lot of totally different sized and styled rooms to select from. Ours was a spacious, ethereal, fashionable room. Up on the rocky cliff overlooking the water, Le Mersenne has beautiful views out over the seemingly limitless ocean; with the water aquamarine close to the seashore and turning turquoise after which malachite because it bought deeper. Being on the east coast the views of the dawn was fairly spectacular, and positively one thing price waking up for, although happily we might see it from our mattress and didn’t truly need to stand up.

The resort has a protracted pier stretching out over the water, at the moment there’s a bar and exercise centre right here, however some modern villas are at the moment underneath building, and they are going to be someplace fairly distinctive to remain. We borrowed masks and snorkels from the exercise centre and clambered down the steps and straight into the water. The tide was altering and the present was sturdy however, swimming a number of hundred metres from the pier, we discovered ourselves amongst vibrant clumps of coral. Hundreds of purple shiny sea urchins bristled on the ocean ground, and we made certain to maintain effectively away from their harmful wanting spines.

A 10km seashore stroll had my husband threatening to mutiny and beginning to complain of starvation, so we turned and headed for a late, however scrumptious, lunch at Baladin Restaurant. Fortunately the restaurant specialises in Italian craft beer and so the meltdown was averted!

Xanadu Luxurious Villas

5km south from Le Mersenne, proper on the very spot the place I’d dragged my husband to on our seashore stroll a number of days earlier, is the ultra-refined and really particular Xanadu. With solely 9 villas, every constructed from native stone and recycled Dhow (boat) wooden, and every with their very own plunge pool and devoted butler, Xanadu offers you the sensation of privateness, of getting a chunk of paradise all to your self. The seashore is just some steps away, and this stretch of sand has by some means escaped the crowds. Xanadu is an unbelievable expertise; tranquility, luxurious and pampering, all on a gorgeous stretch of white sandy seashore.

With contemporary seafood, caught by native fishermen, organically grown fruit, greens and spices, and a crew of cooks to cater to your each whim, meals have been a spotlight of our keep. At each meal we got the selection of consuming in our villa’s non-public eating space, by our non-public plunge pool, or by the beautiful pool within the spectacular primary eating space, we have been spoilt for alternative.

The times we spent at Xanadu have been a number of the most restful days I’ve ever had on a vacation. Up early to look at the dawn, I walked for hours on the seashore, accumulating shells, watching wading seabirds, peering into little rock swimming pools at fascinating creatures, however principally simply enjoyable and having fun with the peace and calm of the early morning. Swimming, studying and enjoyable, with the occasional sea kayak or ‘break’ for a scrumptious meal, was how we spent our days right here, and we cherished each minute of our keep.

Zanzibar may be loved in so many approach, maybe as an add-on after a safari, or to get well after a difficult climb up Kilimanjaro, or simply as a stand-alone vacation spot in its personal proper. It is a stunning island, with fabulous individuals, unbelievable meals, terrific websites to see and issues to do, and should you select the fitting place to remain you’ll be able to benefit from the barefoot luxurious of this terrific vacation spot.