Today (January 29, 2018): top 10 most exclusive hotels in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is a unique archipelago of about 50 coral islands, lying in the Indian Ocean a short distance from Tanzania. Zanzibar was originally an independent country until 1964, when it was united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania under President Julius Nyerere. It currently has its own President and a degree of autonomy. Over centuries of different cultures have influenced Zanzibar to make the island what it is today. Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and British have settled here at one time or another and influenced the local culture to create the present fusion. Its heyday came in the early 19th century when the Sultan of Muscat moved his court to Zanzibar: as spice cultivation was developed (particularly the clove tree) and the slave trade was at its height, Zanzibar became the most important place in East Afria. Today, the archipelago is a major tourist destination, where visitors laze around in the sun on magnificent beaches, stroll the tumbling streets of Stone Town (a UNESCO heritage site), inhale the lingering fragrance of the space plantations, or get mystified by the island’s rich history and culture. I hereby present you a top 10 list of my prefered luxury hotels & resort in Zanzibar.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite resort in Zanzibar in the comments section, or take my poll below!
Zanzibar Serena Hotel is tucked into the Zanzibar seafront, amidst the exotic sultan’s palaces, Portuguese forts, ancient dhow harbor and bright bazaars of Stone Town. Comprised of two historic buildings designed in traditional Swahili style, this lavish retreat captures the elegance of a bygone era. An ambience of relaxed sophistication has been created in each of the 51rooms and suites, with wood-framed louver doors opening onto private balconies with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views. Cool, white walls, high-ceilings and crisp royal blues and whites give a sense of coastal serenity and charm. The rooftop restaurant offers fresh-caught seafood and extraordinary views of the bay, the perfect place to unwind after a day’s venture into Spice Town. Weekly authentic Swahili banquets can be enjoyed by the pool at Baharia Restaurant, whilst Masahani Bar offers signature cocktails and live performances by traditional Taarab bands.
- Hotel website: Zanzibar Serena Hotel
The Melia Zanzibar, formerly a Kempinski property and one of the island’s largest resort complexes, is located on Zanzibar’s east coast. Airy, two-story blocks have 124 rooms in total, which all feature huge baths and come with beach or garden views. Sheltered by a fringing reef, the resort’s calm white-sand beach has a long, shallow drop-off that makes swimming (as opposed to wading) impossible at low tide. However, the long jetty immediately in front of the hotel means snorkeling is always possible. Golf carts departing every 20 minutes transport guests to an all-day swimming area a kilometer (0,6 miles) south from the hotel outbuildings. Here, the Gabi Beach Club offers Balinese-style loungers and a restaurant grill. Managed and operated by professional Thai therapists, the resort’s spa has six private treatment rooms, two private outdoor massage pavilions and a large outdoor lap pool.
- Hotel website: The Melia Zanzibar
The Residence Zanzibar is set in isolated splendour on the South West coast of the island, within a lush, forested 32-hectare estate. Located just one hour from the airport and the capital Stone Town, The Residence Zanzibar lies on a mile-long powdery white sand beach, flanked by coconut palms and lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Inspired by the island’s eclectic cultures, the resort’s 66 luxuriously appointed villas fuse contemporary style with the elegance of the island’s African, Omani and European heritage and offer the perfect combination of spaciousness and privacy. Relaxing comes easy on the lounge deck outside, furnished with wicker chairs and daybeds, overlooking a private swimming pool and soothing garden, beach or ocean views. Guests enjoy carefree days by their private pool, on the beach, or by exploring the gardens on foot or by bicycle.
- Hotel website: The Residence Zanzibar
Located along the Bwejuu – Paje beach that was named as one of the top 30 in the world by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Baraza is one of Zanzibar’s most exclusive boutique resorts. With a fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design, with Swahili arches, intricate hand carved cement décor, beautiful antiques, handmade furniture and intricate brass lanterns, this fully inclusive resort evokes the heritage of Zanzibar dating back to the era of the Sultans. All the Zanzibari furniture in Baraza is hand made by local artisans who have perfected the art of wood carving, for which Zanzibar is so famous. There are 14 one-bedroom villas and 15 two-bedroom villas at Baraza Zanzibar, as well as one Presidential two-bedroom suite. The spacious villas feature luxurious interiors, intricate fabrics, hand-carved furniture, large bathrooms with luxury fittings, as well as a spacious terraces with private plunge pools.
- Hotel website: Baraza Resort & Spa
Hotel Rui Palace Zanzibar is located in Nungwi, on the North West coast of Zanzibar, a sensational island setting. The resort is set in 10 hectares of enchanting tropical spice gardens, fondly tendered by softly-spoken Zanzibaris and rabble of soaring butterflies. This breadth of gardens, bursting with exotic blooms, slopes gently down to the powder white sands of Nungwi Beach, lapped by the clearest blue seas. All 100 rooms and suites have private terraces and stunning views over the inspiring gardens and Indian Ocean. They are designed for guests in search of seclusion and space and feature interiors in a sophisticated contemporary style with subtle Zanzibar touches. Every evening the resort is charmed by dreamy sunsets, where hues of burnt orange and blushing rose are spectacled as Africa`s sun drops into the Indian Ocean.
An all-inclusive oasis of tranquillity, privacy and relaxation awaits at Diamonds Star of the East, an exclusive enclave located within the grounds of another hotel, Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est. Set on the north-western tip of Zanzibar, this barefoot sanctuary fronts a gleaming white sand beach that meets the Indian Ocean. Each of the 11 one and two-bedroom villas sits in a beautiful tropical garden filled with radiant flowers. Blending into the environment, the villas are a combination of Swahili-style and contemporary flair with thatch roofs and crisp, white modern buildings. Each has its own private plunge pool and terrace and swathes of white muslin surround the four-poster beds. A personal assistant is at your disposal 24 hours a day to ensure that all your requirements are fulfilled.
- Hotel website: Diamonds Star of the East
Mysteriously set in the fragrant Pemba Island along the 2000 years old Indian Ocean trade route, Constance Aiyana is where you will surrender to your senses. Ecologically built with locally sourced materials like limestone, aggregates, coconut brooms, Aiyana is in total harmony with Mother Nature. Inspired by the beautiful African architecture, the Aiyana hotel is mystically soul-stirring with high ceilings, pastel colours, fragrant gardens and water feature. Constance Aiyana features 30 magnificent villas, all facing the dreamy Pemba ocean and dressed in a minimalist luxury décor with a Zanzibari touch. Pemba is accessible from Dar es Salaam or via a thirty-minute light aircraft flight from Zanzibar, and can be part of a multi-destination safari trip or a stand-alone exotic holiday.
Essque Zalu Zanzibar is an intimate ocean-front property nestled in a natural cove in the north east coast of Zanzibar. Guests can choose from 40 individual suites and – if you need extra space to spread out – 8 villas all with picturesque views over the lush tropical garden or the ocean turquoise blue. All suites offer a luxurious-styled space crafted from local materials, adorned with native artwork and housed under a traditional pitched makuti roof. Offering an added dose of opulence, the villas come complete with kitchens, private swimming pools and their own personal butler. Though Essque Zalu Zanzibar sits on the ocean’s edge, there’s no beach here. Instead, a long jetty extends over the water, where guests can descend and swim at high tide. Beach lovers can take solace in the nearby Nungwi Beach, consistently voted one of the top beaches in the world.
- Hotel website: Essque Zalu Zanzibar
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Classic Travel (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and daily dinner at the Market Kitchen or at The Jetty restaurant).
- Review: read my review of Essque Zalu Zanzibar here.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar is the quintessential destination from which to experience the rich culture, heritage and historical significance of Zanzibar’s main city, Stone Town, a designated UNESCO heritage site. Sitting majestically on the beachfront in the heart of Stone Town, the hotel provides the ultimate haven amongst the city’s labyrinth of winding alleys, bustling markets, mosques and famed Zanzibari doors, featuring magnificent ornate wooden carvings. The hotel is housed in two buildings, one of them Mambo Msiige, a typical Zanzibari mansion steeped in history, grace and mystique with a story dating back to the 17th century. From the spacious guest rooms and authentic cuisine to spectacular views from the oceanfront infinity pool, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar offers both discerning business travelers and luxury holiday makers rare, intimate and unforgettable experiences.
- Hotel website: Park Hyatt Zanzibar
- Other accolades: Park Hyatt Zanzibar also features in my lists of the best new luxury hotels of 2015 and the best luxury hotels in Tanzania.
- Review: read my review of Park Hyatt Zanzibar here.
If you have ever harbored the secret wish of finding yourself the sole inhabitant of a beautiful tropical island, but without the effort of having to lift a finger to fend for yourself, &Beyond Mnemba Island is just the place for you. This romantic, private hideaway is an award-winning barefoot beach paradise just off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, that accommodates a maximum of 20 guests at a time. Guest relax and unwind in the exclusivity of their own stretch of beachfront, where ten beachside bandas peep out onto unblemished sands from the dappled shade of the casuarina pine forest and overlook the Mnemba atoll (a scuba diver’s delight). From snorkeling, swimming, ands kayaking to massages in the beach, to doing nothing at all, &Beyond Mnemba Island has something for everyone.
- Hotel website: &Beyond Mnemba Island
- Other accolades: &Beyond Mbemba Island also features in my top 10 lists of the most exclusive, private island retreats in the world, the best luxury hotels in Tanzania, and Africa’s most astonishing beach retreats.
- Review: read my review of &Beyond Mnemba Island here.