Hotels in Zanzibar, Tanzania

by Joanne Thomas
A traditional sailing dhow in the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar

A traditional sailing dhow in the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar

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Zanzibar, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean off Tanzania, has been a cultural crossroads for centuries and continues in this role today with tourists from all over world taking the place of sultans and spice traders. Accommodation options on the main island range from ancient Stone Town residences converted into boutique hotels to upscale resorts on secluded beaches. They invariably showcase the distinctively ornate architectural and decorative styles of the island, which is known for its elaborately carved doors, intricate lattice work and Arabesque detailing.

236 Hurumzi

236 Hurumzi is the second-tallest building in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Stone Town of Zanzibar, boasting a tower-top restaurant with panoramic views over the ancient roofs and minarets of the island's main city. The restored historic property is adorned with Zanzibari antiques and retains traditional Swahili touches like oversize stone bathtubs, hardwood lattice shutters and ornate carved beds in the guest rooms. Each of the boutique hotel's 16 guest rooms is distinct in design. The most spacious is the Keep Suite, which consists of a bedroom, veranda parlor, veranda garden and a cozy castle-like keep with a swing seat and couch.

Zanzibar Palace Hotel

Located in the heart of Stone Town, Zanzibar Palace Hotel offers nine guest rooms with decor inspired by the island's combined African, Arabian, Indian and European heritage. The nine guest rooms, which are located over three floors that envelop a central atrium, may feature Persian rugs alongside colorful silk accents and antique furnishings. Room rates include a daily breakfast, wireless Internet access and a welcome talk about the Stone Town to introduce its cultural heritage and varied attractions. Guests also enjoy complimentary access to a library of board games, books and DVDs. The on-site restaurant specializes in fresh local seafood, but also offers unusual dishes such as carpaccio of springbok.

Zanzibar Serena Inn

The Zanzibar Serena Inn offers an attractive location on the beachfront of Stone Town, with a white sand beach and the Indian Ocean steps away in one direction and the ancient palaces, forts and bazaars of the town in the other. The inn is a member of the elite Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. Its 39 guest rooms offer traditional touches complemented by a cool palette of blues and white, with contemporary amenities like wireless Internet access and satellite televisions. Services include an airport shuttle, limousine service, guided walks around Stone Town and day trips to neighboring islands. Guests enjoy a choice of five restaurants, bars and a coffee shop, as well as a Swahili seafood lunch buffet on an exclusive beach and 24-hour room service.

The Palms Zanzibar

The Palms Zanzibar is an intimate beach resort with only six guest villas on the unspoiled southeastern coast of the island. Every villa has two bedrooms and features hand-carved hardwood furnishings, silk-draped four-poster beds and a private plunge pool with views of the Indian Ocean. The main building of the resort -- The Plantation House -- hosts a bar and a formal dining room where guests enjoy exotic cuisine showcasing the spices grown on Zanzibar with just-caught seafood. The resort's beachfront spa offers a signature "apres safari" treatment package, as well as Thai and Balinese massages. The Palms operates a PADI-certified dive center and a water sports club that offers kite surfing lessons, snorkeling trips and equipment rentals.

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