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“Paradise found” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sultan Palace

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Sultan Palace
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Pierre Ltd., Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #53 of 142 hotels in Zanzibar
London
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
“Paradise found”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

We stayed at the Sultan Palace with a group of friends in February after a fairly strenuous safari in the Tanzania game parks. We had booked six nights to recuperate and initially were worried that this would be too long a stay for us 'active 50-somethings'. However, our fears were completely unfounded as we absolutely loved every minute with Paola and her wonderful staff. This is truly a little slice of Paradise - stunning rooms & public areas, gorgeous infinity pool (with welcome afternoon tea), white sand beach with cooling breeze, delicious healthy food and beautiful setting. OK, the purists among us thought the snorkelling didn't match the Maldives - but that is probably true of the whole of Zanzibar - there was still plenty to see. I couldn't speak more highly of Paola and her staff who did everything to make our stay a complete pleasure. Gracie mille Paola!

Room Tip: Ocean view rooms are smaller but they have views. The garden rooms are more spacious with limited vi...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
San Severo, Italy
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2013

Rolling down the rocky hills of Zanzibar island's eastern coast, with a long stretch of pristine coral sand beach at its feet, there you find the majestic Sultan Palace Resort surrounded by its sumptuous gardens! This place conveys a sense of calm and peace of heart at first sight and you actually get in touch with its beauty and charm when you stop talking and start listening to the mystical silence reigning in the house. Everything is set to make you feel at ease with your soul and the care for details is really something!! No loud music, no television, no gym and you might think...so what can I do overhere?? The answer is simple: music is in the air, in the ocean breeze, television is unnecessary because every morning the landscape broadcasts a wonderful romantic movie and as far the gym, well...feel free to run on the beach and enjoy the sunshine! The food is delicious, the right combo in between african cooking with a lovely touch of european gourmet and italian style, try the extra virgin olive oil ald let me know, will you??
White towers, wooden furniture, impressive african makuti, colourful flowers all around, these are the ingredients you have to melt in the shining blue of the Indian Ocean.
Forget the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and join the Sultan Palace family, you won't regret the experience and maybe, for the first time in your life, you eventually get to know that, right here right now, silence is pure gold back in touch with nature and wild making us feel still alive inside!

Room Tip: Go for the suite, ocean view or garden view, it doesn't matter!!
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Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Toronto, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2012

My wife and I stayed at the Sultan Palace recently, for our honeymoon. While I generally like to stay at more modest and "budget-friendly" accommodations while traveling, for this trip I wanted something romantic and relaxing. While not one of the more well-advertised hotels on the internet, I came across the Sultan Palace after much internet research. I am so glad that I persisted in looking until I found this place, as my wife and I both found the Sultan Palace to be far more enjoyable and relaxing than we had ever anticipated.
As it turns out, we stayed at the hotel during a low season, and for most of the week we were the only guests. At the very beginning I was worried that perhaps this was a bad sign, but after having stayed there I know that this was purely our good fortune, and not an indication of any problems or poor service.
Paola, the owner, greeted us upon our arrival and was most helpful and accommodating throughout our 1-week stay. She had upgraded us into one of the premium suites before we arrived since there were not many other guests. She made herself available to us for any assistance, from helping us to contact airlines to providing us with coffee with a moka pot each morning. While never intruding on our personal time, Paola was very approachable and was consistent in making sure that our stay was satisfactory.
Her staff were very friendly, well-trained, and most helpful. Our room was large, and was cleaned and maintained regularly. While our room did not have a TV or internet (there is wireless internet available at no charge in the main building), it was not even a minor concern for us as we were too busy enjoying the terrace, swimming in the beautiful infinity pool, snorkeling in the nearby reef, or simply walking along the beach. The food was excellent, and included a lot of locally-caught fish, homemade breads and gelato, as well as a variety of vegetables and fruit from the area. I cannot recall even one meal that we found unsatisfactory.
The only points of contention that I can think of, are that the amounts of food were too much for us to eat on some days, and that the water is filled with sea urchins along the beach, so when walking in the water it is necessary to wear rubber shoes (which are also provided).
Other than that, I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. If you are looking for a high-energy hotel with a lot of activities and nightlife, then this is not the place for you. If you are looking for a pleasant, romantic and relaxing vacation, I cannot think of a better place than the Sultan Palace

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

Classy, intimate, hotel enhanced by its gracious owner Paola. There is no request too difficult for Paola, including meal choices. Every effort is made to not only accomodate guests but to discreetly assure their satisfaction Wonderful place to wind down after safari. This is a real hideaway. The beach on the Indian Ocean is beyond belief and actually seeing the tidal impact was fascinating. There is plenty of time to swim when the tide is in, and there is a large infinity pool overlooking the ocean that is spotless. The rooms were large with beautiful views, and bathrooms totally up to date.
Having been to Stonetown for two days, I'd recommend skipping it and using the Sultan Palace as a base to do any desired sightseeing-Stonetown, monkeys, spice farm.

Room Tip: Rooms on the Ocean are all wonderful but there are so many quiet secluded spots on the grounds and t...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

Sultan Palace is a beautiful hotel and by far the best we stayed at in Zanzibar. In fact it was so good I felt I had to write a review about it, a first for me as I haven't written one on TripAdvisor before.

We were greeted with a warm welcome from the owner, Paola and her staff and it was as much down to them as the beautiful surroundings and our room (ocean view, huge, wow!) that made our stay so memorable.

The beach is lovely but, as with the other beaches we stayed at in Zanzibar (Matemwe, Kiwengwa and a brief day trip to Nungwi) it is very tidal. This didn't bother us, but what is particularly nice here is the lagoon, a sparkling turquoise blue and deep enough to go snorkelling and swimming at low tide (all easily arranged by the hotel on their private boat - we just strolled down in the morning and off we went).

The food was excellent and the best we had on our entire trip, mainly comprising freshly caught local fish, simply cooked but cooked well. Breakfast and dinner were served on the Arabian terrace of the main dining room with great views of the sea and lunch was served at the beach.

What made our stay the more special was the wedding blessing organised by Paola. Having got married 'officially' in London with friends/family etc we wanted a private blessing by the sea. A local priest arrived and the hotel staff were there to cheer us and sing songs and the whole thing was done with real warmth and a lot of fun. Paola - if you read this, a big thank you and you should definitely offer wedding ceremonies on your website! We've got some great photos, particularly of us wearing our crowns!

Overall I can't recommend this place enough for honeymooners or couples wanting a romantic retreat away from it all.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

Sultan Palace appears to have been one of the first 'boutique' category hotels on the island, having been opened in the late 1990s by its Italian owner, Paola. With only 15 rooms (primarily detached lodges/cottages throughout the grounds), it is an incredibly intimate and private place to stay. After a period away from running the hotel, Paola took up the reigns again a few years ago, and you can see her personal touch everywhere. She is involved in all aspects - from meeting guests, supervising the kitchen, and even eats most of her meals along with the guests. If not for Paola, I suspect the elegance, warmth and charm (and just a hint of under-stated glamour) that make it special, would soon disappear - for these qualities apply equally to her, as to the "bricks and mortar."

The rooms fall broadly into two categories - those with a direct sea view, and 'garden' suites. Many of the latter do have sea glimpses, all are vast, and tastefully decorated with local furniture and antiques. Most also have private, covered terraces or decks. The bathroom was large, but not state of the art - however, it was immaculately maintained (as was the rest of the hotel). Modern technology was notable for its absence - in fact the rooms do not even have televisions (though there is a very comfy TV room in the main building with satellite) - but again, that is part of the appeal, but won't suit everyone. The housekeeping was spotless, and the turn down service rapidly incorporated the precise way that I arranged the bed linens on the first couple of nights - a good example of the phenomenal attention to detail. The air conditioning was just about adequate - perhaps a point for improvement though.

The food completely exceeded expectation - breakfast, on a balcony of the main building over looking the sea(which contains sofas, reception, a bar and the dining room) with fresh fruit, home-made pastries and a hot breakfast cooked to order, was an excellent start to the day. Lunch, served on the beach, by default was a 3 course affair with lots of seafood/fish and a strong Italian influence. All of it delicious, but more flexibility might be welcome - I 'negotiated' it down to one course, as my appetite tends to wane in the heat. I sense most guests stay 'full board' - but some (more obvious) flexibility would be welcome here. Tea was available by the pool every afternoon, always with some tasty home-made biscuits and treats. Dinner, often in Paola's engaging company (possibly not an option at busier times!), delighted every night. Again, a definite Italian influence (the local chefs received their training from an Italian chef, and Paola's supervision in the kitchen is obvious). The trump card is the bountiful and freshly caught fish and seafood - the largest and most flavoursome crabs I have ever come across, a local variation on lobster, and countless types of fish, all simply, but expertly prepared. It is important to note that there is no menu as such - you are asked to choose your meal earlier in the day, and if there is anything you hanker after, there is a genuine desire to accommodate you. There is a wine list that goes from reasonable (circa $25 USD per bottle) to expensive, a selection of local beers ($5 USD) and a heartfelt attempt at a cocktail menu, which I did not try.

In terms of location, the drive from Stonetown/the airport is about an hour. Though Sultan Palace was one of the first properties on this stretch of the eastern coast, it now has plenty of neighbours - at no point are you aware of them unless you walk up or down the beach. Whilst possible to venture out to other hotels for food/drink, it might take some concerted effort and planning. As is widely publicised, this area of the island is tidal - meaning access to the water is not always straightforward, due to the coral reef some 200 feet from the shoreline. Rubber shoes are advisable for swimming - but the hotel has some to loan out. Although technically a public beach, you will rarely see a soul - other than the hotel's staff and security. The gardens and setting are attractive and private, and tended by an army of gardeners. The new-ish infinity pool complete the picture, and gets sun from dawn through till after 6pm.

Paolo works tirelessly to ensure that your stay is precisely as you want it to be - be it a private dinner on the beach, breakfast in your room, a trip out in one of the hotel's boats (out of action during my stay) or any other whim you might have. In the old days, with less competition, my impression is that the guests were almost exclusively (wealthy) Italians - and there would have been more than a hint of 'aspirational 5 star resort' with eye-watering charges for even basic amenities. The island has changed, and there is now a lot more choice - which has forced Sultan Palace to re-orientate (thankfully not re-invent) - a process that is not quite complete. Four nationalities were represented whilst I was there, but a few signs of the old days remain - the out-dated plastic information wallet in the room for example, quoting exorbitant hourly rates for internet access (thankfully free Wi-Fi is now available in the main building, but not the rooms). These are quibbles though, and just require a few tweaks to position the hotel correctly. Where Paola needs to her up game is her sales patter! The website, for example, does not do justice - but it is clear that more guests are required to keep the place ticking over.

In summary, if you are looking for a flashy, glitzy resort with cutting edge facilities and gadgets, you probably would not enjoy a stay here. Similarly, there might be better places for families with young children - but for a honeymoon, romantic getaway, or a battery re-charge with lashings of old-school personal service and hospitality, you could do a lot worse. And though not marketed as such, it would be a spectacular place for exclusive use if you had 25 - 30 friends, deep pockets and a good (or not so good!) reason to celebrate.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2012

We stayed at the Sultan Palace in September 2011 and had a great holiday. Our stay formed part of a three-legged holiday: 6 days in the Selous game reserve, 6 days on the Zanzibar beach and 3 days in Stone Town. In brief, our Sultan Palace highlights include:
- Beautiful surroundings characterised by well-kept gardens, ocean views, authentic interiors (ranging from the detail in furniture to paintings to the bar to the pool table) and high standards + attention to detail throughout
- Great recreation comprising an infinity pool + massage area, bar, use of the boat, snorkeling etc. In addition to which the hotel can organise, in short notice where required, a wide range of activities that for us included an excellent mangrove tour + local crab lunch and a tour of the red colobus monkey reserve
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner: great variety of dishes cooked to high standard using local ingredients combined with Italian flavours and techniques; as well as great locations for the meals: be it at the beachfront, balcony, room, restaurant, infinity pool etc.
- Friendly staff that was there when needed, entertaining, friendly but by no means over the top
- Last but not least Paola’s hospitality, professionalism and efforts to make guests have the holiday of a lifetime

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sultan Palace

Address: Pierre Ltd., Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #53 of 142 hotels in Zanzibar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Also Known As:
Sultan Palace Zanzibar
Sultan Palace Hotel Zanzibar

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