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“Cannot fault it” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pongwe Beach Hotel

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Pongwe Beach Hotel
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Pongwe Beach, Pongwe, Tanzania   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Pongwe
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Cannot fault it”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

Most people visit Pongwe Beach Hotel for a couple of days tacked on to a long safari holiday. My husband and I went for two weeks after a brief safari and were so happy we did! The unspoilt setting is incredible - sand like velvet, the most beautiful turquoise sea that was so warm we never got that 'ooh!' moment when it hit our stomachs, lovely hammocks and no watersports cluttering the sea, no massive resorts surrounding us or traders hassling us on the beach. Just relaxation and sunshine. We were there when the hotel was nearly full (it can take up to 40 guests) and also much emptier, yet our experience didn't change - it was so quiet and relaxing that often we felt like we had the beach to ourselves. The food was delicious and we soon discovered that we could diverge from the set menu if there wasn't anything that appealed (which happened very rarely). We enjoyed the Swahili dinners and music on Saturday and even a roast dinner on Sunday (the owner is British, so the food is a really delicious fusion of fresh Zanzibar ingredients cooked in quite a European way). I'd read a bunch of reviews about bad service in the restaurant and cannot stress enough how out of date those are, as our experience for the full fortnight was of very attentive waiting staff and excellently-paced service - we were never left waiting for any course and can only assume that the management took previous criticisms to heart as we had absolutely no complaints about the service or quality of food at all. All the Pongwe staff were really friendly and helpful, we felt incredibly safe all the time, our room was cleaned very well and a tap at the foot of the path to our cottage helped us keep sandy feet out of the room. Fresh fruit hour at 4pm was a delight - having pineapple, watermelon or coconut delivered to us wherever we were on the beach, by the pool or on the sunbeds outside our room. Ignore what people say about the brackish shower water - though it is brackish, I didn't spot any difference with regular water and felt nice and clean after a day on the beach / in the ocean, before heading to supper. Budget for bottled water - a 1.5 bottle is $1.50 - and be sure to stock up on things like suncream before you get there, as there is no hotel shop or shops nearby at which to buy necessities. The hotel provides shower gel, shampoo, soap and body moisturiser in the room. The lovely relaxing quietness and stunning beauty of the remote location means that excursions are pretty expensive as everywhere is quite far away - Stone Town is a $100 roundtrip in a taxi - but that didn't bother us too much as we just loved hanging out at the beach. Electricity stayed on 24 hrs a day and the backup generator kicked in immediately whenever there was a glitch in the supply, so we had no problems at all. Beach dining was lovely, the pool (saltwater) is gorgeous and the internet in the lobby was pretty reliable. We enjoyed kayaking off the beach in the free hotel kayaks but would recommend anyone hoping to snorkel to take your own mask and snorkel, as the hotel equipment is a bit ropey. We did one $15 snorkel trip off the beach, in the hotel's little boat, but didn't see too much (and had leaking masks). Instead, we were really glad that we invested in the $60 snorkel trips to the Mnemba Atoll offered by the One Ocean dive centre at a massive resort about 10 mins' drive away (you get a free ride there and back if there are at least two of you) - it's a half day trip with amazing equipment, INCREDIBLE coral and fish, terrific guides and delicious snacks halfway through the trip. Highly recommended. We really cannot fault Pongwe and, most unusually, will definitely be going back, as it is literally paradise in every possible way - the photos do not lie!

  • Stayed November 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
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (94)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
London
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2012

We chose this resort as part of our honeymoon on Zanzibar. We stayed in Chumbe Island (amazing), Stonetown (worth a night stopover) and Nungwe (Langi Langi hotel). Of these, Pongwe had the best beach and just a wonderful air of relaxation about it. From the moment you arrive you realise that you are somewhere special. The staff are lovely, the food really good and the beach - stunning. We were worried about the sea and the tide going out for long periods of the day. It does indeed go right back to the reef (probably over half a mile out) but we needn't have worried. Taking a stroll out in the pools that the sea leaves behind in the amazing sand, decorated with the occasional coral was simply wonderful. You will need soled footwear of some kind - beach shoes or diving shoes are perfect, as the sea floor is full of razor clams which could hurt you if you walked unprotected. I have never seen such amazing starfish and sea urchins as those that lie in wait for strollers on Pongwe Beach.
We asked for a remote room and we got the one right on the edge of the resort. This was our only mistake as the room didn't have any glass in the windows and when the tide comes in you are only a few feet from the rocks. This sounds very romantic but if there is any wind at all, you will get waves breaking on the rocks and this kept us awake for long periods. Unfortunately it was quite windy during our stay which meant a very noisy night, every night. I would appeal to the owners to glaze the two rooms by the sea front. The views are amazing and you simply stroll out of your room, down some steps and onto a wonderful beach. If we had had a good nights sleep there then our stay would have been perfect.
The staff are lovely, we had some fun with them and if you chat to them and take an interest your stay will be all the more interesting.
We were invited to feed the bushbaby that comes into the bar most nights - a great experience. We took some banana and waited up outside our room to see another bush baby jump down in front of us and take the food. I should point out that whilst they are lovely to watch, they make a loud noise like a child being strangled so be prepared to be woken up if you do as we did and put food down for them at night time.
One of the reasons Pongwe is so nice is that at times you can feel that you are the only person there. The beach is sparsely populated with sun beds but there are more than enough to go round for the guests staying there. You never need to go near anyone else on the beach as it stretches a long way and there is no-one there to hassle you. For honeymoon relaxation this is perfect.
Pongwe is mid priced and I would say that is about right. The hotel is laid back and pleasant rather than luxurious and amazing but the beach pulls it up a notch or two. The water supply is salty but this isn't a problem and only really affects showering.
I would point out that for the price you pay for these African resorts it is disappointing to discover that the staff aren't particularly well paid and that they appear to rely on tips to top up their income. Given how much you pay for a room in a hotel like this, it feels wrong (although I obviously don't know the full picture of the hotels overheads).
This is a good hotel with nice staff, good food and a fantastic beach, we certainly preferred to see several parts of the Island rather than just stay in one place and we were certainly glad we went to Pongwe, despite our noisy nights.

Room Tip: Ask for one of the regular rooms - set back from the sea
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2012

We loved our stay here, very peaceful and relaxing. The rooms were lovely, the staff friendly and the views stunning. Cocktail hour was great for the half price cocktails before dinner! The food was a set menu every evening and was always well cooked and beautifully presented. The option to dine on the beach was a nice touch too. We highly recommend this place.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

When my boyfriend and I booked this hotel, we were so excited by the beautiful pictures and description on the website/all the amazing reviews. When we arrived it was clear the pictures of the rooms/beach/resort in no way do Pongwe justice. It is the archetypal secluded island paradise and so romantic.

I was especially impressed with three things: the amazing service - everyone went out of their way to be friendly and attentive and we were even able to stay in our room until 4pm when we left for Stone town because no one was booked in the next day. Secondly, the food and cocktails were the best we had in Tanzania. Amazing seafood and we loved a lazy drink or three at happy hour watching the tide come in. Lastly we had a fantastic room - they are so much bigger and more impressive in real life than in pictures. We also had our own plunge pool which was an amazing surprise! Overall great value for money and more than we'd ever expected. I suggest getting half board because the food is great and there aren't many places to eat nearby.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2012

My wife and I just stayed for 1 day, and I have to say that we really wish we could have stayed longer. The facilities are clean, and well thought out. The beach is gorgeous, and there is a lovely pool that overlooks the ocean.

We didn't really know what to expect, since we'd stayed in other resorts in Africa for the 2 weeks prior, but we found that the staff and facility was top-notch. Unfortunately the wireless is limited to the reception area, but we've consistently found this wherever we stayed (if they had internet access at all).

We had dinner on the beach (which is an option that you can choose for free), and I have to say it was the highlight of our experience. The weather was gorgeous, the sky was clear (countless stars) and it felt very intimate. My wife and I were lucky, I guess, that we were the only couple on the beach that night.

Anyhow, to make a long story short--FANTASTIC place. Private, quiet, great service, great value, and very clean.

The one down side, even though we didn't care, was that the hotel uses salt-water for the showers. They were up-front about it, and I believe they said they are working on a fresh-water option.

Thanks Pongwe Beach Hotel!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamburg, Germany
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

this is the place to be if you just want to chill and reflect and enjoy a natural beach environment. Staff are extremely friendly and looked after our every need and seemed to enjoy their work! Simple accommodation under the palm trees. Go to sleep listening to the waves, there is nothing more soothing. Food and drinks were great. We took full advantage of happy hour cocktails! Gorgeous poolside area for when the ocean is too far away to swim but dont miss the rockpools then! Boat trips available out to the reef, island tours can be booked too if you stay longer than a couple of days. Great place we want to return to one day.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Geneva
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2012 via mobile

Amazing place to stay. We spent 1 week there and everything was just perfect, from the food to the beautiful beach.

Don't expect too many things to do as the place is rather secluded (which is a great thing by the way)

A special mention for the staff, super friendly and helpful. Highly recommended, and if you can afford the beautiful honeymoney suite do not hesitate, very nice private swimmingpool...

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Pongwe Beach Hotel

Address: Pongwe Beach, Pongwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Pongwe
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Pongwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Pongwe Beach Hotel 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated on what could perhaps be described as the best beach in Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach Hotel is a tranquil place where one can escape the hustle and bustle of modern day life. It is modestly sized, with ten traditional sea view cottages and has an intimate, personal atmosphere. Set within a secluded bay on the east coast of Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach is a true paradise retreat. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pongwe Beach Hotel Zanzibar

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