I stayed here for 2 nights (which sadly was about all I could afford).
There are so many superlatives here: the beach setting, the sea, the lounge area, the quality of the food, the swimming pool.
The beach is private and there are a few conspicuous 'Masai' staff (very friendly) wandering around making sure no non-resident tourists cross the beach (i think they allow locals to cross, but will watch them). I think there are only a couple of other resorts nearby (Queen of Sheba is next door but does not have a full beach), so it feels very isolated which seems to be what most people are looking for who come here (mainly couples).
We had a sea-view room, but I have to say our sea-view (room 9) was the most limited in terms of sea-view of all the sea-view rooms. Still it did have more privacy than the rooms on either side, and I still think it's worth paying the extra for the sea-view as opposed to the garden-view (which adds an extra 30 yard walk to the beach).
Inside the room, furnishing was a bit sparse for a $200 a night room, and there was some oddness, like a plant pot in the bathroom containing the remains of a dead plant. Also water pressure in shower was not that great (bizarrely the cold rather than the hot seemed very low pressure).
Food at the hotel was excellent. I'd booked B & B, as opposed to HB which would have cost an extra $50 a night. As it turns out the evening menu was priced such that a 3 course meal for two would cost about £58, so HB would make more sense if you want to eat well. For lunch there was always a choice of several dishes all of which were huge and reasonably priced (by western pricing standards). Lunch was excellent. For dinner there was never a choice, which was disappointing. There was a special seafood platter option which at $65 per person seemed a total rip-off. We had the main course one evening and it was excellent, though more expensive and less generous than the lunch. However the starters and desserts were miniscule and not worth the price. Here i think if you've not booked HB then you're better just to have a main.
One night we went next door to the Queen of Sheba (since the dinner menu hadn't tickled our fancy). The food there was mediocre but a lot cheaper, and next morning we both had slightly dodgy tummies, so be warned.
The hotel bar had good cocktails (happy hour 5-6). Most people just seemed to converge for one at happy hour (all cocktails came with a nice platter of olives, nuts, popcorn!). I suspect anyone wanting more excitement later would be disappointed.
There's a boatman called Ali who does snorkelling and fishing trips. We enjoyed our outings with him. On the last day I did some fishing (alas wind was high so we couldn't get out beyond the reef for big fish) and caught some white snapper. We took them back and the chef (French chap I think) cooked them up specially for lunch with salad and chips. They tasted divine! That was much appreciated, and the charge for this was small.
The last day we could stay as long as we wanted and they had a shower to use to freshen up before we left since we had to vacate our rooms early.
The taxi back to/from Stone Town they organise is expensive ($50) in my opinion. The concierge told me that even she pays $40 for the trip through her own contact, which left me thinking since they have a special exclusive arrangement with the taxi firm why aren't they negotiating a better price for their customers. Taking the proverbial somewhat. For reference you can take the 233 dalla-dalla which cost me 5000 shilling for two people ($4). It is very uncomfortable though, call it an experience.
- Also Known As:
- Pongwe Beach Hotel Zanzibar
- 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