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“Holiday in Paradise” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pongwe Beach Hotel

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Pongwe Beach Hotel
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   PO Box 297, Pongwe, Tanzania   |  
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30% off room rate
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pongwe
Stord, Norway
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Holiday in Paradise”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

Three generations of the Family, 8 persons aged 13 - 75, enjoyed a whole week in July 2013 at this friendly and peaceful location. It had been recommended to us, but we found it to be even better than expected. We were particularly impressed by the standards of the meals, varied and tasty. Management and servants were friendly and helpful, the rooms were clean and well kept. Only drawback was the brackish water in showers and water taps. We received, however, daily supplies of bottled drinking water.
We strongly recommend the place for people of all ages if you are looking for peace and smooth service.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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594 reviews from our community

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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 (103)
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English first
capetown
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

Book – you wont be disappointed, we just had 8 nights at Pongwe and loved every minute – this is truly a special small hotel – hard to believe it is only rated 3 star. We wanted to extend our stay but they were fully booked, you have to book early here and now I know why.
The staff – they are so friendly, thoughtful and really do everything for you, for example you can order drinks and they deliver them to you wherever you are – your room, pool, beach – at no extra cost, they even have a flag you can put up on the beach so you don’t have to move to even order your drinks.
The beach – the beach is white, powder soft, and very wide and totally private, with rocks at each end showing the boundaries of the hotel and a large crescent bay, with lots of sun shade, coconut trees, hammocks with sunny & shady spots. When its high tide you cannot walk outside of the hotel boundaries hence the beach remains very private, at low tide a few local fishermen walk by, but no one hassles you selling things (unlike most other beaches on the island)
At low tide the sea goes out a really long way, no water remains, just lots and lots of fine wet sand, some shells, seaweed and star fish, it’s great to explore the sea bed – we found it very interesting and the kids loved it – one day one of the staff members took us for a walk finding us lots of interesting sea creatures like flat fish, starfish and sea snails,
The best bit about the sea bed is there are very few urchins (unlike other beaches) we didn’t even have to wear our sea shoes to explore.
At high tide the sea is so much fun, it gets deep quite quickly and the waves are quite big but not too strong, so you can play and swim in the sea, both our kids loved bopping in the waves.
Safety – this hotel feels so safe, not only is the beach private but there are 2 security guards walking about day and night just in case, I felt totally happy leaving my beach bag with camera, Ipad etc on my sunbed when I went for a swim (unlike elsewhere on the island).
Its also really safe for kids no hazards to worry about, they can run from the restaurant to the room along the sand paths, we could sunbath whilst the kids played in the room or under the shady umbrellas, both kids are under 5 and this is the 1st hotel I have felt so at ease. We were in room 3 and our baby monitor worked at the restaurant, so perfect as the kids ate early, went to bed and then we had dinner alone.
There were a few families there when we stayed and I think a great choice for families; there were a couple of honeymooners but mostly just groups of friends or families enjoying some relaxation after safari.
The food was great, there is a menu but if you don’t fancy what is on offer they will make you anything else – I think the menu is just a guide, I am a fussy eater and don’t eat most things and they made me lovely food every night including the best giant king prawn tandoori. One night was a buffet which was lovely they had live entertainment – a local band from the village.
The brackish water was no problem at all and in fact I preferred it as I knew the kids wouldn’t drink it by mistake (and hence didn’t get sick) and I didn’t feel guilty having a long shower as the water just comes from the sea (after its filtered through a rock). The hotel buy in all water for washing food so again I felt really safe.
The rooms are quite basic, but large and comfortable – everything you would expect from a 3 star hotel, but everything else is 5 star – book now.

Room Tip: Rooms 1-4 are closest to the main dining room area and have direct beach access, garden rooms are ju...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

I've been to Zanzibar 4 times, of which I've spent 2 times at Pongwe Beach. I must say that I didn't regret returning here after 5 years: still as nice as I remembered and the changes that have been made since than are good. The reason I returned to Pongwe, and will go there again, is because the hotel is set up in an intimate way - no mass tourism here. The private beach is beautiful and an amazing place to relax on one of the beds or in one of the hammocks. Afternoons I liked spending at the pool, from which you also have a beautiful view over the sea. The rooms are good, comfortable and I like the way they fit into the nature surrounding the hotel. Another big plus is the staff: all super friendly!! And the food is absolutely amazing, everyday we had fresh fish - delicious.

Room Tip: Garden view rooms are cheaper than the beach view / front rooms, but just as nice and only seconds a...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Marlow, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2013

It's difficult to believe that Pongwe Beach isn't a 5 star Hotel. From the moment you go through the gates of the Hotel it feels like you are in Paradise.

This is a hotel where everything comes together perfectly. The location is incredible, where you will sit and look at gorgeous views of the Indian ocean across the perfect white sand, the staff are amazing, so kind and helpful as well as being tremendous characters that leave you feeling relaxed and cared for.

The food is amazing and you can tell is freshly prepared and often caught that day from local fishermen. However they also are flexible so if you don't like what they have on the menu (or fish like me) they are happy to prepare something special for you.

The rooms are elegant but simple without the trappings of modern life but so comfortable and spacious and can definitely recommend getting a suite with a plunge pool. The fact there are only 20 rooms is definitely a plus.

We were looking for a relaxing week after the stress leading up to our wedding and a tiring week on safari and this is what we found at Pongwe. However if you do get tired of relaxing by the infinity pool on comfy sun loungers, the hotel provides complimentary beach games and kayaks which was a nice touch. They also arrange excursions for those looking to go explore Zanzibar.

The only concern we had before we arrived was due to that fact its an eco hotel and uses Brackish water in the pool and showers. However you could barely notice this and our fears were completely unfounded.

The free fresh fruit at 3pm is amazing and the cocktail happy hour is excellent value and obviously well deserved after a full day lying in the sun. The board games and cards you can borrow are also a nice extra.

All in all this is the perfect escape destination with everything you could ask for.

  • Stayed August 2013, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Milan, Italy
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2013

We spent five nights at the Pongwe Beach Hotel, and there is hardly anything that you could complain about it. The rooms are very good, the beach in front of the hotel is a small vision of paradise, with white sands and transparent water, the food is reasonably good (even if a bit too pricey), you can't complain about the breakfast, nor the service.
Yet, we felt that it lacked atmosphere, and that everything was a bit artificial, one of those places that tourist agencies sell within a honeymoon package for british new-weds.
We really had a nice stay, and I would most probably recommend it to my parents or to some older friends, but we were happy to leave at the end, also because there are parts in the island that have a much better climate (many micro-climates, that change a lot even in small distances, and Pongwe tends to be quite cloudy, at least in August).

Room Tip: Choose a room with swimming pool, they are much nicer.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2013

rooms:
As to be expected of a 3 star. Very clean, comfy bed, somewhat dated/basic bathroom. No tv or mini bar or anything as reflects the fact it is a quiet back to basics retreat. Ceiling fan and extra standing fan. We were worried about the lack of ac but the time of year we were there was very windy and the windows have no glass, just mesh so the breeze comes in and the temperature dropped enough at night that we were actually a little chilly with just a sheet and a blanket. Water is salt water which didn't bother us too much although did leave skin feeling a little sticky after showering. Didn't affect my hair but I had a 'sun, swim and gym' shampoo and conditioner from boots which combats effects of salt and chlorine.
wifi available at cost of 10dollars which we paid for and could be accessed everywhere including on the beach and at the pool.
Can be a little noisy as there is no glass in windows so you will be able to hear people outside and bush babies laughing.

resort:
really beautiful beach, stunning water and views. Tide depends massively on stage of the moon, I had seen photos of the tide right out but the tide didn't recede that much in the 4 days we were there. There is seaweed left by the tide but the staff comb the beach to try and limit this. Being on the east coast the sun disappears behind trees and buildings meaning most places are in shade by 3.30/4pm (at this time of year anyway, this may change depending on time of year and how high the sun is in the sky). We found it chilly when the sun went behing a cloud or we were in the shade due to the strong winds (time of year again) but it was very hot when the sun was blazing fully with no cloud.

food and drinks:
Dinner is a fixed menu with starter, mains and dessert. Lunch has two choices for starter and mains with a standard option for dessert every day; fruit, ice cream or sorbet.
We were b&b. Half board would cost 30dollars each per day to get the starters, mains and dessert included. starters are arround 5-7 dollars, mains 15-19dollars and dessert 5-7 (as a guide so if you are not planning on having a full three courses for dinner you may save money on b&b and just paying for what you eat. However as someone mentioned before portion sizes are guaged around you having three courses so if you only have one you may be left hungry. Crisps and chocolate can be bought at the bar but it is very over priced (5dollars for a big bag of doritos!).
There is a snack menu at the bar comprising fish fingers, fries, and two toasted sandwiches that you can use instead of the lunch menu. I would like to see some more things added to this to cater for fussy eaters (one day I had soup starter and dessert as there was nothing else I liked. However they did give me a massive bowl of soup and lots of bread so I didn't go hungry!)

If you do not like the dinner option you can substitute one of the options from the lunch menu instead or they will try and alter the dish for example changing the meat to chicken etc.
One of the nights was a Swahili buffet with no other option, it was assumed all guests would be using it at a cost of 30dollars which we found to be very overpriced for the quality of food on offer. Quality and taste of the other food was good. Breakfast: each day was a different menu of things to choose from to order from the kitchen with eggs as a standard (on everyday).

Service:
Staff were lovely and service was generally very good. Could be improved in a minor way if all staff repeated the order back to you. Some staff do and some don't. A few times orders were wrong because of this (got red wine instead of white, no chips with my sandwich, only one icecream when two were ordered). Very easily solved and in no way affected our enjoyment of our stay.

We loved our stay although 4 nights was about right my husband was getting itchy feet with going to the same place for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would definitely recommend to anyone going to Zanzibar.

To get a five star rating from me I would like more variety on the menu. And the price reducing or rooms updating (we paid around 150gbp a room I would guess, and the room itself does not warrant that price tag, but I guess you are paying for the location- which admittedly is amazing and probably worth the money).

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2013

We stayed here after a hectic 6 day safari in Kenya, and it was exactly what we needed to unwind after a busy week. From the moment we touched down in the "quaint" Zanzibar airport and were picked up by a driver from the resort we knew it would be an amazing 5 days at Pongwe. The owners are incredibly helpful and could not do enough to ensure our stay was memorable. Our flight arrived late, resulting in us missing the dinner cut off time, but Debbie called us while we were on our way from the airport to ask us if we would like some food ready in our room for our arrival. They provided some sandwiches and a delicious fruit platter, along with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine - the perfect start to our stay there!

The resort is lovely and secluded, which means sometimes it feels like you're the only one on the beach. Very friendly Masai guards from the local village ensure that nobody is hassled on the beach by sellers or by people from other resorts. It was fully booked during our stay, but at no point did it feel busy or crowded, and at no point did we have to wait for anything - the staff were always ready to help out and always had a smile on their face! The rooms are spacious and kitted out in traditional Zanzibar furniture. The shower uses filtered water from the sea so is brackish, but we did not feel this was a problem at all.

The food - highly impressive. We just went for the B&B option as we didn't want to be tied down to having lunch and dinner there every day. It was a good choice as we were not that hungry during the day and so just opted for their starters for lunch (approx $7), which was more than sufficient, the portions were large enough. The standard of food was very high and we enjoyed every meal. The menu options are varied and contained fresh ingredients, either bought from the market or caught that day (therefore they require you to choose your lunch and dinner options at breakfast, but there is flexibility). The seafood platter, which we ate on a private table on the beach, was excellent value and enough to share between two people (it is approx $60 - it comes with a starter, desert and glass of wine included in the price) and highly recommended!

The resort can organise any trip you would like - we spent a day in Stone Town and on a spice tour with our driver Juma, who was incredibly friendly and informative, and taught us a few Swahili words! They can also take you snorkelling, scuba diving, watching dolphins, going to a monkey park etc, so if you don't want to spend your time in the resort there are plenty of options provided for you.

To those complaining about the charge for Wi-Fi, maybe you should enjoy being shut away from the outside world for a while and enjoy not being able to constantly go online when you should be relaxing. And anyway they provide you with free access in the lobby if you do feel like being antisocial!

Thank you very much to all the staff at Pongwe Beach Hotel for making our stay relaxing, memorable and wonderful!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Pongwe Beach Hotel

Address: PO Box 297, Pongwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Pongwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pongwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Pongwe Beach Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 20
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 4 Sea View Suites, 13 traditional Beach Villas as well as 3 Garden Rooms 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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