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“Mixed feelings” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Swahili House

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The Swahili House
2.5 of 5 Inn   |   Mchambawima Street | P.O. Box 3705, Stone Town, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #16 of 27 Stone Town B&B and Inns
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Mixed feelings”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2013

The hotel is nice and gave a friendly impression. We had a very nice room with a relatively comfortable bed. The bathroom was rather original, make sure you're comfortable being seen naked with whoever you're sharing rooms with. Most of the personnel was very nice and helpful, however a few seemed to be high on something, with glazed eyes and not really present. The restaurant on the roof has a great view of the city, but the food is so-so. All-in-all it's quite nice and most people seem to have a positive experience here, but unfortunately the personnel that was not fit for work and the restaurant kitchen dragged down our experience.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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118 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
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English first
Bulli, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2013

We had room #2, at the front, on the first floor. We loved the colourfully decorated room with 5m high ceilings, four poster bed, lots of cushions and separate ensuite with a gigantic pink bath.
Tours can be arranged outside the hotel more cheaply.
The food at the rooftop bar was good, but not outstanding quality or value. It has good city views but lacks music and atmosphere. We preferred the menu at The Spice House, very conveniently just a short walk away.

Room Tip: It's probably better to get a room in the front if you like morning sun.
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  • Stayed September 2013, 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
    • 4 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.
Helsinki
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2013 via mobile

What started out as wonderful ended horribly.
we planned only to stay one night inamount byl amd move to a beach resort next morning. Our booking was not to be found when we arrived however the staff allowed us to use their pc to find the confirmation amd print it this all seemed fine.
our room was rather nice old quaint thing in a style from days gone by. We liked its quaint set up everything is in same room, shower, toilet and bed best be sure you happy being naked around who you are sharing with.

the hotel is a short walk from the harbour where we arrived if you have a lot of luggage you may want ti hire someine with a barrow. We had only one bag so not a problem. As with mist hotels in the old town cars cannot drive to the door so dont be surprised if you have to walk.

we left to a spice tour shortly after our check in arranged through a local guide who was half the price of the hotels price list.

Next morning we checked out and took a tour of old town. Before we left we decided to exchange some currency

BUT and it's a big BUT
our currency was now FAKE. the only time since we left Finland we left one of our wallets unattended was at this hotel where they offer no safety boxes in the rooms.
someone had swapped the notes in the wallet for fakes. When we returned in the evening we checked the wallet and found the miney still present. It was only next morning at the exchange bureau we were told the euro notes were fakes. The manageress told us this was not possible for her staff to afford these things. I wonder if this is why it happened. When we arrived to our beach resort we found the dollars we had in the wallet were also fakes now.
I called her a second time to inform her it had tk be her hotel as now the only fake notes we have are the ones we left in our room. She maintained perhaps the Finnish bank supplied us with some fake notes :/ if we take a taxi back to the hotel ( a cost of around 80dollars round trip) she would have the notes finger print checked. I have more chance of winning a lottery than this being fruitful.

luckily this was only one wallet with a some of our money but still a substantial amount.

and surprise the credit card machine was out of order as per the norm. Take shilling if you must stay here and be awaee of them trying it on with currency exchange rates when bill time comes!!

  • Stayed October 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durban, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2013

Had the pleasure of staying at Swahili House for a night during our weeks holiday in Zanzibar. Wow! From the moment you walk up the steps out of the busy passage in central Stone Town, it's like a little piece of tranquil heaven! Although you're smack in the middle of the hustle & bustle it feels like you're in another world. Staff are so friendly & helpful, the building & the decor are stunning and the food was out of this world! The only drawback was the very steep stairs but luckily there's a porter to carry your bags up these very steep monstrosities! The view from the restaurant at night over Stone Town and again for breakfast in the morning was really something. I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to experience Stone Town

  • Stayed September 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwich, United Kingdom
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2013

I stayed for one night at Swahili House whilst waiting for my daughter & friends to arrive from mainland Tanzania. My room was basic but totally adequate and atmospheric. The hotel is full of character & ambience & has a lovely rooftop restaurant & area to relax. The staff were extremely helpful & friendly &, as a woman travelling alone, I felt very reassured by their helpful & approachable attitude. An example of their attentive & friendly approach and attention to their guests' individual needs & travel plans was when one member of staff 'hid' my daughter when she arrived the next day & then pretended she needed me to look at something so that my daughter could jump out & suprise me.
i would recommend this reasonably priced & friendly hotel which is right in the centre of Stone Town .

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Manchester
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2013

We stayed for two nights in mid August: me, my wife and teenage daughter. The hotel was selected by our tour operator. The building is lovely: very much of the area and has a great ambiance.

Location is also good and its only a few minutes walk to all the key areas of interest in Stonetown.

Staff were friendly and helpful, although a rush of guests at breakfast led to a complete breakdown in service. Welcome to the 45 minute omelette! But the view from the rooftop restaurant over the old town to the sea did offer some compensation.

Following advice from fellow guests on exceptionally slow service in the evening, we did not eat here, although we were told the food was good when it finally arrived. We went instead next door to the Emerson Spice for dinner: not cheap, but great food.

Beds were comfortable and the ceiling fan was very effective, which was good because the air conditioning was exactly the opposite. Unfortunately the room was also let down by the fact that spotlight fittings were hanging loose by the wire and only 50% of the lights functioned, the plug socket right by the sink had come away from the wall, there was an impressive growth of black mould in the bath plughole, and the floor had large craters in it where concrete had been smashed out. These factors are relatively minor and would be easily remedied under more effective management.

Given the plethora of new, exciting and well run hotels now springing up all over Stonetown, Swahili House will have significantly step up its game of it wishes to remain a player in the game. If it can up its maintenance and service standards, it still makes a great place to stay.

Room Tip: The steep and numerous stairs and lack of lift add character but make it unsuitable for anyone with...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Netherlands
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2013

The Swahili House is placed right in the center of Stone Town. Don't be suprised when your taxi drops you off on the streets and you have to walk with the bags through narrow streets. The entrance is a small patio, with a small reception. There is free wifi downstairs which is quite good.

The staff is not that friendly and not very knowledgable it seems. Our bags had not been put on the plane so we had to buy some stuff locally. We were given a route to go, but the receptionist forgot to mention that the stores would close on a certain time because of the sunday.

The restaurant on top of the building has a great view over stone town, the food is average. Some of the waiters are friendly, but most are a bit shy / distant.

Breakfast buffet can be eaten on the rooftop restaurant as well, but is also very basic, especially compared to what we had gotten used to in Kenia on safari.

The room is large, but the AC is not capable of cooling enough. There was a huge bath in the room, with the toilet behind a small (halfway up) wall. Sadly, there is not enough water coming from the shower to be able to fill the bath in a certain acceptable time.

There are 4 floors in total, so be prepared to carry your bags up very steep steps. If you are not that mobile, this is definitely not a place you would want to stay.

If you like the bustle of StoneTown the hotel has a perfect location, but I imagin there must be better places to stay. The whole hotel has a bit rundown atmosphere. Somehow it seems that not a lot of work is done on keeping the hotel updated.

But nonetheless, if you go voor authentic style, this might be your thing.

Beware that there is not always the possibility of to pay by credit card, when we had to check out you had to pay cash.

Not someplace I would recommend.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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 The Swahili House

Address: Mchambawima Street | P.O. Box 3705, Stone Town, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 27 B&Bs / Inns in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — The Swahili House 2.5*
Number of rooms: 22
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the bustling heart of Stone Town the building was originally set up and used as an Indian Merchant House in the 19th century. In the 125 years that were to come the building was home to one of the many Sultan families and then became a hotel some years ago. After purchasing the hotel, renovations started in May 2008. Most of the hotel has been restored into its original state, but we have been making some changes as well. The result is The Swahili House - a sparkling hotel with traditional influences and modern day facilities in combination with authentic Swahili hospitality. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Swahili House Hotel Stone Town
The Swahili House Zanzibar/Stone Town

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