We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Wonderful boutique hotel in the heart of Stone Town” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Emerson Spice

We can't find prices for this hotel
Our online travel partners don't provide prices for this hotel, but we can search other options in Stone Town
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Emerson Spice
Save Saved
You added Emerson Spice to your Saves list
Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Tanzania   |  
  |  
Hotel website
  |  
  |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 30 Hotels in Stone Town
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Wonderful boutique hotel in the heart of Stone Town”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2012

Emerson Spice is a true delight. Located in the heart of Stone Town, Emerson Spice is a unique boutique hotel that exudes the charm of this unique corner of the world and the beautiful color of the Zanzibari people. As a converted Spice trading house the building itself gives guests a glimpse into the history and culture of Stone Town. The rooms are beautifully decorated- each in its own style and with a story to tell, which you will find tucked in your welcome pack and narrated by the hotel's owner and long time Stone Town resident Emerson.

The service is wonderful. The staff are courteous and attentive while respecting your privacy. The location is excellent for exploring the shopping streets, historical sites and gardens of Stone Town. The rooms are clean, the sheets crisp, and cool throughout the night. I was really impressed by the placement of the fans in the room and how they maximized the natural airflow of the room and were positioned with the comfort of the guest in mind.

This review would not be complete without mentioning the food. Simply stunning! The five course dinner showcases the spices of Zanzibar and fresh seafood. A real treat and an exceptional value- served at the rooftop tea room overlooking the city and ocean.

The entire stay was wonderful. Great value as well. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
Write a Review

301 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    253
    32
    12
    3
    1
See reviews for
50
140
26
5
Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (85)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Abu Dhabi
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2012

We had very high expectations of the hotel and every one of them was met. Our room, named for Katherine Hepburn, was wildly, madly romantic with gorgeous fabrics, coloured glass windows and two balconies. The small details that other guests have also mentioned (beach bags with towels, a mobile phone - our ringtone was lines from The African Queen! - flowers from the balcony brought inside the room at turn-down) were all part of the impeccable service from a group of genuinely friendly, thoughtful, kind staff. And the food! We wanted to kidnap the chef. The platters of fruit for breakfast were edible sunshine and dinner (we ate here every night except one as the restaurant is closed on Thursdays) was amazing. The five course tasting menu was a continuous delight of surprising, aromatically explosive flavours and it was great to have a wine list composed of good, affordable wines that complimented the food. The cocktails were also great fun and I enjoyed working my way through the list (not all on the same night) and my husband now has a new favourite beer - Kilimanjaro.
The hotel is in the heart of the town and the sounds of the streets at different times of the day are part of the charm of being there; from the morning calls to prayer, to the calls of the fruit sellers and their bicycle bells, to the hush of sunset.
The hotel's public spaces are seemingly very naturally arranged, but - as with everything else here - I think a lot of thought has gone into it: a tracery of shadows around a pretty wooden balcony didn't happen by chance. Careful lighting, beautiful antiques and richly-coloured fabrics are everywhere and the staircase is a delight - over 140 years old. In deference to another reviewer's comments, I would say 'tread softly, for you tread on some great craftsman's dreams'!
Emerson himself is very much in evidence and we really enjoyed meeting him, not only for his great stories - he's lived in Zanzibar for over 20 years and knows everyone - and his rather roguish sense of humour, but also to hear (told in a very unassuming way) about the community projects he's involved in. The hotel's network of tour guides are all putting back into the community in imaginative and sustainable ways and the renovation work being undertaken means that skilled craftsmen are keeping alive the methods and traditions of this highly artistic community. For us Emerson Spice was a place where Romance met Realism and created something very wonderful and extremely special.

  • Stayed August 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, August 20, 2012
It was such a pleasure hosting you and your lovely wife for your six day stay with us. It was a pleasure to see you so enthusiastically partake of the cultural pleasures of Zanzibar. We eagerly await your next escape from the heat of the UAE.

Emerson
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belgrade, Serbia
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2012

Wow! This was by far the best and most professional service we had on Zanzibar. They thought abou everything, about every single detail, inclouding flashlights for powercuts, cell phones if you get lost in Stone town, little basket with two towels if you want to go to the beach...
We expected so much from the rooms, they are stylish and very well decorated, but service was even better. Our only remarks about our room (Belle) was the bathtube - it looked old and had stains on the bottom. The othing thing is that one chair was damaged. This all wouldnt be so bad, but this hotel is supposed to be newly renovated. So it was a little bit strange.
We saw restaurants of other hotels, we didnt see the rooms, but Emerson Spice looked like the very best in Stone Town.
The location is great, its near to everything.
We really enjoyed our breakfast there, but we were not satisfied with the price/quality ratio for the rooftop dinner. Its a little bit too much, considering price for food on Zanzibar and the fact that you can not choose your meals.

Once again, service was the highlight of our stay in Emerson Spice!

  • Stayed July 2012, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, August 23, 2012
I would like to thank you so much for appreciating our efforts at providing highly personalized service. The staff will enjoy your comments.

A couple of words of explanation. The stains in the tub are a new problem; they are not from the surface of the tub, but are from within. The quality of cement available has deteriorated, and it leeches into the colored scrid, discoloring it with a grayish tinge in places. I apologize for the imperfect look, but there is little I can currently do about it, until I receive some technical advice and some better quality cement.

The chair you mention has also received several comments. As you know, I cover most the furniture with Indian silks, often saris. While they are very beautiful and fitting for Zanzibari antiques, they are not very durable. My diligent search to find replacements has finally paid off. This week I found several lovely saris and as soon as our Zanzibari craftsmen get back to work after the Eid, they will be replaced.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Top Contributor
113 reviews 113 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
99 helpful votes 99 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2012

Caveat: this review should in fact read as a "Good" but there is no choice between Average (3 stars) and Very Good (4 stars), so let's call it a 3.5.

So, for the good: the overall allure of the building, both outside, inside the common areas (the atrium is wonderful) and the overall look of the rooms is indeed fantastic. The fact that furniture are highly disparate is not really an issue (was perfectly fine in Violetta room, a bit more puzzling in Belle). The location is quite practical, at the eastern end of the main shopping street (though eastern facing rooms, such as Belle, are just opposite a mosque, hence potentially a bit noisy at odd times). Service is quite joyous (including the highly colourful owner), though it gets a bit less so at the end of the stay.

Unfortunately, this overall picture hides some in-need-of-ironing details. Some of the numerous pieces of textile in the room would require some repair. The mini-bar is curiously standing in a corner without any adornment, while it was the motto for all other pieces of furniture (maybe a work in progress?). Food availability times are on the narrow side (we arrived at 8.15 pm due to a late Precision Air flight, and it was a bit tricky to get food served, and that in our rooms only, and without any choice as to the items; maybe Ramadan explained that...). While the view from the terrace is indeed spectacular, the breakfast served there was very bland, in particular with an absolutely atrocious "coffee".

Room Tip: Avoid Belle (1st floor, facing East), which has a weird setup (bathroom pretty much in the room) and...
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, BC
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2012

My wife and I stayed here for one night during our recent trip to Zanzibar and loved it. The room was amazing and the location perfect. We particularly enjoyed eating our breakfast on the small balcony overlooking the street.

Our only disappointment was that the restaurant which we really wanted to try was closed for renovations the night we were there. Just bad luck.

  • Stayed July 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
    • 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.
Pretoria
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2012

In the heart of Stonetown it is ideally situated for exploring Stonetown and it's attractions. Breakfast is served on your private balcony overlooking the hussle and bussle of the pedestrians below making their way through the quite paved pathways between shops and residences. The restaurant is on the top floor where dinner is served over a cocktail, sunset, view of the ocean and traditional music from adjasent other roof top restaurants. The rooms are spacious, clean and confirtable all with air conditioners. You can either bath or shower and a spacious bathroom. The staff aim to please and it is really a historic experience to stay over in this old slave traders quaters. I recommend it.

Room Tip: The higher the better for a better view
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2011, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2012

This hotel is a must. Each guest receives their own floor in a beautiful stone / Arabian style multi story boutique hotel. Each room opens under arched muslim doorways to a beautiful stone room wtih multiple verandras, drapey curtains and mosquito nets everywhere, and views to die for. We were served breakfast in bed at the time of our choice and ate the most phenomenal five course meal i have had in a long time for $25 overlooking the sunset over stone town for 4-5 hours. incredibly stay, unique and fantastic location.

  • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
Price Your Stay

Been to Emerson Spice? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Emerson Spice

Address: Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#2 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#4 Business Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Emerson Spice, a new Zanzibari experience. This labour of love is a journey into the transformation of a near ruin into a five star fantasy that can only be experienced on the beautiful Islands of Zanzibar. We have opened the cafe and Tea House restaurant and we now have 10 of our 12 rooms open to guests. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Emerson Spice Hotel Stone Town
Emerson Spice Zanzibar/Stone Town

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Emerson Spice, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.