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“Authentic Stone Town experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Emerson Spice

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Emerson Spice
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Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania   |  
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Z'bar Town/Beach 6-nights
Ranked #1 of 33 Hotels in Stone Town
Franschhoek, South Africa
Level Contributor
60 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Authentic Stone Town experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

I believe what Emerson Spice sets out to achieve is to allow their guests to experience Zanzibari hospitality and luxury accommodations true to the character of Stone Town. This they achieve with aplomb. You truly feel like you have been carried away to a bygone era of Sultans and Princesses and the privileges that came with an elevated status.

If you follow the stairs to the top of the building, you reach what is known as the Tea House. With stunning all-round views of Stone Town and open-air design, this is the place to wind down after a day of sightseeing. Here they also serve the best Margaritas in town! The Tea House doubles as the breakfast and on most evenings, dining area. For breakfast, fresh fruit and scrumptious options are on the menu, as well as really good plunger coffee.

The rooms are individually decorated and the layout changes throughout. I was initially in the Belle room and on my return in the Turandot room. The Belle is a large room with an informal sitting area, luxurious bath/shower and the most beautiful four-poster bed. The double volume ceilings and tasteful design leaves the impression of being assigned to a guest room in an opulent house rather than a hotel.
The Turandot is less spacious than the Belle, but more peaceful due to its location away from the street. It is tastefully appointed and boasts its own private verandah & open-air shower/bath.

What sets Emerson Spice apart for me is the attention to detail and exceptional service. The staff is attentive without being intrusive. The themed rooms & decorator comments makes you appreciate the thought & consideration that went into every room.

It should be noted that Stone Town is a vibrant and at times noisy town. Islam is the predominant religion and visitors to Stone Town should take this into consideration when planning their trip and wardrobe.

Room Tip: In close proximity to Emerson Spice is a local mosque. Calls for the Morning Prayer may be less aud...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 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
Helpful?
1 Thank RoubaixTravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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413 reviews from our community

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Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2013 via mobile

I'm a little surprised at the uniformly glowing reviews on tripadvisor.

This hotel is gorgeous, without doubt. The building is full of character, each room is decorated with care and elegance; it is probably the most beautiful building I've stayed in. The location too, in the heart of beguiling stone town, is superb.

The service, however, is a little ragged. Food, when ordered to our room on three occasions, took at least 40 minutes to arrive each time. When our air conditioning fuse blew in the middle of the night, the staff on duty (who were asleep on the floor of reception) had to be cajoled into doing something about it, and then couldn't find the fuse box. On another night, the bar staff left for home at 7:30pm because no-one had booked for dinner, leaving a number of guests trying (successfully but with some effort) to persuade the reception staff to provide some drinks.

All minor complaints, to be sure, and all complaints that the manager agreed to address. But a 2013 Tripadvisor winner? I expected a little better.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Diplomatic_husband
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Your review is bracing for us. An honest little slap that we deserve. We are trying to do too much with too little staff, as we edge into closing for maintenance month May. We apologize.

Frankly, it is difficult all year for a hotel as small as ours and as moderately priced as ours, to provide all the services that we try to provide. Yet somehow, we mostly manage to get it done, and to enjoy the challenge in the process. Our motto among ourselves is "a wish is a command."

Currently, we're trying to put in a solar hot water system, a new generator, repair our inverter system, fix numerous small things in the rooms in order to close with the heavy stuff done while I'm here. When the staff prepare at the end of May to re-open the 1st of June, the tasks should be largely cleaning.

This past week we've had too few dinner reservations to open the restaurant. A bar staff member should remain until 10 PM, but as few are in the rooms, there probably were no orders for room service until yours. This is will be addressed to ensure that this mistake will not happen again.

About the A/C , it was not a fuse, but a citywide power cut. We were on inverter to provide power to rooms quietly, but the inverter system batteries cannot provide for the A/C. That many batteries are beyond affordability for us.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

We stayed at "Kate", a room with two terraces, outdoor bathtub, and fantastic view of Stonetown. Emerson Spice is a hotel with a friendly atmosphere, good service and beautiful interior. We would recommend it to everyone going to Stonetown/ Zanzibar!

  • Stayed April 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
Helpful?
1 Thank ida b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
chertsey
Level Contributor
238 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

After a fantastic safari experience with Africa Travel Resource we finished our holiday with 3 days in Zanzibar. I have always been keen to visit this most atmospheric of cities and wanted to be right in the centre of things - in the ancient 'souk' of Stonetown. Most europeans as far as I know stay in the resorts on the beaches 30 miles or so to the north and visit stonetown on an excursion. Take my advice and stay in Stonetown if you want to meet the real people and be emersed in its culture - and fantastic architecture including zanzibar doors.
Brilliant start to the stay when the hotel provided a lift from the airport - we thought we would be arranging our own taxi - so nice to see our names on the board when we arrived.
Fantastic welcome from the staff including the owner - Emerson. Our room 'Amour' - was jungle themed with fantastic antiques and framed film posters. Air conditioning was very important in the humid wet season and the full lenth mostqutoe nets were great - though I saw no mosquitoes in the hotel at all.. My kids (25 and 28) were in 'MImi' a- anothe excellent themed room with so much character. I believe the building itself is some sort of national treasure.

Breakfast was first class - fresh fruit and juices followed by eggs any way you wanted them - accompanied by about 3 different types of bread. Some of the fruit eg heart fruit i had not eaten before. It is absolutely delicious. Everything was fresh and from local sources - a great start to the day. My friend Pete who is a bit of an expert on coffee said it was really good .

We only had dinner once - on the roof top restaurant with its views of old Stonetown. This was one of the best meals I have eaten anywhere. The set 5 course dinner was nearly all fish (eg kingfish ceviche, Lobster in Vanilla sauce)- unsurprising in Zanzibar with some chicken. The food was innovative and exciting with many flavours I had not experienced before. The spicing was masterful. I only wish I could have had some more time with the cook to pick his brains. The price of our meal was $30 - unbelievable value.The cook did encorperate the Mahi Mahi we caught on a fishing trip into one of the courses. It was great and not overcooked as a lot of the food in Tanzania is at times.
I cannot rate this hotel and its staff highly enough - they always went the extra mile - Need something? - no problem - one of the staff would walk you through the maze like souk and bring you back. The hotel even had mobile phones in each room which you could take with you if you were worried about getting lost - a great touch..
If you ever get a chance to visit Stonetown either stay or at least eat here - book for dinner as the smallish restaurant fills up.

Room Tip: What can I say - everything was great - perhaps the upper rooms would be a bit of a challenge for th...
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  • Stayed April 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
Helpful?
2 Thank ChertseyBream
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 13, 2013
Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a comprehensive review. What else could I say? Maybe, karibu tena, tena, na tena.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013 via mobile

We just returned home after a wonderful, but too short, stay (one night). Our room was beautiful and comfortable. My four year old loved the room and kept wanting her picture taken pointing to the painted flowers on the walls. The staff and managers/owners were very friendly and helpful. The mobile phone and map were comforting to have as we wondered around. Dinner and breakfast on the roof were great. Loved all the fresh fruit! (Would recommend making a reservation to have dinner there - it was delicious, and my daughter was given here own options which were very much to a child's taste). Have already recommended staying there to friends.

Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
Thank Debi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2 reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

The hotel is beautiful, the room was gorgeous and the ambiance is very nice. Great location in the center of Stonetown. The dinner is great and very good value, but the rooftop terrace was a bit disappointing, being very small and not at all safe for small kids. The service at the restaurant was great, and while the front desk staff were frienfly they made a number of mistakes when we reserved meals and transport that was a bit annoying. I would definitely recommend this hotel though, especially if you travel without kids!

  • Stayed April 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
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank camillar285
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kigali, Rwanda
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2013

What a wonderful experience to stay in this top hotel in the heart of Stone Town. We had the most wonderful room with a balcony - so tasteful and at the same time surpassing! Hearing the prayers in the speakers was a mind turning experience. The restaurant on the roof top served the most delicious food and a view. We recommend this hotel with all of our hearts!

  • Stayed December 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
Helpful?
Thank SatuM408
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 12, 2013
Dreams. Welcome to my dreams. Thank you for this excellent review. These rooms are all my dreams; daydreams and night dreams. It is so exhilarating when someone really enjoys them. Kigali is so close; in fact, we like to say that we're Rwanda's beach. Karibu sana tena!

Emerson
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Emerson Spice

Address: Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#2 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#6 Business Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates):
Number of rooms: 10
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 Island/Stone Town

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