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.

“Completely wonderful!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Zanzibar Serena Hotel

Best prices for your stay
Enter dates for best prices
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 7 more sites!
Save
You added Zanzibar Serena Hotel to your Saves list
Zanzibar Serena Hotel
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Kelele Square, Stone Town, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #12 of 32 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Completely wonderful!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2011

Our 5 days at the Serena Zanzibar couldn't have been better. The staff was courteous, helpful, friendly and kind. The hotel itself is elegant and understated, filled with antiques and the feeling of old Zanzibar, and every detail and amenity is is thoughtful and immaculately maintained. The setting on the Indian Ocean makes for wonderful sunsets and much needed ocean breezes. The pool area is lovely; one can either lounge facing the pool or the ocean. They have a coffee bar where you can find great espresso drinks (hard to find in most of Tanzania), and excellent bars and restaurants. The included breakfast has an impressive array of Western, European, and African specialities. Delicious baked goods and fresh fruit as well. One evening we had a very romantic dinner at the rooftop restaurant. This is open-air and overlooks the ocean. The seafood was fantastic and the service impeccable. The concierge and doorman helped to arrange tours and transport and our transfer to and from the airport was easy and comfortable. Should we ever return to Africa, we would be sure to stay here again.

Room Tip: Top floor with Ocean or partial Ocean view.
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2011, 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

490 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    262
    166
    33
    22
    7
See reviews for
98
217
37
40
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 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (134)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Karachi, Pakistan
Top Contributor
125 reviews 125 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2011

I have decided to rate hotels on a slightly different set of criteria than the Trip Advisor specs. In my opinion there are five very important factors to all travellers:

1. Water pressure in the shower
2. Availability of wireless
3. The Three Bears Mattress Test
4. Quality of the linens
5. Quality of scrambled eggs at breakfast

For the Zanzibar Serena Inn:

1. Five stars
2. Zero stars. In my opinion, There is no excuse for hotels not to offer free internet to its guests.
3. One star ... too hard.
4. Four stars.
5. Three stars ... because you can get an omelet or poached or other style of eggs in minutes.

Overall, and after staying at numerous Serena hotels, I have to rate the staff at the Zanzibar Serena Inn as the friendliest I have encountered. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we were there.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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.
Guernsey, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2011

Wonderful hotel and staff and in a perfect location. The Serena is right in the middle of Stone Town, close to many restaurants and shops. The front of the hotel overlooks a square and the back of the hotel overlooks the ocean. We arrived at the Serena on Valentines Day. We were greated with cool towels and a cool drink and then taken to our room. The room was very authentic and Arabic in design, cool and very clean. After 6 nights on safari, we couldn’t wait to relax by the pool and we were not disappointed. The pool area looks straight out to the ocean where we could see small fishing boats ladden with fisherman and dhows sailing past. There was a refreshing breeze. We were offered complimentary pancakes and coffee. There is also access at the side of the hotel to the main beach where we found the water to be wonderfully warm. We felt very safe as the Serena has their own security guards. As it was Valentine’s night, the hotel made a great effort in setting out table and chairs decorated with red ribbon by the pool and preparing a tasty buffet. The women were presented with a rose and mum and I spent a lovely warm evening enjoying good food and listening to the band. The next morning we went to breakfast where the best breakfast we have ever seen was freshly laid out. The staff were very attentive, especially Grace. After breakfast we went on an excursion to Prison Island, the home to a great number of turtles. I then went out with the tour guide and the owner of the boat (Mr Bean) and snorkelled. The sea was very clear and warm with a large variety of starfish and zebra fish. We then spent the afternoon by the pool and late afternoon we went for a walk across the Stone Town seafront where the stallholders were selling seafood kebabs, freshly squeezed sugar cane and fresh fruit. This area is very popular with the locals. We then decided to take a walk through some of the many alleyways admiring the Arabian architecture. The small alleyways were filled with woman sitting outside their front door preparing pancakes and children playing. We felt perfectly safe but made sure we were back at the Serena before dark. We only had 2 nights at the Serena but on going on to the Bluebay resort on the South of the island, we wished we could have stayed at the Serena as the service was much more personable. Definitely recommend this hotel to anyone interested in staying in Stone Town as it offers good food and service, the perfect location for exploring Stone Town with the added bonus of the ocean to cool you off. Sharon Walden and Irene Lemee, Guernsey, Channel Islands.

  • Stayed February 2011
    • 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
    • 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.
Asuncion, Paraguay
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2011

Magnificent hotel that part of it was the telephone company and the other building belonged to a chinese doctor. Totally refurbished, with a mix of european, arabic and indian style. Very well located, facing the ocean. Service in this property is excellent.
Located in the hear of the Stone City nearby the House of Wonders and the House of Africa.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled solo
    • 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.
London
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2011

This hotel is worth 5 stars, with great accommodation and staff who were always polite, respectful and helpful . Management always spoke to their guests, ensuring that standards were maintained and made every effort to meet requests. We requested a different prime room and were given a free upgrade to the presidential suite which was first class.
Two restaurants were of high quality, serving and catering for all tastes, seafood being the speciality. Superb buffet breakfasts which would meet all guests needs. Staff were always in attendance and we always were given a table with a sea view.
The hotel has its own 24/7 security staff which ensured complete relaxation and safety.
Plenty of space by the swimming pool and the area was very clean and tidy. Great sea views and wondeful sunsets. Free transport to/from airport and the hotel had access to another superb beach which they provided free transport to/from and catered for food there.
Access to Stone Town was very easy by foot with various tours on offer and in particular the walking tour and spice tour being first class.
A great hotel to stay at with access to any activities and interests, such as snorkelling etc.

  • Stayed January 2011, 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.
Canada
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
98 helpful votes 98 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2011

We enjoyed a 2 night stay at the Serena Inn. Our room while not huge was big enough with a nice balcony we sat out on several times. The bed was king sized and very comfortable and the windows had black out blinds so it was very dark at night which was perfect.

The hotel has a nice pool and a good restaurant. The buffet breakfast was one of the best I've had. Anything you'd want, they pretty much have it. Service in the hotel was very good from the front desk to the bar staff to the front doorman.

Well located, it is literally in the middle of Stone Town, walking distance to all of the sites. We had a very comfortable stay and would recommend the Serena Inn to others. Stone Town was a very interesting place as well. So much history and the maze of winding streets you follow. Very safe and everyone was very friendly.

  • Stayed December 2010, 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.
Nairobi, Kenya
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2011

After a (recent) previous trip to Zanzibar I decided that the better choice between the northeastern beaches and the old town was to stay in Stone Town itself. I also decided that I deserved a treat at the end of the year so I booked a stay at the Serena which is generally reckoned to be the best hotel in town.

The service was excellent from the start, with the manager meeting me at the door and personally showing me to the room. Whenever we ran into him he would stop for a friendly chat, and the other managers and staff were all the same. The room I had was pretty standard, but it was of very good quality. Nice fittings, good bathroom, a large balcony just metres from the sea. You can almost touch the dhows going past at high tide. The only slightly negative things I can think of is that the room wasn't overly large, not really a problem, and it lacked the number of powerpoints needed to charge all the gadgets we travel with these days!

The food was generally excellent, including the buffet breakfast. The first night's dinner on the Terrace was great, it really is an ideal location as long as the weather holds out. The food could be a bit more imaginative, but it was well prepared and the pricing was no more than you'd expect in this kind of environment.

But the best feature of the hotel is really outside the door. On my previous trip where we had to journey for about an hour to get to Stone Town I regretted not being close to the sight-seeing highlights of Zanzibar, I enjoy the culture and ambiance of this part of the world. The Serena is right in the middle of it. I think the Zanzibar authorities have generally done a good job in making the town presentable for tourists (by comparison, take a look at the generally filthy state of the old town in Mombasa). Endless photo opportunities, friendly people, good restaurants, and some interesting stuff in the shops and markets. It generally feels non-threatening even at night, although I did have my credit card ID ripped off somewhere and had to change my card a few weeks later.

When you do want to go to the beach the Serena has set up a little oasis on a secluded beach about a 20 minute drive to the north. Not quite as nice as the east coast beaches, but very pleasant just the same. Not to mention private, just four people on the beach when I was there, somewhat outnumbered by the staff. An interesting drive to and from, as well.

So the perfect short break? Close. It definitely is a tad on the expensive side, my bill for a three night stay was around US$1,500 but that did include a couple of no-holds-barred meals and drinks. Because of the cost the other guests are not exactly a lively lot, and there was no real nightlife in the hotel itself, the bar downstairs being particularly disappointing. However, there is plenty of nightlife and some very good restaurants nearby, and the manager directed us to some of the better spots at night.

It was a wonderful stay in a great part of Zanzibar. However, I might be tempted next time to look a little harder at what's on offer nearby, there were a number of hotels that I recognised from Trip Advisor that looked like they might be entirely suitable at considerably less cost. However, if money is no object go right ahead, you'll love it.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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 Zanzibar Serena Hotel? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Zanzibar Serena Hotel

Address: Kelele Square, Stone Town, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Spa Hotel in Stone Town
#4 Business Hotel in Stone Town
#5 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#8 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
#8 Family Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Zanzibar Serena Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 51
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Travelocity, Booking.com, Agoda, Despegar.com, Orbitz, TripOnline SA, Odigeo and Hotels.com so you can book your Zanzibar Serena Hotel reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Zanzibar Serena Hotel Stone Town
Zanzibar Serena Stone Town

Owners: What's your side of the story?

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