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“Beautiful spot close to Stonetown, Zanzibar” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins

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Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   6 km south of Stone Town | P O Box 2542, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #13 of 32 Hotels in Stone Town
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
51 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Beautiful spot close to Stonetown, Zanzibar”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2012

I was very happy to have been booked to this hotel by a Dar Es Salaam tourist guide. Beautiful spot, 10 minute drive to Stonetown. You feel as if you are in another world. Lovely beach and pool. And wonderful massage, an oasis in the old ruins of an Arab Palace on the grounds.

Room Tip: We were in a room with twin beds close to the beach (room 11). Mother and son travelling and it was...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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139 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
30 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2011

Things started well- I emailed the hotel direct, as I had a last minute opportunity to spend a long weekend on Zanzibar and thought it would be good to have a change from the hotel I usually stay at (and which offers and EA residents rate, as opposed to Mbewi which does not). I enquired about the availability of the 'spa' offer than was detailed on the website. A subsequent phone confirmation confirmed that the offer was still valid so I booked. Met at hotel, transfer fine. On registering the manager (?) told me that, as it was a public holiday, the spa was not open that day and advised I return the following afternoon. No drama- pool, restaurant, room...all very nice. The next day I took the shuttle into Stone Town in the morning, much appreciated to offer this complimentary service, though a mid-afternoon option back from town would go down even better. Returning from town around 3.30 I went back to reception, only to be told that the therapist was busy with other people. Okay, this time I was advised to return at 8.30am on Sunday...which I dutifully did. No therapist, so I went to breakfast and the therapist showed up around 9. I went with her to check out the spa- the first time that anyone mentioned that it was a room actually in the ruins, that was undergoing renovations. Strangely enough, the room was finished, with retail products (soap etc) priced and displayed. The room looks lovely, and I agreed to return at 11am (the therapists suggestion) so she could make sure everything was ready. Just before 11am, when I was dropping things off in my room, there was a knock at the door. The 'boss' had told the therapist to do the treatment (a facial) on my balcony. Stupidly, I agreed- any opportunity to arrange something elsewhere was now long gone though. So, onto the balcony we went. I was sat in a deckchair...another deckchair was put 'back-to-back' with a towel to add support. Bizarre. On checkout I felt it was reasonable to ask for a discount, as the service was not as advertised, not as agreed upon and certainly not a 'spa' treatment. The woman at reception told me all she could do was waive the charge on using my credit card.... As I left to go to the airport she told me 'I am sorry we did not meet your expectations'- I thought this was inappropriate as it totally lacked sincerity.
Had the hotel told me from the outset that the spa was not operating there would have been no disappointment, I would still have stayed and simply booked a treatment somewhere in Stone Town.
Food was fine. As mentioned by others, the mattresses are ordinary. Day one there were not enough 'lounges' by the pool/beach. The mangroves are interesting but beware of sandflies- far worse than mosquitoes. Cleaning the room twice daily and spraying for bugs in the evening meant that the room always felt clean.
If not for the spa business I would rate it 4+, make sure you inquire if you plan to avail yourself of the services at Bustani Spa.

Room Tip: go for upstairs- lovely beach views.
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
mbweni, Marketing Director at Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins, responded to this review, January 25, 2012
Dear MRinNY,
Firstly, sorry for the rather late reply to your review – Trip Advisor have asked all manager owners to re-register – which has to be a good thing – but it took a little while to get that sorted with the right documents.
I think you’ve been very fair in your review, and clearly you are a frequent and well-experienced traveller. We are so sorry that some things went wrong with your trip to Mbweni in December and apologise profusely.
I asked the Managers to let me know what happened here – and this is their report:
“The Spa is open from Saturday to Thursday from 9.00am till 5.00pm “ (Friday the therapist is off, as in Zanzibar it is a holiday, equivalent to Sunday in UK and the USA.)
The day of the treatment, the guest was been taken to show the new SPA location (Caroline Thackeray room, in the old Arab House) which, due to some details missed and workers going up and down, we felt was not a proper suitable relaxing environment to enjoy a massage.
Meaning to offer a better solution, I asked the therapist to suggest the client to have the treatment in her balcony room overlooking the ocean. I do apologise if this was not a suitable alternative, and we offered a refund in compensation.”
Clearly, you were not informed of the hours for the Spa and should never have been told to return at 8.30am on the Sunday – I’m so very sorry, and I’m glad that the hotel offered a refund for the spa treatment, as it all went so wrong.
We had only just moved the spa into the newly restored ruins, and it’s now working well so we hope you may return one day and receive a complimentary treatment of your choice there!
Obviously we realise that you would preferred to have got the spa therapy you had booked and paid for, and which you were looking forward to receiving, and we are really sorry about it.
Kind regards,
Flo
Mbweni Ruins Hotel Marketing Director
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London UK
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2011

First of all I would like to say how friendly and helpful the staff were. However the prices the hotel were charging were high in relation to what was offered.My travel agent ,Zanzibar Travel ,who recommended this hotel said he had himself stayed in every room and we were looking forward to our stay, (our mattress was so uncomfortable that it had to be changed!) I don't believe our standards are unrealistic as we have travelled extensively and stayed in hotels 1-6 star rated ! It was like going back to the 70's and certainly does not rate 4 * We were booked in for 7 nights and left after 3!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
mbweni, Marketing Director at Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins, responded to this review, January 25, 2012
Dear Elizabeth W,

Firstly, sorry for the rather late reply to your review – Trip Advisor have asked all manager owners to re-register – which has to be a good thing – but it took a little while to get that sorted with the right documents.
I understand you came with an excellent Travel Agent, and had had some misunderstandings at our sister property Selous Impala Camp, where the managers did their best to meet your disappointed expectations.

I checked with our managers about the mattresses, and they told me they were replaced as soon as you mentioned there was a problem. We do not generally get complaints about the mattresses, but did our best to replace them with different ones.
The firmness of mattresses is very much a personal matter, and hotels cannot cater for all preferences, for those who prefer firm mattresses, and those who prefer softer ones. I
As the price for accommodation at Mbweni formed part of the overall cost of your holiday booked by Zanzibar Travel, we are unsure how you came to the conclusion that the hotel was expensive as you would not have known the charge for the hotel within the overall holiday price.

At Mbweni you had been given special rates, an upgrade to our best suite at no extra cost, and due to some misunderstanding over your vouchers from the TA, we also gave you complimentary dinner every night, to avoid disappointment. In addition to this you had free use of the internet, I understand, so you could arrange to return home early as you informed the managers that you had some problems there.
At check-in you presented your Voucher which indicated accommodation was on a Half Board basis. The Hotel checked this with the agent as the booking was made and charged on a bed & breakfast basis. The agent immediately contacted the Hotel, and the guests, to advise that this was a mistake on behalf of the agent. You were advised that your Invoice clearly stated that accommodation was booked, and paid for, on a bed & breakfast basis at Mbweni Ruins Hotel.
Despite being aware of this fact, you chose to pursue that accommodation should be on half board, which the Hotel duly honoured at its own expense.

I’m sorry if we did not come up to your expectations but we do feel we did everything we possibly could to allay any concerns, and we hope you will return again one day for a happier visit.

Kind regards,

Flo Montgomery
Mbweni Ruins Hotel Marketing Director
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Warwick, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2011

I had the pleasure of staying at Mbweni Ruins for a week in June after a period of overland travel through East Africa with a group of friends. We were collected from the ferry port without any fuss and upon arrival at the hotel we were personally greeted by the manager and staff.

After enjoying a welcome drink at the bar overlooking the mangrove trees and beach I was shown to my room which was beautifully furnished and decorated. Staff turned down the bed every evening, closed the mosquito nets and would deal with any insects that may have got in during the day.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus had plenty of variety and were cooked to an excellent standard. Staff were even able to recommend food and wine if I wasn't quite sure what I felt like.

The hotel organised some fantastic trips for us. We went on the Spice Tour and a boat trip from the hotel's own pier which took us to Prison Island and back into Stone Town where the courtesy bus meet us.

I would recommend a stay at Mbweni Ruins for anyone needing peace and quiet but still wanting the convenience of what Stone Town has to offer. I can't thank the hotel management and staff enough for paying close attention to our requirements and giving me so many wonderful memories of Zanzibar.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • 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.
Winterthur, Schweiz
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2011

This place was exactly what we were looking for! After a very stressy time, me and my daughter just wanted to relax and have some fun. We found both at Mbweni. The manager with his wife and also the whole crew were formidable. Our very nice Room was just above the beach. If we wanted to go to the sandbank for snorkeling or to some of the islands,the Boat was always ready for us. And excitement, lots of people and Stores were reachable in 10 Minutes by the Hotel own Shuttle or a Taxi. We will go back as soon as possible!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
47 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2011

We stayed at this hotel after a frenetic two and a half weeks of game driving in Kenya and Tanzania and it was a nice way to finish the holiday.
The rooms were very spacious and decorated with colonial style furnishings and curios and the bathroom was large with a bath and shower and plenty of hot water. The hotel does not have many rooms so it was very quiet and peaceful at night with the sound of the waves to lull you to sleep.
The beach was clean and there was a nice pool surrounded by beautiful gardens which incorporated the ruins which are to be renovated in the future to increase the size of the hotel.
There is a lovely bar area overlooking the mangroves and ocean and it was a perfect place to view the sunset whilst enjoying a glass of wine which was generously served in a carafe, virtually giving you two glasses.
The meals were tasty and varied and to my husbands delight, lobster was offered on the menu (for a small increase in the included meals price) on two nights over the three that we spent there.
The only criticism that I would have of this hotel is that it allows smoking in the restaurant and I found it very unpleasant to have people smoking on some occasions while I was trying to eat.

Room Tip: We had a room on the 3rd floor which meant a few stairs to go up so if you are not fit it would be b...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
mbweni, Public Relations Manager at Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins, responded to this review, October 8, 2011
Hi Jill,
thanks for your nice review, its much appreciated and very useful for us to hear.
I specially am glad to hear your views on smoking in the restaurant - this is something we should definitely think about: I'm going to ask the management to look into it as I think it would be easy to have a designated area where people can smoke if they wish, away from the rest of the guests. Tanzania does not have the strict anti-smoking rules we have in UK, but I totally agree with you that its not pleasant for non-smokers to suffer from the proximity of smokers while dining.
thanks again, and we hope to see you again some time.
very best,
Flo Montgomery - UK marketing manager for Mbweni Ruins Hotel.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Guildford
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2011

For a relaxing contrast after time spent on safari, you could not wish for anything better. The room was comfortable with a great view of the beach and a fault in the air conditioning was quickly rectified. We found the management friendly and the food excellent.

It was lovely to swim in the warm Indian Ocean although it was only possible to do so at high tide. However, the hotel has a small crystal clear swimming pool by the beach.

One day we had a memorable sailing trip on the hotel dhow over to Prison Island to see a colony of giant tortoises and returned in the early evening past the wonderful sight of Stone Town at sunset. The hotel also arranged for us to take a tour around one of the island's Spice Farms where a knowledgeable guide showed us the many different fruits and spices grown on Zanzibar.

The hotel runs a shuttle taxi to Stone Town where you can shop or explore the narrow streets. When we were there we saw craftsmen at work carving intricate wooden designs and veiled ladies making beautiful cushion covers before we went on to the noisy and colourful market.

In evenings they served delicious local punch in the bar on the cliff overlooking the sea while we decided what to choose from the varied menu.

There is no night life or television at Mbweni but if you are looking for a quiet place to stay then I would recommend it.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins

Address: 6 km south of Stone Town | P O Box 2542, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Stone Town
#5 Spa Hotel in Stone Town
#6 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#9 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
#10 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins 4*
Number of rooms: 13
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Also Known As:
Hotel Mbweni Ruins
Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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