Once again, it would be nice if there were a rating between Very Good and Average. My husband and I recently spent three nights at the Z Hotel in the little village of Nungwi at the northern tip of Zanzibar. The location of the hotel is amazing - right on the beach and the beach is superb. There are, in fact, a whole string of luxury hotels along the beach there. However, the stretch of beach that the Z Hotel sits upon seems to be the longest. The water is beautiful and warm and the sand is soft and white. The views from the hotel are spectacular - we were in one of the huge roof top rooms so our views were truly amazing.
The room itself, being one of the larger roof top terraces was very large. Sitting area, desk, lots of closet space, two oversized decks. Bathroom for such a large room, was surprisingly not that big though certainly big enough. The problem with the bathroom was that the counter upon which the sink sat was way too small - and unnecessarily so given that there was unused space immediately beside the end of the counter.
The hotel also has a very pretty, though not particularly large, eternity edge pool with a fair sized deck around it for sun bathing and a sort of private beach area just below where the swimming pool sits. The problem with the pool was that the entire time we were there it felt like bath water. It was very hot while we were there and the swimming pool provided absolutely no relief. In that regard, one day, on a beach walk, we wandered through a few of the other hotel properties. I stuck my toe in one of the other pools and it was nice and cool and very inviting.
There are two restaurants - the casual one which is open for lunch and dinner and snacks - good menu and the food was good and the views are wonderful. And the "fancier" one. This was where they served breakfast and dinners as well. We had dinner there one evening and had a good meal. I have reviewed the two restaurants separately.
Now for the problems. The room had a/c but it was impossible to adjust. No matter what temperature or fan setting you set it at, it blew like a nordic wind non-stop. It was so hot that you couldn't sleep without the a/c on but with it on it was actually too cold. As the don't provide a blanket (just sheets) we ended up using the heaving bath robes as blankets!
The electricity shut off several times a day and night. I understand this is kind of the usual for Zanzibar but needless to say it can be quite annoying. Sometimes in the middle of the night the a/c would kick back on but not always so you would find yourself fumbling around for the a/c remote and trying to get it back on in the dark.
The shower was very pretty - lovely tiles, nice rain shower head - but hard to maintain both even water pressure and even temperature so showers were often an experience. To make matters worse, two out of the three days we were there, we had no water at all between about 4 and 6 - not the entire two hours both days but a good long chunk of time. As well, there was often a sewagy odour emanating from the bathroom so we had to be careful to keep the toilet lid down and the bathroom door closed.
The other problem we encountered, and I should add that this seemed to be a problem wherever we went in Tanzania, wait staff appeared to speak english but often did not actually understand us. So, for example, they could tell us what the food specials were or what might not be available on the menu that day, but if you asked them a question about the food (I have one food allergy I always check about when ordering) they are simply incapable of answering the question although often they sort of pretend to understand. If they simply admitted they didn't understand it would, in fact, have been less frustrating. We found this with a lot of the staff at the hotel, not just the restaurant wait staff.
Finally, I wanted to add a word about the tour company that has a little office in the hotel and which the hotel recommends you use for outings and which one tripadvisor reviewer recommended for a spice farm tour. I had therefore decided I wanted to use them for a spice farm tour and both my husband and I were very very disappointed. Not only do we feel it was way over priced at $50 per person but the guide, his "assistant" and some other participant (he climbed a coconut tree) all had their hands out for a tip. Someone came around part way through the tour wanting to sell soaps and the guide was pushing us to buy some. At the end of the tour, there was a "spice shop" you were expected to buy from - extremely limited product and, I kid you not, more than three times the price of the exact same product we had seen in a store in Stonetown. All in all we felt royally ripped off - oh yeah, and we had to practically beg the driver to give us a bottle of water (we had checked before leaving the hotel and been assured we would be provided with water) - and to add insult to injury, the water was luke warm. All in all, a bad, frustrating and annoying experience.
Most of the problems we encountered at the Z Hotel were undoubtedly endemic to Nungwi. And there is no doubt that it is a very beautiful hotel and the room was really lovely. However, given the price, it strikes us that a few significant improvements would be in order.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This chic, boutique hotel located on the northern tip of the Island, blends contemporary design with traditional Zanzibari features to create a unique, cool and relaxing environment. Set in a lush tropical garden with direct access to white powder beaches and the Indian Ocean, the Z hotel has been finished to an extremely high specification. Each room has floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading onto a balcony, which looks out across the crystal blue ocean. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- z Hotel Nungwi
- The Z Hotel Zanzibar Nungwi