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“The absolute resort in Zanzibar” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Essque Zalu Zanzibar

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Essque Zalu Zanzibar
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   , Nungwi 3151, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 18 Hotels in Nungwi
Australia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“The absolute resort in Zanzibar”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2012

My wife and I have stayed in quite a few boutique resorts around the world and this ranks right up with the best of them. We booked this for a week at the end of a 4 week African safari holiday on the strength of reviews and the hotel website etc On arrival we were treated as valued guests and this treatment was maintained by all of the staff and, especially, the Manager, Nicolas, who went out of his way to contact all guests seemingly daily to attend to our well being - well done Nicolas - very thoughtful and personal and thank you for adding value to our stay re advice on the Hotel organised tours (we went on Safari Blue, Stone Town, Spice tour and a sunset dow sail - all fantastic, well run.and relaxing). On arrival the impact of the vast atrium / reception is quite stunning as was the walk with our 'Navigator' Edgar, to our lovely Garden suite where drinks were ordered for us on arrival and turned up as we entered - nice. The suite itself was sharp, modern and roomy with a private balcony on the second floor. Nice flowers scattered about when houskeepng turned our beds down nightly. Very very comfortable and private. The bed was absolutley huge and also very comfortable. All conveniences were 'first class' and a very reasonable mini bar provided! The Garden suites overlook an absolutely impecable and lush tropical garden and provide an immediate and tranqil environment to relax. The hotel enjoys many pleasant paths to wander through and all are lush and highly maintained. Being only 18 months old the Hotel seems to be up and running very smoothly. When I reported an issue with the toilet immediate action was taken to rectify while we we out enjoying the Hotels facilities. we dined regularly at the main restaurant for breakfast and dinner and the food was excellent - presented and cooked to perfection by the resident Chef who, I understand has been on the island for some 15 years and he certainly knows his produce and craft - so fresh and delicious - we did not venture out of the Hotel for dinner elsewhere! The traditional Swahili 4 cource menu choice (3 menus offered) was my favourite. On our last night we booked a table upstairs, where there is also a gallery, in the fine dining restaurant and tried the warthog and Impala main courses - simply wonderful with music provided by a great local band through the evening. The main salt water pool with spa and massage falls is absolutley stunning with 'forever' sides, that seemingly blend with the sea from within and you cant but help to relax in one of the many in or by pool balconies while having an ocassional fruit kebab and refreshing drink (soft or coconut) provided gratis while you lounge and idle your time away. The staff are all so attentive and appear from nowhere if you need to move an umbrella or look as though you are in need of a drink or whatever. The main hotel building itself is architecturally very asthetic with high vaulted African woven trianglular roofs providing an enormious spacious, open and airy environment built seemingly in traditional pole and woven construction - quite amazing. At night the complex is well light but quite subdued and comfortable and we felt very safe at all times - security staff are always around but not apparent. 2 very different but excellent bands played outside the main restaurant on 2 nights and provided excellent 'African' ambience to while the mild evenings away. There is a choice of 3 bars, all very different and with excellent service. One of the restaurants open for lunch - with a bar, is located at the very end of a Jetty beyond the main pool. The walk, as with all walks in the Hotel complex is a photographers dream. Its very difficult to take a bad photo at Zalu with so much care taken in the design, construction and high level of maintenence, the affiliation with the environment is magnificent with a stunning bluer than blue sea and the occasional Dow sailing past. After returning from an excursion the reception staff where keen to seek our feedback on how our day was and interested in our well being. Ahh such memories we both take away - I long to return again some day and will try one of the Sea view suites or larger complexs next time........ not because they could be any better, just to experience more of the hotels wonderful facilities.

Room Tip: The 2nd floor Garden balcony suites possibly offer a more private balcony than the ground floor suit...
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  • Stayed September 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
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384 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (82)
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English first
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2012

We looked at loads of places in Zanzibar and lots of Tripadvisor reviews before we decided to book a week at Essque Zalu, mainly because we'd never seen such consistant and awesome reviews for a hotel before and it turned out to be everything we had hoped for and more.

We spent a week there at the beginning of September for our honeymoon (wish it had been longer) and everything from the warm welcome when we stepped into the amazing main building to the chilled bottle of sparkling wine in our room was perfect.

All the staff were so friendly, always smiley and sweet and they made us feel extra special and very welcome. The manager Nicolas would always stop by to ask about our day at dinner, or at breakfast in the morning to see what we had planned or if we needed anything. Fortunada, Mariam and Valentino in particular were amazing and we will always remember them!

The room we stayed in was a suite with a sea view (although not at the front) and was beautiful. The bed was huge, the bathroom was cool and we had a turn down with flowers every evening. The hotel itself is a gorgeous building - beautiful and very unique. It was amazing to sit in the upstairs bar and simply marvel at the design of the place. The hotel interiors and decor were simple, modern and stylish with a very understated elegance which we loved.

The pool was gorgeous (a postcard perfect infinity pool looking out over the ocean) and we spent most of our time hanging out by it. The morning coconuts, fruit skewers and drinks brought around were lovely extras. The big beach baskets in the room were a nice touch.

Overall we were super impressed with the food and the meal options - we had half board so breakfast and dinner every day. The quality and variety of the food was amazing - we've eaten at some excellent restaurants all over the world and the food was up there with the best of them. Each night consisted of 3 meal options - the main option, a vegetarian option and a Swahili option with 4 courses for each. We only wished there had been a few more Swahili options as it stayed the same over the week with only 3 choices for main, whereas the others changed daily. Breakfast was also great with loads of hot options, fresh fruits, juices, buffet - the works. You could choose something different everyday, and after a week not have tried everything.

The Jetty was one of the coolest parts to the hotel and we spend most afternoons having lunch out there. The food was delicious with a Middle Eastern style - meze platters, breads, kebabs - and it was the perfect spot to hang out and watch the ocean, the dhows and look back on the hotel.

The spa was also great - we both had full body massages - and the services and options again were spot on. The girls who did our massages were excellent.

I could go on and on about Zalu but I'll stop here! I'll just say that it was the perfect place for our honeymoon and we really couldn't have asked for anything more. We would recommend Zalu to anyone who's looking for something special and loves a place that's stylish, relaxed and beautiful. We'll be going back as soon as we can!

  • Stayed September 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
24 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2012

what a stunning place. be careful not to put a quick judgement until you reach the resort. the place is astounding. The staff truly make you feel genuinely welcome. the manager, French I believe is meeting everyone and makes sure you are having a great time. We went half board and had no regret because of the choice offered under that formula. delicious food, sumptuous buffet.
do not miss the opportunity to sip a cocktail at the end of the pier. quite romantic indeed.
enormous pool, spacious bungalows, manicured gardens complete the set up. We only stayed for 3 nights, should have been 5...
will incite my friends to spent some quality time at Essque Zalu Resort.
bless you all

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2012

My wife and I stayed at the Essque Zalu from September 7 to 15. We had booked this trip through a discount scheme from France, with the idea that this could be just a beach resort in Zanzibar.

But on our arrival, we were completely charmed by the cathedral-like reception, the three restaurants, the two bars, the pool and the view !


Nicolas, the director, greeted us at our arrival, and showed us around the hotel, and was regularly stopping to chat with us and help or advise us on what to do or see.

We had a "regular" cottage in the gardens; although it had no sea view, it was simply huge and nicely furnished, a huge bed, even bigger bathroom with italian shower, great equipment (digital AC, flatscreen tv), a completely free wi fi throughout the hotel (where can you check you emails and browse the internet from the hotel pool ?). The style is quite italian in general and of good taste throughout.

The pool was quite nice, well maintained, with little wooden deck as islands on it, and long chair and hotel towels.

Since we were on a full board scheme, we ate all out meals at the restaurant, which is managed by a Swedish chef. All the meals were absolutely awesome - though at the end we had to skip on some of the food as we could not go through a 4 dish meals every day. The board carte includes a "regular menu" of 4-5 dishes including desert, a vegetarian menu (often with excellent dishes) and a "swahili menu" with surprising local dishes.

The hotel also has a gastronomical restaurant, which was fabulous and probably of the same cut as the gastro restaurants in Paris.

Breakfast was exquisite and you could practically order anything, including crepes and waffles made on demand, fresh fruits, but also steack and eggs.

There is also a sea pontoon with a restaurant at the end of the jetty where you can fully enjoy the seaside view - try the cocktails at sunset when the dhows come home from the day !

The beach is a fabulous white sand strip at the bottom of the pool - we have not tried it since the pool was merely too convenient and agreeable.

The staff was especially nice and helpful - you can practically ask them anything, they will try to satisfy all your (reasonable) requests (breakfast at 3 pm ? set up a table by the pool for diner ?). They sometimes were a little too eager to help but always very friendly and relaxed, teaching is a few words of Swahili, or joking with us. They were always seeing to our comfort, bringing us drinks, towels, etc.

There is a little but well furnished gym and a spa on the premises; you can book boat tours, scuba dives, parasailing rides, excursions to Stone Town or the nearby islets. The excursion are not particularly cheap but you get good quality for your bucks. We tried independent tour agencies for our Stone Town excursion and were a little disappointed, and realized that we should have booked the hotel agency for a better service.

In summary, we had a great time there and with return for stress free, luxury vacations any time.

  • Stayed September 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
    • 4 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.
Washington DC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2012

We had an amazing experience at Zalu. The setting is really special: beautiful infinity pool, gorgeous bungalows and exceptional restaurant, all next to and (literally) over the gorgeous emerald Indian Ocean.

The bungalows are very luxurious, with all the needed amenities and more. The main building is a feat of design and architecture, mixing local motifs with modern touches.

Even if the setting hadn't been perfect (though it was), we would come back for the amazing people. Fortunata, Myriam, JJ, Rose, Clara and Denis are all key components of an amazingly gracious staff, run by an attentive GM, Nicolas.

Two caveats: (1) The hotel, the reviews and the website are candid about this, but some tourists are surprised to find out that the hotel is on a tidal beach. If you are dead set on miles of open white sands around the clock, this property is probably not for you. On the other hand, if what you care about is being close to (or on) the ocean in a gorgeous setting, the combination of the property's location and its amazing jetty is perfect. (2) In low season, the pool area is plentiful, but some reviewers have pointed out that things can get a little "competitive" during the peak months. I could see how this might happen. My understanding is that the staff is actively trying to mitigate this issue by controlling numbers and providing more beach chairs, etc.

Room Tip: The sea front bungalows, especially during the high season when you can have your own private ocean...
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  • Stayed September 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.
Halstead, Kent, United kingdom
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2012

We have just spent an amazing week at Essque Zalu for the second part of our honeymoon. It really is paradise and was so relaxing, just what we needed after being on safari.
The villa that we stayed in was fantastic, modern, clean and very spacious. An amazing view out to sea that I never tired of looking at.
The food at the hotel is excellent. We ate like kings! The staff at the hotel are very friendly and the service we received was excellent.
During our stay we arranged a day trip to Stonetown and a spice farm which was very interesting. The whole trip was organised very well and we had our own private guide for the day who was very informative.
We would highly recommend this hotel and would love to go back in the future.

  • 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2012

We were fortunate enough to stay here for our family holiday and it was one of the best hotels, if not the best, we have stayed at. Having been to Zanzibar a few times, we chose Zalu as we wanted to relax and unwind and we were not disappointed. The accommodation is fantastic and the food is exquisite. I completely disagree with the view that there is a language barrier amongst the staff. They were all exceptionally polite and their English is far better then many whose first language is English. Each evening our waiter informed us what each dish we were having consisted of, down to the last ingredient. The a la carte breakfast was a treat each day and was always prepared to the same excellent standard. The hotel does not have a private beach, nor is it meant to have, which I think is a positive rather than negative feature. All in all, a fantastic stay - we would go back anytime.

  • Stayed August 2012, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Address: , Nungwi 3151, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Nungwi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#2 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
#3 Luxury Hotel in Nungwi
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Essque Zalu Zanzibar 5*
Number of rooms: 49
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Essque Zalu Zanzibar is an intimate boutique destination nestled in a natural cove on the island’s north-eastern coast overlooking the Indian Ocean. Choose from 40 suites, all with picturesque views over the lush tropical garden or the ocean turquoise blue. Ensconce yourself in luxurious-styled spaces crafted from local materials, adorned with native artwork and housed under a traditional pitched Makuti roof. If you need extra space to spread out, try one of our nine expansive villas; 3 or 4 bedrooms. Stretch out in the spacious living room, rustle up a snack in your own kitchen or just chill in the privacy of your very own plunge pool. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Hotel Nungwi
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Zanzibar Island/Nungwi

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