Myself and my wife went on honeymoon here in January 2013...A short hop from Arusha in Tanzania on Precision Air (quite good) where we were on Safair and we landed in the mayhem of Zanzibar airport. An hour or so up the one proper road Zanizbar seems to have and we passed through the final one of many very sparse looking and quite poor villages to enter the beautiful Esque Zalu.
This is a cracking hotel in many ways. Service is good, the views are amazing and food excellent. However, there are things you need to be aware of.
Things that are great about Zalu...
1. Great service...ok, it can be in your face and there are probably too many on duty but service is still excellent
2. The building itself is amazing...
3. The pool is lovely, overlooking the Ocean and perfect temperature for swimming
4. Food is good, in fact it was very good.
5. The setting is a really strong point...set on a cliff/rocks, the Indian Ocean is turquoise and crashes against the jetty and the rocks beside the hotel
6. The rooms are lovely...clean, well air conditioned and big
7. The jetty area is fantastic and it is sepcial....you should spend mrnings here on your own reading while the hotel sleeps or an evening pre dinner cocktail...lobster and glass of Chenin Blanc at lunch time on the jetty is a treat!
8. Locaton...close to Nungwi and Kendwa and you can walk both at low tide...but most certainy not at high tide
9. Hotel has high speed WIFI
10. Spa areas are lovely
Things you need to be aware of...
1. There is NO beach...this is a huge setback..all you can do is look out at beautiful ocean and not actually get in as the area is windy and full of rocks and coral and dangerous to swim in...
2. You have to go to nearby Nungwi (far busier and full of Italian and German package holidays) and Kendwa for the beach and swiiming in the sea....both are amazing, kind of like Kho Phi Phi if you have been there but full of beach boys which is irritiating...Zalu is east facing, so go 3 miles around the northern tip of island to Kendwa to see the amazing sunset...and it is amazing.
3. The food is very very good but menu gets predictable...you get a choice of veggie menu, international and swahili (which is same every night)
4. No gym...a rockety dreadmill is all that is available and it is a downside for a 5 star hotel not to have proper gym facilities, especially as you are told not to walk outside the gates
5. Extras...this is a major issue...$9 for a glass of wine and $5 or so for beer or shot...very very dear and price of bottle of beer only $2 up in Nungwi or Kendwa
6. The excursions are also 5 star prices..looking at $80 per person to do half day in Stone Town....it eally should be a $30-$40 per person trip
7. The staff are genuinely very helpful...but there seems to be too many and some are blatantly tip hunting...the tipping ettiquette is confusing...some tip every night, some at the end...usually it is $1 per bag for porter and then $2 per meal every night...staff rely on tips so work hard for them...sometimes too hard!
8. Location is a really strong point but also a weakness...it is a good clip from Stone Town and you need taxis to get you anywhere, even only 2-3 miles down the road for safety and tide reasons...however, the views do make up for it...
9. The bar areas have no atmosphere and are totally soulless...too bright and open and after dinner all you want to do is go to bed
10. A large corporate had booked several rooms in the hotel...there was branding up around the pool and on jetty which is intrusive if you are paying big money for seclusion..we were asked by management did we mind, but really there was no choice in the matter.
Zanzibar is an amazing spot. A place where Arabic culture and influence is everywhere but with a distinctly laid back and chaotic East African feel to it and post colonial european tinge. It is over 95% Muslim, hugely homophobic and not expecially pro drinking but this is no issue up the North on the beaches. Zanzibar is very poor, but far more advanced than Tanzania.
The beaches up north are beautiful, as nice as I have seen but do be aware of Beach Boys selling soccer jerseys, hats, trinkets and later in the evening, hash. The beaches of Kendwa have the look of a party and there is a full moon every month and beach party eery Saturday evening for those who care. Kendwa is much more backpacker friendly and lots of young Aussies and europeans. you get the feeling it will only get more popular. It is also common enough to see european women over 55 with young beach boys (20s) and Masai men who have some form of financial or dependnecy understanding in their "relationships..." However, nothing that you dont get in Thailand, turkey, Canaries...etc. Sunsets on kendwa beach are possbily the nicest Ive ever seen.
Stone Town is a pretty interesting place...narrow little streets but biggest attractiion is old Slave Market. Fascinating. You get to walk through the fish and beggie markets, down to the seafront, see Freddie Mercury's House and wander the streets of this very Muslim bustling little town...Stone town was a little dissappointing overall. Our guide was more keen talking to his mates on the phone and was a budding Che Guevera who disliked europeans and spoke of government and police corruption in Zanzibar which is rife.
Zanzibar is a lovely spot for a honeymoon couple, a retired couple or a group of adventure seeking backpackers willing to try something different. It is a very long way to go for a beautiful beach holiday but added to Safari it is perfect. There are direct flights from Rome and great deals through Rome (€1000 for a week with flights and hotel) but otherwise you are flying through Amsterdam or London to Kenya or Tanzania and connecting on which can be a very very long haul if you, like us, had to come from Dublin. Tourism has taken off in a big way in Zanzibar but it iss till a great destination.
Overall, this is a really good hotel and very much a 5 star rating...5-6 days is enough to enjoy the delights of this very exotic place.
- 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 Nungwi