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“Incredible” 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
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

I have resently just come home from a month long trip through Africa
1. Africa as a whole is incredible
2. This place was bliss- will definetly be going back
The nicest hotel you could ask for and the service was out of this world.
All the food in our package was included (was fantastic), and the drinks were very reasonably priced. We also had dinner at the fine dinning resturant which was seriously 5 star quality!
Also spent some time at the day spa- very lovely too!
Highly recommend this hotel, was a nice way to finish our trip.
I told my boyfriend if we ever get married I have found where we are going for our honeymoon, but also very suitable for a friends trip, or a family trip too
Facilites cater for everyone

Room Tip: We had a garden view suite as there were no sea front villas but the room was amazing! We had our o...
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  • Stayed March 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, March 29, 2013
Bonjour Madeleine,

Trust you are having a wonderful Easter break in the 'Land Down Under' (Oz)

We are gratified by your fantastic feedback on your recent stay at Essque. We just want to say a BIG ASANTE SANA (Thank You) and of course we do hope to see you back here for your honeymoon should the big day come up for you!

The French (myself included) love to say A Bientot - until next time!

Warm regards

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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356 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
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Tel Aviv, Israel
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2013

We spent 4 nights at Essque Zalu in March 2013 following 5 days of safari in Tanzania.
The hotel's premises are of very high quality with a beautiful infinity pool with magnificent views over the sea.
The rooms are very spacious and well maintained.
The food is of high quality too.

A few issues:
1- there is no sand beach at the hotel and it is located far away from the city center (>1h drive)
2- the staff generally speaks very poor english and one needs to repeat their requests 2 or 3 times before being understood. For a 5-star hotel, this is not acceptable and needs much improvement
3- the waiting time at the bar and at the restaurant between ordering and being served is too long. This adds to the feeling of poor service received overall.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, March 29, 2013
Bonjour and Easter greetings from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

We are grateful for your feedback on your recent stay with us and delighted to know you had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful ambience and feel of the hotel, the food and the spacious rooms.

On the issues mentioned, allow me to shed some light on them:

1. We never market or promote Essque Zalu as a beach hotel; we are a contemporary Lifestyle Hotel with African chic ambience where our valued guests come to enjoy the tranquil and serene, zen-like ambience and open spaces. As mentioned in earlier posts, Essque Zalu Zanzibar not having a beach is a deliberate one rather than an accidental one; the reasons being the owners wanted a secluded space away from the crowd of beach boys that is now increasingly becoming a nuisance and a security threat in Zanzibar and since Zanzibar has a policy of public beaches, the owners wanted a spot that they are in control of who enters their premises rather than have movement of unauthorised folks.

On the distance from Stone Town, well the majority of quality hotels in Zanzibar are at a distance of about 45-90 minutes driving - us being at 55-60 minutes from Stone Town is considered good especially when more than 99% of the road is paved except for the last 1 km which is a well maintained dirt road.

2. The staff communications skills - The majority of our staff speaks very good English and communicate efficiently and for the ones lacking these skills, we already have an ongoing language training for them as I write. Allow me to mention that we are extremely proud of our team because they came from zero work experience or any hospitality training. We hired them from the nearby villages and invested in training them from zero experience to empower them with the basic and advanced hospitality training and giving them hands-on experience and instilling our brand ethos and philosophy. We do not believe in poaching staff from nearby hotels which is the standard norm in Zanzibar and we wanted to pioneer this zero to experienced hotelier concept on the island and we are proud to mention we have been very successful in our endeavours.

3. On the waiting time for the meals at the restaurant - This is purely due to quality reasons of the food ordered. Unlike other hotels where the service is as fast as saying ' Hot Chops' our culinary experts prepare every bit of the meal fresh i.e. fresh meat is cut to size and cooked fresh, vegetables are boiled/cooked fresh etc hence the processes do take time, but the joy and satisfaction of these meals is indeed one that will tickle your taste buds.

On the waiting time at the bar - we have taken note of your concern and will look into improvising the processes however when you order for e.g. Orange Juice, they physically squeeze the oranges to get you the orange juice and if in certain circumstances there are other fresh juice orders, your order is placed in the queue, but the point to note is we endeavour to serve you fresh items as fresh as possible.

On behalf of my team and myself, we thank you for your stay with us and wishing you a wonderful Easter break,

Warm regards,

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013 via mobile

This hotel was truly brilliant.

In terms of staff we would like to particularly mention Haji (in the downstairs restaurant), Valentino (upstairs) and Mohamed (reception). These were particularly friendly and really added to our experience. However every single member of staff including those that serviced the room, worked round the pool, worked on the pier, tended to the gardens and in the restaurants (amongst others) were all excellent.

Two recommendations: firstly visit the 'aquarium' 2 minutes walk from the hotel entrance. Actually, a recommendation to NICHOLAS the hotel general manager: advertise this place! It is not really an aquarium and really a turtle sanctuary that takes injured turtles to rehabilitate them. But whilst they are recovering you can swim with them in a lovely pool. They are clearly well looked after, the small fee paid to swim with them goes to good use, and the turtles seem to genuinely enjoy some human company in their pool!

Secondly, if you are interested in Scuba Diving, go to Diving Poisedon. Each morning they arranged a taxi to pick us up from the hotel at the appropriate time (typically 8.45) and it cost USD 6. We paid for 10 dives plus a few more which were USD 39 each. Fantastic dive shop and thoroughly recommended.

Back to the hotel: it is awesome. That's an overused word, but it really is. From when you walk in, to when you are inside, to when you are looking at it from the private pier (in fact from the dive boat too) you cannot help but be in awe.

A note about the food: Dinner is Michelin standard. We live in London and have eaten in many Michelin star restaurants. The dinner (downstairs, included in the DBB rate) is better than many of the meals we have had in these London Michelin restaurants. Whilst the price paid per night at the hotel is a lot; by UK standards at least the meal we enjoyed each night is easily worth over half the cost. The wine list is by no means exaggerated either. We had some lovely red and white at about GBP 20 per bottle.

Breakfast was a vast choice and excellent. Again the staff were very good. We didn't eat lunch a lot (when you've filled up at breakfast and have dinner to look forward to...) but when we did it was excellent.

My Mrs had a massage and said it was the best she's ever had. She's paid a lot of money in London, and had massages in Thailand, India and many other locations. So I think that's a pretty significant compliment...

Another suggestion: One day we substituted our dinner on our half board rate for lunch, and went to a trip advisor highly recommended restaurant in Nungwi. It was OK. But not a patch on dinner at Zalu. Try Nungwi restaurants if you like, but don't sacrifice dinner in Zalu.

Finally a note about prices. Some reviews we read before arrival suggested high prices. Of course, it depends on your point of comparison. A bottle of 500ml nice lager is the equivalent of GBP 4. A lovely Caesar salad at lunch was GBP 12. Double baileys is about GBP 4. Compared to a bar in Nungwi, yes it costs more. Compared to London it's about the same. Is it fair given its a 5* hotel?- YES, beyond any doubt.

This is quite a truly brilliant hotel, at a very fair price. The staff are a credit to Nicholas and his team. Go here and enjoy,x

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, March 29, 2013
A warm bonjour from the spice island!

My team and myself are delighted to receive your feedback and both Valentino and Mohamed send their appreciations for your kind words.

We endeavour to meet the highest standards when it comes to gourmet meals and my team in the culinary department leave no stone unturned to ensure our guests have a thoroughly memorable time and enjoy their meals to the maximum. Thank you for availing your fabulous feedback on the meals you had during your stay with us - my team in this department sends their warm gratitude to you.

Indeed reading from you made our day since we distribute all reviews to our teams and I sure saw many smiles around Essque after reading your feedback.

Thank you for your time, you know where to find us next time you are coming to this side of the world,

PS - I personally love the turtles too hence try to recommend the place. Happy you loved it.


Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013

My (new) husband & I stayed here in September 2012 for our honeymoon, and had a fab time. The food is 6 star quality - the breakfast (highly recommend their home-made granola or their omelettes!) and the evening meal was superb; 4 courses each night. We even had the lovely experience of trying some African cooking in the hotel kitchen - we got to eat everything we made! The staff are very friendly and attentive - at poolside, they bring drinks and snacks throughout the day. The bar on the jetty is well worth a visit for lunch - the freshly caught calamari is delightful. Walks along the beach to nearby Nungwi is a lovely way to spend a morning. Highly recommend a visit to this hotel.

Room Tip: Rooms away from the beach front are quieter.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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.
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
61 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

A great hotel which I visited for lunch and a look around....amazing location and premises and the staff were very good.

The rooms are all very nice and facilties were excellant. The food I ate was of a very high standard and although not having its own beach, the pool and water access out across the walkways was fantastic.

I would recommend upgrading to a sea view as if you dont you'll miss out on fantastic view each day.

Room Tip: Upgrade to a sea view !!!!
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

We booked a villa for 5 nights at the end of February. The accommodations were stunning, and the grounds were gorgeous. The staff was sweet, and almost overly attentive. We loved our bartenders!
The resort is a bit isolated, but there are enough places in the resort so that eating & drinking options are varied. The Jetty restaurant on the pier is wonderful!
We did not have a 'honeymoon package' - but breakfast & dinner are included in the standard rates and the staff was generous so we felt well taken-care-of.

Room Tip: Some villas have ocean views, some do not. Villa had AC, double sinks, mosquito net, TV & Wifi...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 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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NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, March 16, 2013
A warm bonjour from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write your amazing review here.

It is really nice to see that you had a great time during your recent stay with us and that you enjoyed the beautiful ambience and setting of the hotel. Thank you also for your kind feedback on the staff and bartenders.

On the resort being isolated, it was a deliberate action and one of the prerequisites of the owners before proceeding to construct the hotel. This is purely because Zanzibar has an increasing population of beach boys having unruly behaviours and since beaches are not private in Zanzibar, any one can use that area to do anything in your area and considering the level of guests staying with us, we never wanted our guests to be harassed by the beach boys trying to con the guests or beach vendors harassing one to buy stuff.

I do hope that you have fond memories of your stay at Essque and if there is anything we can do on your next stay with us, do not hesitate to contact my team or myself,

Wishing you a wonderful day,

Warm regards

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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St Peter Port, Guernsey
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

If you are wanting to feel special on your honeymoon i'm sorry to say, don't book Essque Zalu.

After an amazing 4 day safari in Selous Tanzania we arrived at Essque Zalu for a 10 night stay and I have to admit that the hotel & the accommodation is breathtakingly beautiful, after researching various hotels in Zanzibar we chose this hotel after reading the other reviews on here and couldn't wait to experience it for ourselves. Unfortunately it was down hill from there... the wifi was intermittent, the gym was limited (no weights or resistance machines) and not air-conditioned, we had dirty empty glasses sat outside our room all day to attract ants. Communication was probably the most frustrating aspect, meals came incorrectly, requests were not undertaken and it got to a point where you didn't want to ask anymore! There were some lovely staff members who recognised us every day, the pool boys in particular were attentive and great fun and we have a couple of waiters who were extremely friendly, sadly this wasn't the experience we had of all the staff.

The food is a set 4 course menu every night, but if you don't like the main you can pick an option from the daytime menu. I must admit this became rather repetitive. I tried to get a drink made from the cocktail bar at 6pm only to be told that the mixologists were having dinner so I couldn't get a drink? Is this really what you would expect from a hotel of this grading or price?

As part of the honeymoon package we were given the following:

1 hours couples massage - It's actually only 30 minutes
Poolside romantic champagne dinner - No champagne and another couple next to you... plus I had to wait for my initial drink (ordered when we sat down - an orange juice with grenadine) until I had actually finished my starter!
Swahili Cookery Lesson - Enquiry made, date requested but the navigator never got back to us.
Fruit basket and flowers on arrival - None existent

In honesty, I am absolutely gutted to be writing this review, we have stayed at numerous hotels around the world and have never experienced such disappointment nor felt the need to write a review on trip advisor before. We're not picky people, we're not the type to complain, we are just so surprised and disappointed after what we read on here and were expecting and we dont want other couples to experience the same.

We have detailed all of these comments to the manager before we left on the feedback form, therefore this review's contents will be of no surprise but we wanted to make people aware of what to expect, as if I had read this before booking I definitely wouldn't have proceeded.

What a shame.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, March 16, 2013
Dear Jade

A warm bonjour from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

On receipt of your very detailed feedback on your recent stay with us, allow me to foremostly express our sincere and heartfelt regrets for not meeting your expectations of your dream holiday at Essque Zalu Zanzibar.

What surprises my team and myself is that you spent 10 days with us and never a word of discontentment was discussed with us so that we could have sourced a solution to your concerns and fix the problem right at the root of the cause. If this was communicated to us from the beginning, we would have undoubtedly gone out of our way to ensure your stay is as per expectations and remains a special one. Similarly, in acute circumstances we would have recommended a move to another 5 star hotel of your choice at NO extra cost to you - because for us, a customer’s satisfaction and happiness is of more importance to us than its revenue.

From my vast experience working with top hotels globally, an unhappy guest would immediately contact their agent to raise concerns of being unhappy due to service issues and in turn the agent would immediately contact the hotel for rectification - this is the standard norm when being unhappy with an establishment, but in your case we fail to understand that you spent 10 days with us, never ever bringing this issue up with the team, myself or even your agent who you made reservations through and in the end you avail us with a very long list of complaints. You could have atleast given us an opportunity to rectify and if we had failed thereafter, you do have full rights to address these issues to any level deeming fit to you, but giving no opportunity to us to understand the cause of your unhappiness while you had 10 full days with us is raising some concerns on your motives behind these long list of complaints.

We are an extremely friendly and flexible team that we can do anything to make our guests happy. If at all this was only communicated to our team, we would have definitely done what it takes to have kept you happy and satisfied.

Your detailed feedback is indeed of great value to us and we have already had a management meeting on this issue to ensure that all things pointed out will be rectified, if at all needing rectification

Please allow me to respond to your points mentioned in your feedback form:

Hotel Ambience
We do appreciate your comment that you felt the hotel is breathtaking.... but without substance due to the low number of guests in house. Elaborating on this comment, we are a boutique hotel having only 40 suites and 9 villas; of the 9 villas 3 were occupied and of the 40 suites, an average of 15 rooms(approx 40 pax per night) per night were occupied (average of rooms per night from 02 Mar – 11 Mar – lowest was 14 and highest was 21 rooms). Additionally, you may not see many people around mainly because they do various activities during the day and in the evenings.

For us, this comment came as a total surprise because all other guests who stayed with us in the similar period have given us an excellent feedback! We do understand that it was raining some of the days, but it did stop raining shortly, but of course it remained cloudy sometimes and this may have resonated into making you feel more discontented.

Suite Cleanliness
Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention as this is not the norm at any time as clearing is supposed to happen immediately after checking with the room occupants! After your feedback, I have taken remedial action and taken it up with the respective managers and staff in both our CM&S and Housekeeping departments and taken them to task and warned them to never repeat such delays again. Also if this would have been addressed during your stay things would have been different.

Hotel Friendliness
Thank you for pointing out some of our hoteliers were very friendly, helpful and fantastic. On the others where you felt that they had no interest and had difficulty in understanding requests, especially your request for an early breakfast due to your early departure, we apologise for this incidence however as I write, the hoteliers who we have identified to have English Deficiencies are undergoing language and skills training and should be at par very soon. The reason for this is because we try not to poach any staff from other hotels which is the norm in Zanzibar but rather take a fresh recruit, train them hard and instill the brand values and ethos in them over time, but as English is not their mother toungue and a language only studied in high school – not in primary school, it is a very slow process but we are extremely proud of our team that they are really trying their level best to ascertain they do their best – nonetheless, this is not an excuse from us and we have discussed this at length with the team and changes have already been made in the service so that other guests may not get problems further.

Our Honeymoon package offers an hour’s couple’s massage and this should have been the case however it appears that the therapist mistook it as a complimentary massage which is 30 minutes only.

Restaurant Service
As I have replied to a similar issue in Hotel Friendliness, I will reply to the romantic poolside dinner issue. It appears that there was a miscommunication from your agents as our Honeymoon offer clearly indicates that 1 Romantic Poolside Champagne (Sparkling Wine) Dinner with private Butler – they are informed that it is sparkling wine and not actually champagne and moreover, we do try our level best to make sure that Romantic Dinner’s remain Private however we do get other Honeymooners on the same dates hence we cater for them too but we try to keep them as separate as possible. We never mention that this is going to be a private affair but as I mentioned, we endeavour to make it a private evening, but sometimes we have to look after the other Honeymooner requests too.

Swahili Cuisine
Our sincere regrets for this lack of communication and we do accept full responsibility in not getting back to you either from the Kitchen side or the Navigators side.

Bar Service
Indeed there is no reason for our staff to point out that service or certain items will not be available due to someone having his dinner! Our apologies for such behaviour from our team and this has been addressed accordingly with the respective team managers. On the part of the delay in getting your orange juice and no grenadine – very sorry for this as Orange Juice is squeezed fresh and maybe on that night there were other orders of similar items hence your order went through the queing process.

Fitness Suite
Our fitness centre is a comfortable and airy fitness centre to give our guests the opportunity to exercise for short durations so that they can thoroughly enjoy the tranquil ambience found at Essque Zalu. Moreover this also was a deliberate action as we wanted to have different ideologies than other 5 star counterparts and did not want to create an artificial atmosphere of weights, air conditioned gyms and to have any rigid training schedules by gym trainers - we wanted our guests enjoy exercising in the open air in a natural environment. The running machines were removed as they experienced technical issues and were awaiting technicians to come and fix them which at this moment is done and back in service.

Internet Access
The internet access in Zanzibar is questionable and of course not reaching the speeds of other African countries or even ones on the mainland. Bandwidth is controlled and regularised and as for us at Essque, the internet wifi is mainly to give guests access to their social networks, emails etc and not to watch or download movies or play games etc. In your case if we had known that internet is of great significance we usually install a temporary wifi booster in your area so that you can get a stronger signal.

In Room Dining – As you may be aware, it is the standard routine in all major hotels worldwide and with 5 star hotels in Tanzania that room service is fully charged regardless of meal plan one is staying on. This is the normal way even in Europe and USA where I have experienced similar charges. We do apologise for the response that you will get the meal only when the kitchen reopens while our kitchen is indeed open 24 hours everyday?

Summing up, we just wish the above was communicated to us during the course of your stay and we would have definitely made sure you are comfortable and well taken care of but raising all the above concerns on departure is purely unreasonable giving us no window of opportunity in assisting you further.

I do remain at your disposal should you need any further info or details.
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Additional Information about Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Address: Nungwi 3151, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Nungwi
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 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#2 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
#2 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#3 Luxury 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 Nungwi

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