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“Very Zen” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Essque Zalu Zanzibar

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Essque Zalu Zanzibar
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Nungwi, Nungwi 3151, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 17 Hotels in Nungwi
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Very Zen”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2013

This hotel is stunning. The staff is incredibly welcoming, the atmosphere is very relaxing. The view is fabulous. I disagree with others comments on the staff. All of the people I dealt with were great. If you want to swim in the ocean, there is a beach but only accessable at low tide. If you go, please pay attention to the communities around you. This is part of the experience too. There is quite a contrast and if you are at this hotel you should be very thankful of your good fortune. It is educational to see how the locals live. The only issue is that it is an hour drive from Stone Town and the airport. Taxis are $60 each way.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 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.
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320 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 (65)
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English first
Lisbon, Portugal
Top Contributor
92 reviews 92 reviews
70 hotel reviews
Reviews in 64 cities Reviews in 64 cities
139 helpful votes 139 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013

All it's amaizing here. All. It's a small boutique hotel over the beach. Let's be honest, the only thing here that doesn't fits is the beach. It all covered with rocks and coral so even when the tide allows you it's not a good sensation to put your feet on the white and satin sand. But that's the only problem. The main building is beautifull, hand made using local wood. Mixing local style with design twist. You do not have the tradicional reception. You do not check in there. Someone will escort you to your suite and check in there with you. You don't have a room, you always have at least a suite, and it's amazing. Very well decorated, lots of space, all was though to be there. The bathroom is one of the most beuatifull i've ever used: walking shower. The bedroom has such a huge and confortable bed and by night the mood changes. They drop mosquito net, the turn the light into a dim atmosphere. It's great to get inside a room like this. The restaurants are very very good. I've enjoyed having lunch at the Peer, the menu is simple and with not to many option, but it's all great food, and with a refined presentation. By the way the service here, is 7 star: you always will have someone important there greeting you and wanting to know how are you doing. I had dinner at main restaurant outside and you only have to share the space with a handfull of guests, so you feel exclusivity. The dinner manu is excelent, good food and beautifull presentation. Breakfast is at their one style, meaning that there is no buffet. You sit and they will take your order. You can go inside and see what they have for you, but do not touch it. The pool is great, as you do not have an explendid beach, you will apreciate the time at the pool and it's quite good. They know your name. I would go back there just now.

Room Tip: if you can choose a room just in front of the ocean.
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  • Stayed May 2013, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM-Essque_Zalu, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, July 19, 2013
Bonjour and warm greetings from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

Thank you for these wonderful remarks! With gratitude I will pass them on to the team. It will make them feel as proud as I am!

Your comments, re: the beach, are correct, however, we do not promote Essque Zalu as a beach resort, rather a lifestyle boutique resort...,

Reading your last line: looking forward to seeing you soon again!

Kind Regards,

Luc Verschelden
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Faggeto Lario, Italy
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013

The hotel is considered to be one of the best in Zanzibar and I can partly agree with this definition. We came here after our 7 days Safari trip and it was like a paradise with relaxing atmosphere, luxury envirnoment and fantastic views.
The positive things: beautiful decoration, quality food (our compliments to French Chef), very well equipped villas, big spacious rooms etc., kids club with some interesting activity for kids and even with a special meal
Negative things: quality of service staff including housekeepers, receptionand restaurant staff. In the morning you need to wait your breakfast for half-an-hour on the heat and not because of the situation of too many tourist, just because of the "quality" of people. The same situation with housekeepers. You may ask them 5 times to do something (change towels, bring hair conditioner), the level of understanding is close to zero... The good point is that after our conversation to the general manager (we were not complaining, we were just a bit disappointed about the fact that in such a nice place you get a service of such a low quality) they changed housekeepers, we have got some special villa attendent (a senior guy) and we had our dinner served just on the terrace of our villa without 30 mins waiting time for a glass of water or our table to be prepared). Actually General Manager did his best to offer us some positive emotions about this place which means that they management really cares about guests and their opinions. Also we have got an upgrade from our 3 bedrooms garden villa to ocean view villa which was also a pleasant surprise.
Also people who are looking for swimming holidays should understand that Zalu is not a place for it as well as most of Zanzibar hotels. You can not swim there but it will take you 10 mins to get a car to Nungwi beach which is relativey good for swimming during most part of the day.

Room Tip: Villas are fantastic! You have lots of space and there is a private swimming pool for each villa. Ga...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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GM-Essque_Zalu, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, July 19, 2013
Dear Olga and Team,

Warm greetings from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

Your comments regarding the service are indeed to the point, since you are referring to the poor knowledge of the English language of most of our Hoteliers. We have taken action: we have hired an English teacher and will be given English lessons to our team for the following eight weeks; and if that is not enough, she will continue.

It is our goal here at Essque Zalu to overcome the weakness that overshadows the perfection found in all other aspects you referred to. One last detail: our Executive Chef is not French but Swedish and during your stay... he was on holidays. We are so proud to inform you that all the meals you enjoyed at Essque Zalu, might have been designed by the Swedish Executive Chef, but were prepared by Tanzanian Sous-Chefs and Cooks. This proves that with correct and professional training, we have achieved this goal. So, in a few months, i am sure, our team will communicate better in English! That's a promise. Why don't you come back to find out for yourself?

Sunny greetings from Essque Zalu.

Kind Regards,

Luc Verschelden
General Manager
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USA
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2013

I can say, without a doubt, that this was the best vacation spot we have ever picked and we travel at least twice annually to different vacation destinations. I am unable to put into words exactly what this resort felt like, but will try my best to capture the essence.

First, let me say that we stayed through a resort exchange and did not benefit from the half- or full-board options. That said - on to the review.

The resort itself is located on the northeast side of the island. It takes a good hour to get to by car from the airport and the roads are hit and miss on repairs. Be prepared for a long ride. The sights and sounds along the way, however, will likely provide great photo opportunities and a look into the lives of the local Zanzibaris.

The town where the resort is located is a bit economically depressed, but do not let this alter your opinion of the resort or the local opportunities. Upon seeing the resort in the distance, you'll immediately realize that you are about to enter paradise on earth.

Immediately upon arrival you are greeted by your personal "Navigator", which is the hotel employee (they prefer to be called Hoteliers - as this is their profession, not their job) who will guide you around the resort, get you settled, and take care of your needs during your stay. From the moment you arrive, you'll see that this place knows what the customer wants. Bags are delivered to your room, welcome beverages are served, beds are turned down, and the list goes on.

As the resort is a bit secluded (again, one hour from Stone Town, which is the main town on the island), we opted to eat onsite each day - and are we glad we did. The meals are divine. No, not kidding - each meal was an experience. Breakfast, lunch, dinner - nothing was done sub-par, nothing was overlooked, and everything was FANTASTIC! Again - full disclosure - we were pay-as-you-go for meals, since we traded in, but we didn't mind the expense at all - once we realized we were going to be fed gourmet food at each sitting. Prices, to be honest, were not bad - but may be a bit high for some (unless you are on half- or full-board). Average meal prices were: $20 breakfast (all you care to eat); $20-30 lunch; $25-70 dinner (depending on restaurant) per person. But again, the food was worth every penny. We tried local flavors (listed under the Swahili menu section) and the choices of the day. We were NEVER disappointed with our meals, drinks, or service. There are three restaurants onsite: the main Market Place restaurant, the Jetti, and the Ala Cart Restaurant ($70/meal, but worth every penny). We visited during "low" season, so at times it felt like the resort was our own private establishment - but the Hoteliers tell us that during "high season" the restaurants are full and busy. Eat early, eat late, eat inside, eat outside, the choice is yours. Disclaimer - I love food, so I tend to hit it first in my reviews - but don't assume the rest of the resort isn't mentioning - it follows now.

The room we stayed in was a 1-bedroom suite. The room itself was very spacious for two people and was elegantly furnished, from the living/sitting area, to the king-size bed in the bedroom (with netting, that they arranged each evening for you while you are at dinner). Internet was available, satellite TV with English, German, French, and more language channels, and an in-room safe provided peace of mind for your valuables while you are out on an excursion (not that we ever felt it was necessary). The bathroom is larger than my apartment (or at least close) and includes a walk-in shower, individual sinks, and towels that are worth taking home (no, we didn't steal, but man...those were some good towels). The walk-in closet (almost as large as the shower) had plenty of storage space for our clothing and other knickknacks from our trip. The bed was extremely comfortable and with AC in every room, it is easier to configure the temperature to your liking. Want to be fed in your room - order room service and avoid ever stepping foot outside.

The grounds of the resort are immaculate. From the infinity pool to the pier that extends over the Indian Ocean, the attention to detail was fabulous. Every morning we were greeted by countless dragonflies over the pool area. Not once did we see a mosquito. The pool is salt water, but feels great and even has a jacuzzi area right in the middle to relax. Rather take a refreshing dip in the ocean or stroll along the beach - that's an option too right from the back-steps of the resort. The gift shop is well stocked with local gifts and artwork. Nothing is overly priced, but not much is "cheap" either - in quality or price.

Additionally, there is an onsite excursion coordinator that you might find helpful. They can book or assist you in booking snorkeling/scuba trips, tours of Stone Town and Prison Island, hikes through a forest (with monkeys) or a tour of the famous spice farms of Zanzibar. The choice is yours. They offer half- and full-day trips. If you book a half-day, we recommend booking two on the same day to get a discount on the overall trips. Personally, we enjoyed the Stone Town/Prison Island trip and the Jazani Forest/Spice Farm trip (all half-day, but booked in pairs to get the most bang for our buck and to fill up the day).

Finally, let me get the wonderful employees at this establishment (again, Hoteliers if anyone asks). They took care of us from the minute we arrived to the very last second of our time at this resort. They greeted us and even saw us off when we left. Not many places offer this level of service. If they heard we were going on a day-trip, we'd get a little bag of treats and a large bottle of water to take along with us. If they saw us lounging around the pool, the brought us our favorite drink (Hibiscus cocktail...a must try, non-alcoholic). If were unsure what to eat for dinner - they provided their personal recommendations and were always spot on. Literally, this team of professionals made a wonderful establishment into a home-away-from home for us...a literal paradise.

I am sure not everyone will have the exact same experience as we did - but if you are looking for a fantastic resort, with relaxation, good food, and beautiful surroundings in mind - you can't go wrong with Zalu Zanzibar. From the General Manager (Luc, at the time of this writing) to the restaurant staff (JJ, Sara, and more) - everyone was wonderful and nothing during our stay was lacking. My spouse had to hold back tears when we left - that is how at-home we felt there.

Room Tip: Every room is nicely furnished and in tip-top condition, but if it is possible, attempt to get a roo...
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  • Stayed May 2013, 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

I live in Zanzibar and I went there for my birthday with friends. I have to say that it was one of my best birthday.

We had a seafront villa with private pool and rooftop terrace. Our villa had 3 huge bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a beautiful fully furnished kitchen, dining room + living room, and a massage room. We could nearly run a marathon within the villa.
Staff was very welcoming and friendly and I had a giant birthday cake we couldn't even finish.
Lunch on the jetty is a very good option and food is good.

As we went during low season, we had the hotel nearly for us only. It gives the feeling you're alone in a paradise.

The makuti roof of the main building is an exceptional piece of work. Amazing with the lights at night time.

Some comments regret there is no access to a beach but i didn't feel it as a problem. You can definitely swim in the sea at hide tide from the stairs of the jetty. And water is light blue turquoise. There are some mats on the jetty to relax after the swim.

My only regret would be that we stayed one night only.

  • Stayed May 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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GM-Essque_Zalu, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, July 19, 2013
Dear SydZnz

Thank you for celebrating your birthday with us! And we are so glad you enjoyed it. Essque Zalu is not a beach resort, we would like to refer to it as a lifestyle boutique hotel. Because of its gardens and serpentine walkways, even in the high season you would feel like the place is yours.

And since you live on Zanzibar, you could easily invent an occasion to celebrate here at Essque Zalu.

Kind regards,

Luc Verschelden
General Manager
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Mek'ele, Ethiopia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2013

I strongly recommand the hotel for its architecture and details. The food is amazing, truely a gastronomic experience. Rooms are really nice, we had a seaview villa. All the staff are very professional and friendly. The location of the hotel makes it special and it has a true feel of boutique hotel. We stayed there for our honeymoon and had a lovely time!

Room Tip: Seaview rooms are worth it!
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  • Stayed April 2013, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GM-Essque_Zalu, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, July 19, 2013
Dear Angelique,

Thank you for your comments!

We are looking forward to your next visit, celebrating your first anniversary, why not?

Kind regards,

Luc Verschelden
General Manager
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Canada
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2013

We came to this hotel after a week on safari. It was incredibly relaxing to be somewhere where every need was catered for. If you want to relax after safari, this is the place to do it.

The food was absolutely fantastic, especially the delicious breads served with every meal. Memorable amongst the dishes we had was the smoked swordfish, the swahili soup served with dinner and the fresh juices at breakfast. Based on reviews here I had expected good food, but I was surprised at how good it was. The service was great and the wait staff were lovely to talk to. The cocktails from the bar were also very good.

We were not willing to pay $100 return fare to Stonetown through the hotel, so we went out of the hotel, turned left and asked the vendor opposite the aquarium to organise transport for us. They gave us $80 return trip to Stonetown. They were on time with pick up and drop off, and the vehicle was comfortable and air conditioned. It's always a risk booking through a local vendor but everything worked out fine for us and we saved $120.

I used that $120 saved at the spa. I had an aromotherapy massage from Jessica and it was fantastic and well worth the money.

The lack of beach was not a problem. The pool was so beautiful and close to the ocean, it was nice to swim there anyway.

  • Stayed April 2013, 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.
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Additional Information about Essque Zalu Zanzibar

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