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“Pretty Good” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Mnarani Beach Cottages

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Mnarani Beach Cottages
3.5 of 5 Resort   |   North Coast | P O Box 3361, Nungwi, Tanzania   |  
Hotel website
Hotel amenities
Ranked #12 of 17 Hotels in Nungwi
Geelong, Australia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Pretty Good”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

We liked our stay here. Stayed for a weekend in January in what we thought was one of the self-contained apartments. We were told the apartment had 2 bedrooms (5 people). The main entrance was direct into the lounge/sitting room which had our 2 bedrooms coming off it but also 2 other doors. I asked where did those doors lead - to the other guest rooms was the reply. So the apartment wasn't really exclusive for just us - it was more like shared accommodation. I stated I really wasn't happy with this arrangement and told them had I been aware of this I would have stayed elsewhere. I asked for a key to lock the entrance to the lounge / sitting room (which was the only way of getting to our rooms) but was told there wasn't enough keys for us as well as the other guests sharing the cottage and as such we would have to leave the main entrance unlocked. I then had a look in the other rooms, they were unlocked and had no-one staying in them! I went to the desk to enquire when the other guests would be coming. Was then told that actually no other guest were coming for the next few days - so don't know why they didn't tell me that to start with . All very odd. It took 4-6 hours and 3 requests to get a third bed into one of our rooms - despite it being booked as such. They do have a nice pool and a great view over the ocean. Food at the restaurant isn't great, average at best (breakfast and dinner is included). We ate dinner elsewhere. It is situated in the quieter part of Nungwi and personally think it is a much nicer part of Nungwi. The main tourist area is like a zoo. If you like Ibiza you will probably love it but the walk we took down there along the beach was more than enough for me. Mnarani is run by locals as many other places are but a lot are also run by Europeans from afar - we prefer the local experience that benefits the locals a bit more. Overall we though the place was pretty good, just a few glitches that could have been avoided and handled better.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Mnarani Beach Cottages, responded to this review, February 21, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to review your recent stay with us. My apologies for any confusion that may have been caused regarding the occupancy of the other rooms in your apartment.

I am glad to hear you were fortunate enough to have the complete apartment to yourselves after all, but will pass your comment to our reservation team for their future reference. We are constantly looking to improve the quality of our service and your comments on our food operation will be taken into consideration.

You are correct that we are indeed fortunate to be located away from the main tourist area of Nungwi where life is a little quieter and more relaxed but it is still always close enough if you wish to go out and explore more of the nightlife/activities.
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279 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2013

We looked through several reviews of Mnarani before we booked it and it has a very mixed response. It clearly depends on what you are expecting when you stay in a place. Most of the less positive reviews reflected individual one off experiences or mis matched expectations. We chose this because the postive reviews showed really the bigger (problably more accurate) picture of the type of place we were looking for. And we were right. We were so happy with our choice.

If you want a relaxing beach side holiday, peace and quiet, a tranquil enviroment away from the 'Thai beach' holiday crowd that has developed along the other beaches and a warm welcome, then this is definetly the place to go to. Mnarani gives a local experience with good standards, is a locally run hotel that benefits the community and takes on local staff. Despite growing and adding on more accomodation, it still has a local, beach feel about it. It is a blend of beach cottages (which it used to be), holiday 'apartment' which are bigger rooms with a small kitchen area, and 'resort' and therefore does not have a set target market. I think this is why it has mixed reviews as guests are expecting different things according which type of accomodation they have booked.

For me, it was perfect. We stayed in a beach view room and spent many mornings with a coffee sitting on the balcony looking at that sea and deciding whether to go for a swim in the morning or the afternoon, and inevitabley went for both! If you really can't be without your laptop, WiFi is available and was working well. The breakfast was a good start to day, before an amble to the beach, a swim or just chilling, reading on the deck in a hammock. There is a small shop at the hotel which sells a few souvenirs and essentials. There is also a library of books that guests have left.

I liked the fact that the hotel is trying to be environmentally friendly, everything is made of local materials and they are recycling and preserving resourses.

On arrival you can't help but love the garden which sets this hotel apart from other hotels that have focused on sand and sea. As a backdrop, when you turn to go to your room from reception, you see the stunning turquoise of the sea. A bit of a 'wow' factor. It is cool and breezy and very shady. As other guests have commented, the beach is rocky, but if you take beach shoes you can swim no problem. Mnarnai tells you this on its web site so at least you are prepared when you get there. The tide comes in and it can be a bit rough but the pool is there, or you can wait over a cool beer or lunch for the water to calm a bit or you can have a stroll to the other beach around the corner.

I had an amazing time here. I did not want a five star shiny international resort that I can get anywhere in the world. This hotel gave me exactly what I wanted. Everyone was friendly, left you alone or tended to your request, as you wished. Coca was very welcoming and friendly, Henry was great in the sports, and the restaurant staff Haji, Mohammed and Maggie were lovely. It was too windy for snorkelling (just bad luck on the weather front really which can't be helped) but we were happy that they advised us of the danger and unpleasentness of snorkelling in the rough sea rather than take us out anyway just to get the money (one boat from a neighbouring hotel had capsized when they were taken out!).

As other reviewers mention, the food is the only thing that can be improved. The portions were good and the food was not bad at all, I enjoyed it, but it was just plain and repetitive.On an island full of fish, seafood, spices, coconut, curries, soups, it was not reflected in the menu. As has been said, it seems the cooks think they have to present Western style food, which is a shame. Most of us want to try the local food as well as the pizzas and sandwiches. A few local choices on the menu would be fantastic ( if cooked properly as real local food) or a 'dish of the day'. It also needs to be updated to introduce lighter food for lunch such as the local wraps and salads. If they don't change it, guests will focus too much on the food which is over riding the other great qualities of this hotel.

A last point to note is that it is close to the village which is great to see what life is like here and the people are very welcoming and tolerant of tourists, but we should respect their privacy and culture and the fact is is a muslim community.

Overall, a fantastic holiday and a fantastic place to stay. Would definetly go there again.

Room Tip: Choose sea view rooms (worth the extra) or garden rooms if you don't want to hear the noise of...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2013

We stayed at Mnarani Lodge for a week in January 2013.

The hotel is located away from the large resorts and next to a traditional fishing village which gives a sense of the place that might be lost on other resort goers down the beach.

The hotel is small , relaxed & homey atmosphere. Very quiet, bring books.

The "luxury" rooms are large, clean and comfortable, many with large terraces and hammocks and partial views to the sea (I would opt for the sea view bungalows if I did return. Even if they are very small rooms ).

Staff is a little aloof but some are friendly and helpful. Coco at the desk and Henry at the aquatic center in particular. Henry found dolphins for us and snorkeled with us pointing out the sights.
We had forgotten an photo memory card in the safe of our room with our safari pictures.
The hotel manager was extremely helpfull, recovered it and safely sent it back to us in record time…4 days !
Beachfront in front of the hotel is so-so depending on the level of the tide but a short walk from the larger and more popular sandy beaches. The main deck overlooking the sea is great and offers all kinds of seating, hammocks, beds, chairs, lounge chairs, pleasant with the breeze off the sea....and a good book.

You do not go to Mnarani for the food which, except for « African night », is OK but ordinary. Disappointments : No locally abundant mangoes, no avocados.
For the price, a complimentary bottle of drinking water in the room would be nice.
Best pineapple though and lots of it !

Highlights : Watching the local women walking up and down the beach balancing firewood, pails and other accessories on their heads, overloaded fishing Dhow’s sailing by near the shoreline, the sun and the breeze off the ocean,

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Mnarani Beach Cottages, responded to this review, January 24, 2013
Thank you for your review of the hotel. We are always happy when a guest has enjoyed their stay.
We have taken on board your comments about the food and is something we are aware of. We are making some changes to our menu to improve this.

It is only from guests’ feedback that we can get better so we welcome your comments.
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London, United Kingdom
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

we have just spent a lovely 5 days here. situated right on the beach. the tide goes out very far so it's not really a beach you can lay on but there is a lovely decking area with sunbeds and hammocks and a great pool to swim in. if you want the big sprawling beach then get a cab to Kendwa which is only a few dollars.

the staff go out of there way to be helpful. precision air lost my luggage and the staff at the hotel were great with checking on its progress and in the end actually took me to the airport themselves so as i could collect it. the airport is an hour away so this was really kind of them.

The food is pretty good as long as you like buffett style and they also lay on entertainment some nights which is good fun.

A very relaxing place if you are after a chill out.

Only slight criticism is due to the energy supply the air conditioning is a bit hit and miss and without it the nights are unbearably hot. the staff are very good at trying to fix the units sometimes with success and sometimes not!

Would definitely reccommend this hotel to friends and family.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2012

We spent a week in mnarani about a year ago and this place is simply fantastic. It was our first time traveling into Africa (we're from Cape Town, South Africa which is really totally different to the rest of Africa) and were not sure what to expect. On arrival, the pics on the website literally come alive, that includes the smiles on the hotel staff's faces. We had a basic but all you need on an island beach bungalow which looks out to the amazing blue sea and white shore. The staff are all really lovely and helpful, humble people. They go out of their way to accommodate and are super friendly. They are also very honest about prices, advising you how to best get around the island if you ask etc. The hotel serves lovely zanzabarian suppers and lovely breakfasts too ( we stayed half board as most days we were out on trips), nothing over extravagant but lovely...I still daydream about having my spice tea and pancakes on the veranda overlooking the morning fisherman walking out the sea with their spears and fresh catch :) Another major perk of this hotel is its location, it's next to the lighthouse and turtle aquarium where you'll meet the most awesome guy (Suleiman) running the aquarium. He too can hook up private Dow trips for snorkeling, going to kwenda beach (best swimming beach),private dolphin tours where u can actually swim with these magnificent creatures,private hand line fishing trips and Braai / bbq your catch by bonfire if u like. Mnarani hooks up tours too, their trip out to mnemba island on their own Dow was awesome. We used both the hotel and other tours because as a couple, we wanted to do some tours on our own. Mnarani has a great pool area and hammocks all over. During low tide, you can't swim in front the hotel but it's great to walk the beach front during low tide. I would advise taking a pair of swimming shoes / crocs as there are some sea urchins, very few on the north of the island compared to other parts where beaches are sometimes unswimmable but rather safe than sore! They also have an awesome little massage parlour outside and if you walk to the piere right next to mnarani, you can lunch at a super fancy little restaurant on the piere, right in the sea and go swim or snorkel right there...again, great location :) the evenings are peaceful and quiet, we would spend them laying on hammocks looking up at an unpolluted sky bursting with fiery stars and watch little fireflies pass by, it was magical. Things to remember is that zanzibar is an Islamic island, visiting means you must respect the people 's beliefs and way of life. If you want to walk around in a bikini on the beach & lounge around topless, best you go elsewhere. North Zanzibar & Mnarani is a simple, natural, earthly getaway. It's a totally different experience to the Thai and Eastern islands in that it's totally uncommercialised in that area. Thanks to Mnarani for the most awesome holiday, I'm sure we'll see u again! Alleyah & Eesa

Room Tip: 1. I think beach bungalows are better than garden bungalows as you look out to the sea from your por...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Mnarani Beach Cottages, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
Dear Alleyah and Eesa,

Thank you for your detailed and informative review! How nice to know that you are still keeping fond memories of your stay with us, and we are looking very much forward to welcoming you again at Mnarani!

Best wishes,

Nassor Maharouky and team
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St. Petersburg, Russia
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

It was our first visit to Zanzibar after the long safari in Kenya and Tanzania, we were tired and all the way down to the island we were excited to spend our fabulous 7 days in the sun enjoying clean white beaches and clear water. Well what we saw when we arrived was the opposite. Dirty, smelly beaches, no way you could swim in that water and even if you could, first you would have to go 2 kms straight by feet because the water stayed far away till 3-4 pm and remember, it's getting dark pretty early in that country. Imagine now, this was just the half of the problem we had with this hotel. The other part is more of a domestic criminal case. Africa is all about money, it's really expensive and the prices are literally taken from the sky, they are made up the same very minute you show your interest in something so negotiation is important. With this hotel we agreed on details and prices by mail, we did not sign any contract and we asked for a free transfer to be arranged from the hotel to the airport because we decided to check other hotels on our arrival and then choose where to stay as we were short of money. First the situation got suspicious when we arrived from Kilimajaro and I saw a guy standing with the piece of paper and my name on it. I passed by this guy as my friend was getting a good deal on taxi but as there were no more white people arriving that evening, the guy figured it was us, 4 girls and began to push us to go to his car. I explained him our deal with the hotel, he made a call and i talked to some other guy who said it was okay to take a free transfer now and on our arrival to nungwi we can do whatever we want. We arrived very late, we got in the room, i filled the form saying we are staying for one night and moving out tomorrow. On the next day when we were totally disappointed with the hotel, we found a taxi and did a check out, we payed, we took our luggage and got in the car. The next thing we know they don't open the gates. So we are stuck. They demand to pay 50% of all the nights we promised to stay in our e-mail and to pay for a transfer. Obviously we refused because there was no any cancelation policy whatsoever and we didn't sign any contract!!!!!!! We call the police. The police arrives. They do nothing, just some blablabla, they walk away on us. In panic we are trying to run, but the security grabs our bags, they don't let go, we are trying to climb over the gates and scream for help but they unleashed their dog. They blackmailed us, threaten us all the way through, we were prisoners. Nobody could help. Eventually with lots of time wasted over there, our way out costed us additional money plus money for the transfer. We wasted the whole day on zanzibar fighting and crying for help. We were tired and broken. IT WAS HELL NOT A PARADISE. These people don't care about their reputation and their clients, all they see is money. And now i understand why they picked us from the airport, they could not lose money. We are back home now but we still can not forget what we got into on Zanzibar. THESE PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. PLEASE IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR LIFE, NEVER NEVER NEVER CHOOSE THIS HOTEL.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kilimandege, Inhaber at Mnarani Beach Cottages, responded to this review, November 1, 2012
Trip Advisor is a valuable source of information and advise for travelers. It is unfortunate if it is being instrumentalized for a personal vendetta - which you told us clearly you are going to wage against us in your attempt to "destroy" Mnarani (your words).

For the sake of clarification and balance, we did publish our version of the events in our reply to the previous comment from Lenor_12.

We are wholeheartedly doing our very best for our guests, and in all the years never had a scene like this; we also still think it's normal to pay for services received.

Nassor Maharouky
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Basel, Switzerland
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2012

This is our 4th visit to Mnarani, and it seems to get better every time. Nassor, the owner, is constantly improving his place, upgrading the rooms and facilities and thinking of new ways to offer his guests an ever better holiday experience.
The bungalows are surrounded by a beautiful, well tended garden atop a cliff, but with easy access to the beach. There are swings, beach beds and hammocks everywhere, and friendly, smiling staff is doing their best to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
Being set in its own small bay, the place has a private, cozy feel to it, but a 10 minute walk along the beach at low tide takes you right to where the action is (and the loud music, and the beach boys and peddlers, too).
The crowd at Mnarani is very mixed, families, couples and small groups from all parts of the world, so we meet interesting people every time.
All in all, clearly recommended!
We will come back again!

  • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mnarani Beach Cottages

Address: North Coast | P O Box 3361, Nungwi, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Nungwi
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Nungwi
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#9 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#11 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Mnarani Beach Cottages 3.5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mnarani Beach Cottages is a beach resort hotel, located on the northernmost tip of Zanzibar Island in the village of Nungwi, next to the old lighthouse.Mnarani has been independently recommended by The Lonely Planet Guide, The Bradt Guide to Zanzibar and many other East African travel guidebooks. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mnarani Beach Cottages Hotel Nungwi
Mnarani Beach Hotel
Mnarani Beach Resort
Mnarani Beach Cottages Zanzibar/Nungwi

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