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“Don't Miss, Especially If You Enjoy Good Food.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Zanzibar Retreat Hotel

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Zanzibar Retreat Hotel
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Matemwe Beach | Zanzibar, Matemwe, Tanzania   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Matemwe
Alberton, Australia
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Don't Miss, Especially If You Enjoy Good Food.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2013

We stayed here with friends as a wind-down after a dusty Intrepid trip through Kenya and Tanzania. Jan was very apologetic at forgetting our transfer but, other than that, our stay was outstanding. The room was very comfortable, three steps from the pool, and the resort has a wide range of comfortable and relaxing corners to chill out - love the hammocks. The staff were very attentive, always smiling and taking time to chat.
Though swimming on the beach was a little difficult, there was no problem 'wallowing' and the morning sunrises were stunning. We also met 'Mr.Match' there who organised a trip to Mnemba Island snorkelling and a spice tour combined with our transfer back to Stonetown. Both were very enjoyable and grand value.
However the absolute highlight of the stay was the meals. We took the half-board option and enjoyed two magnificent evening dinners - four courses of the most delightful, locally inspired food. It was undoubtedly the best food I have enjoyed anywhere - many, many thanks to the kitchen staff and Karen.
The Retreat is in a quiet corner of the island but if you want to wind down after the dust and early starts of a safari, then you should very seriously consider this place.

Room Tip: Two rooms upstairs have the view but downstairs on the north side have the pool.
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  • Stayed July 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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220 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    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 (32)
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Kampala, Uganda
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

Enjoyed the quiet location, good food and friendly staff. "Retreat" is a perfect name for this place. Comfortable and close to great scuba diving and snorkeling. Would recommend this place for families, couples, friends or a solo trip. Management went out of their way to make us feel comfortable.

  • Stayed June 2013, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, CA
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2013

We went to Zanzibar for 3 days before going on safari, and Zanzibar Retreat Hotel was a great place to unwind after our long travel. Hotel staff is very friendly and helpful (Mathias especially was a great conversationalist and very resourceful), food was good (a little salty at times). We opted for the bed & breakfast option, which was so filling that we didn't usually eat again until dinner (onsite). I opted not to have half or full board so we could have the option to eat elsewhere (ha!) but this turned out to be more economical anyway, probably because we only drank during happy hour.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cardiff, United Kingdom
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

This place is amazing. We only stayed 3 nights but wish we could have stayed longer. Cold drink on arrival, free home made crisps with your drinks and free water in the room all made it feel more luxurious.
The staff are wonderful and won't let you do anything for yourself. The buildings are beautiful, the room gorgeous. The pool is a good enough size for swimming even though the sea has a lot of sea weed. The beach is still beautiful though.
All the food we had was incredible if slightly on the pricey side.. it was worth it though.
We would definitely come back here if returning to Zanzibar.. can't recommend it enough.

Room Tip: Don't bother going for any more than the garden rooms. They are beautiful and really quiet. Not...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
Los Angeles, California, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2013

My boyfriend and I did an 8 day safari and wanted to stay somewhere beautiful, peaceful and not touristy to recover from the bumpy roads and tent camping. We were not disappointed and very happy with our stay at Zanzibar Retreat! Jan, the owner was a very nice, laid back owner who took pride in his hotel. Minus a few small things here and there (i will get into this later) the hotel was perfect and for a Tanzania Island, that is saying a lot!

This as the other reviewers said, is a place to go to get away, relax and not be surrounded by people or noise. If you dont want that, then dont go there!! The hotel places no music, which we loved. It is right on the water, so you hear the ocean and the breeze, that is it. It is simple and so refreshing. My boyfriend took an accidental nap every day there because it was so relaxing. The hotel has many areas to sit and relax. There are nice chairs to lay on with a hut type umbrella for shade, hammocks, lots of areas around the pool (some you can sit under a covering with passion fruit vines dangling down) another outdoor section with custom seating and tables which is my favorite spot to sit at night, an area for playing games, the bar, etc...The place may be small but it is open and options available.

Our bedroom was not huge, but i could care less, I didnt come to stay inside! It had a big bed, hardwood floors, nice mosquito netting (not that you really need it) air conditioner, a huge closet, desk and a safe. The bathroom was a good size, and the shower was huge! IT HAS HOT WATER!!

The food was good. I wouldn't say spectacular, but for the most part very good. Some dishes were fabulous though. It lacks a bit of versatility, but I know I am just spoiled by living where you can get food all the time and whatever you want.

The staff is very friendly, and very attentive. They helped us learn a good amount of Swahili too! The hotel was kept very clean, and kept up to the highest degree. (which i can not say for many places in Zanzibar)

Here is my response to what other reviewers wrote about the cons of this hotel:

swimming: the hotel does not control the ocean. Yes, the tide comes in and out, and if you want to swim you have to wait for the tide to be fully in. But we did still snorkel even at low tide (the water was very shallow and you need to watch out for sea urchins, but you still can swim if you just have to!)

bathrooms: this is AFRICA! If the toilet seat doesn't fit the toilet does it really matter? (this was not the case in our room) You have a nice bathroom, get over it.

Billing: Zanzibar Retreat did accept credit cards when we went. And no we did not sign for everything we ate/drank, but at the end they had everything written down and put into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. It was all accurate and correct.

Staff: I adored the staff. They were so very friendly and spoke English pretty well. They did take a bit to make the drinks, but it is not due to laziness or forgetfulness. They use fresh fruit to make the drinks that require them. This means cutting up and juicing the fruit by hand. If you are in a rush, I suggest you go somewhere else!

Like i said, this place was awesome. We had planned to only stay for 3 nights and then go to a different hotel further south, but we loved the atmosphere so much that we asked Jan if it would be okay to stay longer, and of course he said yes.

  • Stayed June 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.
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2013 via mobile

We did our honeymoon in a bit of preseason an it was all good. The site is well located on a pretty beach. Food was great and staff was friendly and helpful too. We did a stonetown and a spice tour during our days and all was fine. We can totally recommend a stay over there. Manager Jan is a caring warm hearted person. Thanks a lot!

  • Stayed June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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.
Lincoln, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
192 reviews 192 reviews
97 hotel reviews
Reviews in 96 cities Reviews in 96 cities
254 helpful votes 254 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2013

Beautiful small hotel set on the North East Coast of Zanzibar.

The hotel is excellently maintained by Jan the Finnish co-owner, who personally supervises every aspect of the property.

Rooms are slightly on the small side, but are nicely decorated, with aircon and free wifi. Bathrooms are small but are well appointed.

There is a decent size pool and places to relax are spread around the pool, elsewhere in the grounds and the beach.

The hotel is set on a beautiful fine white sand beach adjacent to a fishing village. The beach has the softest sand I have ever come across and during our stay was deserted. The sea is OK to swim in at high tide, but the village women farm seaweed and so when the tide is out swimming is less practicable.

The food is outstanding. There is a fixed menu each day with two choices for main course. Wine and beer is reasonably priced.

The hotel is really set in a fairly isolated location with a few other small hotels and one or two restaurants, but you should seriously consider the full or half board options.

This is the ideal hotel if you want to get away from it all and relax in a tropical paradise.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zanzibar Retreat Hotel

Address: Matemwe Beach | Zanzibar, Matemwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Matemwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Matemwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Zanzibar Retreat Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Small beach Retreat. Good food and drinks. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zanzibar Retreat Matemwe
Zanzibar Retreat Hotel Matemwe

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