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“Upscale backpacker, in a good way” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Matemwe Beach Village

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Matemwe Beach Village
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Matemwe, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #4 of 7 Matemwe B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
“Upscale backpacker, in a good way”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago

The short version

Good vibe/ feel
Excellent food and location
Good dive shop
Very nice beach

Pool murky
Staff very relaxed
4 persons in suite, only aircondition for 2
Extras cost...extra

2 adults (aged 43) and two children (11, 9) traveling to Zanzibar without doing a safari first (this seem to be the most common combo). We simply wanted some nice R&R and sunshine, combined with a bit of snorkeling/diving, and as little hassle as possible. We arranged all stays our self via direct mailing to the hotels.

The longer version
Located on the east coast of Zanzibar, like most of the beach hotels, Matemwe Beach Village, MBV, is an about one hour drive from Stonetown (ST).
The beach is tranquil and very beautiful, with very few tourists. Perfect for walking and viewing, less so for swimming.
Transfers can be arranged via MBV or in ST. We negotiated with a local mini bus and paid 43000 ts for the trip.
Arrival and check in was smooth.
We had booked a Shamba Suite (SS). The smaller rooms are located near the water but none of them directly facing the ocean. Thus individual difference in location is less important.
The SS, for 2-4 persons, is a large round structure, located a bit back from the beach. There are
5 SS in a circle. On the top floor there are two hammocks in a nice windy area, perfect for reading
When the sun is too hot outside. The lower floor has a master bedroom, a toilet and a shower area plus a living room/second bedroom, where our kids slept. As only the master bedroom had aircon our kids had to sleep with fans provided and though this worked out, it was not perfect.
There was an empty minibar that was filled one day before we left, though we did not miss it.
Decor is basic but white with small local touches like hats etc.
The pool area is nice and laid back but lacks shade and the pool was were dirty during our stay. Food is locally made, all from scratch by the very skilled chef. Half board however means that you will likely spend money on the daily lunch menu or the fixed snack menu. Lunch items run from 5-10$ pr dish, water 2$ and evening cocktails from 5-8$. This will add up during the days.
The on-site dive center is very good and friendly, though a bit expensive at 130$ for a two dive daytrip to near by Menemba.
In summary, MBV is a nice beach bungalow operation with good food, for the "up scale backpacker", it is in no way a resort. I would recommend it for families and couples looking for relaxation.

A few words on Zanzibar in general.
ST is on the west coast and in my view not worth staying more than a maximum of one night in! It is very similar to Essaouria in Morocco but less charming and dirtier.
The north is the more developed part with a party scene, the entire east coast a long stretch of different resorts. The south was our favorite, it seem less developed.
Zanzibar is expensive compared to Asia. A family room will run from 150 to over 500 us depending on quality and weather food is included. A typical transfer from Stonetown to south-east or north will be 40-60$ pr car
Currently, February 2015, there are quite few tourists! This seems to be caused by the Ebola outbreak (3000 km away!) and fear of Islamic terrorist attacks like Boko Haram in Kenya. However, the fewer visitors mean you should be able to negotiate a good price on hotels.
Be aware that you will to bring malaria medication and have a valid vaccine against yellow fever.
Visa can be bought for 50$ per person on arrival, bring cash !

  • Stayed February 2015, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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298 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Coming off the mainland of Tanzania and several weeks of hiking Kilimanjaro and safari-ing, the Matemwe Beach Village was just what we needed! We stayed in a cute little room with a king size bed with only trees between us and the beach. The pool was relaxing and perfect for spending some time reading. My husband went scuba diving and had a great time - PADI was supported right there onsite and dive trips were organized super easily when we first got there. We had one night dinner there and it was one of the best we had in Africa! At first we thought we were overpaying for the dinner but it was amazing! They had a nice little area set up with candlelight and several courses for the dinner. Another night, we visited another hotel down the street and were very disappointed by their dinner, even though it was a similar price. I wish we would have gotten every dinner at Matemwe Beach Village!
I also highly recommend the sailboat ride. It is clearly a handmade boat and worth the 20 minutes of just going up and down the shore. It was very unique to see and experience!
We also did the shore walk and learned about the various animals and plants. We even got to see a few tiny octopi. They gave us water shoes to use but if you have your own, might as well bring them along. And definitely bring your camera!

  • Stayed September 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2015

My wife and I stayed here for a week while we got dive certified at One Ocean. The dive center is co-located on the grounds of the hotel. The bar and beach area is relaxing and open. The restaurant and lounge area are also open air but people just eat there. They don't lounge. We also had a private dinner on the beach. It was romantic and memorable, but I would only recommend it if you want a change of pace from the regular dinner scene in the restaurant.

Room Tip: They have some cottages and rooms that are tucked away far from from the beach. We ended up changing...
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Moscow, Russia
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2015

Our family of four (mom/dad, 2 kids-12/11 yrs old) stayed at MBV for five days/four nights in Jan 2015 and couldn't have been more pleased with our relaxing vacation.

We stayed in rooms #6 (twin beds) and #7 (king bed) and the kids felt perfectly safe in their room next door to us. No connecting room door, but just fine. Both rooms were a bit rustic, but very clean and nice amenities. Nice bathrooms with warm showers, but you have to be aware the hot water pressure is only fully operational during parts of the day. The staff puts out very nice welcoming flowers and displays daily on the beds and for turndown service. Beds were just OK, but we were not expecting pillow top beds from a 5 Star Hotel resort, and the price that comes with it anyway.

The standard rooms DO NOT have A/C, only a ceiling fan. It was very warm/humid during our stay, but fortunately the rooms were only 10 steps from the sand between the palm trees which allowed some breeze into our units. However, if you want/need A/C during your stay, you may want to request the upgraded Shamba suites. I viewed one of these suites during our stay, but was perfectly happy with our standard rooms and prime location to the beach. Shamba suites have a bit more room, but the only major bonus is the A/C, and I'm not sure how well they work.

Service at the restaurant and pool bar tended to be a bit slow, but we felt it was just the relaxed atmosphere of this lazy, easy going resort. We were never in a hurry so the pace was perfect. Food was great and there was something different every night. The chef even managed to prepare meals for my wife's gluten-free diet.

All staff were so friendly and very professional and accommodating. No pressure for tipping every time some thing was done for us. We just signed bill each day and then gave one large tip for the entire stay that was placed in the box at reception for all staff to share.

I generally like to be active on vacations, but after a 7 day family safari, MBV was just what we needed to recuperate before heading home. There is not a lot to do at the resort other than spend time in the pools or time on the beach, read a book, rest, or use some of the free wifi in the lounge areas (no wifi in rooms). The beach isn't much for swimming, but our kids did manage to have lots of fun in the water when high tide was in. We also did a walk out to the reef at low tide. Ocean 1 Dive Center is located at the resort to provide snorkeling and SCUBA trips in the nearby coral reefs. We did this and it was a great half day trip.

This is a great place if you are looking to relax and avoid the hustle and bustle of larger resorts!

Room Tip: Standard Rooms #6 (2 twin beds) and #7 (king bed) were ideal for our family of four. Right next to...
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  • Stayed January 2015, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2015 via mobile

We absolutely loved Matemwe Beach Village. We stayed over Christmas and this was our honeymoon trip. The vibe, setting, staff, food, and attention to detail were second to none during our 10-day trip in Zanzibar. Upon arrival Manager Ali informed us that we had been upgraded to the honeymoon suite, which happened to be empty. This was a very unexpected and appreciated gesture. Asali Suite is quite spectacular - as I see other guests have commented too.

Other than this special treatment we really enjoyed the friendliness of the staff and the responsible tourism approach. Christmas festivities were colourful, classy and felt congruous with the beach setting and predominant Muslim culture. It was all so well done and clearly the team had put a lot of thought into planning this.

We met several friendly fellow guests. One family were staying at a self-catering place nearby and had tried many different restaurants along the beach. They commented that their best meals of everywhere they tried were definitely found at the Beach Village. We went on to spend 2 nights at a more expensive all-inclusive lodge further along the beach and indeed there was no comparison in that regard - food at the Beach Village was definitely our best meals outside of Stone Town.

The 'reef walk' was a great experience. The snorkeling costs surprised us but were in keeping with other prices elsewhere on the island for similar trips. Worth doing if you enjoy that - the Mnembe Island area is incredible.

Thank you / Asante sana to Ali, Esther, Miriam, Hadj, Abraham and everyone else whose names we didn't get to. We had a wonderful honeymoon!

Stayed December 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2014 via mobile

What a treat. A lovely location and great place to relax. Secluded and calm.

The food at the hotel was absolutely amazing - best food I've had whilst on holiday. They also mix up the seating arrangements so that one night you can be on the beach with amazing views of the stars.

The pool area is lovely and very close to the beach so you can flit between the two.

The only downside is the rooms themselves. The open air toilet areas are mosquito breeding areas. I think some re jigging could be done to make the rooms a little more comfortable.

The staff were lovely, especially Esther who was so happy and helpful.

I would definitely go back if only for the location and the food! But if you go make sure you have your DEET spray with you!

Stayed November 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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Zurich, Switzerland
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2014

We spent a week at Matemwe Beach Village after a 6 days on a safari. The place is absolutely great to relax! We found it to be authentic with great food and good service. The cook paid a lot of attention to making the experience memorable by having dinner setup on a beach with a delicious grill of seafood and fish. On another evening they set up tables around the pool area with candles, making it a very nice and romantic setting (we understand they organise a special dinner twice a week).
Having the dive centre in the hotel was very convenient for us as divers, and the staff was very helpful and professional (see our comment about One Ocean Zanzibar dive centre- Matemwe beach).
Our room gave directly access to the beach and was nice and cosy / authentic (do not expect a room from a large hotel complex). Each room had its own balcony and resting space, and huts on the beach with long chairs.
The sunrise and sunset at the beach were unique.
We were there mid June and it was very peaceful.
However, we could not swim directly in the water from the beach, as the tide was low during the day (300 meters to the barrier reef - did not affect us as we are divers. For snorklers it is also nicer to book some trips around the island).
We strongly recommend doing the spice tour - ask the taxi driver of the reception of the hotel.
We also visited Zanzibar which we were not very impressed by. But it is worth seeing it in half a day.
We strongly recommend this hotel for travellers looking for a more authentic experience (not a big resort), because the food was great, the service was very good and the location is very pleasant.

Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
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Additional Information about Matemwe Beach Village

Address: Matemwe, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Matemwe
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 7 B&Bs / Inns in Matemwe
Number of rooms: 17
Also Known As:
Matemwe Beach Village Hotel Matemwe
Matemwe Beach Village Zanzibar

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