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“Great place........"guilded cage"” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Residence Zanzibar

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The Residence Zanzibar
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Mchangamle, Kizimkazi 2404, Tanzania   |  
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Free Pool diving lessons!
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Kizimkazi
London, United Kingdom
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Great place........"guilded cage"”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2013

My husband, son and I had an absolute ball here over the new year period.
Staff are attentive, kind and always willing to help. This I believe is down to the top tier managers all being Mauritian and French. Having travelled to both places many times, it was evident they are trying to bring their level of service to this African island. Many reviewers talk about the bumpy road approaching the hotel..really not an issue, try trekking in Costa Rica!
Villas are stunning, well maintained and cleaned to the highest standard. We had a garden view (217)? Second row we called it...and we're thrilled, as we had foliage covering our pool, we often went skinny dipping! Boating staff are extremely friendly and cool and a special thanks to "trumpetfish"! Who was delightful with my 12yr old son. We did the sunset sail tour but as no wind managed to swim with dolphins instead!
Food...if you have been to Mauritius/Seychelles/Maldives...much the same....good quality fish and produce served by efficient staff and cooked by European chefs. All beautiful presented and delicious.
All in all a great hotel and holiday location. Now the downside:(
Airport transfer $116 each way...sorry we are sitting ducks,...surely a hotel of this standard includes the 45 minute transfer ..or build it into the cost?
Husband and son went diving..was it necessary to put another $60ish for their transfer to diving location..surely spending money on the island is helping the local economy ..the diving school should pick up that cost
An unwelcome visitor in my room New years Eve...a snake...apparently it's unusual! Ok I understand that, but a bottle of champagne at dinner that night to compensate...maybe a few dollars off the bill might've helped!! I was totally freaked! Admittedly the hotel offered to move me to another room..2 nights before I leave when I've settled in..not an option!!
More hobie cats...we tried twice to sail in the afternoon ( as its tidal here, so no sailing in the mornings) but to no avail.

Despite the above would recommend a stay here, honeymooners will get peace and tranquility and families are extremely well looked after

Room Tip: Garden view....opposite presidential villa...they are not overlooked
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  • Stayed December 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
106 reviews 106 reviews
85 hotel reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
183 helpful votes 183 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2013

This is a high end quality property which helped save my holiday. I came here after leaving Diamonds La Gemma D'ell este (see review) a hotel which did not meet any expectation with regard to service or cleanliness.. The saying "what you loose on the swings you gain on the roundabout" aptly applies here, in this case. On entering The Residence it is more than obvious that you are immediately into a new ball game with regard to service, comfort, style and class. It is as previously noted an oasis of pure bliss.The villa's are spacious, luxurious and well maintained. The comfort of the bed alone eased the bad memory of the previous property . The residence is superbly managed. It is customer focused in every respect, with a management that has as its obvious goal, the achievement of the highest standards of excellence, in ensuring customer comfort and satisfaction.

The food and spa were wonderful features for me. The ambiance of the dining room is both soothing and relaxing. Breakfast is high quality. It is a place to pamper yourself. One of its outstanding features is the presence of some highly trained Mauritian staff, who just don't work in hospitality, or,in a hotel, These men/women have a passion and love for what they do that makes the difference. This is the difference between the excellent and the mediocre. The Residence Zanzibar is an all round excellent product and a place that was a delight to stay in. Your brand has won a customer.

Just 2 comments with regard to a possible improvement. Not having a TV in the bedroom was a little disappointment. Like a previous review it is the only place I watch TV on holiday. A gents haircut at $US60 is a bit over the top. The quality of every service does not have to be outrageous in price. All in all excellent. Thank you for a wonderful few days

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

Zanzibar is every bit a true representative of "down and dirty" Africa; broken buildings, intermittent electricity supply, chaotic scenes at the market, cars dodging bodies walking or sitting on the roads (generally in the pitch dark) - sights and sounds to exilharate and terrify you at at once. It's true that The Residence is an hour's drive from the airport which does have its drawbacks, but the journey is definitely worth it....and how! No expense has been spared to create this haven of tranquility on its own 30 hectare site. The oceanfront villa was magnificent - beautifully appointed, ample space to relax, superb bathroom (including an outdoor shower in its own inner courtyard), the most wonderfully comfortable bed I have possibly ever experienced and, best of all, bicycles that come with each villa so you can get about the sprawling estate easily (and I think it's quirky and delightful the bicycles are a variety of colors). It's fun exploring the different restaurants - I recommend the Dining Room, which is open plan and overlooks the beach and sea- and then finding your way to the spa for some really special attention to help you unwind. My massage and pedicure were top class. The admin team could not have been more helpful, organising a day trip to Stone Town with our own guide who took us on a fascinating day-long tour. First stop was a spice farm (have you ever seen cardamon pods growing and did you know that vanilla is in fact a parasite that lives off other plants??). We toured the palace which is steeped in faded glory (and a few injuries, having been bombed by the British for 45 minutes during the shortest war in history) and visited Prison Island where there is a colony of giant land tortoises, including a dear old soul who is 189 years old, bless her (or him, we weren't too sure). A particular pleasure for me was walking along the deserted beach at 7.30 every morning and encountering the wooden cart being pulled by Boss the Bull and his team of beach sweepers, who were delightful and kept the beach spotless. We enjoyed our Residence retreat so much we extended our stay by two nights. The highlight was reserved for the last night when we had our own private dining table on the beach, with our own campfire and candles (and even a comfortable sofa for aperitifs beforehand) and a highly attentive waiter who could not have been more wonderful. It was a truly magical experience under the millions of stars one doesn't get to see much because of all the usual light pollution interference. I have no hesitation in saying I would most certainly go back to The Residence in Zanzibar. It makes me wistful just writing about it......

Room Tip: If you're travelling a considerable distance, go for an oceanfront villa. The gardens are lovely...
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  • Stayed December 2012, 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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Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
140 helpful votes 140 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

I stayed at The Residence Zanzibar for a week over Christmas and New Year with family.

The resort is part of a small collection of resorts, with properties in Tunisia, Mauritius the Maldives and, of course, Zanzibar. It is also a member of the Leading Hotels of the World network, which, from what I've seen, is more of a marketing scheme than a true reflection of comparative quality (though member hotels do tend to be a fairly high quality; it's just that often there are equally good or better options in most locations).

It is located in the south-eastern part of the island, about one hour drive from the airport. At the expense of digressing, I have been to my fair share of crappy airports in my time but, without a doubt, this takes the cherry as the crappiest one of them all. Entirely shambolic customs clearance procedure upon arrival (though the quicker you can wave the $50 (per head) 'arrival fee' to a customs official, the quicker you're likely to get out of there), even more shambolic departure routine, involving not one but two painfully slow x-ray security checks, the payment of another $40 (again, per head) 'departure fee', and, most annoyingly of all, incessant 'requests' for tips, including from the chaps at the check-in desk and security control. You can see a new airport being built next to the existing one, but, at the moment, it is nothing more than an empty shell.

Anyway, back to the The Residence. As it says on the tin, the resort is pleasant enough, though not without flaws. But, in a way, that is beside the point. What is the point, you might ask? Well, the point, I tell you, is that the hotel is let down by the tide and the kelp. But more on this later.


Essentially, aside from the larger villas with several bedrooms, there are two types of villas in the resort – those with a view onto the ocean and those behind them, with views of the gardens and the ocean view villas. Now, although all ocean view villas do have a view of the ocean, as advertised, not all of them have direct access to the beach. Only those to the right of the main pool have direct access. Those to the left are on a mini cliff, if you will, which means that, although you can see the sea from the room, you can't quite get to it straight from your villa. We had one of these and, I must say, we were a bit disappointed. That is, until we realised that the sea disappears for half the day anyway, but, again, more of this later.

View aside, the ocean view and non-ocean view villas are identical (some of us stayed in non-ocean view villas). Spacious, with separate living room and bedroom, large bathroom with bath, indoor shower and outdoor shower (with cold water only) and your own private terrace with swimming pool. Klipsch iPod speakers – nice touch. The style of the rooms is pleasant, if a bit plain (more bare simplicity than luxurious simplicity, which worked well enough--ish for me but it is, I would imagine, conceivable that it may disappoint others). My, admittedly small, gripes with the rooms are: (i) the fact that the TV is located in the living room rather than the bedroom – now, I don't know about you but the only time I watch TV when on beach holidays is right before going to bed, and I'm certainly not going to stumble back in the room in a semi-drunken post-prandial stupor, slumber on the couch to watch TV for a bit and then get up again to get to the bed (I'd just end up spending the whole night on the couch); and (ii) they have not one but two of those odious plastic white fans, which, in my view, are not only pointless in air-conditioned rooms but spectacularly ugly.

You also get personal bicycles to move more quickly around the resort. In an ideal world, it would have been nice to have them all the same colour rather than a mixed assortment of flashy colours. I frankly don't know how I managed to survive a week surrounded by all these different coloured bicycles.

To sum up, the rooms are nice on the whole but they lack that extra spark that distinguishes the exceptional resorts from the merely good ones. This probably works as a general comment for the resort as a whole and not just the rooms.


A little bit disappointing here – not necessarily in terms of quality of the food, but in terms of choice. There are only two restaurants: the Dining Room, by the beach/pool, and the Pavillion, in the inside (if you will, the belly, or perhaps the bum – not quite sure why, of the resort).

The Pavillion, the bum of the resort, is only open for dinner and only as a buffet (with a different theme every night of the week). We only ate there once, when the Seafood BBQ buffet was on. Food was ok with one stand-out dish: carpaccio of Kingfish (the local prevalent white fish), carved right off the bone. I must have gone back to get more five times throughout dinner. What was unpleasant about The Pavillion was the fact that, being in the bum of the resort, we didn't get a lick of breeze, which made for a very still, humid, sticky time. In my view, a pretty pointless restaurant, which meant we basically only had one option for dining, the aptly named Dining Room.

The Dining Room is open for breakfast (buffet), lunch (buffet and a la carte) and dinner (a la carte). The quality of the food, although variable from dish to dish, is generally reasonably good. The breakfast spread is suitably rich, the lunch a la carte selection is also decent and the dinner a la carte dishes are generally good, with some inevitable misfires Oddly, fish dishes tended to be disappointing (other than perhaps those with prawns), whilst meat dishes fared better. Even more oddly, the stand-out ingredient for me was the mozzarella – absolutely delicious. Very pleasant too was the breeze that was often present during meal times here (unlike the 'land-locked' Pavillion).

As to prices, starters and snacks were $20-25 each ($25 for a pretty mediocre pizza seems a bit Justin Bieber). Mains were a bit more reasonable, at $30-40. Desserts/fruit at $14. Beers/soft drinks at $7. Coffee (very good black, as you would expect; avoid cappucinos and the likes) $5. On the whole, fairly typical rip-off prices of high-end tropical resorts. If you choose the half-board option (recommended), the buffet at the Pavillion is included and at the Dining Room there is a menu of the day to choose from at dinner (with only two choices per course). If you fancy anything from the a la carte (you can mix and match), you get a fairly generous $50 entitlement per head.

Wines, again, are not cheap, though not necessarily more expensive than you would expect. Bottles started at around $50. Surprisingly, South African wines seemed particularly bad value with prices easily climbing towards $100 and beyond, whilst French and South American wines seemed better value with, for instance, very decent Chardonnays at around $50 or less. Go figure. As it often happens, prices of Champagnes were outrageous, starting with $150 for a bottle of Moet.

The décor of both the Dining Room and the Pavillion is an even starker variation of the rooms', plain and simple, perfectly nice but no extra spark. Also, plastic white fans everywhere. Not very colonial in style (the professed theme of The Residence resorts). Really, in the greater scheme of things, how much more expensive would it have been to install nice wooden/cloth fans instead? Anyway, small gripe.

Another, positive thing. New Year's Eve dinner (whether at the Pavillion or at the DIning Room, where there was a set menu) was included in the half-board option. How very generous of them.


Staff are perfectly courteous, (almost) always with a smile on their face. Lots of hands to heart, 'jambo jambos' and 'hakuna matatas'. Having said that, service at restaurants tended to be on the slow side. They seemed to operate at an altogether different pace. Must be the heat. Then again, there is heat in a lot of places.

Some clumsiness, too. A few spills, including a cafetiere-ful of hot coffee which ended up on my brother's leg. These things happen. He survived. The Dining Room's manager, Soon, dealt with it very well - bottle of champagne and canapes at dinner time. Went down a treat. In fact, Soon was exceptional overall. Always making sure we were looked after; certainly knows his trade. Not an exaggeration to say he was one of the highlights of our stay.


And here comes the real rub. The tide and the kelp. Let's start with the tide. For half/most of the day, there is no sea for hundreds of metres. It varies slightly from day to day, but, generally, you can expect at least one half of the day to be without sea. Ah, but being the well-informed travelers that you are, you know that already. And so did I (or maybe that's a lie).

And now to the kelp. When the sea does finally come back, it is full, and I mean full, of kelp, as well as some funny looking bubbles sometimes. And this is not just for the first few metres too. Oh no. The green/brown tapestry continues for hundreds of metres, to the extent that, to get to nice, clear waters you need to get a pedalo' and pedal (or whatever it is you do on a pedalo') for a good 15-20 minutes. I did it once and almost died of exhaustion (I'm lazy and unfit, and I don't care). The upshot of this is that, apart from that one trip on the pedalo', I didn't swim in the sea once. Many people seemed to do the same as, during the entire week, I saw only a very small handful of people swimming in the sea (or rather the kelp) near the shore. Apparently it's different in northern Zanzibar (where most resorts are located). Apparently.

So to the pool it was. Perfectly nice, infinity-type, by the Dining Room, just off the beach. Sometimes got a little bit crowded during the day, which was to be expected given the whole business with the tide and the kelp. Perhaps the temperature was too warm. Or maybe it was the children's pee. Thankfully, God invented chlorine. Or somebody else did. Either way, I'm still standing.


Speaking of still standing. We all didn't take anti-malaria tablets and, at the last count, we are all still here. We have just come back and apparently malaria symptoms don't begin to show for at least ten days after infection (and the incubation period can last for up to three years), but at least we are on the right track. Also, there were very few mosquitoes, if any, in the resort and, famous last words, I don't think I got a single bite during my entire stay (without using repellent). Being the self-taught scholar that I am, I looked into this (I even read a very serious-looking report) and discovered that, very much unlike the mainland, malaria has been almost entirely eradicated from Zanzibar, though that's probably through prevention rather than all the mosquitoes having buggered off, but let's not focus on the details and keep a positive outlook.


Time to bring these ramblings to a close. On the whole, the resort is perfectly nice, with a few glitches and perhaps no added spark or oomph. Also, perhaps a bit too expensive for what it is (at least during Christmas and New Year; I believe prices are slashed by as much as half during any other time of the year). But I probably wouldn't come back at any time, not just here but in Zanzibar. Why? Oh, I'm not quite sure, a combination of reasons I guess: the damn tide, the kelp, the hagglers at the airport and so on. Yes, I can hear the tiny violins too. If I were to go back to Zanzibar, I'd maybe try the North (where, as above, the beaches are meant to be better), but I think there currently are no hotels of the same standard as The Residence there. Incidentally, if you're considering The Residence you might also want to take a look at The Baraza, on the island's east coast (though I gather that it has the same problem of the tide and the kelp). Perhaps that place has that elusive spark. Perhaps not. I'll probably never find out.

P.S. Stone Town in Zanzibar City and the national parks are worth visiting. Apparently, that is. I didn't leave the resort. Why? I really am that lazy.

P.P.S. I would have given the place 3.5 stars but, as that is not possible, I have erred on the magnanimous side. My one good deed this Christmas.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 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.
London, United Kingdom
17 reviews 17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

I am a trip advisor addict and would not go to a hotel without reading about it both good and bad. But it's always so interesting to then visit the hotel and review it yourself.
I can honestly say we had a fantastic 10 days of bliss. Any negatives you read about must be from people with extreme expectations. You surely come to Africa rather than the Maldives, Seychelles, or Mauritius for a different experience.
Where do I start...
The staff are fabulous...courteous, caring, interesting and incredibly friendly but without being overbearing and allowing you space. This includes the management down to the gardener. I couldn't and wouldn't want to name them as there are too many to name.
The villa.... We were lucky enough to have an ocean front villa although the accommodation appears to be more or less the same whatever you choose it's the view that obviously differs. They are tasteful, well equipped, light and airy with great bathroom and very comfortable bed with excellent linen. You have the choice os air-conditioning and a fan which is great as not everyone likes to sleep with A/c.
Service.....always with a smile and we were totally spoilt...all the time. Whether it's the daily magnificent fruit platter ( the mangoes are to die for ), or the afternoon biscuits we had requested or just the fresh coconuts and daily activities sheet delivered every day we found ourselves in the lap of luxury.
The beach...... We are in Africa and anyone who has the joy of travelling along the Eastern coast will know there is a tide. But this is what makes the view and everyday more interesting surely. Yes the sea disappears along way out but with that comes the sand banks full of little pockets of water and fascinating sea life. Flip flps are not ideal for this experience as you do get them stuck in the wet sand so ideally bring light water shoes if you want to explore. We found the tide wonderful to watch, the ever changing horizon and the activity of the local fisherman. If you are wanting barefoot White flour sand go to the Maldives but the water is clear and warm, the shells are abundance and the skies are magnificent. You all have the added luxury of a wonderful private pool which is cleaned everyday and is bigger than most private pools in hotels. We enjoyed flopping into this in the afternoons and staring out at our view eating biscuits and drinking tea...oh yes and the odd glass of wine or freshly squeezed juice
The food.... We were here for ten days which I think was longer than most but the variety of the food was excellent. You have basically two restaurants , one which is buffet every night but the theme changes everyday. Fresh fish is served all the time along with seafood. I found this
generally a better choice than the meat which was perhaps a little tougher than we are used to
but the presentation was incredible for all dishes, as good if not better than the average London restaurant .
The juices in the breakfast buffet were sensational, how many times have I requested a fresh juice in a hotel only to find it's really not but here wow......mango and passion fruit was out favourite...a little bit of heaven in a glass.
The surroundings.... The gardens are beautifully kept and the array of plants really lovely, each villa has been screened off from each other with the planting. The main swimming pool is huge, almost olympic size with an impressive glass side at one end. It was very enjoyable to sit out there and watch the activity and the guests go by.
The spa.....very often I end up not using the spa facilities as I hate feeling ripped off...mean as I am, but here this was not the case here. I took advantage of the discounted rate they offer between certain hours of the day which was perfect for us as we didn't want to lie out in the midday heat of the African sun. You get a full glorious hour from experienced and well trained staff, I would highly recommend it.
We travelled under sad circumstances and were quite apprehensive of our trip. But my nine year old son and elderly mother and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will most definitely return.
I do hope you have found my essay helpful.
One word of warning...if you are travelling with Precision air from Nairobi carry on board any medication and a swimming costume as they are renowned for not giving every passenger their bag when you arrive in Zanzibar, it follows on either later that day or the next.

Room Tip: We were in 106 which we would request again, it's close enough to walk to breakfast but far away...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 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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Kigali, Rwanda
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

We spent five nights at the Residence over Christmas and had a fantastic, relaxing time!

We stayed in an ocean view villa, and our villa was spectacular. Very luxurious, spacious, and comfortable, with attention to every detail. The bathroom was gorgeous, the view stunning, and the private pool an added treat. We slept very well, which is very important to us on vacation! I thought the turn down service every evening was exceptional, with a lot of attention to detail. I loved the small personal touches like the chilled, herbal infusion delivered to our room every evening and the tray of treats in the afternoon. Similarly, the property was exquisite...solidly built, lovely aesthetics, lots of attention to detail. The pool was great -- it offers a large shallow area great for kids to play, and a huge deep part great for doing laps. While the decor was very elegant, I felt that a little color was lacking...

The service was excellent, with a lot of personalized touches. On the first day I asked the person delivering our herbal infusion if he could make ours unsweetened...a few minutes later he brought us another pot that was unsweetened, and each following day they made sure ours was made the same way. We ordered a lot of our son's meals to our villa, and the in-villa dining was excellent. They were prompt, always got the order right, and set up the food very nicely (rather fancily for a 4 year old!). The staff everywhere were extremely friendly and extremely helpful, and really no request was too much. The only glitch -- the folks in billing were a bit clueless...they didn't record anywhere that we had paid our bill, and presented our bill to us again. The manager was extremely apologetic, and made up for it by giving us lunch on the house.

They made a huge amount of effort over the Christmas period to create a festive feeling, which I really appreciated! They delivered a small Christmas tree to our room with a string of lights -- which was very special! They arranged for "Santa" to visit the jetty on Christmas day, and he gave out presents to all the kids. There was a lavish Christmas eve dinner with beautiful place settings, and incredible desserts!

The kids club was alright. Great in theory, it provides an opportunity for you to leave your kids for a few hours a day. However, the staff didn't seem capable of really engaging the kids, and while the schedule looked fantastic on paper, in reality the kids were just hanging out doing their own thing. Our son didn't want to go to the kids club after a couple of times.

The food: on the positives -- the ingredients were fresh, extremely high quality, and lavish (guest traveling from outside Africa may not realize what a treat it is to enjoy fancier ingredients like pine nuts, cheeses, etc. in Africa, but we definitely did!). The fish and seafood were absolutely fantastic - fresh, and delicious. We ate dinners at the Pavilion (buffer rather than 3 course meal) since we don't eat meat and had more options there. We enjoyed the huge spread, the variety and the different theme every evening. On the negatives -- I thought the food lacked an authentic Zanzibari feel, and was trying to be too European (or something). I also found that the ethnic foods (Mexican, Thai, for example) were not at all authentic...the Thai curry for example tasted nothing like Thai curry, and the Pad Thai tasted like Chinese stir fried noodles. Nonetheless, all the food was delicious and very fresh. The room service/pool menu didn't look very exciting...can't say how it tasted because we didn't order anything from it.

The beach was disappointing, but that's just Zanzibar for you...they did do a great job keeping it clean, but there's nothing to be done about the seaweed, the sea urchins, the sludgy feeling under your toes.... However, the boat house staff tried their best to help us enjoy the ocean...in addition to taking us snorkeling each day, the crew at the boat house took us out into the ocean on a sail boat, let us swim for half an hour, and then brought us back. This was the only way we could get out into the beautiful, turquoise water a few hundred meters away.

We were a bit annoyed by all the extra charges. When you pay so much and go to such a beautiful place, you don't want to have to worry about all the extra charges. I thought the drinks were illogically priced -- water, which is complimentary by the pool or in your villa, costs $6 at meals. A 300 ml bottle of local soda water, which probably costs less than $0.30 to purchase, costs $6 (whereas a one liter bottle of imported Pellegrino only costs $4 more...). The airport transfer costs $150, whereas you can arrange your own transfer in a comfortable AC car for only $50.

Finally, I can't really put my finger on it, but I thought the Residence lacked a bit of soul...it felt like a luxurious bubble anywhere in the world. I didn't get a sense of being in Zanzibar and I didn't feel like our time there was a cultural experience in any sense of the word. We live in East Africa, so I guess it wasn't a huge deal for us, but if I were traveling from outside the continent I would have gone away feeling like the experience was a bit empty.

Room Tip: We stayed in 110, Ocean facing villa right past the jetty. Offered more privacy than the villas rig...
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  • Stayed December 2012, 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
    • 5 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, California
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

Hotel is beautiful, pool is outstanding, service was excellent. We found the staff made huge efforts to make everything perfect. Food was especially good. Beaches all along E. Africa have significant water recede at low tides making the use of the beaches during low tide undesirable. If you are choosing this hotel solely for the beach, look somewhere else besides E. Africa. The gentlemen at the water sports desk on the beach were especially helpful and kind. Our family enjoyed the snorkeling outing. Our family also rented a boat for half a day, and it was our favorite activity- the staff took us to a nearby, small island where we swam and snorkeled, and they sent us with a picnic basket full of snacks at our request. Linda at the Pavillion restaurant impressed us with how kind and helpful she was to children. In fact we witnessed all of the hotel staff being very accommodating and kind to their smallest guests. However, this is not a hotel overrun with messy, noisy, little kids. We noticed that families with young children tended to take meals in their villas where the kids can eat and swim and be silly in a more private setting. We are a family with 2 teenage boys and we found plenty of activities to keep us busy and happy. Childfree couples are also quite comfortable at this resort as well. One final special note- we had to depart the hotel at 4:30 AM (ouch!) and the concierge both wished us good night at 11 PM and was up again at 4:30 AM to see us off. Wow. Felt spoiled and well looked after. Thank you.

Room Tip: Hotel offers bikes for each guest at their villas, as the property is quite large. Golf carts also...
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  • Stayed December 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about The Residence Zanzibar

Address: Mchangamle, Kizimkazi 2404, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Kizimkazi
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Kizimkazi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Residence Zanzibar 5*
Number of rooms: 66
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Residence Zanzibar lies within a lush, forested 32-hectare estate where five-star luxuries sit harmoniously alongside nature's untouched beauty. Feel your spirits soar amid extensive tropical gardens that meet with powder-soft white sand lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Inspired by the island's eclectic cultures, our luxury Zanzibar resort blends modern comforts with Swahili, Omani, British and Indian influences. Indulge in the privacy of the spacious villas, attended on if you wish by your own personal butler. Enjoy carefree days relaxing by your private pool, on the beach, or exploring the gardens on foot or by bicycle. Savour a taste of the Spice Island's unique blend of cultures and cuisines, and the pleasure of sensational spa treatments. Discover more of the island and the waters that surround it in a myriad of activities, from visiting historic sites and rare natural wonders to deep sea fishing and diving with dolphins. Whether you dream of a quiet couple's retreat or fun in the sun for the whole family, embrace all the delights of our island life at The Residence Zanzibar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Residence Zanzibar Hotel Kizimkazi
The Residence Zanzibar Zanzibar Island/Kizimkazi

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