We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Explore Stone Town from this functional base...”
Review of Al Johari

Best prices for -
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 7 more sites!
Al Johari
Ranked #29 of 33 Hotels in Stone Town
Reviewed November 3, 2010

We had five days at Al Johari in late September/October. It is not 5 star and, if you've enjoyed (and/or need) the high end beach resorts available elsewhere on the island, then perhaps Al Johari will fall short of your expectations. But if you are looking for location location and convenience to explore the historic town with comfortable surrounds and accommodating staff then the hotel will be an option. Yes there is no elevator - we were on the third floor - and the restaurant and bar are on the fourth floor but it was never an issue for us. And no we didn't carry our own 30kg luggage. We loved the hotels proximity to the vibrance of Stone Town with a short stroll to the waterfront, the many restaurant options, the daily local market, the historical buildings, and many shops - all those narrow winding laneways which demand you explore. The decor is in keeping with a restored merchant's house and our room which looked into local living rooms complete with the cooking smells came complete with a 5 am alarm (the local call to prayer) and the accompanying roosters but we think that is all part of the experience and the charm (and we are not easily pleased). We found breakfast adequate and whilst th choices might be restricted the staff were eager to ensure you were satisfied or that your eggs, etc were as ordered. A special thank you to Salum who from our first contact/inquiry went out of his way to ensure we had the best driver, day trip, etc.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Graham L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (101)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

54 - 60 of 101 reviews

Reviewed October 28, 2010

We stayed at Al-Johari for two nights after a stay in one of the beach lodges at Zanzibar. We had heard good things about this place mostly, so booked it (wish I had read the review posted in August though!).
Well, let's start with positives: the location is great, it's close to everything in Stonetown including Africa House & the Serena Inn (where you can go for great sundowner drinks and food) and the shops & night market.
As for everything else, it was all a big disappointment. The staff were charmless to say the least. When we tried to book a spice tour, they tried to get us to book one through their tour operator (as they get a cut) - but we refused and they eventually booked the tour we wanted for us. This seems to be the case across all the hotels, so maybe nothing specific.
We were booked into a junior suite, which was fine - functioning AC unit and a TV with 3 channels. As for the en-suite bathroom - well, it was awful. The sink was clogged with hair, which meant it didnt drain. The shower didnt work propoerly - it basically just trickled cold salty water. So, as the typicial non-complaining brits, we thought we'd just stick with it as it was only 2 nights rather than complain.
The next day, we went up for breakfast and I've never seen such a sorry breakfast before... and that's saying something considering the cheap places I've stayed in in my youth! The seats were dirty and the only thing I ate was a cupcake that came from a packet (I felt it was all rather too unclean to eat, and didnt want to get ill on the last 2 days of a great holiday!) We didn't have dinner there so can't comment.
The next day, after our tour, I faxed our boarding cards to the hotel....which meant I accidentally met the general manager as the fax machine was in his office. To his credit, as soon as I described the clogged sink, he had our rooms swapped to a bigger room. It was basically the same, but we now had access to more TV channels and the shower was replaced with what looked like a jacuzzi. However, there was a mains switch that you had to turn on and the live wire ran behind the jacuzzi - we weren't keen to try it out. So instead, we opted for a 'stand naked in front of the sink and wash yourself' option - nice, huh?
The worst thing thought, and one which I can't descirbe, is the smell. All the rooms had an air freshener fixed in which pumped something out intermittently to try and mask the smell. The rooms smelled fine, but the bathrooms were horrible - we had to spray perfume in the bathrooms before stepping to stop the automatic gagging reflex.
Honestly, there are many other hotels in Stonetown, and I can't see how this offers anything that that the others don't. Everyone else we spoke to seemed to find their hotels in Stonetown lovely, so am sure no one needs to experience this awful hotel!

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank FrogFish_2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2010

A nightmare visit! We had 2 rooms for 5 nights in the Al Johari in early August 2010. It was truly the worst hotel experience I have ever had by a big margin. We had 2 Junior suites at £116/night. It started with the plumbing - the shower enclosure did not meet the walls, the shower door did not close properly and the shower tray was fitted so that there was always 10mm of water left sitting in the bottom from the previous shower - really great to get into in the morning! The shower unit was rusty, probably because all water to the washbasins and showers was saline. The first time the showers in each room were turned on, water escaped out of the cubicles in vast volumes and onto the floor. We didn't realise this was happening until we got out of the shower. We then had no choice but to use the towels to dry it up. We asked reception for fresh towels and were told that there were none available until Wednesday (it was then Monday). Eventually they found towels but very reluctantly. The manager had gone on holiday so the chef was in charge. He was doing his best but it's not possible to run the restaurant and deal with maintenance issues effectively, particularly when the only tool that the maintenance engineer appeared to possess was a screwdriver, and it was doubtful that he knew how to use it. After the second shower in one room the water stopped flowing in washbasins and shower and we were moved to a deluxe suite at £194/night (£78 more). For that extra £78 we got a jacuzzi that was so tatty and again didn’t drain that we wouldn’t dare sit in it for fear of infection from the mould covered sealant, and an extra washbasin that was pretty useless because it had no plug. The one that had a plug only managed tepid water and the tap was so loose in the mounting that it rotated at the base (it was meant to be fixed solid). In every other respect the room was the same as the £116 one except that in the more expensive room the drains on both washbasins and shower were leaking under the units so water seeped out onto the washroom floor from under the finishing panels for up to an hour after a shower / using the washbasin. All of the rooms had drainage problems; the shower in one still had not drained away the following morning. To a greater extent this was cured when we very reluctantly removed massive balls of body hair from the plug holes after maintenance failed to find anything wrong. The maintenance team (seemingly consisting of one engineer supervised by the chef and 3 or 4 of the housekeeping staff) worked on our first room for several hours to get the water running and to cure the leaks but finally gave up. We were then told that we could stay in the Deluxe room for one night but then had to move back in to the waterless one. We had been pretty tolerant up to this time but no way were we going to stay in a room with no running water so we flat refused. The following morning we went up to the rooftop restaurant (great position, good views) for breakfast. I sat down and pulled up my chair. The underside of that chair was engrained with a greasy, kitchen-type substance that made my hands dirty and smelled horrible. It turned out that all of the chairs were similarly grimy. We were confronted with a selection of stale pastries and bread and inedible fruit. None of the other guests appeared to be taking breakfast in the hotel and after that we stuck to coffee and tea, and we ended up buying breakfast food outside the hotel most days after the second day. We invited the chef to inspect the problems in the rooms (all 3 of them) and discussed the problem with breakfast with him. He was very cooperative and promised that the food would improve the following day. It did, but only marginally and was still a long way off an acceptable standard. To the chef’s credit, he arranged for us to stay in the (still massively flawed) more expensive room and gave us a free evening meal for that evening. That may have proven to be our biggest mistake. The meal was flavoursome, well presented and appeared to be well cooked. However, overnight 3 of our party of 5 went down with diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V) and the other 2 followed over the next 2 days. Up to a point, I felt sorry for the chef – the manager had left him to deal with the hotel which wasn’t his area of expertise. However, the restaurant was his patch and I suspect that the poor level of cleanliness in the eating area was replicated in the kitchen – the bits that you could see appeared to be clean but if the chair experience was duplicated in the kitchen then it would have been a hotbed for germs. The hotel, in common with the other 5 that we stayed in over 16 nights in Zanzibar and Tanzania, provided sealed bottles of water in the rooms for tooth cleaning. That gave us a degree of comfort until my wife complained that a bottle that she had just opened tasted salty. Rather stupidly, I tested it too and it was definitely saline. We had been careful to check the seals before opening the bottles and that one appeared to be unopened. However, 14 days later my wife still has intermittent D&V although the rest of us are pretty much over it. She is now back in England and undergoing tests to see what she has caught. The only common factor for all of us, as far as we can tell, was the Al Johari. You might have expected that the catalogue of disasters would end there. However, we idiotically sent 4 pairs of trousers for laundry. All 4 came back with the stains still there and one pair appeared to have bleach dripped all over one leg. They had another go but nothing improved; the trousers simply disappeared for 2 days. Each room had what appeared to be an independent water heater in the bathroom, mounted high above the toilet. In the kid’s room, this started dumping scolding hot water out of what appeared to be an overflow pipe in the bottom of the unit when the toilet was flushed. I went to reception who reluctantly sent up the maintenance engineer (with screwdriver) to fix it. His diagnosis was that the roof was leaking and that he couldn’t do anything about it. This was despite the fact that it was 30C+ outside and hadn’t rained that day (and we weren’t on the top floor). I pointed out that there was an isolator valve on the wall and persuaded him to turn it off. Rather surprisingly (to him, at least) that stopped the hot water running. The floor was very wet by now, so the cleaner came to sort it out yet again. She stayed with the numerous other supervisors while the maintenance guy repaired the fault. We left them to it and were pleasantly surprised to find that when we returned it was actually fixed. Just before we checked out the following day it started leaking again. I went to reception again but it was still leaking an hour later. As we were leaving that day I simply couldn’t be bothered with it any more so we left it running (the isolator valve was about 9 feet off the ground so I couldn’t reach to turn it off). The final nightmare came when I went to check out. By then I was so fed up and wanting to leave this hell-hole that I only gave the bill a cursory glace (it was about $25 for a few drinks). As the drinks were dear as fire is hot I just checked that there were 2 bills and paid. When I got upstairs my daughter checked the statement and realised that one of the bills that I had paid was for 10 shots of whisky for another room. I was past arguing by this time but she was fired up (probably because the boiler leak had left her with an unusable toilet for fear of burning) and I was unceremoniously dragged down to reception to correct the error. After 10 minutes the receptionist, who was a very affable but not-too-bright young lad, found the correct bill and set about adjusting it. The difference was about 10,000Tsh (just over £4.00) but calculating it was beyond him. After an impromptu maths lesson he finally got the idea and refunded my money. There were other problems but all were relatively minor. This hotel has a plaque in reception saying that it was a finalist in a competition for boutique hotels in Zanzibar. God help guests at the competition that didn’t make the final! Their website states that ‘We have been awarded Four Star Category by the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism.’ Again, it’s scary to imagine how bad the one, two and three star hotels must be. To their credit, the bedroom and public areas were very nice to look at, the beds were very comfortable and they were fastidious about mosquito bite prevention in the bedrooms. The bathrooms looked very flashy but the plumbing was so awful that it detracted totally from the good features of the hotel. In order to justify their rating they need to, as a bare minimum: (1) completely revamp the plumbing/drainage in the bathrooms (using simple, quality showers instead of the flashy but cheap and poor-quality multi-function showers) paying particular attention to getting walls and shower-tray levels correct and good seals between fittings and the walls, (2) improve general cleanliness throughout the hotel to an acceptable level, (3) Improve the breakfasts by using fresh food and (4) either properly train their staff or replace them with competent personnel. I suspect that what lies at the root of their problem is poor management / ownership. That probably won’t improve if, as I suspect, it is a family-run hotel. I realise that few of you will have read this far, but I needed to get my gripe about this hotel off my chest. If nothing else, the story of our misfortune may well brighten your day! As a point of reference, we stayed in 6 hotels over 16 nights in Zanzibar and Tanzania; this wasn’t the cheapest but it was, by a massive margin, the worst to stay in. (The others were all, in fact, pretty good – a few minor faults but all much better than you generally expect to find in Eastern Africa). The Al Johari completely ruined our stay in Stone Town. Had we not been heading for 6 days in Tanzania on safari after we left we would probably have gone home early although the D&V might well have prevented that. Incidentally, we tried to move hotels but the few that were recommended by other travellers were all full. Oh, and although it's in no way the hotel's fault, when you are sick as a dog the last thing you really need is to be woken just after 5.00am by the call to prayer that is blaring from the speakers of the mosque just outside your window. To summarise, avoid the Al Johari at all costs; it is all style with no substance whatsoever.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Zanzibar2010Hols
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2010

I was very pleased with my stay at Al Johari. A friend had recommended another hotel nearby but it was booked, so I took a chance on this lesser-known boutique hotel. I'm so happy that I did! The staff were warm and welcoming, and went out of their way to provide me with recommendations of where to go, what to eat, and which tour companies to trust. Salum was always a friendly face at the front desk, and arranged several outings for me very quickly so that I was able to squeeze in all the activities I wanted in a short stay (trip to Prison Island, snorkeling, sunset cruise, spice tour).

The rooms are beautifully decorated and the shower is divine. My bed was wonderfully comfortable, and was turned down for me each night while I was out. The view from the rooftop deck is lovely, and you can access wireless internet from there while you take in the view. It's a short walk to the beach and to the bigger hotels, where the tourists seem to congregate.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank jmcsills
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2010

We were staying at another hotel outside of Stone Town and discovered this small boutique hotel by accident while exploring Stone Town. We decided to stay for a night and were glad we did. This small boutique hotel is not on the beachfront but only a couple of blocks from the Serena Zanzibar and about a 15 minute walk to the Fodorhani Gardens.

The room was clean and the bed was very comfortable. Hot water and electricity was good, however our shower leaked onto the floor (poor design) The A/C worked well but it was nice to have the window open to the sounds of Zanzibar. The room we had was a little tight on space but still pleasant.

The staff was polite and helpful with itinerary suggestions. The restaurant is on the top floor and although we did not eat dinner there, the usual continental breakfast of fruit, eggs to order, bacon, breads and cereal was better than average.

Overall I was satisfied with our stay here and although there are other more expensive hotels on the beach, I felt I received good value at Al Johari and would recommend it.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank lightningboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 11, 2010

I liked the Al Johari. Consider staying here if you’re looking for an affordable but upscale place to stay in Stone Town.

The location in Shangana cannot be faulted. It’s just around the corner from several of the top-rated hotels. It’s tucked in a typical Stone Town side street. The entrance was understated and classy. From the back entrance a Barclay's ATM is about 50 metres away.

The interior is intriguing and Zanzibarian looking, with an interior courtyard like set up, interesting architectural and art touches.

My room was as upscale as I could have asked for. Huge, comfortable four-poster bed with mosquito netting. High ceilings. Great air conditioning. TV had lots of interesting stations.

The room was a little small (but not in an unacceptable way). Not a lot of surface space, but plenty of drawers.

Also, the shower in the smallish bathroom had a design flaw. The whole shower should really be refurbished or replaced.

I enjoyed the rooftop bar. Great staff, nice view, relaxed atmosphere and the perfect place to use your laptop. (If I remember correctly, the wifi was free.)

They have a good cook there. The food was great, so I ate there for most meals. I wanted something that wasn't on the menu and he made it for me. It’s easy to get traveller’s diarrhoea in Stone Town but that wasn’t a problem here at all. I had had problems with this, so I was grateful.

There’s even a secret little beach nearby if you know where to look for it. It’s beside the Serena, on the left side.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank zwerf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2009

This was my 2nd visit to the Al Johari, but definitely not my last. The food is to die for, absolutely devine !!!! The hotel is within walking distance from all the attractions in Stone Town, you can relax at night, watching the sunset from the rooftop bar, absolutely breathtaking !!! The staff is extremely friendly, especially Mr. Gurpreet, the manager, who would go the extra mile to accommodate you. Asante sana Al Johari !!!!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank asasntesana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
Travelers also viewed these Stone Town hotels
0.4 mi away
Asmini Palace Hotel
Asmini Palace Hotel
#26 of 33 in Stone Town
74 reviews
0.1 mi away
Zanzibar Hotel
Zanzibar Hotel
#25 of 33 in Stone Town
113 reviews
0.6 mi away
Golden Tulip Stonetown Boutique
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
0.7 mi away
Warere Town House
Warere Town House
#14 of 33 in Stone Town
413 reviews
0.1 mi away
Dhow Palace Hotel
Dhow Palace Hotel
#13 of 33 in Stone Town
679 reviews
0.1 mi away
Beyt Al Salaam
Beyt Al Salaam
#22 of 33 in Stone Town
147 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Al Johari? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Al Johari

Address: 116 Shangani, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa
Hotel Style:
#7 Spa Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range: $77 - $112 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Al Johari 3*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Al Johari means the Jewel in certain translations of Kiswahili and Arabic, and we invite you to experience the Jewel of Stone Town, Zanzibar. Al Johari is a small 15 room Boutique Hotel in the Stone Town area of Zanzibar, and was the result of a careful refurbishment combining two ancient buildings in Stone Town to produce an exceptional hotel property while keeping within the Architecture and dimensions of Stone Town history with an emphasis on modern state of the art amenities as well as the opulent luxuries of the Omani, Persian, Indian and Swahili influences. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Hotels.com, Agoda, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, Travelocity, Orbitz and TripOnline SA so you can book your Al Johari reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Al Johari Stone Town
Al Johari Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing