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“Character, comfort and affordability in an exotic location”
Review of Zenji Hotel

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Zenji Hotel
Ranked #2 of 30 Stone Town B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Netherlands
Level 6 Contributor
128 reviews
121 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 400 helpful votes
“Character, comfort and affordability in an exotic location”
Reviewed June 7, 2010

Zenji Hotel manages quite nicely to merge character and comfort. It’s exactly the kind of affordable hotel someone seeking adventure and romance would want to stay at in an exotic place like Stone Town, Zanzibar.

The lobby and entrance are not promising. You wonder what you’re getting into. This is clearly not the Ramada. Nor is it a five-star resort filled with pool loungers.

But once you see your room and understand the set-up, you appreciate what they’ve done here. Yes, this is a taste of the real Stone Tone, Zanzibar – but one that is palatable to Westerners. Some effort and thought have gone into transforming this local building into a comfortable hotel with a good deal of character.

My room (Flavour) was spacious and clean. A great old door. High ceilings. Original floor. A cool, dark and uncluttered room in a town where these qualities are at a premium. Huge four-poster bed with mosquito netting. Not a separate bathroom per se, but a large en suite bathroom corner with nice shower. The fan and air conditioning worked well. Balcony overlooking typical street scene.

The room didn’t have a TV, but for some reason I didn’t miss it. There was free internet on the top floor, although the connection was hit and miss when I was there. When it was working, it was fast.

The breakfast on the rooftop was surprisingly good. It was included in the hotel price.

The hotel is in Malindi, a vibrant, non-touristy part of town near the port. You can hear the muezzin from the nearby centuries-old mosque. Although not at all out of the way and not a far walk from the things worth seeing, it’s not near the concentration of hotels and tourist shops in Shangani. Take 10 steps away from the hotel and you’re in the middle of it all. Zanzibarians are going about their business, especially at the nearby port.

The hotel hooked me up with a crew running affordable snorkel runs out to the reefs at the nearby islands. It was an easy walk to the beach where the boats are. We went to a different island every day.The boat trips and snorkelling were both fantastic. You can trust the boats and skippers they hook you up with.

People were talking on the street at night and the muezzin first call to prayer comes naturally at an ungodly hour in the morning. The noise didn’t bother me too much though.

OK, a word of warning. For the first time in my life I was hit with a serious case of traveller’s diarrhoea in Stone Town. (It had nothing to do with the hotel.) Be a bit careful about what you eat and drink and where you do these things. I wouldn’t try the food at some of the local restaurants or the local market.

It’s difficult to decide how to rate this particular hotel. It’s not a luxury hotel of course, but it’s comfortable enough, has a touch of class, and scores high for local character. I really liked the place (including the fact it was so affordable) so I’m going to rate it a 4.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank zwerf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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406 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed May 31, 2010

What can I say...incredible, wonderful, accommodating, friendly staff. I stayed in the Colours of the Kanga room - the cheapest at 35 USD/night. Shared bathroom with one other guest room - not really an issue. The bathroom has the shower as part of the bathroom so does get wet but not a huge issue. The bed was super comfortable, mosquito net good quality. It is a noisy location, but as a budget traveler, I always travel with earplugs and they did the trick. AC is quiet and works well. It was low season, however, they were fully booked almost every night I was there - that has to say something!

The location might initially seem a little off the beaten track, but it is very close (but not too close) to the ferry terminal and I felt quite safe walking during the day and night to the hotel from Forodhani Gardens.

I also love that the owners really try to give something back to the community. And...if you don't like to haggle and are tired of dealing with all of the shopkeepers in Stone Town, the shop on the main floor of the hotel has good quality items (made locally) at fair prices.

As an aside - Zenji also has a coffee shop in Forodhani gardens - where you can go for good / cheap food in the evening. (The coffee shop is open all day!)

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank JudyToronto_Canada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed May 26, 2010

Hotel was nice although our air conditioner was very loud. Stayed in Spice Corner room which was tiny but clean. The shower was part of the overall bathroom which meant for a bit of a mess. Great roof top location for breakfast and a cool drink at the end of the day (honour system for payment). Not the quietest location but very convenient to the sights.

A great place to eat locally is the fish market about a 10 min walk from the hotel. Lots of fresh fish cooked on request but beware of "middle men" who will take their cut - try instead to deal directly with the stall owner. We ran into one tall thin gent who was very dishonest and charged an significant premium over the normal price but we learned our lesson.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank FrequentFlier1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Groningen, The Netherlands
1 review
Reviewed May 24, 2010

The Zenji Hotel is located close to the harbour and very easy to find. All the nice sights and restaurants are in walking distance of this nice and cozy hotel. The rooms are very nicely decorated and the beds are really comfortable. Every morning you can enjoy your breakfast on the rooftop, which is open all day and night if you want to relax. Unfortunately it has no restaurant or bar, but snacks can be provided (and there is a great Mishkaki place just downstairs!) and there is a fridge with cool drinks available for all guests. Also you can find a computer there and there is wireless internet, so bring your laptop. It is fast!
This place is good value for money: the rooms are much better than the hotels and guesthouses with cheaper or similiar prices. I have stayed at the Zenji for over three weeks and enjoyed every day of it. Friendly staff and everyone is very helpful. I actually got sick during my stay (never eat salad in Tanzania) but they took great care of me and even brought me soup! It may be not a fancy big hotel with a pool, but it is very cozy and definitely made me feel like home. If i'd to return to Stone Town, I would go back to Zenji for sure!

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ChrisScholtens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hokitika
1 review
Reviewed May 15, 2010

The Zenji was a great place to stay. The location was an ideal base to explore Stonetown. It is only a 3 minute from the port. Markets are right around the corner and eating places nearby.
The rooms were immaculate and cleaned daily. All the staff were extremely helpful and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble. Breakfast on the balcony was delicious. The snorkelling trip organised for us was fantastic and I would also recommend this.
We would highly recommend the Zenji to all travellers.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Hoki20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
aland
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed April 4, 2010

Pleasant little hotel with good location, nice rooms with AC.
Good breakfast, especially the coffee and the homemade jam!
The staff was very helpful and nice.
Internet access in the breakfast room.

Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank oozaa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed March 27, 2010

Stayed her for just one night in March. We had a double room with a bathroom across the hall. The room was very clean and comfortable and the staff were very nice and helpful. The power was off, so things were very hot, but they offered us a complimentary soda when we arrived on the rooftop patio and there was bottled water in the room. We paid 50US and it included an excellent breakfast in the morning. Only complaint was that it was quite noisy as it's next to a mosque that had loud speakers and there were calls to mosque very late at night and very early in the morning. When the generator was on the air conditioning in the room was excellent.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank HersheyBar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zenji Hotel

Property: Zenji Hotel
Address: Malawi St, opp Cine Afrique | P.O. Box 661, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 30 B&Bs / Inns in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the middle of bustling Stone Town, Zenji Hotel welcomes guests for a relaxing stay on the rooftop or in one of the 9 authentic rooms. The rooms have a ceiling fan and air conditioning, some rooms have balcony. All rooms have a different atmosphere referring to the rich Zanzibar heritage and culture. The breakfast, including homemade bread and jams, fruit juice, fresh fruit, different types of tea and real espresso coffee, is served on the rooftop from which you have a beautiful view over Stone Town and the harbor. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zenji Hotel Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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