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“A little chaotic around the edges” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Emerson Spice

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Emerson Spice
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Ranked #1 of 34 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A little chaotic around the edges”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2013 via mobile

I'm a little surprised at the uniformly glowing reviews on tripadvisor.

This hotel is gorgeous, without doubt. The building is full of character, each room is decorated with care and elegance; it is probably the most beautiful building I've stayed in. The location too, in the heart of beguiling stone town, is superb.

The service, however, is a little ragged. Food, when ordered to our room on three occasions, took at least 40 minutes to arrive each time. When our air conditioning fuse blew in the middle of the night, the staff on duty (who were asleep on the floor of reception) had to be cajoled into doing something about it, and then couldn't find the fuse box. On another night, the bar staff left for home at 7:30pm because no-one had booked for dinner, leaving a number of guests trying (successfully but with some effort) to persuade the reception staff to provide some drinks.

All minor complaints, to be sure, and all complaints that the manager agreed to address. But a 2013 Tripadvisor winner? I expected a little better.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Diplomatic_husband
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Your review is bracing for us. An honest little slap that we deserve. We are trying to do too much with too little staff, as we edge into closing for maintenance month May. We apologize.

Frankly, it is difficult all year for a hotel as small as ours and as moderately priced as ours, to provide all the services that we try to provide. Yet somehow, we mostly manage to get it done, and to enjoy the challenge in the process. Our motto among ourselves is "a wish is a command."

Currently, we're trying to put in a solar hot water system, a new generator, repair our inverter system, fix numerous small things in the rooms in order to close with the heavy stuff done while I'm here. When the staff prepare at the end of May to re-open the 1st of June, the tasks should be largely cleaning.

This past week we've had too few dinner reservations to open the restaurant. A bar staff member should remain until 10 PM, but as few are in the rooms, there probably were no orders for room service until yours. This is will be addressed to ensure that this mistake will not happen again.

About the A/C , it was not a fuse, but a citywide power cut. We were on inverter to provide power to rooms quietly, but the inverter system batteries cannot provide for the A/C. That many batteries are beyond affordability for us.
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451 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (139)
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English first
Oslo, Norway
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

We stayed at "Kate", a room with two terraces, outdoor bathtub, and fantastic view of Stonetown. Emerson Spice is a hotel with a friendly atmosphere, good service and beautiful interior. We would recommend it to everyone going to Stonetown/ Zanzibar!

  • Stayed April 2013, 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
Helpful?
1 Thank ida b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
331 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

After a fantastic safari experience with Africa Travel Resource we finished our holiday with 3 days in Zanzibar. I have always been keen to visit this most atmospheric of cities and wanted to be right in the centre of things - in the ancient 'souk' of Stonetown. Most europeans as far as I know stay in the resorts on the beaches 30 miles or so to the north and visit stonetown on an excursion. Take my advice and stay in Stonetown if you want to meet the real people and be emersed in its culture - and fantastic architecture including zanzibar doors.
Brilliant start to the stay when the hotel provided a lift from the airport - we thought we would be arranging our own taxi - so nice to see our names on the board when we arrived.
Fantastic welcome from the staff including the owner - Emerson. Our room 'Amour' - was jungle themed with fantastic antiques and framed film posters. Air conditioning was very important in the humid wet season and the full lenth mostqutoe nets were great - though I saw no mosquitoes in the hotel at all.. My kids (25 and 28) were in 'MImi' a- anothe excellent themed room with so much character. I believe the building itself is some sort of national treasure.

Breakfast was first class - fresh fruit and juices followed by eggs any way you wanted them - accompanied by about 3 different types of bread. Some of the fruit eg heart fruit i had not eaten before. It is absolutely delicious. Everything was fresh and from local sources - a great start to the day. My friend Pete who is a bit of an expert on coffee said it was really good .

We only had dinner once - on the roof top restaurant with its views of old Stonetown. This was one of the best meals I have eaten anywhere. The set 5 course dinner was nearly all fish (eg kingfish ceviche, Lobster in Vanilla sauce)- unsurprising in Zanzibar with some chicken. The food was innovative and exciting with many flavours I had not experienced before. The spicing was masterful. I only wish I could have had some more time with the cook to pick his brains. The price of our meal was $30 - unbelievable value.The cook did encorperate the Mahi Mahi we caught on a fishing trip into one of the courses. It was great and not overcooked as a lot of the food in Tanzania is at times.
I cannot rate this hotel and its staff highly enough - they always went the extra mile - Need something? - no problem - one of the staff would walk you through the maze like souk and bring you back. The hotel even had mobile phones in each room which you could take with you if you were worried about getting lost - a great touch..
If you ever get a chance to visit Stonetown either stay or at least eat here - book for dinner as the smallish restaurant fills up.

Room Tip: What can I say - everything was great - perhaps the upper rooms would be a bit of a challenge for th...
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  • Stayed April 2013, 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
Helpful?
2 Thank swpratt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 13, 2013
Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a comprehensive review. What else could I say? Maybe, karibu tena, tena, na tena.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013 via mobile

We just returned home after a wonderful, but too short, stay (one night). Our room was beautiful and comfortable. My four year old loved the room and kept wanting her picture taken pointing to the painted flowers on the walls. The staff and managers/owners were very friendly and helpful. The mobile phone and map were comforting to have as we wondered around. Dinner and breakfast on the roof were great. Loved all the fresh fruit! (Would recommend making a reservation to have dinner there - it was delicious, and my daughter was given here own options which were very much to a child's taste). Have already recommended staying there to friends.

Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
Thank Debi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

The hotel is beautiful, the room was gorgeous and the ambiance is very nice. Great location in the center of Stonetown. The dinner is great and very good value, but the rooftop terrace was a bit disappointing, being very small and not at all safe for small kids. The service at the restaurant was great, and while the front desk staff were frienfly they made a number of mistakes when we reserved meals and transport that was a bit annoying. I would definitely recommend this hotel though, especially if you travel without kids!

  • Stayed April 2013, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank camillar285
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kigali, Rwanda
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2013

What a wonderful experience to stay in this top hotel in the heart of Stone Town. We had the most wonderful room with a balcony - so tasteful and at the same time surpassing! Hearing the prayers in the speakers was a mind turning experience. The restaurant on the roof top served the most delicious food and a view. We recommend this hotel with all of our hearts!

  • Stayed December 2012, 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
Helpful?
Thank SatuM408
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this review, April 12, 2013
Dreams. Welcome to my dreams. Thank you for this excellent review. These rooms are all my dreams; daydreams and night dreams. It is so exhilarating when someone really enjoys them. Kigali is so close; in fact, we like to say that we're Rwanda's beach. Karibu sana tena!

Emerson
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sao Paulo, SP
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2013

I loved this hotel! I can't believe what you get for the price, I felt the food was exquisite (for the price), the staff was very nice and the Room was above and beyond! We had the pleasure of staying in the Violetta room where the balcony and bathroom are fit for a king. I had wished we had more nights but really two days is enough in Stone town. I recommend booking a tour through the hotel that takes about three hours and gives a good little summation of the area and history. The dinner in the hotel is the best 30usd per person meal we have ever had and the sunset from the roof over cocktails is also a must. We've moved onto a beach resort and while nice (and more expensive), I find myself still dreaming of Emerson Spice!
**one important thing to mention, it's located within the town where cars can't get to. We didn't know this so when the cab pulled over and got out and told us we must walk, he took off his cab badge and walked us through very narrow alleys. We were quite nervous not knowing anything about the area and it feels more dangerous than it is (in fact it's very safe) but initially, until we reached the hotel we were very on edge!

Room Tip: Ask for The Violetta room!
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
Helpful?
Thank jdave54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Emerson Spice

Property: Emerson Spice
Address: Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#2 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#6 Business Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An inspired and lovingly restored Merchant’s House, this multi-storied small Boutique hotel has an inner courtyard, eleven unique antiques-filled rooms, and two of Zanzibar’s best restaurants. All rooms are equipped with a small fridge, air conditioner, fan, and high ceiling mosquito net. The rooftop ‘Tea House’ hosts one of Stonetown’s most renowned restaurants offering a stylish ambiance amidst the sound of the calls to prayer from the town’s many mosques. The five course ‘Taste Safari’, prepared daily by our Zanzibari chefs, is seafood based and celebrates the freshest and best the market has to offer each morning. The sunset hour is an integral and pleasurable part of the experience so diners are encouraged to arrive at around 6pm to enjoy a ‘Sundowner’ before dinner. On the Ground floor The Secret Garden, set amidst lushly landscaped hidden ‘Ruins’, open to the skies, has a Zanzibari inspired A La Carte Menu. Look out for live music performed by The Dhow Countries Music Academy. Open for Lunch and Dinner. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Emerson Spice Hotel Stone Town
Emerson Spice Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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