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Zanzibar Serena Hotel
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Reviews (727)
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All reviewsbig joeseafood restaurantindian oceanwrap around balconybeautiful hotelpublic beachmain restaurantterrace restaurantold worldsea viewnice poolwalking tourthe general managerspice tourhigh ceilingsold buildingno elevator
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Reviewed January 30, 2012

To stay at the Serena inn by mid january 2012, we had reserved directly from their website, and fully prepaid the entire stay, months before our arrival. This rate is cancellable but the hotel immediately charged the whole stay as soon as we reserved. And it costs well more than 300 USD per night all inclusive in this luxurious ressort. At this price, you can expect highly professionnal service, that starts with a warm welcome, all time attention from attentive and polite staff, exquisitely design and equiped with all the latest amenities room. Stonetown is somewhere by the middle of the west coast of Zanzibar island and the Serena Inn is by the beach, exactly on the westernmost tip of stonetown facing Tanzania.
We like :
-1001 nights dream sultan palace like buiding (to our modest opinion as we’ve ever been in a sultan palace before) with antique furniture, that makes you feel you’re somewhere in an enchanted dream. And our standard room is more than enough for this enchantment. Very comfortable bed. Nice bathroom and our room 36 has an incredible large balcony facing the sea. WiFi included, slow but reliable.
-The pool area is great and while groups are visiting, you can have it to yourself. Which is most of the time
-Great breakfast scene included and the hotel also offers several options from fine dining to eat on the run by the pool at very reasonable price. All dishes are nicely prepared, in quantity and in qualily, and prefectly served by devoted and trained staff. Love the service from Mwasiti.
-Access to the hotel is 24/7 secured and the area looks pretty safe at any time. Sure we don’t run around at 2AM wearing expensive jewels and flashing our money out, not even at home. And historic stonetown starts at the entrance of the hotel.

We don’t like :
-Nothing so far

Tips :
-Ask to be met at the airport, the Serena will pick you up for 20 USD one way, or so (we don’t really remember)
-There is a travel desk at the hotel and you can ask ANY-THING ; from last minute excursion to buying ferry ticket back to Dar. For this last service, it’ll cost you a few more dollars but will save you so so much hassles if you try to do it yourself at the pier. We tried and ran away from hordes of touts.
-The king money is the US dollar, although euros are also widely accepted, and every little thing is quoted in USD.
-Touts are everywhere in stonetown. Always decline an offer or a service with a smile, it will stop there. Even if you have to do this 20 times per minute, it is just a game. Agressive or improper gestures often lead to misunderstanding and may result in escalade of threats. We saw this many many times.

So, it is expensive and there may be more choices in Zanzibar/stonetown, but we had great times at the Serena Inn where luxury met charm and gave us a memorable stay. Remember, the Serena is not a beach resort as such, you need to shuttle to their private beach.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank BEEPfromPARIS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 30, 2012

It is hard to imagine a better location than that of the Zanzibar Serena Inn in Stone Town, right on the ocean and within walking distance of the center of Stone Town. However, I had not realized that this hotel had no elevators, and there are a lot of stairs if they put you on the third floor! They only give you one key for the room, with all the issues that raises. The shower was terrible with sudden spurts of air, then scalding hot water, then frigid cold water, then nothing, and back again; you have to learn to duck quickly when you hear the air noise! They do offer internet for a price, but I could hardly get service so I gave up. My daughter found out that it only worked reasonably near the bar. Forget about taking a nap before dinner as they play on the drums at the bar and it will get into your bedroom (even when you are the furthest away as we were). At the restaurant, they started changing the menu and reducing the size of the portions when they discovered we were on full board rather than paying separately for our meals. There is no way this hotel belongs in a three star or better category!!!

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank DCTravelerG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2012

Zanzibar Serena Inn was the final stop on our honeymoon and was a great place to both relax and use as a base to explore many parts of Zanzibar. First of all, the location in Stone Town is ideal. Room was great- loved the ocean views from the balcony. The staff was outstanding. They arranged several great itineraries for us-- spice tour, day trip to Chumbe Island, sunset dhow cruise, and more. Private beach at Mangapwani was lovely and worth the trip. I would recommend dinner at the excellent Terrace restaurant- atmosphere and seafood could not be beat.

Room Tip: Worth it to get a suite- fantastic spaces!
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank KerriNYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2012

The Serena offers anything you ask for and some things you don't--like a cold face cloth and fresh juice on arrival. Desk Manager Charles, and Concierge Yussuf make sure everything is to your liking. Beautiful pool on the waterside and a rooftop restaurant for starry nights. Room service (food and housekeeping) was excellent. The only place to start and end a trip to Zanzibar. Within an easy walk of Stone Town sights and shopping. Decor is definitely "old Stone Town," with an Arab flavor to colors and furniture design, fountain in the lobby and gardens.

Room Tip: Prime rooms with balconies overlooking the sea and your own private hammock are ideal, but all are lovely.
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Mama71Vermont
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2012

Sewage smell in the breakfast room? I was surprised when I had this unpleasant smell, when I inquired nobody could answer my question... so I had to look into it myself, there is a open sewage pipe under the restaurant that pours out onto the ocean, it is very very surprising that the hotel has not done anything about it because it is a public sewer, and also since Serena does not use the beach right outside the hotel they don't care about cleaning this beach, there were lots of plastic bottles, broken glass etc, when I pointed this out to the staff their response was... not to worry we will take you to our private pristine beach away from here, what kind of social responsibility is this?

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank ShamashYogi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SerenaHotels, Ecommerce Manager at Zanzibar Serena Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded February 9, 2012

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for your time and feedback.

Further to your comments, please allow me to clarify that the pipe you saw installed under our main restaurant is actually a storm water drainage pipe and not a sewerage pipe. The pipe mainly acts as a drain for clear surface water from Stone town to the ocean and this usually occurs whenever there is rain. Occasionally, due to debris from food and other waste along the road surfaces in Stone Town, the water that passes through this pipe can be smelly and I presume this is the situation that occurred during the period when you stayed with us. We usually clean out the debris and also pour disinfectants from time to time to avoid such smell but we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience it caused you and we will increase the frequency of our checks on the drain pipe to avoid such anomalies in future.

With regards to the beach in-front of the hotel, we do clean the beach and collect papers, plastics etc. albeit intermittently. Thank you for pointing this to us and we have since started cleaning the beach on a daily basis

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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