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“A Truly Wonderful Place”

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Zanzibar Serena Hotel
Ranked #9 of 33 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
McLean, Virginia
Level Contributor
104 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“A Truly Wonderful Place”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 25, 2007

Our extended family group of seven spent three days at the Zanzibar Serena Inn this August. It was a truly wonderful place. It has the best location in Stone Town, with the ocean on one side and the old town on the other. Its pool, bar and restaurants are incredibly romantically situated at the waters edge. The food and drink were all strictly first class. The rooms are reasonably spacious and very well maintained with views over the pool to the ocean. There are some issues, but they are relatively minor in comparison to the dreamy Arabian nights atmosphere conjured up by the Inn as a whole. The only negative I heard from multiple guests was that the beds were too hard. No matter. If you have a problem the management will do its best to solve it for you. We had some issues with our rooms on arrival and were delighted at the responsiveness of Front Office Supervisor Charles Kisaka, who worked very hard to make us feel special and succeeded. The Zanzibar Serena is not just a hotel but an experience. I would go back in a heart beat and only hope I have the chance.

  • Liked — The ambience
  • Disliked — The hard mattresses
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank jmgradon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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668 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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london
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 15, 2007

My partner and I stayed at the ZSI initially for 3 days before going on safari. Our room was absolutely fantastic with a L-shaped huge balcony, stunning ocean views, and sunsets, coupled with excellent service. After 3 days in the bush we were taken to our chosen beach holiday, which was awful, and as a result after one night we wanted to leave. We called the ZSI and they welcomed us back for the other 9 days of our holdiay, (No extra charge) and we even got the same magnificent room back. The time we spent there we got to know the staff very well, who were friendly and the service would put some of the top London hotels to shame. We dined in the Upper Terrace restaurant, and I can personally say the food was excellent and plentiful. I had a half a lobster, which must have come out of the ocean kicking and screaming, and it was enormous. The tours provided by the hotel both Prison Island/Spice Tour were the best, and so informative. I constantly view the photographs on a regular basis to remind me of the most fantastic holiday experience I have ever had in my life. I intend to return there next year (2008) and I only intend to stay at ZSI.

  • Liked — Everything, I stayed in London Hilton and it was shabby in comparison
  • Disliked — Nothing.
  • Stayed February 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank zsi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Divonne,France
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2007

This hotel is extremely well located on the sea front and within a 5 min walk from the centre of stonetown. The rooms are reasonably spacious and ours had a four poster double...we were booked into a superior room with a view,this meant we had a huge balcony with hammock and comfy chairs and a fantastic views over the sea. Bathroom small but fine. The hotel is Moorish with lots of attractively carved wood . It has a sort of colonial charm to it. The pool is lovely,set in a central courtyard. There is a beach by the hotel and another one which the hotel has private access to and runs a bus to as its a 5 min ride away(we didnt use it). Would happily recomend it esp when we saw the other hotels...

  • Liked — location,architecture,
  • Disliked — bathroom small,bed a bit hard!
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Celiaann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, UK
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 29, 2007

My wife and I had the pleasure of staying at the Zanzibar Serena Inn recently as part of our honeymoon trip. We stayed in a prime room and had a great view of the sea. We were somewhat disappointed that we had to remind the management that we were on our honeymoon as we understood that our travel agent had advised them of this. Nevertheless, once this had been clarified on presentation of our marriage certificate, we were given a bottle of sparkling wine although we felt that this was more of a chore than anything else. The food was reasonable and the staff friendly enough. The location of the hotel is excellent and it serves as a good base for exploring Stone Town. However it was rather characterless and we could just as well have been staying somewhere else in the world. Having met other couples during our travels, it seems that the reviews here about the Zanzibar Palace Hotel are spot on.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Rather characterless
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank dcooper77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, UAE
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 18, 2007

9 days stay at the Zanzibar Serena Inn and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was given a room with a balcony and a stunning view of the beach and the swimming pool. The location of the hotel is perfect, as it's on the beach and just a five minute walk to the main town area

All the staff were cheerful, polite and eager to help. Food was good especially their breakfast buffet. The service at the breakfast restaurant was attentive and the waiter's always remembered my likes. The General Manager Anthony meets and greets the guests in the public areas which I found to be a nice touch and his assistant Jonathan was very helpful with my requests.

Their foreign currency rates were similar to the town exchange rates, so you don't need to worry about the being ripped off with poor exchange rates.

In general it was an excellent stay and I would recommend this hotel, especially if you are planning to stay in town.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — No tea / coffee ficilities
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled on business
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank UAEDubai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
50 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 17, 2007

The Serena Zanzibar Inn was the place on my recent holiday I had most reservations about - since it was the only place that I booked through a travel agent rather than directly, and I was distrustful.

Not a problem! There was a driver at the airport bearing sign (thank heavens, it was POURING!) and we were straight into the hotel in about fifteen minutes. The staff at the front desk were politely reserved but friendly and efficient, and big Sulieman the porter was fantastic - a friendly, guffawing Forest Whittaker-type who picked both my bags up under one arm and led me straight to my room (57) chatting all the way. I felt instantly at home.

And the room was gorgeous: on a corner of the building with two shuttered windows opening onto the ocean (directly in front of me), and another opening to the side overlooking a tiled courtyard which became one of the restaurants at night. The furniture was unintrusive in size, attractively made of carved wood, the air-con was perfect (I think the poor staff thought I was mad, they shivered every time they came to deliver breakfast, but hey, I like a room chilly and it's a muggy place), the bathroom was clean and spacious (could do with a power point though), and the whole place was a haven to return to over the next six days as I explored the mazes of Stone Town.

Loved the pool too, warm, spotless and a delight to hang around in. As a solo traveller, I'd recommend this place very highly. The staff at the front desk were really nice (Anne was my favorite, a real hoot and dry as a martini...) as were the waiting staff and room service people too.

I also booked my tours through the tour desk in the lobby (Fisherman's Tours, I think they're called) and they were knowledgable, friendly and fast. I did a StoneTown walking tour, a spice tour and a Changuu Island tour, and the guides were terrific. I really couldn't fault my experience here.

I'm sure there are cheaper places, and maybe ones with better food, but for sheer setting and service, it gets my vote. No worries mate!

  • Liked — The staff were great
  • Disliked — No power outlets in the bathhroom in Room 57, and the safe wasn't working (no big deal though)
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank peekay68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2007

To preface: I lived in Kenya for two years and I've spent 6 weeks in Tanzania in the recent past. I've been to most tourist spots in Kenya and Tanzania and have a great familiarity with the range of hotel quality in East Africa. However, I'd never been to Zanzibar so on my last month-long trip to Kenya, I thought I'd make the trip to Zanzibar as well. The Serena Inn is nice, don't get me wrong. However what I was put off with the most were the horrible attitudes of the staff. The few times I asked for something at reception, I was scowled at, and their grasp of English is terrible. Since I speak Swahili, it wasn't a problem, however I pity the poor guest who does not know Swahili. I can't say anyone was particularly nice to me -- they just looked down on me as if they were better. I tried to get someone to help me lug my suitcase down the stairs in the morning before my flight and didn't get any takers. Imagine: you're in Africa and someone doesn't want to make a few dollars carting a suitcase. I've never seen anything like it. While the menu at the main restaurant is diverse and has great choices for vegetarians, I had a salad as an appetizer my first night along with a ravioli main course. Let's just say the food made me horribly horribly sick, and it took 7 days to become well. I know it was that food because I'd been eating packaged food for the past few days, and always (of course) drink bottled water. I went to the "spa" for a manicure, which was a joke. For $25 I had the worst manicure of my life, and they didn't even have top coat (I provided my own polish). There was no place to sit for the manicure so the poor girl sat on a stool and I sat on an office chair with the bowl of water to soak cuticles on my lap.
Bottom line: The room was nice, but in my opinion not up to Serena standards (I've been to other Serena hotels). I paid $150 a night for Bed/ Breakfast and feel that it was probably worth $129 tops, which is what I always pay at the Stanley in Nairobi which has nicer rooms, but lacks the beautiful view evening the two properties out. Furthermore, Tanzania is in general cheaper than Kenya so $129 is the max I'd pay, which would be an impossible rate to get at the property. Go to Emerson and Green instead -- pay more, but it's a far superior place. As a sidenote, I'll never go to Zanzibar again since I've recently discovered Lamu. I don't understand the hype over Zanzibar -- Stone Town is just a dirty, dliapidated town that was ruined by Tanzania's old socialist government. Perhaps the water activities are nice, but I couldn't leave the immediate area around my hotel because they served bad food that made me ill. Go to Lamu where you're not harrassed by the annoying street vendors and people in general!

  • Stayed April 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank KENYASAFARIGIRL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zanzibar Serena Hotel

Property: Zanzibar Serena Hotel
Address: Kelele Square, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Spa Hotel in Stone Town
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Stone Town
#3 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#4 Business Hotel in Stone Town
#5 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#6 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Zanzibar Serena Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 51
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Zanzibar Serena Hotel Stone Town
Zanzibar Serena Stone Town
Zanzibar Serena Hotel Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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