We have just returned from a holiday in Tanzania combining safari and Zanzibar which was perfect. We had 2 nights here, 8 nights on safari and then another 6 nights here, which must be the ideal arrangement, arranged partly by chance thanks to BA cancelling their direct flight from London to Dar! The hotel has charm and elegence, and has a real sense of Zanzibar's history with the retained ruins of the missionary school for freed slave girls, which now has an amazing spa located in one wing of the partly restored ruins, all set in beautiful botanical gardens. Our room was right by the beach with a view both overlooking the beach and mangroves (with local fishermen poling their small boats along and through the mangroves each morning), and also the pool and gardens both from the large balcony and the windows. We slept in a 4 poster bed under mosquito nets to the sound of the waves gently breaking on the beach with quiet air-conditioning humming in the background. Cesare and Anna run the hotel and ensure a perfect stay, and all the staff are wonderful, greeting you every day with a big smile and a "jambo" (hello in Swahili!).
The restaurant is excellent and very good value. There is a great buffet breakfast each day included in our room rate, a good selection of light meals for lunch (we can particilarly recommend the seafood salad, prawn curry and Mbweni burger!!), and excellent 3 course (if you can manage that much) dinner menus which change every day. The hotel has a long pier leading from a deck and veranda (great for sundowners) out over the mangroves out into the Indian Ocean, and if you order in advance you can have a special 3 course seafood dinner by lamplight at the end of the pier wich is just wonderful and costs just $30US per person and includes a bottle of wine per couple. We did this at the start of our holiday then again on our last night, it is so good.
My wife likes massages and has them prettly much wherever we go on holiday and regularly at home. She booked a full one hour body massage for $25 in the spa, came out glowing and so relaxed that she immediately booked two more (one every other day)!! The first time she came out smelling of cloves, the second vanilla and the third cinnamon!!
We did a spice tour (interesting and fun), a tour of Stone Town (definately recommended), and one to see the Red Colobus monkeys and the East coast beaches. Rather than the East coast we would probably go to the North next time, although driving back from the East we did happen across a local wedding party in full swing in a village. Ruth is a keen photographer and our driver said to go into the village and see the festivities, and she was soon dragged in to dance by one of the local ladies, much to everyone's delight. A really bright and colourful event. I had a day diving with One Ocean in Stone Town, arranded through Cesare at the hotel. Although diving from the NE at the Mnemba Atoll is supposed to be better it was still great. 2 dives plus a light lunch $125 inc all equipment. One a wreck dive (the Great Nothern, wrecked over 100 years ago), and the other around the coral reef off Bawe Island. Just 5 of us diving with 3 good instructors and good equipment.
The hotel has 2 lovely dogs (Carlotta and Camilla) which are incredibly well behaved, and a number of cats. If you like animals they will greet you and be happy to be petted, but if not they won't disturb you and are a part of the charm of the hotel.
All in all a fabulous and memorable stay in a really great little hotel. Thank you so much Cesare, Anna and all the staff. We hear changes in the management are coming soon and really hope they build on what has been so lovingly created at the Mbweni Ruins Hotel, and retain the charm,tranquility and good service it has established.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The only Protea in the beautiful Zanzibar, Protea Hotel by Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins provides the perfect choice for both beach and Stone Town holidays in Zanzibar. We are located amidst Mbweni Ruins dating back to 1870s and a beautiful botanical garden. The hotel is ten minutes away from Stone Town, airport, ferry terminal and the CBD of Zanzibar. Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins is a cozy boutique hotel offering serene accommodations amidst a rare blend of history, greenery and ocean with a beautiful beach. Traditional Zanzibar hospitality at its best is offered at an affordable price. It's a hotel that complements your travel style. The site where the hotel is built was once an old Arab house, which was then bought by UMCA missionaries in 1871 to build a school for girls. The hotel makes a perfect base for exploring Stone Town. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Mbweni Ruins
- Protea Hotel By Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins Zanzibar Island/Stone Town