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“Beautiful beachside hotel with average service”

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Protea Hotel by Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins
Ranked #18 of 33 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
Los Angeles, California
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Beautiful beachside hotel with average service”
Reviewed July 19, 2013

The hotel and the beach are beautiful - it is a great place to sit on a beach chair and relax or watch the ocean sunset on the pier.

Unfortunately the service ruined my opinion of the hotel. We had so many problems with our room (the shower flooded, there was no water, etc.) and because there is no phone in the room, we had to continuously walk up the front, interrupt the people while they checked their Facebook, and ask them for help. They seemed annoyed and didn't act helpful at all. The problem would eventually be fixed hours later. Also, for $300/night, I would expect wifi to free (I was told it was free and then charged when we checked out) and be in the rooms, not just in the hotel lobby.

The rooms were nicely decorated and we had a great view of the ocean. It would've been nice to have a mosquito net on the patio so we could enjoy dinner or breakfast, but oh well. The restaurant was nice, good food, good service. No poolside/beachside drinks service though. The spa is fantastic and the ruins are really cool.

If you're not staying too long, this place would be okay. But if you're here for a long time, choose a place with better service.

Room Tip: Rooms 11 and 14 have great views of the ocean - they are more expensive, but worth it.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank AlexisDorn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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222 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (46)
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English first
Hampshire, UK
Level 6 Contributor
170 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2013

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.

Room Tip: We had room 14, which is on the first floor and closest to the beach. There are only 14 rooms in 3 s...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank ImATravelJunkie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zanzibar Island, Tanzania
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

Not rating the hotel - as I just walked through but I would like to draw your attention to the hotel spa.Daja (the owner) has managed to create a little beautiful hideaway to help us girls (and guys) brush up our exterior.

Besides the traditional scrubs and massages - something everybody should try while on the island by the way - Daja is also a hair stylist. Products she uses are coming straight from Milan, the techinque she uses I only know from the top stylist back home in Europe!
What a surprise!

Definatly a MUST VISIT if you are staying there!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Travel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SF Bay area
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

We spent 4 nights here after being on safari. We had rooms that faced right onto the beach with nice balconies. When we arrived they were beautifully decorated with flowers. The pool was nice and the beach was nice to look at but not good for swimming as it had rocks and mangrove roots. People did swim though.
The breakfasts were quite adequate. we did take half pension so had dinner--food was not fantastic as the fish was often overcooked. We had lunch a couple of times and some items were not available and we had to wait a long time but the end result was good. However, this is Africa and we were on vacation.
The hotel found us a very competent driver to take us around. It is about 10 minutes into Stonetown
The hotel staff was fantastic in helping us to sort out some issues with the airline.
We did take some kayaks out around the mangroves but unfortunately one sank in transit--all well and made for a good story, but check seaworthiness before embarking.
The hotel grounds are very interesting and we had a pleasant time strolling around and learning the history.

Room Tip: Ask for rooms 10,11,12 or 14.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Fauxlapin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Regina, Saskatchewan
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed March 12, 2013

We only had two days in Zanzibar so were looking for a hotel close to Stone Town from which to tour its historic centre but also grab a bit of beach time. This hotel was perfect. Short trip from the airport and a handy hotel shuttle to Stone Town. The beach is small but decent. The beaches on the west and north sides of the island are nicer, but they are much further away from Stone Town. The beach could use a few more lounge chairs but otherwise was fine. The rooms are furnished in traditional Zanzibar wood furniture and are air conditioned. There is a spa with wonderful service and very cheap prices. Other resorts on the island have spas that charge North American prices but the spa at Mbweni Ruins was only a third the cost. I especially loved the hotel restaurant and bar (open air with thatched roof) with beautiful views of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. The food and service in the restaurant were very good. Overall this hotel is excellent value for the money. There are definitely more luxurious beach resorts in Zanzibar but you will pay double the price of Mbweni Ruins.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank MADL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 8, 2013 via mobile

Spent 1 night on way back from Chumbe Island, wish we had not bothered. Room was in serious need of upgrading and bathroom unpleasant with mouldy bath shower that didn't drain - ended up standing in bath of water to shower. Service was average at best, staff showed very little interest in doing more than the bare minimum. Biggest disappointment was lack of sun beds around pool/beach area that made relaxing impossible unless you like being covered in creepy crawlies.
Service was poor & worst we had on Zanzibar.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Bl19uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florence, Italy
Level 4 Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2013

I spent 2 night at Mbweni Hotel in Zanzibar after a Safari. Mbweni Ruins Hotel is picturesque with its ruins, beach, swimming pool, and a huge restaurant on a terrace overseeing the ocean. It is a relaxing and peaceful environment. At the same time it is close to Stone Town (10 minutes) and the hotel offers a shuttle to go there or they can arrange a taxi service for you! Amenities are incredible including yoga classes, hairdresser, and a spa.

The staff is very nice and the managers are available anytime and really welcoming and helpful. They make you feel at home and make sure you are at ease and have all what you need. They also help you organizing tours and excursions in order to have an enjoyable time.

The hotel is very clean and comfortable and offers extremely tasty food. Excellent experience!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Crisvilla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Protea Hotel by Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins

Property: Protea Hotel by Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins
Address: Plot number 143/93, Mbweni Street | Kiembe Samakie, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Stone Town
#4 Spa Hotel in Stone Town
#4 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#9 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#11 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Protea Hotel by Marriott Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins 4*
Number of rooms: 13
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

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