My wife, 18 year old son and I stayed at the DoubleTree Hilton Zanzibar from the 16 Dec – 23 December 2012 on the all-inclusive package. We travelled from Johannesburg, South Africa. My general rule when travelling, especially in Africa, is to have low expectations and hope that I will be pleasantly surprised!
We had never been to Zanzibar before and had no point of reference other than the web site. We were pleasantly surprised! The photo gallery on the website is what awaited us, other than the beach and pool loungers which were different from the pictures shown, but not materially so.
We had two rooms, a beachfront room for us and a pool view room for our son. Both rooms were identical save for the location and view. A nicely appointed room, plenty of cupboard space, a stocked bar fridge, a small balcony, a flat screen TV, mosquito nets, air conditioning, fan and a generous bathroom (shower only).
The upgrade to the beachfront room is worth the extra money. We had room 126 which is on the ground floor, right on the beach with a double door opening onto the patio from the room. You could walk from the patio straight onto the beach not more than 3 steps away. We loved it! There were several other beach front blocks but these were a slightly different design with the entrance door to the room being the same door from the patio which meant that one did not have double access, nor as nice a view from inside the room.
The pool was clean and featured a pool bar with stools from which one could order cocktail’s from the pool side. There was also a lunch / snack menu that featured toasted sandwiches and pizza’s which could be ordered from the pool. The pool is about 1.5m deep at the deep end and features a sloping entrance so plenty of space for smaller kids. The water was warm though (about 28° C) and didn’t offer too much respite from the sun.
There was a small gym that had a few barbells, medicine balls, Pilates balls and an aerobic cross trainer – but who goes to gym on holiday!? If you need the exercise, rather take a brisk walk on the beach!
The hotel also featured a small SPA with the usual treatments. We had 3 SPA treatments which were at best average and being US dollar based, on the expensive side.
The general restaurant (breakfast and dinner) was large with fans and pleasant sea views. Being at the hotel for 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners can be a bit monotonous. The hotel did however try to mix it up, especially at dinner time, where a different themed buffet evening was held every night. But a buffet is a buffet, no matter how it is disguised! There was a separate al a carte restaurant but we didn’t eat there, for no other reason than we had the inclusive package and it was unnecessary.
The upside of the inclusive package is that all the food (other than the a la carte) and local drinks were included. When you have a teenage son, this is a huge plus. We did not have to be concerned about budget or anything else. We ate and drank our fill and at the end of the 7 days there was not one query on our account. Well done Hilton! The downside is that because you have paid for it, there is a tendency to eat and drink at the hotel although there are a multitude of little beach side restaurants and pubs a short walk away which would have been fun to explore. Of course you can still explore these but obviously it is for your own account, and most of the standalone beachfront restaurants only accepted cash.
The Beach is Zanzibar picture postcard. Palm trees. White sand. Azure sea. Permanent fronded umbrella’s. Plenty of loungers. The hotel puts out towels on the pool and beach loungers daily.
The hotel grounds run to the beach and to ensure the integrity of the land on which the hotel is built, a concrete sea wall has been erected, separating the hotel from the sea. The sea is then accessed by steps down through the beach wall. This accomplishes a number of positives; the hotel effectively has a private beach area that is only accessed by hotel residents. The permanent umbrella structures and palm trees are not in danger of being washed away. The area for lounging on the sand / under the umbrellas is level and clean. The hotel employs security guards to keep vendors at bay. Your belongings are safe while swimming.
At Spring tides, the tide can go out significantly meaning there are urchins if you try to walk out. But at normal tides or at high tide, urchins were not a problem.
Although there is a tendency for “Hakuna Matata” service (ie not as snappy as one would like) we always had friendly waiters. Be advised that there was no ATM (automatic teller machine) in Nungwi and the closest one is Stone Town some 70 minutes away by car. The hotel will change cash for you at the going rate and also against a credit card which attracts a premium. Generally the use of a credit card attracts a 5% premium.
The son of my sister, who also stayed at the Hilton at the same time, got sick and the hotel had 2 doctors on hand within 45 minutes, despite it being a Saturday night. The problem was dehydration and a saline drip later, the problem was solved. Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you are doing water sports.
The dress code is casual but shirts and slops are always required for breakfast and dinners.
The Hilton was not perfect. There were some things that needed maintenance. The service was not always there but in summary, we had a great week.
If you are looking for affordable luxury in the Nungwi region of Zanzibar, based on our experience, we would certainly recommend the DoubleTree Hilton.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Unwind at DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Zanzibar-Nungwi, set on the most northern tip of Zanzibar in Tanzania. Feel valued and cared for on arrival with a freshly baked DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie. Relax in a spacious guest room with a private balcony and ocean panoramas or upgrade to a two-room suite and feel pampered with a 30-minute house massage, fully stocked mini bar, and daily fruit basket.Boasting a traditional Zanzibar style with Makuti palm leaf roofs, this Nungwi hotel offers spectacular sea views and direct beach access. Relax on pristine, white sand with sun beds and parasols and explore the tropical waters while scuba diving or snorkeling. Plunge into the outdoor, freshwater pool or sip on cocktails and fresh fruit juices from Dolphin’s pool bar. Continue your exercise routine in the modern fitness center or enjoy morning yoga on the beach.Savor innovative international and fusion specialties at Fisherman Bar & Grill before admiring the Zanzibar sunset and trying authentic Shisha aromatic tobacco. Enjoy traditional, live entertainment at Ngalawa Restaurant and savor delicious local cuisine next to the beach.Celebrate your dream wedding with stunning, exotic backdrops, host your special event on the beach, or choose from three flexible function rooms for your next corporate meeting of up to 100 guests. Stay productive in the well-equipped business center and enjoy complimentary parking and WiFi throughout the hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Doubletree By Hilton Resort Zanzibar - Nungwi Hotel Nungwi
- DoubleTree By Hilton Resort Zanzibar - Nungwi Zanzibar Island