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Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar
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Reviews (1,704)
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Reviewed July 8, 2013

Reading other reviews, most things have been covered, it is a wonderful place and although some small teething problems do need ironing out, it is definitely a resort worth visiting, where the owners have obviously gone to great lengths and cost to equip the hotel tastefully. Staff are extremely helpful, friendly, hardworking and happy to please! The accommodations and cleanliness are high class and the meals varied and tasty. The beach, though small, is beautiful and well serviced and with a few water-sport options (only the touts, once you pass the hotel boundary, can be a little persistent!). The landscaping is well appointed and will be amazing once fully established.
Choose the 'all in option', it's definitely worth the extra money spent.

Room Tip: For those that it does matter to... the local mobile telephone networks , wifi and television are not great. The phone service (I tried both Vodacom and Airtel) worked only at the higher points around the hotel. The WiFi in the public areas, slow, as was the cable hook up in the rooms. The television channels are very limited.
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank steve192
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Samantha B, Guest Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2013

Dear steve192, such kind comments on our landscaping and design, I will pass on your words to our owners who will certainly blush. When will you come back for round two? Until then and with kind regards, Samantha

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Reviewed July 5, 2013

Overall the hotel is an exceptional 5* hotel on a beautiful white beach with crystal clear water (one of the best in Zanzibar). However, the hotel does seem to have a few minor issues - which is to be expected from a brand new hotel.

The huge property is very well landscaped, with beautiful gardens throughout. The resort is on a hill, meaning that if your room is in the top layer - from the pool, restaurants and beach it is quite a walk. The pool area is exceptional. The huge +- 30m pool is rim-flow and overlooks the sea. There are loungers all around the pool (you won't battle to get one), and drinks and snacks are provided by the staff on a regular basis at the pool area (or ask one of the roaming waitrons).

The beach is beautiful. It is not wide (as I hear they are on the east coast), but it is white and the sea is crystal clear! There is also a very small tidal difference, so swimming and water sports are never interrupted. There is a small catamaran that is available for free usage, as well as kayaks (free) and a stand-up paddle board which is at an extra cost. There is also a jet ski for hire.
We found that the Le Gemma (a neighbouring 5* hotel) offers water sports such as skiing. One could easily walk across and pay to use their water sport facilities. However, their hotel does not look like it meets the standard of the Hideaway.

The standard rooms at Hideaway are perfect. They are much much bigger than any other hotel room I have experienced (including 5*'s). Each room has a king sized bed, with NO twin bed option. You are, however, able to get a sleeper couch which was perfectly adequate for us!
The bathrooms are enormous with a walk in shower, and a double sink. The toilet is in a separate, in-bathroom, room.

The staff at the hotel are always ready to assist. They are very friendly and eager to help wherever possible. But DON'T book on Half Board food basis!! As our driver warned us, everyone in Zanzibar is corrupt and trying to make a quick buck. We were harassed constantly by staff asking for us to give them a tip, and they would make our drinks/meal bill "go away". We insisted to pay every time, but were really disappointed. But we are positive that this issue will be resolved, and are fully aware that people try their luck in a new resort - where systems haven't been fully implemented.

We went on a sunset dhow cruise (a real must) and were able to see many of the other 5* hotels in Nungwi area. It became very clear to us that Le Gemma, Royal Zanzibar and the like, weren't nearly as impressive as Hideaway.

My advice to you:
1. Ask for a room as close to the pool and beach as possible (low down), this will influence your holiday greatly. Our room was room 148, which was the standard room, and it was perfect. All rooms have sea views.

2. Go for Full Board. No staff complications, free drinks and cocktails and snacks all day. Spend that little bit extra - it is worth it!

3. Watch the evening entertainment (9pm/9:30pm). It is often of a very high standard!

4. Use the hobby-cat or Catamaran. It is free to use, and it way under-used! Lots of fun!

5. Visit Mnemba Island for snorkelling.

6. Stone Tour is long and over-rated, but a must.

BOOK your tours through another tour provider, the hotel concierge way over charges!
Our sunset cruise was $25 - aim for that!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank GregKeal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Samantha B, Guest Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2013

Dear GregKeal, we thank you for such comprehensive comments and will review seriously your feedback for our half board package. We are so glad that you enjoyed the ocean sports and indeed we feel very privileged to have such a beautiful beach. With kind regards, Samantha

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Reviewed July 3, 2013

This is a lovely property. The owners have paid a lot of attention to detail. The rooms are beautiful, the views are stunning and the beach is simply the best beach I have ever seen.
The staff are very friendly and always happy to help but many of them require further training and at times the service standards can be a bit trying. I am certain that over time they will improve. The food was also a bit disappointing. I expected more variety of seafood and I was particularly disappointed that food on the buffet was not always covered. I did however enjoy the Tepanyaki restaurant.

The butler service was very helpful and I definitely recommend that you book a room with a butler service.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank DbnTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Samantha B, Guest Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2013

Dear DbnTraveller, thank you for your honest and sincere feedback. I have passed on your comments to Chef and the Food and Beverage Team. Meanwhile, I am glad that you too were able to enjoy the splendour of our jewel on the island. With kind regards, Samantha

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Reviewed July 3, 2013

My wife and I stayed in a Junior Suite (263) for 4 nights and we had a great time. From the minute we were welcomed at the reception, we were really impressed with the hotel and the staff. Yes there are some service shortfalls but the genuine smile of the staff and their warm welcome helps you forget them quickly. We were allowed to check in early and out late (what else to ask for!). We were on half board basis and the buffet at lunch and dinner was really tasty and had plenty of options (meat, chicken, fish, vegetarian, etc...). The breakfast was also tasty with plenty to chose from. When on half-board basis, you are allowed Breakfast and can chose lunch or dinner. My wife and I went for lunch most of the times as we don't eat that much at night but you have to know that room service is not cheap (fruits 14$, most items 20$ while buffet is 30$ or 35$) so one might want to consider choosing full board. The pool and the beach are amazing and the fitness club gives you the opportunity to jog with a sea view. The Suite is big and the AC worked perfectly well (slightly noisy though) but the channels were all gone when we were there but who cares about TV!! Free Wi Fi was available everywhere in the hotel but not in the rooms (unless you are lucky) where you have to use the cable (but it still is free). Overall: excellent stay and GO FOR IT!

Room Tip: All rooms face the sea but not all give you a view on the sea and the infinity pool at the same time. Ours (263) did so ask for a similar one when you book
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MrFrequentTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Samantha B, Guest Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2013

Dear MrFrequentTraveler, it was a true pleasure to have you both stay with us. It's almost hotter than Dubai here at the moment so I am sure you would feel at home! When will you come back? Until then and with kind regards, Samantha

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Reviewed July 2, 2013

I stayed at Hideway of Nungwi mid june with my girlfriend for 5 days, which was far from enough. Everything was just perfect!
Our main problem was choosing between the out of this world beach or the huge swimming pool overlooking it. Our room was big, finely decorated, with a bathroom you wish you had at home.
Everyone was warmly welcoming, and always making sure we always had everything we needed.
I had a special request on which it seems as the entire hotel worked on! Result exceeded my expectations by far!
A very special thank you to Samantha, Ramadani and Tahir...I vote for an immediate salary raise for you! (never know it works...).

Thanks again for these 5 days in heaven....Looking forward to be back!

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank PS29Paris_France
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Samantha B, Guest Relations Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2013

Dear PS29Paris_France, so wonderful to read your comments. Your special request was indeed the first of its kind and we were all thrilled hear that "she said yes!" Will we see you again for your honeymoon? Until then and with kind regards, Samantha (and Mark and...)

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