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“Perfect place to recover from Burn Out!”

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Mnarani Beach Cottages
Ranked #13 of 19 Hotels in Nungwi
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 29, 2008

After a long illness from which I am still recovering, we selected this hotel for a convalescence period in which the plan was to do nothing but lie in the sun and read. For this the hotel was perfect. We booked directly and at every stage, from initial enquiry to arrival at the airport for the return flight, the staff were courteous, friendly, helpful and informed.
You have to realise that this hotel is not the Four Seasons in New York, or the Steigenberger in Franfurt, or even the Kempinski in Zanibar. It is a local hotel, with local people and if you want a hotel that has some luxury, is safe and yet still lets you know you are in Zanzibar this is ideal.
I think it would be a shame if people were put off by some of the other reviews I have read.True the beach is not ideal for swimming, but we loved the oportunity to wade out to the reef at low tide and see all the starfish, sea urchins etc. Watching the tide rush in each day was exhilarating.
We stayed in a family room, which was plenty big enough for 2, although I think 4 would have been a bit of a squash as the bathroom is small.
Everything worked in our room. When the bulb went on the outside light, we reported it and it was replaced, no problem. We couldn't work the safe, and someone came immediately to show us how. Any time we had a problem, we told the staff and it was fixed. There really was nothing that was too much trouble.
We did see some very rude guests and the staff behaved admirably under these conditions.
We stayed for 2 weeks, the longest stay of anyone this month at least, so we saw all the menu. The evening food was varied, we had a buffet only on 5 nights. 2 of these were the Swahili dinner, which was a nice attempt to give us a flavour of the country, 2 were barbeque nights. Apart from these the choice was different every night we were there. Lunch menus did get a bit boring after a few days. However, if there was nothing on the menu that you wanted the chef would make something different.
Breakfast was fruit, fruit juice, coffee/chocolate/spice tea/tea, special bread, bread (with a toaster, marmalade etc.), eggs however you wanted them including filled omlettes, a cake (varied - doughnuts, cookies, pancakes & syrup, chapatis, muffin), and at the weekend fried potatoes and meat (similar to bacon).
The bar is good, and makes lovely cocktails, we particularly liked Blue Sea and the freshly made mango juice. The mark-up on sodas etc compared to the local village was about 50% - about what I would expect to pay in any hotel bar.
I ran out of books to read, and was very grateful for the hotel's library.
We booked 2 trips through the hotel and both were excellent.
The owner is often there, keen to get feedback and improve the guest experience.
I guess, in the end, it comes down to expectations. We expected an African hotel, offering the chance to rest, do not very much and be looked after in reasonable luxury for a couple of weeks at a good price. We certainly got this, plus the added bonus of friendly, happy staff who really made us feel at home.
We would happily recommend the hotel to friends and family if rest and pure relaxation is what you need.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank happygirl20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 8, 2008

I booked Mnarani after spending hours on Tripadvisor reading positive reviews for this place. I was truly mistaken. Let me tell you the reasons why:

1) THERE IS NO BEACH: Mnarani is located in Nungwi which is supposed to be one of the best beaches in Zanzibar, but the truth is you cannot swim on the beach in front of this resort. There is high fluctuations on the sea level at high tide (at which point the waves break so harshly on the rocks, you'd die) and low tide (when the sea withdraws so much, you have to walk out 50 meters on rock bottoms to get to any water). That's why they must've built the 10 m sq. pool, but who swims in a pool on an island famous for its beaches?

2) ROOMS ARE TERRIBLE: We paid $150 for family cottage, which I agree is not very expensive, but the rooms are so bad that it absolutely does not even deserve the $150. Firstly, the rooms are very poorly decorated. There is a constant smell of mold and mildew, no matter how much you air the room out. The bathroom is filthy and old and broken, that I was disgusted to take my shoes off. We stayed in different hotels ranging from $60 to $650 on our Tanzania trip and the $60 hotel was so much better and cleaner.

3) NOTHING WORKS: The air-conditioner in the room doesn't work. The safe in the room doesn't work. The fan, no. The shower head, no. The light in the bathroom - no.....etc etc. It is very clear that there is absolutely no investment back into the rooms, as even the mosquito nets that had tears were mended with plastic band aids.

4) FOOD IS TERRIBLE: The half board is misleading as you'd think you get breakfast and dinner. The breakfast is measly, tasteless with only 3 or 4 items (2 of them fruit). Cost per person simply cannot be more than $1-2 for the hotel to set up that breakfast. Dinner is open buffet, with a little more variety, but not much taste there either. We offered Lobster one evening (has to be booked day before) as we could not imagine the buffet disaster again and were charged $40 for each.

5) SERVICE AND AMBIANCE IS TERRIBLE: The ambiance of the restaurant is a little better than the pit stops that buses take on long distance inter city routes. The staff comes and basically gives you a "what now?" type of a look and attitude. Bottle of water in the shop is 4000 TS when it is 500 in Stonetown.

My group was so disappointed with this resort that we decided to leave early. Please please please take my advise and if you don't want to ruin your holiday in Zanzibar, don't stay at this hotel!

The owner of the resort needs to learn that just by grapping a good piece of property in a good location, he lucked out, but he won't for much longer unless he invests in fixing his rooms, his staff, his food and his service....

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with friends
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5  Thank panylondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2007

This was my first visit to Zanzibar, and it won't be the last! For the most part, our stay was very pleasant . I spent quite a bit of time with the owner and made several practical suggestions on how this beautiful resort could be upgraded and improved with not too much effort or money,
I am not sure whether any of these suggestions were implemented, judging by some of the more recent reviews, it seems not!
My friend and I arrived after a nightmarish flight late at night and were shown to one of garden rooms which reeked so badly of mould and insecticide that it was impossible to spend even one night there. We complained to management, who said there were only certain rooms allocated to our travel agent - well now I know I should not be so trusting of them in future...
The staff were friendly but not too impressed at having to make another plan and organise an alternative room.
Eventually after much consultation with various hotel staff members, we were taken to one of the large family suites (the only one available) but told we could only spend one night there and would be transferred the next day to another room.

The sea facing rooms in the older section of the resort are really lovely. It was an expected bonus to spend time in this delightful, spacious accommodation. As it turned out, we spent two nights there because the promised move the next day did not materialise due to a double booking mix up.

Although the manager tried hard to persuade us to take another garden facing room, I managed after extensive negotiation, to secure a nice beach facing room close to the pool.

The only hassle was that it only had a double bed - not ideal for my friend and myself. However, faced with the choice of another mouldy garden room with no sea view and twin beds or the seaview room and having to share a bed, we decided to take the sea facing room option!

The rooms are small and the bathroom facilities really should be upgraded as they are grotty, to put it mildly. Are you listening guys?!
The staff are very warm, helpful and friendly and their attitude went a long way in making the holiday enjoyable. We loved the fresh flowers on our beds every day and the mosquito net came in very handy!

If you go to Mnarani expecting the food to be as fabulous as the views, you will be disappointed! I'd rate it mediocre to average and this aspect really needs to be radically improved as it was obvious that many discerning overseas visitors who were staying there were not impressed at all.

The suppers were ok, but the breakfasts were boring and bland with overcooked food and far too little variety.

Please, won't you come to Mnarani beach cottages for a few weeks and show the local chefs how to cook properly and help them discover what magic meals they could create with their marvellous abundance of local seafood, fruit and vegs??!!
I am sure your film crew would love the place and the Zanzibar government would enjoy the media exposure!

I am convinced that while owner Nasoor's vision of employing local inhabitants to work at his beautiful resort is very noble, they DESPERATELY need some professional hospitality and service training to upgrade their service levels.

The resort offers massages - again another area that could be upgraded using very simple ideas and African beauty treatments.
Check out what African-themed beauty spas such as [--] are offering and then you'll understand why Mnarani could offer wonderful hand and foot treatments as well as massages on their stunning wooden deck overlooking the ocean, to just give one example.

Zanzibar is very hot and humid in Dec/Jan, so the fan in our room was on permanently.
The pool was a delight to cool off and the open air bar and dining room were very pleasant.
We walked for many km's along the beach and enjoyed a cultural visit to the nearby Nungwi village to learn more about the fascinating culture.

Like other visitors, we also had problems in booking a scuba trip through the hotel, but were quite happy with one of the excursions to the Spice farms (an absolute must, as is visiting Stone Town!)
We used Zantours to book some excursions directly and were very impressed with the service we received.

The live band on new years was a joke(sorry guys, but we were expecting better!) Sure there must be other good local bands that could have been booked for the evening? If you really enjoy alcohol you are going to fork out a lot of money as the drinks don't come cheap.

In Summary, I enjoyed my stay at Mnarani and would recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable holiday in Zanzibar at a beautifully situated resort that is neither pretentious nor overcommercialised.

But when I next return to this beautiful island I really hope that there will have been some changes at Mnarani.
This resort has so much going for it, but in my view it HAS to improve so it can still compete with the growing number of other resorts on Zanzibar.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled with friends
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9  Thank Dreamcatcha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2007

This place is absolutely beautiful, located on the eastern end of Nungwi. The whole ressort is perfectly clean, very friendly staff (most of them are from Dar or Kenia, non locals) that are always helpful for any kind of requests.

Rooms (we had standard) are rather small but functional with a private terrace.

Food is nice, always a choice between meat or fish or individually if special requirements.

Although it's a bit off from the "traveller scene" (15min walk) we enjoyed our stay very much due to the friendly staff, perfect service, tidyness and the nice setting as a whole.

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank JoFritz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2007

Very average at a very high price, the room we stayed in was average, the couch was very uncomfortable so we sat on the bed most of the time. It seems that two rooms share the same miniature geyser, so if you are not in the shower first – no hot water.
Although there is an ala Carte menu for dinner, our request for Crayfish was denied with a shower of excuses leaving us with the choice of the buffet or nothing, we chose the latter.
Lunch was good, but dinner and breakfast poor considering the half board rates.
Sea view or sea facing? There is a difference, we asked for a sea view, all we could see was trees and other vegetation.
Excursions are expensive and minimum number of persons required so you are lucky if things work out. Walk around the corner and book your excursion at a lower price and guaranteed.
You are constantly reminded not to walk on the beach in your swimsuite as this will offend the locals! Why did they create a resort there in the first place?
This is our second visit to Zanzibar, and on this occasion we stayed in four different hotels, Mnarani was the most expensive and the most disapointing.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank TauTona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 2, 2007

We stayed at Mnarani for 2 weeks, the second week we were married here. The location was beautiful, the staff very friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make our stay special. We felt like they were all our friends by the end of our stay, they all seemed very genuine happy people.

The food everyday was excellent and they had a vegetarian choice on the menu everyday which was a luxury for me, although maybe something more adventurous for lunch.

The swimming pool is great for when the tide is out and the hammocks and swings were a nice touch. Our rooms were cleaned every day and we were even given a free upgrade for the few nights after our wedding.

The hotel arranged for a beautiful arch of flowers and palm leaves to be errected for our wedding and they made our day perfect, we ended it with a sunset cruise, they arranged a bbq for all the guests and the chef came and presented us with a cake which was a lovely suprise.

We will definately be back here, hopefully on our first wedding anniversay, I would recommend this hotel to anyone, they have rooms that suit all budget and there was a nice mix of backpackers, families and couples wich gave it a lovely atmosphere, very chilled but with life about it. Do be aware though that there are no cash machines anywhere this end of the island so be prepared.

Stayed: June 2007
11  Thank BackpackersRus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2007

  • Stayed: September 2006, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank SirChewy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mnarani Beach Cottages

Address: North Coast, Nungwi, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Nungwi
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Nungwi
#7 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#11 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range: $119 - $253 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Mnarani Beach Cottages 3.5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mnarani Beach Cottages is a beach resort hotel, located on the northernmost tip of Zanzibar Island in the village of Nungwi, next to the old lighthouse.Mnarani has been independently recommended by The Lonely Planet Guide, The Bradt Guide to Zanzibar and many other East African travel guidebooks. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mnarani Beach Cottages Hotel Nungwi
Mnarani Beach Hotel
Mnarani Beach Resort
Mnarani Beach Cottages Zanzibar Island/Nungwi

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