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“Beautiful & Relaxing” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Zanzibar Retreat Hotel

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Zanzibar Retreat Hotel
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Matemwe
Certificate of Excellence
Los Angeles, California, United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Beautiful & Relaxing”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 22, 2013

My boyfriend and I did an 8 day safari and wanted to stay somewhere beautiful, peaceful and not touristy to recover from the bumpy roads and tent camping. We were not disappointed and very happy with our stay at Zanzibar Retreat! Jan, the owner was a very nice, laid back owner who took pride in his hotel. Minus a few small things here and there (i will get into this later) the hotel was perfect and for a Tanzania Island, that is saying a lot!

This as the other reviewers said, is a place to go to get away, relax and not be surrounded by people or noise. If you dont want that, then dont go there!! The hotel places no music, which we loved. It is right on the water, so you hear the ocean and the breeze, that is it. It is simple and so refreshing. My boyfriend took an accidental nap every day there because it was so relaxing. The hotel has many areas to sit and relax. There are nice chairs to lay on with a hut type umbrella for shade, hammocks, lots of areas around the pool (some you can sit under a covering with passion fruit vines dangling down) another outdoor section with custom seating and tables which is my favorite spot to sit at night, an area for playing games, the bar, etc...The place may be small but it is open and options available.

Our bedroom was not huge, but i could care less, I didnt come to stay inside! It had a big bed, hardwood floors, nice mosquito netting (not that you really need it) air conditioner, a huge closet, desk and a safe. The bathroom was a good size, and the shower was huge! IT HAS HOT WATER!!

The food was good. I wouldn't say spectacular, but for the most part very good. Some dishes were fabulous though. It lacks a bit of versatility, but I know I am just spoiled by living where you can get food all the time and whatever you want.

The staff is very friendly, and very attentive. They helped us learn a good amount of Swahili too! The hotel was kept very clean, and kept up to the highest degree. (which i can not say for many places in Zanzibar)

Here is my response to what other reviewers wrote about the cons of this hotel:

swimming: the hotel does not control the ocean. Yes, the tide comes in and out, and if you want to swim you have to wait for the tide to be fully in. But we did still snorkel even at low tide (the water was very shallow and you need to watch out for sea urchins, but you still can swim if you just have to!)

bathrooms: this is AFRICA! If the toilet seat doesn't fit the toilet does it really matter? (this was not the case in our room) You have a nice bathroom, get over it.

Billing: Zanzibar Retreat did accept credit cards when we went. And no we did not sign for everything we ate/drank, but at the end they had everything written down and put into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. It was all accurate and correct.

Staff: I adored the staff. They were so very friendly and spoke English pretty well. They did take a bit to make the drinks, but it is not due to laziness or forgetfulness. They use fresh fruit to make the drinks that require them. This means cutting up and juicing the fruit by hand. If you are in a rush, I suggest you go somewhere else!

Like i said, this place was awesome. We had planned to only stay for 3 nights and then go to a different hotel further south, but we loved the atmosphere so much that we asked Jan if it would be okay to stay longer, and of course he said yes.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Marie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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413 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2013 via mobile

We did our honeymoon in a bit of preseason an it was all good. The site is well located on a pretty beach. Food was great and staff was friendly and helpful too. We did a stonetown and a spice tour during our days and all was fine. We can totally recommend a stay over there. Manager Jan is a caring warm hearted person. Thanks a lot!

  • Stayed June 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank PeterAchterbahn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lincoln, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
221 reviews
99 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 258 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 7, 2013

Beautiful small hotel set on the North East Coast of Zanzibar.

The hotel is excellently maintained by Jan the Finnish co-owner, who personally supervises every aspect of the property.

Rooms are slightly on the small side, but are nicely decorated, with aircon and free wifi. Bathrooms are small but are well appointed.

There is a decent size pool and places to relax are spread around the pool, elsewhere in the grounds and the beach.

The hotel is set on a beautiful fine white sand beach adjacent to a fishing village. The beach has the softest sand I have ever come across and during our stay was deserted. The sea is OK to swim in at high tide, but the village women farm seaweed and so when the tide is out swimming is less practicable.

The food is outstanding. There is a fixed menu each day with two choices for main course. Wine and beer is reasonably priced.

The hotel is really set in a fairly isolated location with a few other small hotels and one or two restaurants, but you should seriously consider the full or half board options.

This is the ideal hotel if you want to get away from it all and relax in a tropical paradise.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Tim_H_from_Lincs_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 28, 2013

I stayed in Zanzibar Retreat Hotel for two weeks in March 2013. It was just an amazing experience. The hotel is managed by Jan, a very friendly and helpful Fin who is always up for a coffee or a chat. The staff is equally friendly and you can see that they enjoy working at the hotel.
The hotel is straight at the beach and there is nothing more relaxing than lying in the hammock for an afternoon nap or sipping a cocktail at the small bar.
And not to forget the food- very fresh local produce is used to make tasty dishes, often with a local flavour. Besides there are African nights where you get to tastes traditional dishes.
After this, the seafood I had in Paris did not seem to have taste..:)

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Astrid A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kigali, Rwanda
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2013

If you need a place to hide away for a while, just to be with yourself and maybe your nearest ones, you have come to the right place! The sound of the ocean, the gentle touch of the wind, the simpleness of the surroundings with the beach just there next to the hotel - a bonus is the seaview from the upstairs rooms. Thank you for the good selection of wines to match our dinners! Every now and then I am going back in my mind to the drink/coffee corner with the ocean view. Nice.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank SatuM408
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 9, 2013

I returned from the the Zanzibar Retreat Hotel about a week and half ago. I must say, it was the perfect end to a fantastic trip to Tanzania involving a couple of treks and safaris. Right when we were picked up at the airport by our cab driver (arranged by Jan, one of the managers of the Retreat), I had the sense that it was going to be a very relaxing and carefree 3 days.

The Retreat came exactly as advertised. It is located in a cozy and quiet corner of the island, in the sleepy village of Matemwe. Make no mistake about it, it is quiet. There are no discos or loud bars in the area. Anyone expecting otherwise will be disappointed. The coziness and quietness carries on into the Retreat. There is no tv or radio in the rooms, just the sounds of waves washing onto the beach. Given the small size of the Retreat, noise from other hotel guests are minimal and they're there likely for the same reasons you are- the peace and quiet.

The service staff was great- from the wait and housekeeping staff to the two owners Jan and Bjorn. Very attentive to our questions. A special shout out to our bartender (who really fulfilled a number of responsibilities)... he was extremely attentive.

We had one of the two upstairs rooms. The washroom, and particularly the shower area, was spacious. The bed was very comfortable and the view (particularly of the sunset and sunrise) was second to none. We had issues with temperature of the water in the shower but given that this is Tanzania, not unexpected.

Lastly, because it is low season, there's not a lot to eat along the beach- this is ok as the Retreat had delicious food, particularly for dinner. Usually included seafood from the local fisherman. Given that we were there over Easter weekend, Jan and Bjorn hosted a fantastic and special Easter Bar-B-Q. It was a pleasant surprise and a prime example of how the Retreat goes the extra mile to ensure its guests are taken care of.

I would highly recommend this Hotel if you are looking to relax. I would have given it five stars were it not for a minor issue with the billing.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Alex C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
94 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 29, 2013

Three of us (my husband, myself, and adult daughter) spent three restful nights at the Zanzibar Retreat Hotel in two rooms with connecting bathroom. This hotel was just what we were looking for, a place for relaxation with nearby access for our daughter to scuba dive and my husband to snorkel. They were more than happy with Scuba Fish Diving located north of the hotel. They found very professional, safe, courteous service. A local had solicited for a snorkeling outing at a better price, but after an accident caused by one of the unlicensed boaters, they were so glad they had chosen Scuba Fish.
Me, I just wanted to “veg.” with a good book in a quiet place. The beach had weeds, but there was no smell and it was interesting seeing the local women gather the weeds for drying. My daughter read that the seaweed was sold to the Orient. We enjoyed walking along the beach, as well as sitting on the covered verandas and covered area by the pool.
Food was good, service was good, everything was very clean. We bought water at a local place, had a drink at another hotel, but otherwise ate all our meals at the hotel--very satisfied. Jan arranged a guide to go with us (via taxi) to Stone Town for a tour before we needed to catch our flight. This was well worth doing, and we felt we saw everything we wanted to see in Stone Town without cutting too much into our time at Matemwe.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank asenior
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zanzibar Retreat Hotel

Property: Zanzibar Retreat Hotel
Address: Matemwe Beach | Zanzibar, Matemwe, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Matemwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Matemwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Zanzibar Retreat Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The hotel is situated directly on the beach. Its a peaceful and tranquil setting with plenty of shady places for you to relax. There is a 16x8 meter pool perfect for a refreshing swim when the tide is out. The hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and there is a well-stocked bar to accompany. We are proud to have a good reputation regarding food. We work consequently with proper waist management, and support education in the village. Most of our suppliers are from the village, and we try our best to have a good relation with the whole village. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zanzibar Retreat Matemwe
Zanzibar Retreat Hotel Matemwe, Zanzibar Island

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