This hotel is a 40 to 45US$, 50 minute taxi ride from the Stone Town airport. It is situated in the middle of the East coast of Zanzibar island. The road is paved until the last 5 minutes of driving where it turns into a little bit of nasty dirt road through a poor village, a common trait for a lot of hotels. We were there for three days.
This 7 room hotel was supposed to be home for the extended family of Massimiliano (Max) when visiting this wonderful climate. He is from home and appreciates the good things in life and his motto over the kitchen is "Life is too short to eat bad food". He greets you with a cigar in his mouth but immediately tries to start the process by which he will pamper you in every way he can. We had a room mix-up and he did every thing he could to please us and succeeded in doing so. We got to the hotel around mid-day and he insisted on serving us a small meal to tide us to supper.
Our room was average size, with a comfortable bed, albeit a little firm. Since the mattress cover was the only layer between us and the mattress, my wife wanted to double up the mattress cover. When I asked Max, he not only agreed but added two mores sheets to please us.
Max walks around the small hotel and chats with everyone, trying to see how he can please them. The decor is typically Zanzibari with beautiful carved wooden doors.
Max shows off the wonderful Italian olive oil which he imports himself in the frequent return trips to his native Rome.
A day at the Zanzibar House starts whenever you want. The breakfast is served whenever you wake up, regardless of the time. Fruits are served mid-morning. Coffee, little muffins and cookies are served mid-afternoon. 7:30 pm brings on appetizers before Max presides over the serving of supper, usually fresh fish which you usually see delivered by fishermen around mid-day. One day, the fish was still kicking when received. He truly serves the catch of the day.
There is usually a fish appetizer, often a tuna or fish carpaccio topped by reduced balsamic vinegar of high quality, followed by pasta and a fish main course. The process starts at 20:30 and usually ends around 22:00 where Max offers his home made gelato or local concoction. The meals are not heavy but you do not leave the table hungry. The food is tasty and prepared cleanly. The wine list had a half dozen red and whites apiece and offers one high end wine. The prices are reasonable. Max even agreed to cook my favorite pasta on the day or our departure. He goes the extra mile to please all his customers.
The beach front is spectacular; you are right on the ocean where an incredible beach extends on each side for miles. Very few people or touters come by and none approach the property. You can be at peace under the palapas shading you from the equatorial sun, lying on your long chair. This is a very relaxing place, very peaceful and quiet.
If you want to live it up, Max can hook you up with many excursions, some of whom are run by one of his employees, Ali, a good-natured fellow who makes everything enjoyable.
If you expect everything to be prompt and north-American, you have come to the wrong place. If you realize you are in Africa and can accept 95% of everything you ask for in due time, you can be very happy and relaxed at the Zanzibar House. There are even a few satellite channels on TV that you can catch the news or a film. Wi-Fi works ok, not great, like all over Africa.
Drawbacks: the shower water is not desalinized and the hot water is not always available. This is common on the island from what I hear. The service is done by locals ( a good thing) whose command of English is good, not great. So if you want something very specific, be explicit or see Max.
This is a resort where kids can have a good time on the beach and the pool. It does not have any other playground items. It is not wheelchair friendly as the second floor has only steps.
Do not be surprised by the island tax which is charged locally:18 euros per day per room.
Since most bookings are made on a half-board basis, the charge for full board is 20 euros per room, a very reasonable fee. We did not venture out from the hotel to eat as we were pleased with the offering.
We really liked our time at the Zanzibar House, a reasonably priced, upper mid-range hotel with a great kitchen and charming host.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Zanzibar House is a 7 room privately owned and ran boutique hotel situated in the beautiful location of Matemwe on the North East coast of the island, about 40km from Stone Town.The hotel opened its doors in December 2012. The materials used in the construction are found in Zanzibar, with a traditional Makuti roof, decorated with Maritaki patterns, in harmony with the nature and not to disrupt the beautiful landscape. Zanzibar House offers its guests 7 rooms. 5 Rooms with sea view and 2 have views over the rich vegetation that surrounds the area. Four posters Queen size beds in every room. Extra beds and baby cots are available upon request. Satellite TV, complimentary WIFI, minibar, air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities are few of the amenities found in the rooms. Each and every room has a large terrace from where to enjoy the breathtaking views.The restaurant offers delicacies of international and local cuisine with extra care put into the selection of the produce, respecting the seasons and what is available in the market. The full licensed bar offers a selection of local beers, world reknown spirits brands, cocktails and much more all to be enjoyed in the porch overlooking the Indian Ocean. During the day guests are pampered by the carefully picked staff and presented with nibbles to accompany the passing hours; seasonal fruit skewers, spiced tea or coffee in the afternoon, home made savory or sweet treats according to the inspiration of the chef. Special efforts were made in choosing and making of the decorative details found across the house. All the doors were made with coconut wood, found in plentiful supply on the island; the wood was carved by a skilled carpenter in Stone Town with traditional Zanzibar motives, the floors are made of Galana, a local stone, the material used for the walls and structure is called Choka, the island's version of cement. A full menu of massages and treatments available all day along and tailor made solutions, such as custom made excursions, insiders tips to fully and responsably experience the magic of the island make of Zanzibar House an oasis of peace and tranquility, the perfect destination where to get rid of the stress of everyday's life and regenerate the senses with attentive to detail service never losing the essence and the warmth of African hospitality to make you feel truly welcomed at home. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Zanzibar House Matemwe, Zanzibar Island