Anna of Zanzibar is one of the most luxurious, relaxing, welcoming and generally delightful places we've ever stayed. The proprietor, Mike, appears to be running it as much as a lifestyle choice as a business for profit, though the prices are firmly in the holiday-of-a-lifetime range, and the rooms generally full. Rooms is the wrong word ; there are five - and only five - self-contained villas, each one spacious, nicely decorated (except for the tiles in the bathrooms), air conditioned and with its own wi-fi. Unlike most other places in this part of the world, the wi-fi is pretty fast, though apparently it slows down at the end of the month if guests download too much data.
The food is outstanding. When you arrive, Mike promises you "anything you want, whenever you want, wherever you want": on your private veranda, or that of the main house, on the beach (if it isn't too windy at night), in the shisha house, or by the pool. Don't worry if it's not on the menu; as long as you give them reasonable notice, they'll do it for you, and it will be delicious, as was the lobster spaghetti we ordered for our last night. The octopus is particularly good, as is the seafood generally, as it is all local. Mike would tell the local fisherman what he wanted for the day, and they would catch it to order. If Mike thinks he has a quorum of sufficiently hearty guests, as he did last Sunday night, he'll lay on a delicious seafood barbecue for everyone. It's the only time guests are encouraged to socialise, and he checks that everyone's up for it before making up his mind; the rest of the time you are guaranteed as much privacy as you require. We could hardly believe how much space and variety of locations there was for a maximum of just ten guests; well, perhaps kids could swell the numbers a little, but it might not be the sort of place you'd want them around, being the ultimate romantic getaway for lovers, honeymooners and empty nesters.
The staff are a delight. They float around in white robes and hats with gold trim, never letting too much time go by without checking that you are with drink, food, or anything else you need. The spa is the domain of a delightful young lady who gives a cracking massage, but needs to work on her pedicure skills.
The beach might come as a slight disappointment, as it is rarely swept for seaweed and the sand is hard and compact. However, it has benefits: for example, it's good for cycling; Mike has a couple of house bikes for guest use. Except at high tide, swimming is made difficult by the proximity of a great expanse of coral stretching from just off shore to a kilometre out. If, like me, you're not that into sea swimming anyway, the upside is easy to appreciate: when the tide's out you can don your complementary rubber shoes and wander all over the stunning reef admiring the anemones, coral, starfish, sea cucumbers and exotic fish. Just watch out for the sea urchins - one barb went straight through my shoe and had me limping for a while. (Also watch out for bones left around the swimming pool etc. by the two sweet dogs, Lilly and Mister Bean; the staff clear them out of the way when we they see them, but the one I stood on two days ago has me limping still!)
There's great snorkeling, of course, and Mike has a store of equipment that the guests can use free of charge.
In all, we absolutely loved Anna of Zanzibar and were very sad to leave.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Private and exclusive boutique hotel with 5 superb villas only. Situated on the east coast of Zanzibar with a beautiful beach. Swimming pool, spa, bar, restaurant with superb seafood. Activities include diving, fishing, boat trips and more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Anna Of Zanzibar Hotel Bwejuu
- Anna Of Zanzibar Zanzibar Island/Bwejuu