We had come to Jambiani without making prior reservations, so we went ahead and checked a couple of places out before deciding on where to stay. Stonehouse was the first place we saw, and we were foolish enough to waste time looking at other places only to return to Stonehouse because it was just the best! Imagine this: azure and turquoise waters, sparkly white beach, waving palm trees, all in your back yard.
Immediately after arriving we were given a warm welcome by Zion, and we later met the other super friendly staff members like Elias and Maraka. This is once of those places that is not just a hotel or guest house, but actually a home away from home. It's the people that make it so special. Stonehouse is small scale so after a day you'll know everyone around here and you'll find out how friendly and accommodating they are. To give some examples, they prepared vegetarian meals on request for us, got a hold of fresh coconuts when we asked for some, and when Zion spotted us far out somewhere on a walk he offered us a ride back home. You'll be sure to make new friends here. The place appears to be mainly run by men (I've only seen women come in to clean every morning) but if you are a lone female traveler please don't let this put you off. You're in good hands here.
Other than this welcoming atmosphere, Stonehouse has some other major pros:
- Location right on the beach: at high tide you step from the garden right into the warm Indian Ocean, at low tide the beach is just at your door step. In your backyard, you find the wonderful village of Jambiani. You can walk right into the village and observe the locals in their daily life. This does not feel like a beach resort aimed at westerners, but simply as a great place to relax right in the middle of Zanzibar life.
- The house is spacious and breezy, with pleasant (if simple) rooms and shared bathroom facilities which are kept very clean. The warm showers were also very enjoyable. Besides the garden it has two big common terraces / balconies with sofas and beds and books and a spectacular view on the ocean.
- The garden is a wonderful place to hang out, to enjoy your breakfast (included in the price, and very yummy with fresh fruit, juice and chapati) or a drink. It has a small bar on site where you can order drinks and snacks and you can also have lunch and dinner here on request (don't expect swift service, ingredients usually have to be collected before they are cooked so have patience like anywhere else in Africa, or order well in advance)
- It won't hurt your budget! We found this a very good deal considering what you get. Of course you must keep in mind that this is not a luxury resort but a simple guest house, but it had everything we needed and more.
Nearly every night the owners would make a camp fire on the beach and position logs, chairs and couches around it to create that perfect island feeling. If you are lucky, their acquaintance Yahya will come over with his guitar to complete the picture.
When we were here the tides were pretty extreme: the water went out really far at low tide. This however created a spectacular variety of colours of the beach and ocean, and when the tide is out the local women come to gather sea weed and small shells/clams which is interesting to watch. The best times for swimming here are at sunrise (around 6 am, and of course this is also very beautiful) and around 4 pm when the water is fully back again. I understood from a local that the extremities of the tide depend on the season; in other months the sea does not venture out so far at low tide.
In the neighborhood are plenty of simple restaurants to choose from and while the beach is fantastic, just make sure not to miss out on a walk through the village. You'll meet lots of cheerful kids who are definitely not camera shy.
The owner Elias is in the process of building a second Stonehouse, more inland. From the looks of it, it will also be wonderful.
Originally, we had planned to spend most of our time in Jambiani in a low budget place like this one, and then splurge on something luxurious and more expensive during our last 1 or 2 nights. In the end, we didn't go anywhere. We gladly stayed in Stonehouse, because why would you go anywhere else but here? Perfect island bliss is what you'll find here.
- Also Known As:
- Stonehouse Zanzibar Island/Jambiani