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“Zanzibar Paradise”

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Boutique Hotel Matlai
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Pingwe
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 30, 2014 via mobile

We stayed in Zanzibar over 2 years ago for our honeymoon and absolutely loved it. White beaches, beautiful sea and weather!

But this time around the experience was exceeded even further by our stay at Boutique Hotel Matlai near Michamvi

Only four rooms, each exquisitely decorated and quite big. With a beautiful salt pool in the middle. All rooms looking onto the beach. From the time you arrive to the time you leave you are looked after by the super friendly and welcoming team. Leaving was quiet depressing!

Best suited: definitely for groups (so you can book out the whole hotel). And couples- they can make it very romantic

Love:
the rooms are amazing! But if you are not easily comfortable with the Zanzibar heat- take one of the bottoms rooms as they have aircon
The food is delicious!
The staff are delightful and quiet entertaining
Everything was amazing.

Not swayed:
This side of the island is not as commercial as other sides, which is awesome as you are not hounded by beach boys! But limited shopping. If you had shopping in mind, there is a few local huts on the beach. But other than that you will have to book a trip to stone town. Which is super easy as the hotel has an excursion co-ordinator on site.
Also- it is a quiet side of the island.

Before you go:
The whole coastline on this portion of the island has ALOT of coral/rocks and urchins. When the tide goes out, you can walk for atleast a km. when the tide comes in. You can have a little swim
To stop our feet from getting hurt or battling with the rocks, we bought aqua shoes! Absolute life saver and a must have.

To end off the long winded review. Definitely one of the most beautiful and well looked after establishments we have ever stayed out. Enjoy. Gen

  • Stayed: March 2014
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Thank Genelb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IngeBB, Manager at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded April 5, 2014

Dear Genevieve,
Thank you very much for taking time to write such a nice and detailed review. I'm sure it will be helpful for guests who are looking for accommodation.
If you like to come back one day for your wedding anniversary you are mostly welcome, we will arrange the most romantic stay for you!
Kindest regards
Tim

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73 - 79 of 185 reviews

Reviewed March 12, 2014

Lovely hotel but the air con didn't work. The hotel doesn't have its own generator so the air con didn't work whilst we were there. In 35c heat it was unbearable. It also meant that there were more mosquitos in the room at night due to the heat.

Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Purple781
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Inge B, Manager at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded March 13, 2014

Dear guests,
I am really sorry for you that the heat made your stay so bad.
You were indeed very unlucky with the non-working air con during the hottest days in Zanzibar. The problem was not a missing generator (of course we have one), the problem was the compressor of the air con. It was damaged though it was brand new, but it is repaired now.
Sometimes problems in Africa cannot be solved as fast as in Europe, I am awfully sorry for that.
Kind regards
Inge

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Reviewed March 10, 2014

As most of the other reviews indicate the setting of this place, on the beach is exquisite. Arriving after a long day of travelling, the sight of our butlers, Grace and Salim smiling and holding out chilled coconuts was nothing short of paradise.
The hotel itself has a lovely garden with hammocks and beds which are a welcome respite from the afternoon winds. The hotel, rooms and pool are immaculate. Everybody is pleasant and helpful.
After a great start however we found that some things were far from perfect. Whilst some of the food was good, some was terrible. We had some nice chicken skewers on one occasion however when we ordered them again they were full of gristle and inedible.
Although there was an extensive menu of ‘food ideas’ to order only about half of the contents were available at any one time. Making allowances for the fact it’s a small and poor island we couldn’t quite comprehend the absence of yoghurt, bananas, vegetables and tea bags! Not sure how much of the problem was due to the frequent and long lasting power cuts we had when we were there meaning it must have been difficult to store anything. This also seemed to cause a problem with the drinks; the last cold drink we had was when we arrived. They were also unable to make the cocktails for the same reason. The fish was disappointing, apart from the shellfish which was nice (and on extra charge) the only fish they had for the four days we were there was kingfish, nothing wrong with it but we didn’t want it every night.
It’s understandable that they want as much notice as possible to know what to cook but it did take some getting used to having to order the next meal at the end of the last one. A few times our waiter sounded surprised that we hadn’t ordered much. That was mainly because we’d just eaten and weren’t really focused on the next meal. You couldn’t change your order or order anything later even if it was something like fruit or bread. We learnt that if they didn’t have something when requested it might come in a day or two (we never asked for anything not on the menu!).
There is an extensive and wonderful massage/spa menu the only problem being that lady who does the treatments works at another hotel. When I tried to book a massage I was offered one at 8am (before she starts work). Salim managed to negotiate with her to do it in her lunchtime at 12pm. She turned up at 11.30. When I tried to book a second one at 12pm some confusion led to my being woken up by banging on my door at 7.30am telling me my massage was ready. I was not one bit amused. I don’t think I’m in the minority believing it unacceptable to advertise massage when the latest appointment is 8am!
Our late checkout at 4pm seemed to cause some confusion and unpleasantness. Whilst we were told we could stay in our room and just relax I was approached by our butler half an hour before lunch to tell me that we had to pay as we had been given lunch on the day we checked in. This was the first we had heard of our lunches being monitored! I have looked at the terms and conditions of the hotel since arriving home and it does state check in is at 2pm and check out at 12pm. We booked through an agent and did not have this information. We also didn’t read anything about it in the rooms.
There were a lot of conversations with the hotel about our check out and airport transfer but at no time did anyone bring up the subject of paying for ‘extra’ lunches either at the beginning or start of our stay. Of course if it was due we would have been happy to pay for the meal (which we did anyway) however the delivery and implication of the message was upsetting. We could have gone down the road of pointing out that on the day we checked in we didn’t have a full lunch just a side dish. We’d also both missed lunch when we went out for the day and I’d skipped a couple of breakfasts. Our butler seemed very embarrassed by it all so we just paid and put it down to lack of communication but it did leave a very unpleasant atmosphere and it was real shame to leave on that.
Finally the sea urchins on the beach we very problematic even with rubber shoes the spikes still find their way through. There is a concrete causeway down to the sea by the next hotel but that means getting past the beach boys who hang out on it so we opted for the slower path finding through the urchins.

Room Tip: All four have good views although the top two are slightly more private as you can see everyone but...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank couns40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Inge B, Inhaber at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded March 11, 2014

Dear Tracy,
Thank you a lot for your comments.
We relentlessly strive for perfection and for making the stay at Hotel Matlai as pleasant as possible to all our guests. Therefore we are greatly concerned if guests do not feel comfortable as desired.
The travel agency already informed us about the problems especially with our kitchen. It would have been helpful if we had heard more about them already during your stay so that perhaps we could have straightened out some of them in order to make your stay more pleasant. Particularly with regard to cold drinks or the availability of tea – bags there have not been any problems so far and these could possibly have been resolved immediately.
In contrast to most of the other hotels we have made it a point only to employ local staff in order to improve the economic situation of the island’s population. There is however an almost total lack of vocational training even in basic working skills needed to run a tourist enterprise. Thus we apply constant in-house training and education, but at times it proves to be difficult to make our staff understand exactly the specific expectations of foreign guests visiting us from all over the world, especially from Europe.
The supply of goods on the islands is not always entirely reliable; many things are brought from the mainland or even from abroad. Thus it is possible that single items may not always be replaced as fast as usual. Materials logistics are an important topic for training and instruction too.
We are in constant discussions with our butlers and other staff to improve communication skills in order to avoid misunderstandings and disappointment and to ensure the wellbeing of our guests. Generally we try to find a reasonable compromise between European standards and the local African atmosphere and way of dealing with life.
Despite these problems we would be delighted if we could welcome you again in our hotel perhaps to enjoy the improvements made since your last stay.
Sincerely yours
Inge

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Reviewed February 27, 2014

We stayed februrary 2014 in this lovely hotel. everything was excellent: friendly and professional staff, excellent food, location directly on the beach. It is great place also for a group of friends.

Room Tip: The upper floor rooms offer more privacy
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank ZurichGeorge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IngeBB, Owner at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded March 10, 2014

Dear George and Renate,
Thank you very much for your very nice comment.
I hope you had a good ferry ride and a few nice safari days.
It would be great to welcoming you again one day.
Kind regards Inge & Tim

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Reviewed January 26, 2014

We stayed for a week in this hotel . If I praise it without a word of criticism, my assessment would sound less believable.
So, having implied that only celestial visitors can regale us with something more perfect than this place, I see one way to make it even better.
If the chefs could place more faith in the original taste of the raw materials /fished out right there by the locals, for instance/, the culinary aspect (great in itself) would equal the standard of everything else.
Istvan and Kati

Room Tip: All the four rooms are excellently located
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank ISTVAN L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IngeBB, Inhaber at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2014

Dear Istvan and Kati,
Thank you so much for your great review. Your kind of writing makes it even better!
We already forwarded your suggestion to our kitchen crew. You should come back one day to test, if they have accepted your advice.
Kindest regards
Inge & Tim

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Reviewed January 23, 2014

The perfect way to unwind after our Safari in Tanzania.

The setting is absolutely stunning! This little 4 bedroom boutique hotel is one of the coolest places we've ever stayed.

It's about an hour drive from the airport and upon arrival you will be stunned. The garden, the pool, the palms...so serene!

Very nice rooms and pretty good food as well. If you're looking for a good cocktail while chillin at the pool, go with the Zanzarinha. Mmm mmm!

I The owners are very nice and Salim is the best! He went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed. He also taught us some Swahili and made us an incredible dining canopy our of palms for our last night there. Bomba kichizi kama ndizi ndani ya frigi!

One note - if you're heading out into the water for a swim, wear water shoes. Those sea urchins will getcha!

Room Tip: They're all great!
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Grellvis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IngeBB, Inhaber at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2014

Dear guests,
Thank you very much for your very nice review. Our barman Eduardo was happy to learn that you liked his cocktails! And Salim is growing up! It seems you had a very good Swahili teacher :-)
Kindest regards
Inge & Tim

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Reviewed January 8, 2014

We had christmas and new year at Matlai - 2 families taking the 4 rooms.

From the arrival to departure we had a truly brilliant stay. Just like the other reviews we agree that the rooms, bathrooms, garden, pool etc etc are all top class. The view is magnificent, the deep pool is great and the garden is huge with a large number of spots to sit or lie in hammocks.

The service is exceptional, Omar and Salim provided smiles, suggestions and lot's of fun. The gardeners, housekeepers, barman and cook all delivered above expectations.

The food was great everyday, sometimes we chose others we left it unto the chef, but always good. Great samosa's, all the fish was fresh and tasty, the spiciness was perfect for us. The drinks are good value for a hotel as well.

The excursions are recommended, Stone Town and spice tour are well worth it, we also snorkelled, fished for octopus, stand up paddled, had massages (very nice) and visited the sea weed cooperative, all were good.

Beach volleyball was a daily occurrence thanks to omar and salim, and we had a Boxing Day football match with many of the staff joining in.

Difficult to find any criticism - we made a few small suggestions but all in all i can't see any reason that you wouldn't enjoy this place as much as we did.

Thank you Team Matlai!

Room Tip: The four rooms are equally nice, the upper rooms have a better view (slightly), the lower rooms have...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank P68B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IngeBB, Manager at Boutique Hotel Matlai, responded to this reviewResponded January 11, 2014

Dear guests,
We also have to thank you: the party on New Years Eve was a great fun for all of us, we as well as our staff loved to dance with you around the fire - and sorry again for the problems with the music. Salim and Omar mis the daily matches. A tide table is now available in every room, not only in the lounge and I am looking for a nice map - thank you for these good ideas and of course for your great recommendation!
Inge & Tim

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Additional Information about Boutique Hotel Matlai

Address: Pingwe | Michamwi, Pingwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Pingwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Pingwe
Price Range: $306 - $492 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Boutique Hotel Matlai 4*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel Matlai is designed as an exclusive villa resort for people seeking a high level of comfort and privacy in a relaxed atmosphere. The hotel contains of two villas, Asili House and Villa Kidosho. Both villas are directly on the beach, embedded in abounded blooming and scented plants. Asili House is designed with natural African and Swahili elements, Villa Kidosho in oriental style. Therefore the villas combine the typical african and arabic influences which have shaped the character of Zanzibar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Boutique Hotel Matlai Zanzibar Island/Pingwe

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