Cerulean waters and pure white beaches make Zanzibar one of the most alluring travel destinations on the African coast, but a night in historical Stone Town is a must for any traveller who wants to tread in the footsteps of sultans, traders and explorers past.
Tucked away in a maze of narrow lanes and winding alleyways, the Zanzibar Palace Hotel is a boutique property immersed in the spirit and wonders of Stone Town’s past and present. Built in the early 20th century, the tall, thin building wraps itself around an attractive atrium, and with just three rooms on each of its three floors, there’s a splendidly intimate atmosphere.
Each of the rooms is entirely different, with authentic features, original artwork and antique furniture sourced locally. While some have private balconies, others have huge bathtubs. At the top of the hotel, the most luxurious suite, the Dunia, has an open-air roof terrace providing guests with enchanting views over the rooftops, plus a supersize Sultan’s bathtub.
Persian, Arabian, Indian, colonial and African influences are clearly present in the interiors, with intricately carved wooden furniture, Persian rugs and drapes giving the hotel a romantic Arabian Nights feel.
Delicious Swahili-fusion meals are served in the hotel’s restaurant, with tuna, kingfish, jumbo prawns and 2kg chargrilled lobster among the most popular dishes. Breakfast is a feast served with strong local coffee, while in the evening, pre-dinner cocktails are concocted at the cosy bar.
For guests looking to relax and unwind, there’s a small spa offering pampering treatments, including massage, facials, body scrubs, manicures and pedicures.
Staff can arrange tours and excursions, including walking tours of the city (there are no cars, as most of the cobbled streets are too narrow for vehicles) to explore markets, museums and bustling bazaars. Boat trips to nearby Prison Island — and to snorkel and sunbathe — are also popular; the hotel can arrange a privately guided spice tour as well to learn everything there is to know about spices!
The hotel prides itself on the personal attention it pays to guests, and over the past five years, it’s been awarded Tanzania’s Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards four times. With nine rooms, the best advice is to book early.
Need to know
· 9 spacious suites
· Lounge and bar
· Private butler service
· Tours and excursion desk
· Free wi-fi
· 24-hour reception
· DVD player and library