Are you seeking the best hotels in Zanzibar? The gorgeous island has a long colorful past and has been drawing in tourists for decades. They come to soak up the beautiful white beaches, warm weather, and the perfect relaxing stop while on safari in Tanzania.
When we arrived on the island of Zanzibar after driving across Africa for four months, we set out to find the best hotels in Zanzibar. After all, the hotels and resorts of Zanzibar are designed for decompression after a long safari in Tanzania. It’s the perfect place to trade in your safari attire and binoculars for a bathing suit and coconut water.
The island’s coastline features white sand beaches and the turquoise waters of a tropical Indian Ocean. Zanzibar is the perfect place to sit on the beach, drink some coconuts, and forget. However, there is depth to the sunny island, a history that dates back centuries and involves enslaved people, sultans, spices, war, and culture.
The Best Zanzibar Hotels
The most exclusive of all the resorts on Zanzibar is, without a doubt, Kilindi Zanzibar. The resort is near Kendwa on the North of the island and is one of the top Zanzibar hotels on the beach. Its extensive grounds give plenty of privacy to its 15 villas that pop up from a lush hillside.
The white-washed domed villas feel like a sultan’s palace that should only be fit for a king or a pop celebrity. The resort was formerly the private residence of ABBA band member Benny Andersson. It’s the best hotel in Zanzibar for honeymoon vacations.
Privacy is key at Kilindi; each villa has two private plunge pools, an open rainfall shower, and a personal lounge area. The villas feel at home on the island and are decorated with few details.
Guests will instead find small touches like seashells, a book, or a few pieces of furniture. Each room has a valet to deliver meals, plan activities, collect laundry, and assist with whatever the guest needs while staying at the resort.
The infinity pool at Kilindi Zanzibar overlooks the most beautiful bay in Zanzibar, filled with dhows and turquoise water.
Guests at Kilindi are given complete freedom. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be served anytime and anywhere. The food at Kilindi is superb, and every course is cooked from the freshest ingredients, as the chef opts to grow and buy locally. It is easily the best food on the island, but there is nothing pretentious about the atmosphere in which it is served.
We opted to always have breakfast from the comfort of our private lounge area, while lunch was spent around the pool, and dinner was spent in some of Kilindi’s secret hideaway spots. It may have taken some convincing for us to get dragged away from Kilindi. Kilindi may take the top accolade for the best Zanzibar hotels, but it comes with the highest price tag. See our full Kilindi review.
Kilindi Zanzibar highlights for us: Privacy of villas, stunning and secluded beaches, and the best food on the island.
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The Residence Zanzibar
Another one of the best resorts in Zanzibar is The Residence. Guests don’t get a room at The Residence Zanzibar – instead, they get a large villa steps away from the beach. Yes, this place is one of the best beach resorts in Zanzibar.
Each villa has a spacious bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower, bathtub, and double vanity. The bedroom in the villa features a king-sized four-poster bed that faces sliding glass doors that reveal a private patio. The room’s highlight lies on the patio; each villa comes with a beautiful glass-tiled private pool. The pools at The Residence Zanzibar truly sparkle.
We found it difficult to depart from our villa; however, the property’s centerpiece has to be the main pool and restaurant. It was, by all accounts, the best pool we found on the island.
The sparkling water of the massive infinity pool comes to a dramatic end with glass walls providing light and views out to the private beach. This is where we passed our time – poolside with a good book and waiting for a singing attendant to deliver us ice cream every day.
The private beach near Kizimkazi is one of the most secluded on the island and one of the best beaches in Zanzibar. The white sand beaches here are perfect for those wanting a private beach escape.
We started to feel a little too relaxed, so we took to the water with the resort’s paddleboards and some snorkel gear. We found plenty of activities at the resort to keep ourselves entertained, between birding, biking, swimming, water sports, and billiards.
The whole feel of the hotel keeps in touch with the island. The main reception is a large open building with ottoman-style archways and the scent of spices floating through the air. The restaurant serves up a mix of contemporary food and draws inspiration from the island’s spice history. The Residence has a clear spot on this list of best hotels in Zanzibar.
The Residence Zanzibar Highlights: Crystal clear pools, modern room, and amenities, fast WiFi.
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Park Hyatt Zanzibar
The Park Hyatt Zanzibar is an exquisite hotel delivered in a way only capable of a Park Hyatt and is easily one of the best hotels in Zanzibar. The hotel finds a perfect balance between the brand’s signature look and the former palace that the main building now occupies.
The hotel’s interiors embody the atmosphere of Stone Town with features such as intricate chandeliers, archways, lanterns, trellises, carved wood, and crown molding.
The beds are heavenly, the robes are fresh, and a TV is built over the bathtub. The room’s private balconies are a splendid way to soak up afternoons sipping on espresso from the in-room Nespresso machine. The rooms at the Park Hyatt are the most comfortable on Zanzibar.
Despite our views of everyday beach life from our room, we used the pool, gym, and hotel library well. The hotel pool is the perfect place to spend the day watching the lively Stone Town beach. When the evening rolls around, we recommend their happy hour, where we picked up two bourbon cocktails at half price and made our American selves happy.
If you tire of the hotel grounds, the property is in the center of Stone Town. We love wandering the streets of Stone Town, which has all the charms of Arabic medinas, but none of the hassle.
The Park Hyatt Highlights for us: Park Hyatt brand, balcony, fitness center, beautiful room, fast WiFi, comfort, and location.
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Out of all the Zanzibar hotels, this one is the most unique. Emerson Spice is a restored Merchant’s House turned boutique hotel in Zanzibar in the center of Stone Town. In my opinion, it is the most unique and best hotel in Stone Town.
The hotel has eleven rooms that are all individually decorated and named accordingly. Our room was Semele, a room too beautiful for her own good, covered with pastel blue walls, stained windows, and ceiling-to-floor burgundy curtains.
The rooms are filled with antique furniture and rich textures. Small touches like locally produced soaps, towels, antique books, and even air con are featured in each room. Passion has been poured into the Emerson Spice, and it is obvious.
We felt as if we’d been cast away in the days of old. Time slowed down, and we soaked up the atmosphere of the buzzing Stone Town streets from our private balcony.
Food at the Emerson Spice is a special occasion; eating here is one of the best things to do in Zanzibar. We dined in the newest addition to Emerson Spice, their Secret Garden restaurant. The restaurant is hidden away in ruins neighboring Emerson Spice.
Diners revel in the open-air restaurant while the head chef prepares most meals in a blaze of smoke on a charcoal grill. We couldn’t resist and went delicious with their seafood platter, a mix of fresh lobster, prawns, and barracuda.
Emerson Spice Highlights for us: The abundance of charm and character, Secret Garden restaurant, and excellent location.
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Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort
Pongwe is in the running for not only the best beach in Zanzibar but one of the best in the world. Taking in this secluded white sand beach can be done with the Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort, a quiet all-inclusive hotel in Zanzibar.
Tulia means to relax in Swahili, and that is precisely how the intimate resort is designed. The 15 villas are spread across a lush garden and central pool bar.
Guests are greeted by a friendly staff and whisked away to rooms waiting with a bottle of wine, greeting card, and a bed of flowers. The rooms here are spacious, comfortable, and modern. The large king bed sits on a platform and provides views from the room to the garden or sea.
The best part? Tulia advertises the fastest WiFi on the island. As travel bloggers, we can attest and confirm that the WiFi at Tulia was indeed the fastest; we have the stats!
Tulia is a Zanzibar hotel that is all-inclusive, with inspiring food and cocktails included in the price. We spent the morning on the stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. In comparison, our afternoons were spent sipping pina coladas around the unique hotel pool.
The pool is also home to one of the only waterslides on the island. We could not resist acting like a pair of kids again and went for races down the slide.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort have local and international chefs cooking up some delicious food from an ever-changing menu. After dinner, the pool bar is the perfect place to relax with a nightcap while staring at the Zanzibar night sky. Tulia hit all the marks for us and had the perfect blend of fun, relaxation, and intimacy.
Tulia Beach Resort Highlights for us: Intimate feeling with attentive staff, fast WiFi, beautiful pool and beach, and of course, the waterslides!
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Emerson on Hurumzi
Located a five-minute walk away from the Emerson Spice is the sister hotel, the Emerson on Hurumzi. The building was built in the 1870’a by Sir Tharia Topna, a powerful merchant in Zanzibar. Just like the Emerson Spice entering the hotel is akin to being transported back in time.
There was no end to Stone Town when we entered our room as the city drifts in through trellised walls from the balcony. Our room, North, features a rooftop shower and bathtub that provides views of the cityscape. The beautiful antiques feel right at home in the room.
Dinner on the Rooftop Tea House was our most memorable in Zanzibar and should be experienced by all who visit Stone Town. Diners sit atop cushions and large Persian rugs on the hotel’s roof while a velvet roof dances in the wind. Evening cocktails begin at 18:00, and dinner is served at 19:00. Make sure to book a spot in advance as the demand is high.
The restaurant serves a blend of Persian and Omani food on a tasting menu every night. If you’re lucky, you can visit on an evening with live entertainment from one of the many talented bands in Zanzibar.
When morning rolled around, we enjoyed a healthy and light breakfast on our room’s private balcony. The Emerson on Hurumzi and the Emerson Spice embody everything Zanzibar, and when you lay your head down at night, you don’t leave the island. You remain in its heart.
Emerson on Hurumzi Highlights for us: Rooftop Tea House dinner and entertainment, large and comfortable bathtubs, breakfast on the patio overlooking Stone Town.
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Essque Zalu Zanzibar
Essque Zalu is one of the best beach resorts in Zanzibar. This Zanzibar hotel is not for the faint of heart; at Essque Zalu, bigger is better. It is one of the largest resorts on Zanzibar, but the intimacy of Zanzibar has not been lost. Essque Zalu Zanzibar sits at the Northern end of Zanzibar, close to Nungwi Beach.
The rooms are comfortable with large beds, patios, walk-in closets, lounges, rainfall showers, and a desk. We spent some time reading a book from our patio in the beautiful gardens of the Zanzibar resort.
Guests can spend their days soaking up the sun by the massive pool at Essque Zalu Zanzibar. The hotel’s location on top of a small cliff may not present access to the beach; however, what Essque Zalu lacks in the beach makes up for a beautiful jetty.
Yes, the longest jetty in Zanzibar resides here and is the perfect place to come and relax any time of the day. It’s also one of the only parts of the island where you can catch sunrise and sunset!
The hotel features two Zanzibar restaurants, and we decided to have dinner at both. The Jetty offer relaxed vibes and a grill. At the same time, Market Kitchen served up better meals in a more polished atmosphere. The restaurant staff impressed us with their attentiveness, smiles, and welcoming attitude.
We also loved getting in a workout with the fitness center after overeating the delicious food on Zanzibar.
Highlights of Essque Zalu Zanzibar: The intimate and picturesque jetty, well-equipped fitness center, and exceptionally well cared for gardens and grounds.
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Book A Safari in Tanzania
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggested camps and lodges and then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way. You can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Another great option is Safari Bookings. Safari Bookings offer safaris all around Africa in every price range!
Zanzibar Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance, and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When uncertain about the water supply, we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Bathing Suit: You’ll need a bathing suit for all these beaches. Andies Swim makes my favorite suits.
- Sandals: Rainbow Sandals last forever and are great for the beach.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-3 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.