Best hotels and hostels in Zanzibar Island

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Zanzibar Town

    Mangrove Lodge

    The delightful Mangrove Lodge is owned by a Zanzibari-Italian couple; their gentle style imbues the whole place, from the palm-thatched lounge overlooking the bay to the spacious bungalow rooms in the lush garden. The lodge is at Chuini, about 15km from Stone Town, so it's an ideal place to come to relax after a few days of arduous historical sightseeing. The lodge is heavily invested in the locale; staff come from Chuini village, where the lodge funds a dispensary. Using these neighbourly contacts, the lodge can set you up with village visits, traditional craft workshops, walks and bike rides to nearby spice plantations, and fishing trips with local fishers. Or you can just stroll hassle-free in the surrounding fields. If you fancy a dip, it's a very short walk from the lodge to Chuini Beach (also known as Mawimbini Beach). Near the lodge is Chuini Bay and the ruins of Chuini Palace, where Sultan Barghash once spent his weekends. To get here, follow the main road north (via Bububu) for about 12km to reach Chuini village, then turn left (look for the Mangrove Lodge sign) and follow sandy tracks through the farmland for another 3km. If you book ahead, transfers can be arranged; to/from town is US$20.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Zanzibar Town

    Emerson Spice

    With its stained-glass windows, wooden latticework balustrades, tinkling fountains and soft-hued colour scheme, Emerson Spice is one of the most stylish and atmospheric hotels in Stone Town. Created from a 19th-century mansion with wide steps leading down to a small square in the narrow street outside, it has 11 rooms filled with antiques, quirky decorations, rich textiles and deep bathtubs. The set-course dinner in the rooftop teahouse is deeply memorable, as is the Secret Garden – with lush plants decorating the romantic ruins. Both are open to non-residents.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Zanzibar Town

    Jambo Guest House

    Probably the best-value budget accommodation in town and extremely popular with backpackers, Jambo runs like clockwork. Nine spick-and-span rooms with Zanzibari beds share four bathrooms, there's complimentary tea and coffee, and it's within easy reach of several good-value eateries. Local tours and transfers to the east-coast beaches can be arranged. If you book in advance, you get free transfer from airport or ferry port.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Zanzibar Town

    Lost & Found Hostel

    Zanzibar's first dedicated backpackers hostel, Lost & Found is perfect for travellers on a tight budget. It's clean, modern, safe, friendly and well located. Guests sleep in comfortable 'pods' (single or double), with curtains for privacy, in two dorms (mixed gender and female only). The shared bathrooms are spotless. There's funky decor and a small balcony overlooking the street.

  • Lodging in Nungwi

    Mnarani Beach Cottages

    On Nungwi's quieter eastern side, near the lighthouse, Mnarani is on a low cliff with a lovely waterside terrace with the beach just below. It's relaxed and efficient, with friendly staff and small rooms in ochre-painted cottages on spacious grounds overlooking the sea. Also available are large superior rooms, a honeymoon suite and apartments for families or groups of friends. All rooms have a balcony or veranda. There's also a swimming pool, spa and wellness centre, bar and restaurant, and local tours or boat cruises can be arranged. Mnarani's owners have strong links with the people of Nungwi and support several local community initiatives.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Kiponda B&B

    A long-standing and popular place with friendly and relaxed staff, the Kiponda has simple but clean rooms (all with fan, some with air-con) on three floors. Breakfast is served on the top-floor terrace, which is also a great place to relax during the day (it's got wi-fi too). Free transfers from the ferry or airport. The hotel has close links with Sama Tours, which offers a good range of local excursions. Fans of historical minutiae may notice the small tomb in the hotel yard; the resting place of Ahmad Naamah, Zanzibar's first envoy to the USA in 1840.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Maru Maru Hotel

    In a grand old building just behind the Old Fort and House of Wonders, this hotel has historic credentials. Spaced over several floors around two courtyards, rooms combine traditional touches with modern facilities like flat-screen TV and minibar. For people with mobility problems, taxis can get to within a very short distance of the hotel, and it has a lift. The rooftop bar has a popular happy hour, the restaurant serves excellent Swahili food, curries, grills and pasta dishes (mains Tsh17,000 to Tsh30,000), while downstairs is a gallery and bakery.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Emerson on Hurumzi

    This hotel is simply brimming with character. Two adjacent historic buildings have been restored in a fantastical Arabian Nights style; each of the 15 rooms is uniquely and decadently decorated, with traditional Swahili and contemporary design combined perfectly (some might say outrageously). The popular rooftop teahouse restaurant is open to nonguests for lunch and dinner. Some rooms are reached by steep staircase, which might be a problem for those with limited mobility.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Ikala Zanzibar Stonetown Lodge

    Bright and cheerful in an unashamed 'economy' model, the Ikala is ideal if all you need is a clean room, friendly staff and efficient service. Extras (breakfast, air-con, luxury linen, TV, bathroom amenities) are optional for a small fee. Another plus is the neat little bar-restaurant on the roof. Some quad and triple rooms are also available for families or small groups. Balconies at the front overlook busy Malawi Rd; if you want a quiet night, get a room at the back.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Jafferji House

    The historic former home of the Jafferji family, this beautifully decorated hotel is packed with traditional, modern and colonial artefacts, plus stunning images by well-known photographer Javed Jafferji. You can choose standard or luxury rooms and enjoy the rooftop restaurant with uninterrupted 360-degree views across Stone Town. And if it all gets too much, you can relax in the spa.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Kholle House

    This hotel was once a palace, built in 1860 for Princess Kholle, favoured daughter of Sultan Said. After meticulous renovation, it now offers bright and luxurious (if slightly compact) rooms, decorated with Zanzibari and art deco furniture. The staff are friendly, the small garden has a plunge pool and the rooftop 'teahouse' has great views over this part of Stone Town.

  • Lodging in Nungwi

    Warere Beach Hotel

    Small, peaceful and relaxed, the Warere is 2.5km outside town on Nungwi's east beach. Two rows of cottages have an angular style, but the design ensures all have a beautiful sea view (and also provides 'natural air-con'). Lush gardens, sandy pathways and an infinity pool complete the picture. There's a restaurant, and tours or activities can be arranged.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Kisiwa House

    The lovely Kisiwa House has nine spacious rooms and an excellent rooftop restaurant with sea views. Public areas have a traditional appearance, including the grand wooden staircase and large brass-studded front door, while rooms have Swahili-inspired contemporary decor, airy and uncluttered, with cream drapes, Persian rugs and dark-beamed ceilings.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Park Hyatt Zanzibar

    At the time of research, the latest addition to Zanzibar Town's growing roll call of large luxury hotels, the Park Hyatt is in two attached buildings (one the historic Mambo Msiige building, the other recently constructed) on the waterfront. From the vast lobby with its pillars and cooling atmosphere to the gym and treatment centre, the old-new mix continues throughout. Rooms are large with all the usual facilities you'd expect in an international hotel, but not all have balconies with a sea view so specify when booking if required. Travellers with a taste for irony will appreciate the glass barrier around the infinity pool.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Mizingani Seafront Hotel

    In a renovated building between two Stone Town landmarks, the Big Tree and the Old Customs House, the Mizingani has a prime location. There's an attractive courtyard pool, while landings and stairways are decorated with antiques. Rooms have modern furniture built in traditional style, some with balconies overlooking the ocean, plus a flat-screen TV should you tire of the view. This hotel is just a few minutes' walk from the passenger ferry terminal. There's also a restaurant (open to non-guests, no alcohol) on the 1st floor, which has a great sea-view balcony.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Zenji Hotel

    The Zenji offers clean rooms, efficient service and a friendly welcome. On Malawi Rd, near the port, it's in the heart of the action, or a bit noisy, depending on your attitude. Some rooms have balconies; the quieter ones are at the back. Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace and there's the great little Zenji Cafe downstairs (open to nonguests). The owners also operate Zenji Zanzibar, a series of projects aiming to help local people benefit from tourism, and local craft products are on sale in a room next to the cafe.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Swahili House

    Over the years, this grand building has been home to an Indian merchant, the sultan's family and other Zanzibari dignitaries. Restored to its original state, it offers 22 vast rooms (some with open bathroom) over five floors, neatly furnished with Zanzibari beds and handcrafted furniture. The 5th-floor terrace offers stunning views, plunge pool and an excellent bar-restaurant (open to nonguests). Upper-floor staircases are very steep, but one feature of this building's modernisation is a lift.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Mbweni Ruins Hotel

    Away from the hustle, 5km south of Zanzibar Town, trim and tranquil Mbweni Ruins Hotel (part of the Marriott-Protea chain) has light and airy rooms set in expansive botanical gardens. The eponymous ruin – a former mission school for freed slaves – is also in the hotel grounds. Other attractions include a private beach, excellent restaurant and bar with ocean views. The beach, grounds and restaurant are open to non-guests for a TSh10,000 fee (which is then deducted from your meal cost).

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Tembo House Hotel

    This attractively restored building has a prime waterfront location, including a patch of private beach (separated from the sea and public beach by a small rope fence). There's around 40 rooms – some with ocean views – in new and old wings, plus a swimming pool, restaurant (no alcohol), and a buffet breakfast served on the seaside terrace. It's popular, especially with families. If the Tembo is full, the same management runs several other hotels of similar standard nearby.

  • Lodging in Zanzibar Town

    Zanzibar Coffee House

    Dating from 1885, this building once belonged to a minister to Sultan Barghash, and today it's a stylish hotel above a first-class coffeeshop. Eight rooms (all named after types of coffee, naturally) are decorated with Zanzibari beds, vintage lamps, antique furniture, old prints and twirling fans, evoking the atmosphere of those bygone days. Breakfast is served in the rooftop teahouse. Yes, the coffee house has a teahouse.