If you are planning a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, you will most probably end up adding a beach extension in Zanzibar. Or maybe you just want to explore Zanzibar and everything it has to offer! This tropical island is a breathtaking spot to escape from the world, known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean it lives up to the expectations. From pristine white sand beaches and stunning deserted sandbanks to swimming with turtles or immersing yourself in the history of Stone Town, there are endless things to do in Zanzibar.
Back in 2019, we got to spend 5 days exploring the island after our safari, and ever since we have been wanting to return for a longer stay. You can check our Zanzibar itinerary and travel guide here with our tips and favorite things to do. So I thought it was about time I wrote a guide about the best hotels in Zanzibar and where to stay on the island.
I am a firm believer that a hotel can add so much to the experience, and I always try to choose hotels that match with the place we are at and that are unique. I love coming back from a trip and not only talking about what we saw and learned, the people we met, and everything we experienced but also about the amazing hotels we stayed at, like a bamboo house in Bali with a swing over the jungle, or watching the Northern Lights from a glass igloo in Lapland.
These are also special memories I will treasure forever, and that’s why I love hotels! Because of this, you’ll rarely see me recommending a big chain hotel, or an all-inclusive. I like hotels with personality, As always, in my guides I only recommend accommodations that I believe are special and add to the whole trip experience, that I’ve stayed at myself or that are in my bucket list.
Believe me when I say I’ve done a good research, and each hotel in this list of the best hotels in Zanzibar has something that makes it unique and will be for sure an unforgettable stay. So let’s stay away from those white-room boring hotel rooms without personality and ugly bathrooms and book a stay in a special place!
THE BEST LUXURY HOTELS IN ZANZIBAR
Let’s start with the best. Zanzibar has some of the best hotels in the world when it comes to luxury or honeymoon stays: private pools, private butler, romantic dinners and incredible views… If you can afford any of these hotels, don’t think about it twice because it can’t get any better. I promise.
Nestled in a tropical garden along a secluded beachfront on the north-west coast, Kilindi Zanzibar is a 5* luxury boutique hotel. It is the perfect mix of Zanzibar Middle-Eastern architectural design, an open back-to-nature ambiance and inspiring minimalism.
The 15 white washed villas have a terrace, their very own private plunge pool with an outdoor rainfall shower and an open-air living area. Each of them is set in its own private tropical garden assuring extreme privacy. And if you are not sold yet, every villa comes with a private dedicated butler! He will help you arrange all your activities and ensure you have an amazing stay.
Full board is included in all the rates so you won’t have to worry about extra charges. The sea views from the room are stunning and the beach where it’s located, Nungwi, it’s one of the best in the area.
Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the hotel consists of 4 elegant villas in a very secluded location with amazing views. Perfectly combining the spirit of Zanzibar with the highest luxury, they all have a private pool in their private terrace (and you all know I’m crazy for private pools). There is also a large bathtub in the bathroom with incredible views of the Indian Ocean.
Each villa at Matemwe Retreat comes with a dedicated private butler, the rates are all inclusive and you can choose between having food served in your romantic private terrace or in the restaurant. All of their food is sourced locally and you can even have a private chef cooking for you in your terrace (talk about romantic!).
There are massages and spa treatments available, and you can arrange all your activities directly with your butler, like sandbank picnics, snorkeling, diving, etc. The location of the resort is excellent, just in front of Mnemba Atoll where you can see turtles and dolphins. It’s definitely on my bucket list and one of the best hotels in Zanzibar.
Located in the West Coast in Pongwe, this boutique hotel has an amazing pool with waterslides next to a private beach with beds and a bar. Perfect for a beach romantic luxury holiday, their main focus is couples. Having winning various prizes for best hotel in Zanzibar, I wouldn’t think twice about spending a few days here!
The rooms are bungalow / bandas, with huge terraces and amazing views. Not too big but perfect for 2 persons, the ones facing the ocean have beautiful views of the white sand beach and the palm trees.
They offer an a la carte all-inclusive rate, complimentary both-way airport transfers, unlimited free yoga classes and a 1 hour massage included per guest once per stay.
THE RESIDENCE ZANZIBAR
Set on a private beach in Kizimkazi, on the South-East coast, The Residence is one of the best hotels in Zanzibar. The villas are located on a lush palm-tree forest next to the beach, and while the untouched beauty of the area will make you feel connected to nature it also offers all 5* luxuries and commodities.
The luxury villas are spacious and bright, with a huge private swimming pool and a private butler. They feel super intimate and relaxing, and also come with bicycles so you can explore the surroundings.
There is glass walled swimming pool for all guests to use and two different restaurants inside the resort. The spa is an experience of its own, with six treatment pavilions, a whirlpool a sauna and a steam room, all in complete harmony with the nature around.
THE BEST MID-BUDGET HOTELS IN ZANZIBAR
These are my favorite hotels for 100-150€ a night. There are many many options within this price range but I wanted to include something unique or special and yet affordable, which took quite a bit of research. As always I just can’t settle for a basic hotel room!
Located in Matemwe Beach, this eco-friendly boutique hotel has little bungalows or traditional “bandas” just on the beach. All of them have a terrace in which you can have breakfast with a view, and there are also sun beds in the beach for guests to use. The hotel also has a pool, a restaurant and free yoga classes. Plus a couple evenings a week they have live music on the restaurant!
The location feels remote and unspoiled, set on a spectacular endless palm-lined white-sand beach, you can walk along in both directions for miles, only occasionally coming across other people. Definitely one of the best hotels in Zanzibar at a very affordable rate!
We chose to stay here because it was affordable and we loved the area. The beach is always deserted and the hotel staff was so helpful arranging our activities and transfers. There are board games available on the bar and we spent a couple nights drinking cocktails and playing monopoly. The breakfast was perfect and the food is really nice.
MZEWI BOUTIQUE RESORT
Located in the south coast of Jambiani, this hotel is the perfect example of how you can stay on a budget with style. For around 100€ a night during high season, re-live all your safari memories or dreams with its decoration, which embodies perfectly the essence of the most authentic Africa.
My favorite thing about this resort is that it’s a barefoot hotel, meaning there is no floors on the common areas just sand! I love being barefoot and walking on the beach, and I believe that is a special kind of luxury. So the fact that all the pool area, the restaurant and the bar (even the reception!) have a sandy floor it’s just a dream for me. It’s so perfectly integrated with the natural surrounding that it will be for sure an experience on its own.
It has a big outdoor pool and restaurant, sitting on a private white sand beach. All of the bungalows have sea views and everything from the construction to the decoration has been locally resourced. It’s an eco-friendly hotel and locally owned so a win-win!
THE BEST HOTELS IN STONE TOWN
If you want to explore more of the culture of Zanzibar, spend a few nights in Stone Town. Full of restaurants, street markets and historical sites, there are many things to discover. My favorite hotels in the city are the renovated traditional Swahili houses turned boutique hotels.
UPENDO HOUSE BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Located in the city centre, Upendo House Hotel has the most amazing rooftop pool and terrace with incredible views of Stone Town. While it is modern there is still a touch of island tradition. Every detail has been carefully selected to create an utterly unique and totally chic Zanzibari experience.
The restaurant and the bar are always open for guests, also offering a la carte breakfast. They can help you arrange all your activities in Stone Town as well.
KHOLLE HOUSE BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Built in 1860 for Princess Kholle, the daughter of the first Sultan of Zanzibar. The building has now been restored and turned into a boutique hotel in the heart of Stone Town. Everything is uniquely designed with combinations of Swahili and French-Creole influence. It has a lush tropical courtyard where guests can enjoy the swimming pool, and a terrace with a tea house and a bar to have a drink in the evenings watching the sunset over Stone Town.
The rooms have private terraces and are unique in design. They all reflect the original style of the house and give a taste of the life of the princess and the culture of Spice Island in the 19th century. If you stay here, ask about the story of Princess Kholle because it’s fascinating!
Let me know in the comments if you are planning a trip to Zanzibar or if it’s on your bucket list!
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