Zanzibar Hotels

Mbweni Ruins Hotel

The Mbweni Ruins are located 6 km to the South of Stone Town on the coastline. The hotel is also only a 4 km drive from Zanzibar’s airport. As there is a free shuttle bus from Mbweni to Stone Town daily the hotel’s situation is ideal both for exploring this exotic and historical city and escaping its bustle, dirt and noise to relax in the evening.

The hotel was conceived in 1991 when English, Dutch and Italian entrepreneurs came together to build a hotel on the land beside the ancient Mbweni Ruins. Later the ruins were bought also and included in the building project. The ruins are now home to the Bustani Spa where guests can book a pampering session. A botanical garden has been planted between the spa / ruins and the more modern hotel. Nestled in the gardens, the hotel overlooks the ocean.

Accommodation at Mbweni Ruins Hotel

Part resort, part city-hotel this is nevertheless a reasonably small establishment with only 13 rooms. The rooms vary in prize and size. The hotel offers a luxury Baobab suite (intended for honeymooners mainly), and 3 family apartments (rooms 4, 8 and 12) which have separate rooms with bunk-beds as well as the standard rooms. All rooms are decorated in Swahili style. They feature air-conditioning and ceiling fans, are en suite and have easy access to the pool and the secluded hotel beach. They are equipped with lock up safes, tea and coffee making facilities and verandas. There are neither televisions nor radios at the resort. Telephone and internet are available in the reception area.

Food and Drink at Mbweni Ruins Hotel

The Hotel has its own Raintree Restaurant, pre-dinner Sundowner Bar and Mangrove Bar. The Restaurant is set on a cliff-top with an ocean view, while the Mangrove bar is down by the beach and spans three levels. The Restaurant serves good dinners and salads at lunchtime. Seafood is locally sourced and very fresh as the hotel prides itself on its good relationship with local fishermen. Breakfast, served in the Raintree, is included in the hotel rate and is good; fresh fruit juice, coffee and tea, cereals, fruits and yoghurt from a buffet, and/or English Breakfast prepared to order.

Service at Mbweni Ruins Hotel

Recently taken under new management the Hotel is really doing its best to impress. The managers are obsequious and very observant of customer needs. While this has raised the standard of service it has also served to standardize it somewhat. The laid back African attitude is being replaced with a more formal manner. This is not to intend that staff members are not friendly, but if you are looking for a touch of raw tradition this may not be the place for you.

The hotel is clean and well cared for. The managers are determined to address issues raised by previous clients as can be seen by their keen responses to complaints categorized on various hotel review sites; such as complaints concerning the hotel’s dogs which are wont to explore the residents’ lodgings. Be warned!

Mbweni Ruins Hotel Location

Though the nature trail and bird watching are billed as charms of the hotel, these aspects may disappoint somewhat. If you are coming here solely to experience the wildlife you may be let down slightly. There are many varieties of birds, but the nature trail is hardly extensive. However, the hotel is excellently located for those looking to take part in a variety of activities including diving, sailing, kayaking, dhow tours and trips to Chumbe Island, a private island which is home to a Coral reserve, extensive forest nature trails, and an historic lighthouse (trips to the island may be limited as eco-tourism management aim to ensure the island never has more than a certain number of people on it at any one time).

How to get to Mbweni Ruins Hotel

Mbweni is very close to Zanzibar’s airport and a hotel transfer is easily arranged, otherwise a taxi will take you direct to the hotel for around USD 15. The hotel offers a free shuttle service to and from Stone Town and its main ports. Alternatively you can also get a taxi from the city for around USD 15.

Stone Town is the old town of Zanzibar City which lies approximately 7 km from Zanzibar airport. The taxi takes approximately 15 minutes to reach the town. Airport transfers can be arranged through the hotel. Ferry routes link Stone Town with Dar es Salaam daily and with Pemba less frequently. Passengers are warned to beware ticket touts when buying ferry tickets and advised to take the faster, more expensive ferry as past travellers have raised safety concerns with the older slower stock of boats.

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