Zanzibar Hotels

Mnarani Beach Cottages

The Mnarani Beach Cottages are located in Nungwi village, on the northern most tip of the island of Zanzibar. Established and managed by business and tourism graduate, Nassar Ali, the hotel aims to balance the needs of Western tourists with those of local villagers and the environment. The hotel takes its name from the local lighthouse or ‘mnarani’ in Swahili.

Accommodation at Mnarani Beach Cottages

The hotel offers a wide range of facilities including swimming pool, free internet, library, traditional games and TV in the bar area and pool table (at an extra cost). The rooms and cottages on offer are various. All offer a range of amenities. The Standard rooms are located in cottages; 8 along the seafront and 4 in the gardens. The seafront rooms are most popular and allocation of these is first come first served. The rooms are basic but feature en suites, fans and verandas.

The Mahaba (honeymoon) Cottage is the most secluded accommodation but is not totally private. Nestled within its own garden it has a kitchenette (includes a fridge but is nevertheless basic), veranda, CD player, beach bed and seating area with hammock. It is spread over two floors and traditionally furnished and constructed from local wood and natural palm.

There are also 10 rooms located in the Zanzibar House, a four story building with its own roof terrace from which one can enjoy 360 degree views. These include 8 deluxe rooms and 2 honeymoon suites. All rooms are large (25m2) with en suite, telephone, fridge and coffee and tea making facilities. The rooms on the lower ground floor may be booked together as an adjoining set for use by groups and families.

The resort also offers family cottages which are spread over two floors and can sleep up to four people (though this requires extra beds to be placed on the lower ground floor). These offer a very basic kitchenette with sink and fridge and private bathroom and balcony. Family flats are larger and more private; designed for large families or groups. Each flat has telephone and air-conditioning, private balcony and kitchen, 2/3 bedrooms and a CD player. The flats have private car parking and a top-floor sunbathing deck.

Food and Drink at Mnarani Beach Cottages

Breakfast is satisfying and tasty but rather average by all accounts. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes each night. Like many places in the region, it prides itself on its seafood predominantly. The menu is generally rather static so if you like culinary excitement the full-board option is not recommended. When there are more than thirty guests the hotel may organise a barbeque.

The hotel bar is well-stocked and has a friendly vibe. Drinks can be enjoyed in the lounge area, or away from the bar, overlooking the beach. However, the bars at the resort are not included in the half-board package and drinks are priced higher than at many other establishments on the island. There is also a corkage charge for those wishing to bring their own alcohol to the restaurant or bar.

What’s on offer at Mnarani Beach Cottages?

Staff at the hotel are generally friendly and pleasant, though more formal with guests than at some of the smaller lodges and hotels in the region. The hotel is clean and well cared for. The hotel staff are all local villagers meaning that many do not have perfect English, however they will understand and do their best to assist. Managers and often the owner himself are onsite should you need any assistance. The hotel is very quick to respond to any grievances or queries.

Activities on offer include snorkelling, sunset dhow cruises, kayaking, scuba diving, kiting and game fishing. Most of these incur extra charges but are highly recommended. The hotel also has a Finnish sauna and a massage service for those wishing to further relax and unwind. A number of beauty treatments can also be arranged. All beauty and massage treatments cost extra.

How to get to Mnarani Beach Cottages

The cottages are approximately 1½ hours drive from Stone Town or Zanzibar airport. The resort will happily organise transfers for guests either from the airport or from hotels/the port in Stone Town. A one-way transfer is free to guests staying longer than a week.

The drive winds through poor parts of Zanzibar and can be disheartening to tourists, especially considering the almost hypocritical luxury on offer at many of Zanzibar’s resorts. It is important to remember that this country is still developing and that some disquieting scenes of poverty are to be expected.

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