Zanzibar Hotels

Swahili House Hotel

Located in the heart of Stone Town in an historical merchant’s house, Swahili House, opened in 2008, is a reasonably recent addition to the tourist industry on Zanzibar.

Accommodation at Swahili House Hotel

The hotel comprises of 22 rooms spread over 4 floors. These are arranged around a courtyard and crowned by a rooftop terrace. Various rooms are available. Sultan Suites are the largest and have balconies, (approx. 45m2), Suites are smaller and without balconies (approx. 33m2), and Deluxe Rooms are not perhaps what one might consider deluxe (approx. 21m2). All rooms feature air-conditioning and a fan. Rooms do not feature TV, radio, safes or telephones.

Rooms are decorated in attractive Swahili style. Furniture is basic but comfortable. En suite facilities are located in the centre of the rooms in many of the suites. Although this is an authentic design feature it may not suit everyone’s tastes when it comes to privacy/hygiene. As with many large buildings in the region the hot water system is rather unreliable. Yet the hotel does not advertise itself as luxury. It is a higher end bed and breakfast. Despite which, it still has abundant character and the small staff are friendly and obliging.

One of the hotel’s major drawbacks is that, even though rooms are not equipped with telephones, the hotel has no working elevator. And every trip to and from the reception may mean climbing a number of flights of steep stairs. A nuisance considering that the hotel’s major attraction is its roof terrace.

Food, Drink and Service at Swahili House Hotel

The terrace should be considered worth the climb (95 high steps) for the view it offers over Stone Town and out to the ocean, its Jacuzzi, and its highly recommended restaurant. The restaurant’s food is excellent quality and the restaurant manager goes out of his way to make guests feel welcome. As is often the case in Zanzibar, items on the menu may be unavailable. Breakfast is served in the form of a buffet of Continental and English dishes from the rooftop kitchen (more stair climbing).

Considering its central location the hotel is normally quiet (though the 0500 call to prayer is one of Stone Town’s practically inescapable foibles). The hotel is walking distance from all the major historical and cultural attractions of Stone Town and the beach. It is also situated near a good currency exchange. The hotel is happy to organize a guide for guests. This service is welcomed by some travellers as Stone Town is somewhat of a labyrinth. It is also very much a working African city. Though fascinating and stunning in parts, it is a busy and abrupt place, not for the overly shy or sensitive.

How to get to Swahili House Hotel

Swahili House is hidden away in the very heart of Stone Town. This means it is not easily accessible by taxi. Navigating one’s way to the hotel may be tricky, even the hotel accept this. This is why they suggest you arrange for their driver to collect you from the airport or ask your taxi driver to escort you from the Darajani Market where he will drop you off (for a small fee).

Stone Town itself lies approximately 7 km from Zanzibar airport. The taxi takes approximately 15 minutes to reach the town. 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 travellers have raised safety concerns with the older slower stock of boats.

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