Most importantly – Does the hotel and room do what it’s supposed to do?
The Essque Zalu Hotel delivers 5 star luxury in an idyllic setting on the northern tip of Zanzibar. The beach is so picture perfect it looks photoshopped and the hotel provides a variety of local and African themed entertainment, food and spa options meaning you can get a taste of Zanzibar without leaving the luxurious and safe confines of the hotel.
How did we rate the experience before we stepped into the room?
The Essque Zalu is situated right at the top of the country so, unless you’re arriving by helicopter, be prepared for a bumpy ride up to the hotel.
After turning down a small dirt track we arrived at the giant gates. The hotel features the most impressive and beautiful entrance we’ve ever seen. A giant traditional hut covers the lobby where welcome drinks await you.
Then you are guided through the open lobby to the next stunning view: the infinity pool overlooking the enticing Indian Ocean beyond.
There are lots of places to recline and enjoy a cocktail or two. This was our favourite place.
Does it cover the basic needs?
Breakfast – plentiful, healthy and delicious
Comfy bed – absolutely
Decent towels – of course
Fridge – check
Good pillows – check
Parking – valet included
Safe – yes
Shower with decent water pressure – of course
Wifi – Good wifi with good coverage
What makes your stay feel special?
The hotel does a good job mixing standard western luxury with East African tradition and originality. Breakfast juices included Baobab and other local treats and the hotel hosts a BBQ night on Saturdays with local music, dancing, and food.
The hotel has also designed a Masai style spa experience which features singing Masai warriors, traditional tepees and even goats and cows being nearby to give you a real Masai village feel.
It is at times a little unusual, but it does allow luxury travellers to experience some of the local culture without having to leave the hotel.
Does the hotel and room make sense?
The hotel rooms are small villas. Elegantly furnished, spacious and well stocked, the hotel offers a rewarding and comfortable stay for travellers, perfect for a short break or a longer stay. The rooms are well designed and sleeping areas are well separated from the washing areas.
The only criticism would be that the rooms do lack a little warmth and local feel but this is being addressed during a refurbishment that is currently underway.
The hotel lobby is stunning and the walk from the entrance through the pool area, along the pier and to the ocean is a breath-taking way to start your stay. However, as there is nothing in the lobby it does seem a little strange that the iconic giant hut that dominates the hotel never really features in your stay except when checking in and out.
The hotel has two restaurants and puts on a local BBQ night on Saturday nights which is fun, entertaining, and not to be missed. The restaurants serve up high quality meals that meet the expectations of a 5 star hotel and earn bonus points for infusing some touches of local cuisine. However, the cuisine doesn’t stand out compared to other 5 star hotels so, with the exception of the BBQ night, meal times aren’t an event.
Best extras included?
It might be a recurring theme for Zanzibar, but it’s hard to pick anything above the picture perfect Indian Ocean. The Essque Zalu is located on Nungwi Beach and what sets the hotel apart from every other hotel on the island is that due to its location and pier you can witness both sunrise and sunset over the Indian Ocean.
We were warned that the biggest issue with Zanzibar hotels in general was the service, and the Essque Zalu at times fed that reputation. Whilst the reception, baggage handling and laundry service was fast, professional and efficient, waiting for over 20 minutes for a cocktail on a relatively quiet day is something that could be improved.
Overall impression of The Essque Zalu
The hotel is a destination hotel which offers 5 star luxury and entertainment to provide you with enough local culture and cuisine to give you a taste of the best Zanzibar has to offer without having to stray too far from hypnotic Indian Ocean.
Thank you to Essque Zalu Hotel for hosting us at their beautiful hotel, however all our opinions our honest and our own.
Last modified: 27th February 2017