Most importantly – Does the hotel and room do what it’s supposed to do?
If you’re looking for some culture and history in the heart of Zanzibar’s Unesquo heritage site capital city Stone Town, there’s no other place. However, be prepared for some serious, no holds barred history.
How did we rate the experience before we stepped into the room?
The Swahili house is in the middle of Stone town, a city not dissimilar from Morroco, a labyrinth like catacomb of thin, winding side streets that could make finding the hotel difficult to find.
Thankfully our driver from Kibabu cars dropped us off right at the hotel and brought back the car the next morning. We’d advise booking with Kibabu or getting a taxi to minimise the chances of getting.
Once you arrive and breach the giant and ornate gate you are transported to a different time as you head into the hotel and climb the giant wooden staircases, you are positively drowning in the historic splendour of Stone Town.
Does it cover the basic needs?
Breakfast – Available on the rooftop and comes with a free spectacular sunrise over the city
Comfy bed – a magnificent antique four poster bed
Decent towels – Check
Fridge – no fridge
Good pillows – Check
Parking – Not at the hotel – we’d advise getting a ride to the hotel to avoid getting lost.
Safe – no safe
Shower with decent water pressure – good water pressure above the antique spa tub
Wifi – Available in the lobby
What makes your stay feel special?
The Swahili House hotel was once the home to one of Zanzibar’s Sheiks. The old building towers above the rest of it’s counterparts affording incredible views of the capital.
The rooms were originally for the Sheik’s wives. Each one has been restored to its’ original style and never have we stayed in a room that has taken us back in time. Everything about the rooms and the courtyard scream history and authenticity.
Does the hotel and room make sense?
Here is where the history of the hotel collides with the modern day. The rooms are open and therefore your toilet, bath and bed are not only in the same room but awkwardly close to each other. Whilst the authenticity is great, we’d advise using the lobby toilet in order to preserve the romance of the magnificent four poster bed.
The rooftop bar and restaurant has both wonderful views and a pool meaning the food is a bonus.
However, the food is not to be ignored: Whilst it claims to be international cuisine, the restaurant put enough local spins on restaurant standards to give you a feel of local cuisine.
The food is well cooked, the service is prompt and friendly, the cocktails are smooth and slide down and the view will make the evening special and romantic.
Best extras included?
The history is a big bonus along with the location. Swahili house is in the belly of Stone town right in the heart of the labyrinth whilst only a short walk from Forodhani Park and other Stone Town highlights.
Whilst the history is great, you also need to prepare for your trip back in time. The toilet/bath/bed combo in the room and don’t expect an abundance of electric sockets, TVs, microwaves and other modern luxuries.
The hotel makes a definite and lasting impression. Stone town is the historical and cultural capital of Zanzibar and, arguably Tanzania, so for us there’s no more authentic and no better base from which to explore the capital.
We were invited to stay with the Swahili House Hotel, however our views are always honest and our own.
Last modified: 27th February 2017