You can expect a warm welcome when you arrive at the Oyster Bay Hotel...
Oyster Bay: Our full report
Owned by the team who run the top-end Beho Beho Camp , in the Selous Game Reserve, The Oyster Bay Hotel is in the 'Oyster Bay' district of Dar es Salaam. It was renovated extensively between 2006 and November 2007, and we first visited the hotel in November 2007, just a week or two after it opened. We were impressed.
Travellers don't usually come to Dar es Salaam to visit the city, they come to stop over en route to the game parks or the islands. Hence the owners have tried hard to make sure that the hotel immediately relaxes its guests – most of whom will stay for 24 hours or less.
After driving through Dar's hectic traffic and noise, the Oyster Bay had quite an impact: cool, calm, neat and stylish. That said, meeting Maretha, the manageress, it started to feel a bit like going home for the weekend. (Although it's much larger, and more stylish, than my parent's place!) I felt like nothing would be too much trouble – for example, meal-times and menus are totally flexible. Just what you need between flights!
The Oyster Bay's eight suites all have ocean views – although there is a fairly busy road in between the hotel and the ocean. Fortunately there's quite a high white wall around the property, and so I forgot the road completely whilst I was there; it's certainly not a disturbance.
The suites have been designed in a minimalist style – with white walls, muted colours and a plasma TV, as you'd expect. That said, lots of wood and the occasional piece of African art keep it from feeling cold or impersonal – and they've done a great job of integrating clever lighting with natural materials in a number of different fittings, some of which show off the Oyster Bay's scattered pieces of quirky wooden art to great effect.
Each suite has a huge king-size bed, covered in layers of pristine white linen. French-doors open onto a small balcony (all the rooms face the ocean), and have a large en suite bathroom with a free-standing bath and a stylish, walk-through shower. Everything feels contemporary, modern and quite luxurious.
The Oyster Bay has a natural and elegant feel to it, which is reflected in the furnishings and spaces throughout. The spacious central areas are fresh, contemporary and elegant. Heavy wooden doors shut out the heat from the streets of Dar and lead into the sizeable dining and sitting rooms and a small study. All of the rooms are crisp and chic and have been decorated with natural fabrics and furnishings.
The sitting room has large sofas, funky wooden stools and wicker chairs on which to relax. These surround large wooden coffee tables which sit on woven rugs covering the cool floors. There are many quirky ornaments, such as a large wooden dog, tall, twisted wooden poles and a couple of wooden giraffes, dotted around the rooms. Lighting has been cleverly used in these central areas: shades and bases are different heights, colours, styles and fabrics and they all add intimacy to the rooms, especially in the evenings.
To one side of the sitting room is a small study where there’s a computer with possible internet connection for guests’ use. To the other side of the sitting area is the dining room. This is dominated by an oblong, wooden dining table which is surrounded by modern white and black chairs. There are wooden ornaments and black and white prints hanging on the walls. There is an emphasis on group dining here and the last time we visited, in October 2008, we certainly enjoyed a feast at this table!
Glass doors lead out from both the sitting and dining rooms. The same design features inside have been applied to the outdoor areas, retaining continuity and familiarity. As well as a large, sheltered dining table used for al-fresco lunches there is a cool and relaxing gazebo area, which overlooks the lawn and pool, and a 15m lap-pool (it's long and thin) set into the landscaped garden with comfy, wooden loungers (plenty of cushions!) on the deck. As you'd expect, stay for more than a few minutes and someone will appear to offer you a drink or a snack!
The lawn is large for a city hotel and home to some beautiful, overhanging trees – watch out for the bats visiting at night! There are also three impressive, metal sculptures here, which were designed and made by polio sufferers and add to the artistic feel of the hotel.
Because of the situation and design of the Oyster Bay, it's very easy to forget that you are in a major African city. There is very little noise from the streets and although the rooms and everything in them is large, it manages to retain the warmth and charm you would find from being in a friend’s home.
Our viewIf you need to stop in Dar, or you're staying here for a few days, then we doubt that you'll find anywhere that's more stylish, flexible or welcoming than the new Oyster Bay Hotel. It's a very good small, boutique hotel with its accent placed firmly on pampering and relaxation.
The Oyster Bay is also the costliest place in town – but then for its very high standards and delightfully relaxed ambience, we also regard it as very good value.
Ideal length of stay: It is great for an over-night stay if you need to stop in Dar es Salaam.
Directions: It's a 45-minute drive from the airport depending on the traffic – and Oyster Bay has its own car and driver.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Staff: Camp/Lodge Manager: Maretha Wentzel
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The Manageress, Maretha, is a really excellent cook – having set up the kitchen at Beho Beho Camp from scratch, and trained the staff there. This shows through in the quality of the food here.
Everyone usually sits together for dinner in the dining room – giving the feeling of a dinner-party, or small safari camp's dining arrangements. This isn't compulsory … but certainly worked well on our last visit.
Breakfast – You can choose to have breakfast either in the dining room, or your own room – very handy if you have an early morning transfer to the airport, There is choice of a light breakfast (muffins, toast, fruit, yoghurt, cereal) or a cooked breakfast – and it's very nicely done.
Lunch – The last time we visited The Oyster Bay (October 08) we had a delicious lunch sitting outside. We had a cold buffet of various salads (mozzarella, avocado and tomato, green salad and the like), fresh rolls, huge crayfish, and smoked salmon, all washed down with pimms and white wine! The food was fresh, tasty and beautifully presented.
Dinner – This was served at the dining table. We started with a very tasty butternut soup which was followed by a tender fillet steak accompanied by various vegetables and then a tiramisu. As we helped ourselves to the vegetables and desert that the charming staff brought around the table, portions weren't overbearing – and it was all beautifully cooked.
Oyster Bay is very happy to cater for all tastes and ages as long as they have prior notice.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are included except for champagne, cellar wines and premium wines and spirits.
Further dining info: Yes
Solo Travel: The Oyster Bay Hotel is a great choice for solo travellers in Tanzania. It’s a very stylish, but equally informal, home-from-home, with communal dining hosted by an attentive team. Single travellers can expect a particularly warm welcome at Dar’s best hotel.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at The Oyster Bay Hotel as long as they are under parental supervision, especially around the pool area.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.
Special activities & services: There are no special services for children at The Oyster Bay Hotel.
Generally recommended for children: As The Oyster Bay is a luxurious, boutique style hotel, we recommend only older children stay here. It's not the place to take noisy or uncontrolled children.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is a computer in the study which has a (rather slow) internet connection – available for the free use of guests. There is limited cell phone reception at The Oyster Bay Hotel.
TV & radio: There are televisions in all of the suites. There are also computer connections and WiFi in the rooms for those wanting to use their own laptops.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest clinic is a 15 minute drive away from The Oyster Bay Hotel. Some of the staff are trained in basic first aid.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: The Oyster Bay Hotel sits behind gates which are only opened when guests are entering or leaving. There are two Maasai guards on duty at night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers and smoke alarms at The Oyster Bay Hotel. Some of the staff are trained to use the extinguishers.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included here - but you will need to allow 24 hours for the housekeeping to get it back to you. Those using Oyster Bay for an overnight stop will probably not have time to do laundry here.
Money: Yet to be decided...
Accepted payment on location: As almost everything is included, they aren't anticipating anyone needing to spend money there. If someone does, they will cross that bridge when it happens!