Sultan Palace is one of Zanzibar's most elegant lodges.
Sultan Palace: Our full report
A real favourite of ours, Sultan Palace sits at the northern end of a pristine beach, atop a high coral cliff on Zanzibar’s eastern coast. Designed and built by Roberto Merlo – an Italian underwater photographer who sadly died in December 2004 – Sultan Palace offers style and comfort and is one of the island’s most elegant lodges.
The entrance and main reception at Sultan Palace is a fantastic structure, with high white walls and huge arched doorways – you feel like you are arriving at Aladdin’s palace! The main lounge and bar area is a large hexagonal room with a number of lounging areas arranged in little clusters. High-quality carved Zanzibari furniture, richly coloured fabrics and multi-coloured glass windows result in a fantastic atmosphere reminiscent of the Arabian days of old. Upstairs, is the main restaurant, where breakfast and dinner is served out on the terrace. It can get a little windy sometimes, but the view of the beach is fantastic and on warm nights the breeze is very welcome.
Sultan Palace’s 15 air-conditioned suites – four Ocean, four Garden and five Imperial – are constructed from white-washed walls and natural stone and spread around immaculately sculptured gardens filled with the scent of citronella and frangipani. The rooms are even named after plants, such as tangerine, which is beautifully painted on a tile on the doorpost.
The Ocean and Garden suites are a good size and very comfortable. The former have superb views of the oceans, while the latter offer a sliver of a sea view. The Imperial suites are simply vast, with two double beds and a huge bathroom. All of the suites are furnished with tasteful antiques, Zanzibari materials, hand-painted tiles and carved wooden doors.
Every room also has a large double bed covered with applique cushions and throws, and big French windows that open out onto a private wooden terrace with loungers – perfect for some peace and quiet. Rooms are colour-coordinated with the bedspread, room-information folder and even the hairdryer all matching! All have a mini-fridge and a digital safe, as well as an umbrella.
The en-suite bathrooms are simple, yet very clean and nicely decorated. There are hot showers, flush toilets and single sinks in the Ocean and Garden rooms, while the Imperial suites have a large double shower with seats – similar to a Turkish bath – and a walk-in wardrobe (which is bigger than some single rooms on Zanzibar!).
From the rooms, a winding path leads down to the beach where there are plenty of loungers and shade. There is also a laid-back beach bar and restaurant where lunch is served.
A handful of activities are on offer at Sultan Palace. The hotel has a boat that it uses for snorkeling trips, and a dugout canoe for visiting the mangroves at Michamvi Kae. Deep-sea fishing and diving can also be arranged. There’s also a pool table in a small room just off from the lounge.
There is a small massage room overlooking the beach. The therapists offer Swedish massage, as well as henna tattoos, waxing and facials.
The hotel also has a relatively large curio shop, which sells a variety of crafts.
Our viewSultan’s Palace is one of our top recommendations for a romantic stay in Zanzibar. Professionally and efficiently run by the friendly and welcoming Paola, it offers high-quality accommodation and an elegant ambience that especially appeals to honeymooners and couples looking to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. The raised location offers wonderful sea views over the long sweep of powdery white beach.
Ideal length of stay: 4–5 nights would be ideal.
Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then it’s a further one-hour drive from Stone Town to Sultan Palace.
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast is served from 7.00am until 10.00am and is an extensive spread of yogurt, cereal, fruit, pastries and a cooked breakfast. It’s served on the terrace above the main lounge, with wonderful views across the sea.
Lunch is usually a relaxed barbeque at the beach restaurant with plenty of seafood, meat and vegetarian options available.
Dinner is a slightly more formal three-course affair taken on the terrace of the main restaurant. The Italian chef has trained the Zanzibari cooks to create a fusion cuisine that combines the best of Swahili and Italian food. On our last visit, we indulged in cream of vegetable soup, piri piri prawns with roasted vegetables and rice, followed by one of the silkiest, most indulgent chocolate mousses we’ve ever tasted. We found the food at Sultan Palace fantastic.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at the Sultan Palace.
Honeymoons: With plenty of luxury and style, the Sultan Palace is a great place to celebrate a special occasion. The rooms are romantic and when we last visited, the team told us how they always try to add a few special touches to make your honeymoon here really memorable.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zanzibar
Beach holidays: Sultan Palace is a luxurious hotel, which sits on a lovely stretch of beach on the Michamvi Peninsula. There are loungers galore and plenty of shaded spots to lie back and relax. Being cut off at one end by a cliff, the beach is peaceful and almost deserted.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Zanzibar
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Sultan Palace – as you might expect from a place with Italian owners.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Sultan Palace
Special activities & services: There are no special activities or clubs for children
Equipment: There are wonderful Zanzibar cots for babies to use in the rooms, as well as highchairs available on request.
Generally recommended for children: No – the atmosphere here is quite adult, more suited to honeymooners.
Notes: Sultan Palace will happily accept children, but parents should supervise them at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: There is a mains electricity supply and a back-up generator. The plugs are the three round-pin variety, and there are plenty of adaptors at reception.
Communications: The phones in the rooms will only call internally, but there are phones in reception for outside, as well as internet. Both services cost extra.
TV & radio: There is a separate, cosy TV room with DSTV (satellite).
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid box on site, as well as a doctor in the neighbouring resort for more serious medical cases.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Sultan Palace has a front gate, which is normally closed and watched by discrete security guards around the property.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the rooms.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available at an extra cost.
Money: Sultan Palace can normally change travellers’ cheques, euros, US dollars and Tanzanian shillings. There is an electronic safe in each room.
Accepted payment on location: Sultan Palace can normally change travellers’ cheques, euros, US dollars and Tanzanian shillings. There is an electronic safe in each room.