Emerson Spice

Emerson Spice: Our full report

6 bedrooms
Traveller's rating
Good (80%) From 2 reviews
All year

Colourful, stylish and with a strong sense of place, Emerson Spice is a new and not quite finished boutique hotel in the heart of Stone Town. A fabulous rooftop restaurant and individually designed rooms add considerably to its attraction.

The brainchild of the former part owner of Emerson & Green (now the 236 Hurumzi), Emerson Spice is not quite finished, and there are plans to expand the accommodation.

Currently, however, Emerson Spice has six impressive rooms, including a family room, each quite theatrical in style and with its own colourful twist on a Swahili design. Think high ceilings, brightly coloured walls, stained-glass windows, and the intricately carved doors for which Zanzibar is famed. Individual colour schemes feature purple, red or deep-green fabrics matching the stonewashed walls. The furniture is of Zanzibari origin with beautiful carved wooden tables and traditional Zanzibari beds. With fans, air conditioning, fridges and mosquito nets, all rooms are well equipped, too.

The en-suite bathrooms feature Arabic baths and twin sinks – with decorative painted ceramic tiles lending style and opulence.

It's not just the rooms which benefit from this attention to detail: the communal areas of Emerson Spice – with its twinkling blue fountain set in an interior courtyard – are also very well designed. Reminiscent of a Moroccan riad, this courtyard will in time become a cool, palm-filled walled garden. Large carved wooden doors open into a cool-blue entrance hall and reception, filled with carved furniture and chaise longues.

Up a wooden staircase are the rooms and the rooftop restaurant,
which is a reason to stay here in itself. The five-course tasting menu is delicious – inventive and full of flavor – as well as being very good value.

Our View

Although we visited when Emerson Spice wasn’t quite finished, the rooms are excellent, and offer bags of character for those who are prepared to put up with the slightly unfinished feel of the place.


Location: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: Stay 1–2 nights to explore Stone Town

Directions: Emerson Spice is just a 15-minute transfer from Zanzibar Airport.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Food quality: The food here is highly imaginative and of excellent quality, with locally grown spices featuring heavily. On our visit in October 2011 we indulged in the evening dégustation menu, where we tried fried rock-lobster kebab, spinach in chickpea tempura, and a dessert of cardamom-infused banana.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £15-20

Drinks included: No

Further dining info: Yes


Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Emerson Spice.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: There is a family room here.

Notes: There are some steep stairs, and children are the responsibility of their parents at all times.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Always on

Communications: There is reasonable cellphone reception and WiFi is available in reception.

TV & radio: There are no TVs or radios.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are many doctors in Stone Town.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There is a guard on the door at all times.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in the kitchen and the main areas.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available for an extra charge.

Money: There is no exchange service. There is a safe in reception.

Accepted payment on location: Credit cards are accepted, as are cash payments in US dollars and Tanzanian shillings.