Walk along the beautiful sandy beaches at Mbweni Ruins Hotel.
Mbweni Ruins Hotel: Our full report
Mbweni Ruins is a small hotel just outside Stone Town. It is perfect for those who want to be close to the museums, shops and restaurants of Stone Town, whilst remaining on the beach. It is only 15 minutes by car to the centre of Zanzibar's capital, and Mbweni provide a free shuttle service three times daily. It is also particularly convenient for people who want to spend a night somewhere before or after a stay at Chumbe Island Lodge - the daily boat to Chumbe leaves from Mbweni's jetty.
Mbweni Ruins sits in lush tropical gardens that slope gently down towards the sea. It has lovely communal areas, all with wonderful views across the sea and an unobstructed view of the sunset.
The central bar and dining areas at Mbweni Ruins are part of an open-sided banda, with a thatched roof and white-tiled floors, which sits in beautiful green gardens, on a coral cliff above the beach.
The bar area has low-slung woven-grass chairs, which are a comfortable place to relax and have a drink. Just adjacent to this and up a few stairs, is the dining room. This area has plenty of small tables with comfortable directors' chairs, and serves a variety of international cuisine.
In front is a large two-tiered deck which hangs out over the beach. The views across the sea from here are wonderful, and it is a popular spot with locals and expats for a sundowner drink and a quick bite to eat.
From here, stairs lead down to the beach and swimming pool, which is surrounded by a grassy lawn, with plenty of comfortable loungers. Then on the beach are a few tables with shady umbrellas, where you can have drinks or lunch.
The rooms at Mbweni Ruins are comfortable and clean and are decorated with sumptuous fabrics and dark Zanzibari furniture, though we felt these were a bit of a let-down after the public areas. Their heavy furnishings made the rooms feel quite dark, and all of the rooms could do with a little updating.
Ideal length of stay: A few nights so that you can relax on the beach for a day and explore Stone Town as well.
Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then it is a further 10 minutes to drive to Mbweni Ruins.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Breakfast at Mbweni Ruins is usually fruit and cereal, with the option of a full English breakfast. Lunch is an a la carte menu consisting of a variety of international food, whilst dinner is a 3-4 course set menu with two options for the starter and main.
When we were last here we did not have a chance to sample the food, though the menu did look varied.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included.
Further dining info: Mbweni Ruins will do room service, though there are no phones in the rooms so this would need to be organized in advance.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Mbweni Ruins.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Mbweni Ruins.
Special activities & services: Mbweni Ruins can organize babysitting.
Equipment: Cots can be provided on request.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Mbweni Ruins is good for older children who can keep themselves entertained. Parents should be aware that children are their responsibility at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is internet access at Mbweni Ruins for $2 an hour and intermittent cell-phone coverage.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio here.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Mbweni Ruins can call a doctor who will come to the hotel from nearby Stone Town.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Mbweni Ruins has a team of discrete guards dotted around the hotel.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the bedrooms, and main areas of the hotel.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra charge – when we were last there it was around $2 – 3 per item.
Money: There are no currency exchange facilities available at Mbweni ruins, however Stone Town is nearby and has many exchange bureaus.
Accepted payment on location: You can pay for any extras in US dollars and Tanzanian shillings cash as well as travellers' cheques. You can also pay using Mastercard, Amex and Visa – though there is a 5% charge for this.