The Tembo Hotel has a great location…
Tembo Hotel: Our full report
The Arabian-themed Tembo Hotel is situated right on the beach in the centre of the Shangani area of Stone Town. Originally the hotel was one grand old house, but they have recently added an extension and increased the number of rooms to a total of 36. Almost all the rooms (except (some of the Prime Rooms) overlook the sea and feature a mix of traditional Zanzibari and European furnishings.
Expect to see curved arches forming open-doorways and windows, and there is no shortage of brightly-coloured stained glass. A huge wooden staircase leads up to the rooms, whilst wide arched doors lead from reception into the central areas.
The Tembo is now a relatively large hotel, which is busy throughout most of the year. Its pool and beach-side location also attracts lots of families, and non-guests can use the pool for US$3 - the result is a lively and sometimes slightly noisy atmosphere. The swimming pool is relatively large and usually full of toys and children during the day. However, for those who want a bit of peace and quiet there are a few relaxed loungers on the beach.
Adjacent to the pool is the large restaurant, which serves a variety of international food for lunch and dinner. The main part of the restaurant is situated between the pool and the beach under a flat terrace roof, with open sides. This area is nice furnished with big carved chairs, and beautifully made coffee tables, whilst the open sides allow a lovely breeze to drift through.
The restaurant then extends onto a large open-air patio and also a paved stretch that runs alongside the beach. There are trees lining the beach which provide plenty of shade, and the sea-breeze is lovely.
The central areas of the Tembo are relatively lively and there are always a few people from other hotels dining in the restaurant or swimming in the pool. It is a great place for families or people looking for a buzzy atmosphere.
The location of the Tembo Hotel is perfect for exploring the back streets and shops, or for relaxing by the pool. Then in the evening there are plenty of restaurants in easy reach if you don't want to dine in the hotel. This is especially handy for those who want to get a drink; like the Tembo's sister-property, the Dhow Palace Hotel, this is a 'dry' hotel which does not serve alcohol.
The rooms at Tembo Hotel are all very comfortable, with views out over the pool or the sea. Most of the Tembo's rooms are Prime Rooms, which are quite small and a little dated, although each is nicely furnished. Then there are also a few Deluxe Rooms, which are equally well furnished, but are larger and have sea-views.
Our viewWhen we last visited the Tembo in December 2009, we felt the hotel was a bit dark and could do with a bit of a facelift. That said, it is a reasonably priced hotel in a good location, and provided that you can accept the odd small niggle that you may encounter here, it offers great value.
Ideal length of stay: 1 or 2 nights to leave you plenty of time to wander the fascinating streets of Stone Town.
Directions: It takes around 35 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then it is a further 10 minutes to Stone Town and the Tembo Hotel.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Breakfast is a continental buffet served from early in the morning (they will make a special breakfast if you have an early flight) until around 10am. Lunch and dinner are then served in the main restaurant by the pool – you can choose from an a la carte menu.
When we were last there the menu was vast, serving standard meals such as burgers and pizzas, as well as Italian, Chinese, Indian and Swahili food. (The chef was trained in India; so expect good Indian food here!) Everyone should find something on the menu to their taste.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included. Please note that the Tembo Hotel does not serve alcohol at all.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at the Tembo Hotel
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at the Tembo Hotel.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities for children, though the Tembo Hotel can offer babysitting help from amongst the staff.
Equipment: There are cots and highchairs available on request. The Tembo Hotel also provides a few toys for the pool.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: We would recommend the Tembo Hotel for families with kids of all ages. Though it is not specifically geared towards children, it has a relaxed atmosphere and the pool and beach should keep most youngsters occupied for a while.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: The Tembo Hotel has phones with outside lines in all of the rooms – though calls made to outside of the hotel will be charged to your room. When we were last there it was $2 per minute for most international calls and there was also wireless access in the hotel. The 24 hour room service can be accessed from the phones.
TV & radio: There is satellite television with 60 channels in all of the rooms.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a nearby private doctor who can be called to the hotel in the case of any medical problems. There is also a private hospital nearby.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are discrete guards around the hotel during the day and at night.
Fire safety: There are fire alarms and extinguishers in all of the corridors around the hotel.
Laundry facilities: The laundry is an extra charge – when we were last there it was between $2 -6 per item.
Money: At the Tembo you can exchange US dollars, pounds and euros as well as traveller's cheques without charge. There is a safe at reception.
Accepted payment on location: You can pay for any extras in pounds, euros, US dollars and shillings cash. You can also use travellers' cheques, Visa or Mastercard and though there is no separate charge for this, you will get a lower rate of exchange.