Xanadu Villas: Our full report
Since opening in 2016, Xanadu Villas has gained a reputation as one of Zanzibar's most luxurious boutique hotels.Its six private villas are set against the palm-fringed beach of the Michamvi Peninsula and their striking architecture underlines its contention to be a sophisticated, exclusive beach retreat.
The Michamvi Peninsula, on Zanzibar's south-east coast, is famed for its extensive white-sand beach, which forms the perfect backdrop for Xanadu Villas: with its towering white domes and organic curves, this is one of the most unusual properties on Zanzibar. Modern design is balanced by traditional Zanzibari touches such as makuti thatch, dhow-wood furniture and local artwork. But what really makes Xanadu Villas stand out is the attention to detail; every aspect has been carefully considered, from the handmade soaps in the bathrooms to the tropical landscaped gardens. The result is a stylish, elegant hotel where everything appears to work seamlessly.
At the time of our visit in November 2018, Xanadu occupied a relatively small plot, but during 2019 the owner, who is also the main designer, is building three new villas on a neighbouring plot. She told us that she drew inspiration from her favourite aspects of the existing villas, and plans to incorporate these in her new creations, which will all have direct beach access. We have no doubt that they will be exceptional, and finished to the same high standards as the rest of the property. Ask us at Expert Africa for the latest information.
For now, Xanadu Villas consists of six individually designed villas, with either one or two bedrooms, all providing a very high level of luxury. Bright African batik cushions and fabrics add the occasional splash of colour to a fairly neutral colour palette of pale greys and clean whites. Much of the furniture is bespoke, having been designed and created specifically for Xanadu; our favourite pieces were the beautiful wardrobes and wooden sofas created from reclaimed dhow sailing boats. All villas come with a private butler who can be reached 24 hours a day via the radio in the bedroom.
Despite Xanadu's reasonably small plot, careful design and planting ensure that the villas feel very private and are not overlooked by each other. The air-conditioned bedrooms are spacious and tastefully designed, with a double king-size bed, oversized furniture, and amenities including a Smeg fridge minibar, hairdryers, bathrobes and slippers. In the en-suite bathrooms, with a powerful rain shower, twin basins and a tiled bench seat, complimentary Africology toiletries are provided. Each villa has a private plunge pool, and four also have their own private lounge with cosy sofas and a small kitchenette. In design, however, each villa is quite distinctive, with just one – Umande – built on a single storey:
- Umande is the only single-storey villa at Xanadu, but is no less special. The beautiful en-suite bedroom opens on to a large outside space, with comfortable loungers and a big plunge pool. Umande is also one of the closest villas to the beach.
- Alfajiri feels very private and relatively secluded, and is a popular choice with honeymooners. Downstairs is a spacious lounge, while the first-floor bedroom has a sizeable wooden balcony overlooking the plunge pool below.
- Kimwondo has, in our opinion, the most impressive design (we're told it is the architect's favourite too!). It is dominated by a spectacular rooftop terrace, with a private plunge pool, soft seating and outside dining area. Downstairs is the bedroom, which opens out onto a patio with tropical plants and a baraza bench.
- Mlima and Korongo are very similar in style and design, each with two bedrooms, a private plunge pool and a separate lounge topped with one of Xanadu's trademark white domes. These are great options for families with older children, or friends travelling together.
- Mbingu is the presidential suite, spread over three storeys and the largest of Xanadu's six villas. On the ground floor, the stylish lounge and bar leads on to the patio with large kidney-shaped plunge pool, while the bedrooms are on the first and second floors. The pièce de résistance, however, is the stunning rooftop plunge pool with views over the Indian Ocean.
Narrow paths wind down to the beach, where hammocks are strung between palm trees and sunloungers are shaded by makuti-thatch umbrellas. A small seating area raised up on a wooden deck overlooking the beach is the site for occasional beach dinners.
The beach is also the setting for the Kiota Spa, where you’ll find a single therapy room, seating area and plunge pool. The selection of treatments includes massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and reflexology. On our last visit in 2018 these started at US$90 for a 30-minute back and shoulder massage, rising to US$220 for a 90-minute deep-tissue massage.
The two activity managers at Xanadu will guide you through their wide range of activities, from stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing and sunset cruises to island excursions such as visits to Stone Town and the famous spice farms. They can also arrange snorkelling and diving through the PADI-affiliated Buccaneer Diving Centre.
Xanadu Villas sets high targets for itself, striving to “exceed tranquillity, luxury and expectation”. Despite the hyperbole, it does achieve really high standards: spectacular villas; 'on point' service; and some of the best food we've eaten on Zanzibar.
So if you are looking for a small, contemporary hotel with highly personalised service and in an intimate setting, it makes a great choice.
- Michamvi Peninsula, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- Spend at least four nights at Xanadu to relax and enjoy the hotel and beautiful beach.
- It takes around 30 minutes to fly to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam, and then it is a further hour by car to Xanadu Villas.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- The food is one of the real highlights of a stay at Xanadu Villas, and these were among the best meals we've eaten on the island. The cuisine is international in style, with fresh fish and seafood always on the menu, as much as possible being bought locally – and the fish often caught by a member of staff the same morning. A top international chef and his team produce culinary marvels: fresh, inventive and incredibly tasty – guests are told to arrive hungry!
Dining times are just as flexible as the dining locations, with everything arranged to suit your preferences.
A wide-ranging breakfast includes a range of fresh tropical fruits, yoghurts, breads and pastries. Eggs are cooked to order. Our eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce and fresh spinach was delicious, and an unusual option on a breakfast menu in Zanzibar.
Lunch is normally light and fresh, with dishes such as grilled octopus salad or tempura prawns. This may be followed by a homemade ice-cream or fruity sorbet.
During our stay we were served a traditional Swahili dinner, albeit elevated to a whole new level. We started with a creamy, beautifully spiced bean soup, then feasted on an exquisite medley of curries, salads, chutneys and pilau rice served with chapatis. Dessert consisted of spiced masala tea served with, sticky, Swahili-style doughnuts.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is included as standard. Each villa is assigned its own private butler who is always on hand to provide cool drinks and meals to your room.
- Drinks included
- The majority of drinks are included at Xanadu Villas, with some excellent wines. Premium wines and champagnes are at additional cost, as are – unusually for a hotel of this quality (and price!) – all sprits, with cocktails costing US$12 each.
- Situated on the Michamvi Peninsula, Xanadu Villas has access to miles of palm-fringed white sandy beach and azure water. With no direct neighbours, the beach remains quiet much of the day, resulting in an idyllic spot for a beach holiday on Zanzibar.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Beach holidays
- Xanadu Villas exudes peace, tranquillity, and provides an idyllic setting for a romantic honeymoon on Zanzibar. Stroll along the beach, indulge in a massage, or enjoy a gourmet meal in the privacy of your own exquisite villa.
- See ideas for Beach holidays
- Xanadu Villas is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious hotels on Zanzibar. With six exquisitely designed villas, private plunge pools, butler service and exceptional food, Xanadu provides a sumptuous and intimate beach retreat.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Xanadu Villas welcomes mature children over the age of five.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- There are no special services for children, but there is a large pool and plenty of child-friendly excursions such as snorkelling and boat trips.
- Generally recommended for children
- While Xanadu Villas accepts children over the age of five, it has a very adult atmosphere, and encourages an ambience of peace and tranquillity. That said, the two-bedroom villas can work really well for families with teenage children.
- The swimming pool is deep and parental supervision is recommended.
- Power supply notes
- There is a backup generator in case of power cuts.
- Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, including on the beach. There is a good phone signal.
- TV & radio
- There are no TVs at Xanadu Villas.
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- All bathrooms are fully plumbed with flushing toilets and hot and cold running water.
Health & safety
- Medical care
- There is a comprehensive first-aid kit on site and staff are trained in its use. For anything more serious there is a hospital in Stone Town, which is around an hour's drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- Discreet security guards are on duty 24 hours a day, including on the beach. There are also CCTV cameras in place in the communal areas.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are present throughout the property.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included; this is machine washed and line dried.
- Each villa has an electronic safe. Xanadu Villas is able to exchange small sums of money.
- Accepted payment on location
- All major currencies are accepted, including US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, GB pounds and euros. Credit and debit cards are accepted, including AMEX, but note that these carry a 3% surcharge.
Other lodges in Michamvi Peninsula
Alternative places to stay in this same area.