Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Essque Zalu Zanzibar: Our full report

40 suites and 9 villas.
Traveller's rating
Good (90%) From 2 reviews
All year

Essque Zalu Zanzibar, located in the north-east of Zanzibar, not far from Nungwi Town, opened in June 2011. It is a modern, high-spec hotel with an open-plan design, lots of light, open spaces and an enormous makuti-thatch roof, reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House.

The 40 suites at Essque Zalu all have identical facilities – a spacious master bedroom and separate lounge area, plus an outside terrace or balcony. The views, though, differ from room to room – some look over the garden, while others have face the sea. Air conditioning is standard, as are a wide range of other ‘extras’ such as hairdryers, TVs, WiFi, a fully stocked minibar, mosquito repellent, a phone, plus an electronic safe which ingeniously incorporates a socket, allowing you to recharge your cellphone while it is locked away.

There are also nine villas at Essque Zalu, each with either three or four bedrooms. Built over two storeys, these each have a much more spacious lounge area than the suites, as well as a private pool, in-room massage area, and kitchen facilities. The bathrooms have large round baths, suited for a relaxing soak. Some villas are located on the seafront, while some face the gardens.

There’s plenty of choice for dinner at Essque Zalu with three restaurants and a café to pick from. In the Market Kitchen, a three-course international-style set menu is on offer. The Jetty, appropriately at the end of the jetty, is for daytime eating only, accompanied by live music and with the option of smoking shisha. And the A La Carte restaurant, located in an art gallery, offers fine dining surrounded by paintings, sculptures and glasswork, all of which is for sale. Alternatively, in-room dining and private dinners can be arranged.

Essque Zalu offers guests with a choice of three well-stocked bars, too. 1506 serves a wide range of classic and vintage beverages, while the Baobab Bar, built around a baobab tree, is more casual, and the Jetty bar, which is open until dinnertime, is a more relaxed and fun option.

With its multicoloured underwater lights and whirlpool, the very large infinity pool is quite an attraction at Essque Zalu. Then there’s the modern and well-equipped spa with six different treatment rooms, providing a wide range of traditional and modern treatments, including a ‘hand and foot ceremony’, involving organic oils and butters. Here you’ll also find a fitness centre, sauna, and aromatherapy steam room.

While you are being pampered, keep the children amused at the excellent children’s club, Petit VIPs, which will look after children between four and 12 years old and keep them entertained with a variety of activities.

More general activities on offer at Essque Zalu include fishing, diving, visits to a turtle centre and a local village, and a beach walk at low tide. The hotel offers cinema nights, as well as cookery courses in the kitchen with the sous chef. There’s also a boutique selling a range of clothes, jewellery, books and gifts, and where you can book local excursions.

Our view

Essque Zalu Zanzibar is a larger property than most in our Zanzibar portfolio. However, it offers good food, an impressive pool and an excellent kids club, making it a good option for families. The suites and villas are spacious and of a high quality.


Location: Northern Zanzibar, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: 5 - 7 nights

Directions: Stone Town is a 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam. It is then about an hour’s drive from Stone Town to Essque Zalu Zanzibar.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Essque Hotels

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: Essque Zalu Zanzibar uses mostly fresh and organic produce from local growers and describes the food served in its restaurants as ‘cosmopolitan’.

There are a number of restaurants to choose from serving a variety of food.
The Market kitchen is a deli-style restaurant serving salads, cured meat, fresh bread, and cheese. Upstairs, the A La Carte restaurant offers international cuisine such as steaks and chocolate mousse. The al fresco Jetty focuses on Middle Eastern cuisine, including mezze.

On our last visit here in November 2013 we ate smoked swordfish for breakfast in the Market Kitchen, and it was delicious!

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £15-20

Drinks included: All drinks cost extra.

Further dining info: Yes – room service costs $5 extra on top the cost of your order.

Special interests

Family holidays: Essque Zalu's suites and villas are well-designed, spacious, and feel full of light and very open. Consider staying here during your family beach holidays in Zanzibar for good food, an impressive pool and, above all, an excellent kids club with unusual activities!

See more ideas for Family holidays in Zanzibar


Attitude towards children: Essque Zalu Zanzibar welcomes children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions, but children are not allowed in the A La Carte restaurant, although all other restaurants have a children’s menu.

Special activities & services: There is a comprehensive children’s club at Essque Zalu, offering a wide range of educational games and activities from their own room in the complex. Examples of activities include cookery, magic tricks, glitter painting, making jewellery, shell collecting and chemistry experiments. This children's club is a cooperation with 'Petit VIP'.

Equipment: Cots and high chairs are available on request. Essque Zalu can also provide small beds for young children.

Notes: Children 12 years and younger stay free when sharing a room with parents, which, combined with the kids-club, makes this a good option for families.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Adaptors are provided in all rooms.

Communications: Free WiFi is available throughout the complex, even on the jetty. There is a computer in the curio shop for guest use, plus a phone in every room. Guests can also hire mobile phones, sim cards and buy phone credit.

TV & radio: TVs with DSTV (satellite channels) are in every room.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are two local doctors on call, one of them European. They have links with doctors in Stone Town.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The property is gated, and is guarded at all times, including on the beach.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in all rooms.


Disabled access: On Request

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

Money: Currency exchange is available for British pounds, euros, Tanzanian shillings and US dollars.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard, Visa, Amex & Diners are all accepted, when we last visited they attracted a 4% additional charge.

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