Kilindi: Our full report
Ever since it opened Kilindi has created quite a buzz as one of the best properties on Zanzibar.Kilindi was originally designed for Benny Andersson, famed for being a member of 1970’s pop group ABBA, and it has established itself as a stylish boutique hotel offering a very high level of luxury.
The design of Kilindi is unique and quite different from properties found elsewhere in Zanzibar - endless curving pale cream walls and stunning sea views are a key feature. It has a very calming ambiance and you instantly find yourself relaxing and unwinding when you arrive here.
The 15 Pavilions are incredibly spacious and airy, and by keeping the décor simple, they optimize the natural light and breeze very effectively. The large domed roofs provide shade from the sun - and are part of the innovative water recycling system used throughout the hotel. Water is collected and stored under each pavilion, helping to keep them cool, while also providing the water for the pools, showers and toilets - making Kilindi a very eco-responsible and forward-thinking lodge.
The pavilions are very spread out and strategically placed among the foliage, allowing for complete privacy. Some rooms are closer to the ocean whilst some are set a little higher up the hillside, however this added height means that these rooms benefit from spectacular panoramic views. Room 1 is closest to the central area whilst room 15 is the most secluded. They are surrounded by a luscious garden filled with bougainvillea and colourful flowers, where guests may spot monitor lizards and red squirrels; in the evenings bush babies come out to play. A short walk down a sandy path, the beach is a small cove where fisherman can be seen.
The bedroom itself is large and the same pale cream stone used throughout the rest of the hotel is used for the bed frame and desk. The large bed is swathed in a mosquito netting and looks out onto the ocean if you have the wooden shutter doors open. A glass dome at the peak of the roof allows light to enter, brightening the room. Behind the beds there is wooden wardrobe, and a desk with a mirror. LED bulbs with coloured recycled glass from Kenya are built into the floors and walls of the room for a beautiful muted light effect, and there are also reading lights by the bed for more light.
Each room has a freestanding fan and an air conditioning unit, which is discretely installed above the beds to help keep the room cool. The innovative rain collection area underneath the pavilion and breezy location also means the rooms stay fairly cool even on warm days.
Through an Arabic arch is a spacious bathroom - completed with a 35cm raindance shower head in the centre, and twin sinks overlooking the sea. Eco-friendly toiletries and bathrobes are provided as well as separate towels for the shower and pool.
Outside, each pavilion has two private plunge pools, with a small waterfall overflowing from the first in to the second. Each pavilion is a little different in design; in some the bedroom doors open on to the top plunge pool where as others the plunge pools are adjoining the lounge. There are plenty of areas to lounge in the sun or the shade. With your own private butler, referred to as your 'room ambassador', for each pavilion it would be easy to only leave for meals before returning back!
Kilindi's beautiful main area is decked out with swathes of cloth draped from the ceiling, and a beautiful waterfall behind the bar that catches the evening light. Sip on a proper cappuccino on the breezy second floor terrace while looking out over the garden or head to the stylish lounge for some relax time. This space also contains a small library, a desk with a laptop, and also a large flat screen TV that is used for major sporting events.
The main bar and restaurant area is simple and spacious, yet comfortable. There are a number of tall tables and chairs dotted around, and guests will often come to enjoy a pre-dinner drink. The bar area is very impressive with a large flat waterfall cascading down a glazed concrete wall behind the bar length of the bar.
In front of the bar area down a small pathway, overlooking the sea, is the striking 25m T-shaped swimming pool, behind which the sun sets each evening. This is a lovely place to relax, however be aware that there are no pool depth markings. There are comfortable mattress-style shaded loungers dotted on the decking surrounding the pool.
For those who want a bit more indulgence the spa at Kilindi features an amazing view and a double hamana suite where couples can enjoy a double massage followed by a private dinner on the terrace. A range of treatments is on offer including body masks and massages; in 2019 the prices for these started at around 50 US dollars for a 30-minute massage.
Kilindi also has a small curio shop which sells a range of locally produced crafts and items of jewellery.
A number of activities are available from Kilindi. There are a few standup paddleboards and kayaks for guests to use. Staff can also arrange for snorkeling or diving excursions to the shallow reefs around Tumbatu Island, or a guided tour around Stone Town or one of the spice plantations. On our last visit in 2019 we were told of plans to introduce yoga.
The overall atmosphere is one of simplisitic luxury and relaxation, and the architecture and colours used manage to achieve this very well.
Kilindi manages to combine elegance and sophistication without being pretentious. With beautiful Arabic inspired architecture and excellent food and service, it is a great a place to relax and be pampered in a quiet area of Zanzibar.
- Northern Zanzibar, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- 5 nights
- Kilindi is about an hour's drive north of Stone Town. Zanzibar is a 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam airport.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- The team at Kilindi is very experienced and as a result the quality of the food is very high. With their own organic vegetable patch onsite, the food at Kilindi is nothing short of excellent. They grow much of the food themselves, and try and source everything else as locally as possible. Dining at Kilindi is very flexible, you can eat where you want, when you want it. Meals are highly personalised and the chef will tailor dishes to your individual preferences.
Kilindi serve a continental breakfast of bread and pastries, cereals, cheeses, cold meats and a platter of fresh island fruit accompanied by frozen yoghurt. They also offer a selection of delicious hot dishes that include lobster benedict stack, a full cooked breakfast and coconut French toast with honey-glazed bacon.
Lunch is often a meze of different types of delicious dishes which you can mix and match - much like tapas.
Dinner is a more formal affair and the menu changes each day - expect some wonderful meat and fish dishes, and imaginative recipes such as garlic and ginger soup. On our most recent visit in September 2019 we started with curry spiced chickpea kofta with tahini yoghurt sauce, goats cheese & cumin seed flatbread and chutney, this was followed by a pina colada sorbet as a pallet cleanser. The main course was flame grilled paprika chicken with a cashew and coconut sauce. For desert we enjoyed watermelon with candied ginger syrup and a sorbet made from bungo fruit. The food here is superb!
- The pavilions at Kilindi are exceptionally spacious, luxurious and secluded. It's very private here; each pavilion has two plunge pools and plenty of space to relax. It’s an idyllic spot and one of our top hotels for a romantic Zanzibar honeymoon.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Beach holidays
- With a 500m stretch of white sand, the beach is a main feature at Kilindi. The location on the north-west coast means that sun sets over the sea - a unique feature for the east coast, which creates wonderful evening scenery.
- See ideas for Beach holidays
- Kilindi invokes a great feeling of relaxation upon arrival and is a place to truly unwind. This is helped by the fantastic onsite spa which offers a wide range of treatments including double massages - designed especially for couples.
- See ideas for Wellbeing
- Combine elegance, sophistication and luxury without being pretentious, Kilindi is one of the best lodges on Zanzibar. Each of its large, secluded pavilions comes with its own private butler. A luxurious place to hide yourselves away and relax.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Kilindi does not accept children.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Guests must be over the age of 16 to stay.
- Generally recommended for children
- Power supply notes
- Electricity is provided from the mains, however there is also a back up generator. All of the water is heated by solar panels.
- There is WiFi available in all villas as well as in the communal area, and a plasma TV screen is located in the upstairs lounge.
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- Filtered water in thermos is provided. Guests are provided with reusable waterbottles.
Promoting the local culture
Kilindi Zanzibar, part of Elewana Collection, provides luxurious accommodation under eco-certified practices recognised by Responsible Tourism Tanzania. In addition to following a comprehensive internal environmental policy to reduce carbon footprint and increase recycling and energy conservation, Kilindi provides financial support to the local primary school through the Land & Life Foundation, the charitable face of Elewana Collection.
On a cultural level, the lodge organises tours to historical places such as Stone Town – a melting pot of civilisations, boosting with influences underlying the Swahili culture and giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European architectural elements. In 2000, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and guests can find out more about the damage caused by slave trade in the 19th century, but also taste and purchase some of the local spices – everything from cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, tumeric, nutmeg, and vanilla, to tropical fruits and tropical plants. Spice trade has been supporting the local communities over the years and represents an exquisite part of the culture in Zanzibar.
For those particularly interested in conservation activities, informative day trips can be organised during which they can learn about a local sea turtle rescue project, colobus monkey preservation in the Jozani Forest National Park, or the challenges of protecting mangrove forests.
See more great sustainability projects in Zanzibar
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The staff at Kilindi are first aid trained, and they have lots of equipment on site. They are also registered with a local doctor who they can call in case of emergency and there is also a 24 hour hospital in Nungwi, just a 10 minute drive.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity in this area. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it's vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- At Kilindi the guards are on duty 24 hours a day at the front gate and the beach and there are 16 Maasai who are subtly dotted around the resort.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside each room at Kilindi, and the staff have had fire training.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Included - takes about 24 hours.
- Kilindi offers a cash back system; guests can be given cash for activities and excursions, which can then be paid for by credit or debit card at the end of their stay.
The rooms all have electronic safes.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cards are accepted for purchases at the shop and for any extra drinks you wish to purchase here - but you shouldn't need to part with much money at all. There is no surcharge for card use.
Kilindi accepts all major currencies including US dollars, Euros, GB pounds and Tanzanian shillings.
Other lodges in Northern Zanzibar
Alternative places to stay in this same area.