The Z Hotel: Our full report
Located in northern Zanzibar, on the popular Nungwi peninsula, The Z Hotel is right next to one of Nungwi’s ...... best beaches on this busy section of the island. Its owners, who have close links to the UK, appear to have had a ‘smart soho set’ in mind as clientele as they tried hard to make the Z Hotel a modern ‘boutique’ hotel, with much use of chic design, and designers.
Set amid lush tropical gardens, all of the rooms at The Z Hotel have been finished to a high spec by a team of interior designers. The bespoke furniture, including four-poster beds, is made from locally sourced coconut wood, designed by Philippe Starck, and exclusive to The Z Hotel. Each air-conditioned room has floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to a balcony, which has a garden, beach, or sea view and comes equipped with LCD flatscreen TVs with DSTV, WiFi, a telephone, a minibar, a safe, and iPhone docking stations. Complimentary toiletries by Inaya Zanzibar are provided in the bathrooms.
More experienced African travellers will realize that executing very precise, minimalist designs in this (or any!) corner of Zanzibar hasn't been at all easy – and the owners have some revealing stories of pitfalls along the way. Equally, it's one thing to build a hotel that appears 'smart and boutique-y', but quite another to provide the impeccable standards of service and food which most travellers will expect from a boutique hotel – without the pool of highly experienced staff that cities like London, Paris and New York would have.
In practice, we've found that The Z Hotel has tried very hard, and is a good hotel – but travellers shouldn't expect the standards that they might usually associate with a 'boutique hotel' in Europe or the USA.
The Z hotel organizes its 39 rooms into a range of categories: 17 deluxe seaview rooms, 16 deluxe garden-view rooms, three rooftop suites, two oceanfront cottages and one Z Suite – as follows:
- The deluxe garden-view rooms are situated on the ground and first floors of the hotel and have views over the landscaped gardens, or the sea. The rooms are a little on the small side however they are all stylishly decorated and have tea/coffee making facilities, mini bar, electronic safe and hair dryer, as well as their own private deck. Some of the garden-view rooms benefit from a partial sea view, however this cannot be guaranteed.
- The deluxe seaview rooms offer all the facilities of the deluxe garden-view rooms, but are located on the second floor. Unsurprisingly, they all have sea views!
- On the third floor of The Z Hotel, is the large rooftop suite. As well as having all the amenities of a deluxe room, there's also an outside shower, a plasma satellite TV, a DVD player, a sitting area and a private deck overlooking the garden or the coastline.
- The 70m² Z Suite spreads across the entire rooftop of the hotel, giving it fabulous sea views from the two terraces. It includes the same facilities as the rooftop suite, plus a king-size bed, an outside shower and Jacuzzi, and a lounge area complete with cocktail bar.
- The oceanfront cottages are totally separate from the rest of the accommodation at The Z Hotel. Built into the side of a cliff and arranged over two floors with a view out to sea, the rooms are furnished with a king-size bed and their own kitchenette, plus outdoor showers. To top it all off, there's a floating deck from where you can soak up the sun as you listen to the lapping waves.
- Raised up on a deck, overlooking the sea, is the Cinnamon Café Bar, here they serve a range of drinks, snacks and light lunches; the menu features a ranges of Asian influenced dishes as well as western dishes such as burgers, fish and chips and salads.
- For something fancier, the Saruche Restaurant offers a four-course menu of Africa/European cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood.
- On the second floor you can find Rooftops Cocktail Bar, which has an extensive menu of cocktails and champagnes, as well as a selection of tapas and sharing platters. With its elevated location this is a great place to come and watch the sunset.
- The Z Café Terrace is a new addition to the Z Hotel and serves a ranges of savory snacks, cakes, coffee and ice-cream.
That said, many will spend their time in the very compact space beside the pool, or perhaps on the adjacent beach – see our Satellite map of the hotel to get a feeling for this busy area.
For those preferring to relax at the hotel, there is a mini spa offering massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. Sun loungers are dotted along the beach, as well as surrounding the tanga-stone infinity pool on the edge of the gardens. Hidden amongst the foliage you can find a number of sculpted animals; hippos lurk in the bushes whilst a monkey hangs from the roof.
The Z Hotel is located is the lively area of Nungwi in the north of the island. This is a bustling little town, and guests who wish to escape the hotel can easily walk along the seafront where they can find a number of different bars and restaurants to sample. It is also possible to walk to the Mnarani Marine Turtle Project; this is an excellent conservation initiative that works with local villagers and fishermen to conserve Zanzibar’s native turtles. Turtles caught in fishing nets are rescued by the project and looked after at their conservation pond, each February the turtles are then released back in the ocean.
The contemporary design and lively atmosphere at The Z Hotel will appeal to a trendy, younger crowd, but don’t expect this to deliver the standards of a high-end boutique hotel in London; it can’t. It’s generally fairly good, but not that good. That said, if you want a trendy, buzzing hotel in one of the island’s most popular beach locations – then this is one of the better, and more individual hotels that you’ll find.
- Northern Zanzibar, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- 4–5 nights is recommended. Note that there is a minimum 3 night stay here year round.
- Flights from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar take 20 minutes. The Z Hotel is about an hour’s drive from Zanzibar International Airport.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- Food quality
- The Z Hotels serves African-European fusion food and this can include anything from burgers and chips and salads and sandwiches, to seafood curries and fresh fish, all washed down with a wide selection of international wines.
With a varied selection of local restaurants the Z Hotel is often best booked on a bed and breakfast basis, however a half board option is also available.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included.
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of 12 are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under 12.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- No, the atmosphere here is somewhat adult, and more suited to couples.
- Not recommended for children
- Power supply notes
- Electricity runs off the mains; plugs are the square three–pin variety (as used in the UK).
- WiFi is found throughout the hotel, and computers for guest use are found in the reading room. All rooms have telephones, which can be used for internal calls.
- TV & radio
- All rooms have TVs with satellite channels.
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- Bottled water is supplied in the rooms.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Staff are trained and there is a first-aid kit on site. The hotel has close links with a local doctor and there is a hospital in Nungwi.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There is a guard and a pool guard on site 24 hours.
- Fire safety
- There are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the main areas.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is available for an extra charge of between $3 - $5 per item.
- The hotel does not accept cash payments. All bills must be paid using either credit or debit cards.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa, MasterCard and Amex are accepted with a 2% charge on all cards.
Other lodges in Northern Zanzibar
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Kilindi is a luxury property on the north-west coast of Zanzibar, fronting a long, secluded beach, with stylish modern pavilions.
Zuri Zanzibar is a smart resort hotel on a beautiful beach where you can swim at all stages of the tide.
Essque Zalu Zanzibar
One of the newest hotels in the north of the island, Essque Zalu has the finish and facilities of a large, international-style hotel.
Zanzi Resort is located on the quiet north-west coast of the island, around 30 minutes' drive north of Stone Town.