Emerson on Hurumzi

Emerson on Hurumzi: Our full report

Traveller's rating
Average (60%) From 2 reviews
1 June to end-April

Emerson on Hurumzi (previously known as 236 Hurumzi, and prior to that as Emerson & Green) is a small boutique hotel right in the heart of Stone Town. Mr Green, of the original 'Emerson & Green' partnership, is still the managing director of the hotel, which hasn't really changed much in character since it acquired its new name.

Emerson on Hurumzi feels vast. It sprawls across two beautiful old buildings dating from 1840–70. The back portion was constructed in the early 1800s, when the Omani Arabs first took control of Zanzibar, and the front building was originally the home of the prominent Ismaili Indian merchant, Tharia Topan.

These were then completely restored, joined into one small hotel, which was then tastefully decorated with antique Zanzibar furniture and carpets, many of which are original pieces from the houses.

There are 16 rooms which are all completely different in character and design. But broadly speaking they can be divided into two categories - the nine Standard Rooms and seven larger Suites. Each one is beautifully decorated and all of the rooms have a ceiling fan (most also have air-conditioning), a large Zanzibari bed and an en-suite bathroom.

Emerson on Hurumzi has two restaurants. The Kidude Café, open open between 11am and 10pm for lunch and dinner, is on street level and has an a la carte menu available throughout the day. Local art is showcased here, and bright Zanzibari material hangs from the walls - adding a warm character to the room. The restaurant is furnished with comfortable chairs and benches around a few tables, providing the perfect spot for grabbing a quick coffee or even a meal.

The Tower Top Restaurant is the venue for breakfast, and also a spot that's locally famous for dinner. sits on the roof, and with totally open sides, has a wonderful 360-degree view across Stone Town. Colourful rugs soften the floor and brightly coloured Zanzibari cushions are set around the edge. Everyone sits behind low wooden tables facing into the centre whilst they eat traditional Swahili food. In the evening, guests assemble to watch the sun set over the roofs of Stone Town, before being entertained with traditional singing and dancing, and served dinner. (Dinner here must be booked in advance – and the spectacle is terrific fun; but the food doesn't always match.)

In its heyday, Emerson & Green (as Emerson on Hurumzi was known) was renowned as one of the best boutique hotels in Stone Town, with a peaceful and slightly bohemian atmosphere. In the last few years, it has expanded substantially – adding a new wing 'Peace of Love', with six new rooms. On our last visit in 2016 a lot of work was clearly being undertaken, and several of the rooms were in the process of being refurbished. The hotel hopes to recapture the grandeur of the Zanzibari palace it once was, adding a number of pieces of antique furniture and injecting a splash of colour.

Our view

On previous visits to Emerson on Hurumzi we have been disappointed; the staff were particularly unhelpful and there seemed to be little willingness from the management to change. However on our most recent visit in 2016 we were pleasantly surprised and we found a boutique hotel with real style and character. The rooms are lovely and we particularly liked the roof top restaurant. Whilst we did not spend a night here we found the staff to be welcoming and helpful, and we look forward to returning in the near future.


Location: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: Two nights is typical; one is a little short - and three is too long for most visitors unless they have specific interests to pursure in 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. As 236 Hurumzi is tucked away in the tiny backstreets of Stone Town, the car can't get right to the door of the hotel. There is a short 2-minute walk from where the car drops you off, but your driver will help you with your luggage and show you the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Food quality: Breakfast is served in the Tower Top restaurant and usually consists of fruit, pastries and eggs of your choice. Lunch is available from an a la carte menu, in the Kidude Café downstairs. Both restaurants serve dinner, though upstairs must be booked in advance – it is a very popular spot.

Dinner in the Tower Top Restaurant is a set menu. It is served to you as you sit on the floor on brightly coloured cushions. Everyone sits around the edge of the terrace facing into the middle, in a traditional Swahili style. This restaurant has wonderful views across the roof tops of Stone Town and is well worth a visit. Though you will have to book in advance as seating is limited and it is a very popular place.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: Drinks are not included.

Further dining info: 236 Hurumzi Hotel will happily do room service, though this needs to be arranged in advance at reception as there are no phones in the rooms.


Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at 236 Hurumzi Hotel.

Property’s age restrictions: 236 Hurumzi has no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: There are no special activities for children.

Equipment: Cots are available on request.

Notes: 236 Hurumzi is fine for children, though there are some hotels in Stone Town that have swimming pools. The Tembo Hotel has a great pool which is always full of playing children. The Dhow Palace also has a pool, as does the Serena Inn.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Communications: 236 Hurumzi has a phone and a fax at reception that guests can use for a fee. There is also WiFi broadband access downstairs, in the Kidude Café, for those who have their own laptops.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at 236 Hurumzi Hotel

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: 236 Hurumzi Hotel is right in the middle of Stone Town where there are doctors nearby.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There is night security guard at the entrance of 236 Hurumzi Hotel.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around 236 Hurumzi Hotel.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge

Money: 236 Hurumzi cannot offer any currency exchange, though there are plenty of bureau de changes in the area – someone from the hotel can give you directions or show you where to go.

Accepted payment on location: You can pay for any extras in US dollars, pounds, euros, Kenyan shillings and Tanzanian shillings cash. You can also use travellers' cheques or Mastercard and Visa – there is no fee for this though it has to be for a minimum of $30.

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