Kisiwa House

Kisiwa House: Our full report

11 rooms
10 years +
All year

Constructed in 1840 by an influential Omani merchant, Kisiwa House was one of the frist buildings in Stone Town and has been in the same family for generations. It was lovingly renovated, and opened to the public as a boutique hotel in 2009. Its central location in the heart of Stone Town's Shangani area, just off Kenyatta Road, makes this a great base to explore all that Zanzibar's capital has to offer.

Walking through the big wooden doors you'll appreciate the calm and peaceful atmosphere of Kisiwa, compared to the hustle and bustle of the streets outside. There is an understated Zanzibari charm throughout the property, with many of the its original features restored and sitting alongside all the modern amenities you would expect in a city hotel. The original 170-year-old steep wooden staircase is a central feature, and the soft lighting, antique furniture, heavy brass fixtures and Persian rugs reflect the essence of local history and traditions.

There are 11 rooms split into the following categories: Burdani deluxe rooms, Malkia Junior suites and Sulaima Senior suites. Burdani are the smaller rooms and the only ones without a small sitting room area, but all are similarly decorated in pure white with splashes of gold and blue.

When Expert Africa visited in 2019, we thought the rooms were light, airy and relatively spacious. They all have large beds draped in mosquito nets, a ceiling fan, powerful A/C, mini fridge, tea- and coffee-making facilities and flat screen TVs. The en-suite bathrooms are perhaps more functional than stylish and include over-bath showers, robes and toiletries.

You can choose to relax either in the ground floor courtyard lounge, or the sunny rooftop Darini restaurant and bar - which offers wonderful views across the multi-coloured iron roofs of Stone Town.

Our view

Kisiwa House is a very good option for those who would like a small property that is a little more international in style, but is not completely detached from the local surroundings. This is not a flashy hotel, but is instead wonderfully low-key and atmospheric: quiet, charming and quaint. Given the quality of its rooms, we regard it as being a great alternative to Stone Town's better-known chain hotels.


Location: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Ideal length of stay: 1-2 nights to allow you to explore 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 and Kisiwa House. Sometimes it is not possible to drive up the narrow the streets, and so you driver may park a short walk away from the hotel and help you carry your luggage to your final destination

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Food quality: The Darini roof top restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and features traditional and international dishes using fresh, local ingredients and spices.

Breakfast is served between 7.30am - 10am. We enjoyed a tropical platter, warm bread and pastries as well as a selection of eggs and hot food cooked to order.

Dinner is served between 7pm - 10pm, and while many people will choose to eat out, if you dine in, the varied menu will mean that there should be something for everyone. You can expect fresh fish and seafood dishes, Zanzibar vegetable curry, grilled beef and a selection of pasta dishes.

Special dietary requests can be catered for with advance notice.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £15-20

Drinks included: Not included.


Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: No special activities or services. There are no interconnecting rooms, but an extra bed can be placed in some rooms for 2-16 year olds.

Equipment: No

Notes: Whilst there are no age restrictions, there are a number of steep stairs and the property has quite an adult atmosphere.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Back up generator.

Communications: Good WiFi throughout and telephones in room.

TV & radio: Satellite TV

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: Fully plumbed.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff are first-aid trained and there is a first-aid kit on site. Kisiwa House is in the heart of Stone Town, so there are plenty of doctors nearby as well as a private hospital that they can contact for you.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The reception desk is manned 24/7 and the front doors are closed at night.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers in corridors.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry service offered at extra cost.

Money: There is no currency exchange. Electric safes in all rooms.

Accepted payment on location: US Dollars and Tanzanian Shillings are accepted. You can also make payments with a Visa or Mastercard.

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