Formerly home to many Sultan families, Swahili House is set in the heart of Stone Town.
Swahili House: Our full report
The Swahili House first opened its doors in June 2009 and we have since stayed on a number of occasions. Aiming to be a high quality boutique hotel, it is the sister property to Fumba Beach Lodge and built to a similar standard.
Swahili House is located in the back streets of Stone Town, about a five minute walk from the seafront and main areas. Originally an Indian Merchant House in the 19th Century, the owners have tried hard to renovate the hotel traditionally in order to retain a lot of its original character. This, along with Zanzibari furniture and fabrics result in a really authentic feel. However they have also managed to do this with plenty of style and good taste.
The traditional wooden staircase leads up to the five different floors, all of which centre around a peaceful courtyard. At the top is the Swahili House's stunning rooftop restaurant and bar which has totally open sides to enjoy a 360 degree view of Stone Town. This is a large open plan area which really makes the most of the natural breeze, with a long wooden topped bar where you can order delicious cocktails, and tables and chairs for dining.
Stone benches are built into the walls and are dotted with lots of bright cushions. There is also a Jacuzzi and sun loungers out in the sun, which makes this a really relaxed and informal area to relax in the sun and enjoy a drink or even some of the tasty food on offer.
There are three different standard of bedroom at the Swahili House; including Deluxe Rooms, Suites and Sultan Suites. Each of the 20 rooms are decorated in the same traditional style, with polished stone floors, wooden Zanzibar beds and traditional furniture however they do differ in size. Deluxe rooms are the smallest though still quite spacious and comfortable. The Suites are quite a bit larger and some of them also have a balcony. The Sultan Suites are the largest rooms, offering 45m² of space and all have a balcony.
All of the rooms have a fan and air-conditioning as well as an ensuite bathroom with hot-and-cold shower, flush loo and a sink. Some also have huge stone baths!
The reception at the Swahili House will happily help you arrange any tours and activities during your stay in Stone Town. You may want to go on a guided tour, to help get your bearings of the area. They will also happily advise you on places of interest, local restaurants and good value shops.
Our viewThe Swahili House is a lovely new boutique hotel which shows a lot of potential. When we were last there, it certainly needed to finish off some of the building work and settle in a bit. However what was finished was of great quality, the staff here were friendly and helpful and we have no doubt that this will be a great base from which to explore Stone Town. That said, guests should note that the stairs here are quite steep and so this may not be suitable for everyone.
Directions: The Swahili House is tucked into the back streets of Stone Town, about a five minute walk from the sea front and main street.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: The Swahili House is already developing a great reputation for its food, which is no real surprise given the quality of the food served at its sister lodge Fumba Beach Lodge.
Breakfast is served in the rooftop restaurant and includes a buffet selection of fruit, cereals and breads along with fresh fruit juice, tea and coffee. You can also opt to have eggs cooked as you like them and a full English!
Lunch and dinner is also available at an extra cost; when we were last there lunch was a set menu and dinner was a la carte. A two course lunch was about £8 per person, which we thought was great value. Dishes included lots of seafood often based around the catch of the day, ostrich, pasta and delicious looking lobster ravioli.
Most people stay here on a bed & breakfast basis, in order to have the freedom to dine out in Stone Town. Though we wouldn't be surprised if most guests staying at the Swahili House opted to eat here for every meal!
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at the Swahili House.
Further dining info: Swahili House will offer room service, but this will have to be arranged in advance as there are no phones in the rooms.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at the Swahili House.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at the Swahili House.
Special activities & services: There are no special facilities.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: The Swahili House is a friendly hotel which is suitable for children, however the stairs here are quite steep and so this may not be suitable for young children.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There are no internet or phones at Swahili House, however there is very good cell phone reception and plenty of internet cafes nearby.
TV & radio: No TV or radio
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The Swahili House is close to a good hospital, though for minor injuries the manager has done first aid and there is a first aid kit on site.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: The Swahili House has a safe in the office for valuables.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers on each floor of the Swahili House.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra Charge at the Swahili House.
Money: Swahili House cannot exchange money for you, but there are numerous places nearby that can do this. There are also a number of cash machines nearby that you can use.
Accepted payment on location: The Swahili House prefer cash in US dollars, Euros, British pounds or Tanzanian shillings. They also accept Visa and Mastercard though there is a charge for this, ranging from 3.5% to 5% depending on the card. They do not accept Amex or Travellers cheques.