Tembo Hotel: Our full report
The Tembo Hotel is situated right on the town beach in the centre of the Shangani area of Stone Town.Originally the hotel was one grand old house, but they an extension increased the number of rooms to a total of 38. Almost all the rooms, except some of the Prime Rooms, overlook the sea and feature a mix of traditional Zanzibari and European furnishings. Tembo does not serve alcohol.
At Tembo Hotel, curved arches form open doorways and windows, and brightly coloured stained glass lends an unusual interior light. A huge wooden staircase leads up to the rooms, whilst wide arched doors lead from reception into the central areas.
The Tembo is now a relatively large hotel, which is busy throughout most of the year. Its large pool and beach-side location also attracts lots of families, and non-guests can use the pool for US$3 - the result is a lively and sometimes slightly noisy atmosphere. The swimming pool is relatively large and usually full of toys and children during the day. However, for those who want a bit of peace and quiet there are a few relaxed loungers on the beach.
Adjacent to the pool is the large restaurant, which serves a variety of international food for lunch and dinner. The main part of the restaurant is situated between the pool and the beach under a flat terrace roof, with open sides. This area is nicely furnished with big carved chairs, and beautifully made coffee tables, whilst the open sides allow a lovely breeze to drift through.
The restaurant extends onto a large open-air patio and also a paved stretch that runs alongside the beach. There are trees lining the beach which provide plenty of shade, and the sea-breeze is lovely.
The central areas of the Tembo are relatively lively and there are always a few people from other hotels dining in the restaurant or swimming in the pool. It is a great place for families or people looking for a buzzy atmosphere.
The location of the Tembo Hotel is perfect for exploring the back streets and shops, or for relaxing by the pool. Then in the evening there are plenty of restaurants in easy reach if you don't want to dine in the hotel. This is especially handy for those who want to get a drink; like the Tembo's sister-property, the Dhow Palace Hotel, this is a 'dry' hotel which does not serve alcohol.
The rooms at Tembo Hotel are all very comfortable, with views out over the pool or the sea. Most of the Tembo's rooms are Prime Rooms, which are quite small and a little dated, although each is nicely furnished. Then there are also a few Deluxe Rooms, which are equally well furnished, but are larger and have sea-views.
When we last visited the Tembo in 2013, we felt the hotel was lively and fun, but not the most relaxing place. It is a reasonably priced hotel in a good location, and provided you can accept the odd small niggle – and the fact that they don't serve alcohol – it offers great value.
Country manager: Zanzibar
- Stone Town, Zanzibar
- Ideal length of stay
- 1 or 2 nights to leave you plenty of time to wander the fascinating streets of Stone Town.
- 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 the Tembo Hotel.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- Food quality
- Breakfast is a continental buffet served from early in the morning (they will make a special breakfast if you have an early flight) until around 10am. Lunch and dinner are then served in the main restaurant by the pool – you can choose from an a la carte menu.
When we were last there the menu was vast, serving standard meals such as burgers and pizzas, as well as Italian, Chinese, Indian and Swahili food. (The chef was trained in India; so expect good Indian food here!) Everyone should find something on the menu to their taste.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome at the Tembo Hotel
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no age restrictions at the Tembo Hotel.
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities for children, though the Tembo Hotel can offer babysitting help from amongst the staff.
- There are cots and highchairs available on request. The Tembo Hotel also provides a few toys for the pool.
- Generally recommended for children
- We would recommend the Tembo Hotel for families with kids of all ages. Though it is not specifically geared towards children, it has a relaxed atmosphere and the pool and beach should keep most youngsters occupied for a while.
- The Tembo Hotel has phones with outside lines in all of the rooms – though calls made to outside of the hotel will be charged to your room. When we were last there it was $2 per minute for most international calls and there was also wireless access in the hotel. The 24 hour room service can be accessed from the phones.
- TV & radio
- There is cable television in all of the rooms.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a nearby private doctor who can be called to the hotel in the case of any medical problems. There is also a private hospital nearby.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are discrete guards around the hotel during the day and at night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire alarms and extinguishers in all of the corridors around the hotel.
- Disabled access
- Laundry facilities
- The laundry is an extra charge – when we were last there it was between $2 -6 per item.
- At the Tembo you can exchange US dollars, pounds and euros without charge. There is a safe at reception and in all of the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- You can pay for any extras in pounds, euros, US dollars and shillings cash.
You can also use Visa or Mastercard and though there is no separate charge for this, you will get a lower rate of exchange.
Room types at Tembo Hotel
The Deluxe Rooms are similar in style, though larger than the Prime Rooms, and all have large French windows leading out onto a private balcony. This is a great place to relax in a chair and look out over the sea.
Inside, the rooms are decorated with dark carved wooden furniture, polished stone floors and a small table with a few chairs. The rooms all have a phone with an outside line for making international calls – these will be billed to your room. There is also satellite television with around sixty channels, a mini-bar and air-conditioning.
These rooms, like the Prime Rooms, are not especially large. However they are quite bright thanks to the large French windows and represent good value.
The en-suite bathrooms in the Deluxe Rooms of the Tembo Hotel are very clean and though they are not particularly stylish, they do have a toilet, sink and hot-and-cold shower.
Most of the Prime Rooms at the Tembo Hotel are reasonably light and airy with a view over the pool or the sea - though there are a number of rooms which face over the streets behind the hotel. All the rooms are quite compact and the rooms can be a little pokey. However it is fine for a one or two night stay.
Each room comes complete with a phone, satellite television, hairdryer, mini-bar and air-conditioning. On one of our recent visits another guest remarked that some of the appliances in their rooms didn't work properly.
The rooms are all furnished with dark Zanzibari pieces, including a dressing table, canopied beds and bed-side tables. There is also an outside balcony with a few chairs – this is a great place to relax and read whilst looking out over the sea.
The Prime Rooms at the Tembo are good value, and large windows let in lots of light. This detracts slightly from their small size and the end result is a reasonable room with a reasonable price tag.
The en-suite bathrooms at the Tembo are perfectly clean, though the tiling is rather dubious. The bathrooms are definitely not stylish, though they are perfectly functional, with a flush-toilet, sink and hot-and-cold- shower.
Other lodges in Stone Town
Alternative places to stay in this same area.