The 7 Best Hotels In Stone Town, Zanzibar (And Where To Avoid!)

Tristan Balme the best hotels in stone town zanzibar

As quaint and compact as it is, Stone Town continues to be one of the most mesmerising destinations I’ve travelled to. But I can’t deny the dilemma I experienced when it came to choosing accommodation for a well-rounded experience. After spending a couple of days in the city, I’ve found some offer top-tier service than others. 

In this post, I’ll share my recommendations for 7 of the best hotels in stone town, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels. 

1️⃣ Best Hostel In Stone Town (For Meeting People): Lost And Found Hostel
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2️⃣ Best Budget Hotel In Stone Town: Tembo Palace Hotel
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3️⃣ Best Mid-Range Hotels In Stone Town: Zanzibar Coffee House 
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4️⃣ Best Luxury Hotel In Stone Town: Park Hyatt Zanzibar
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5️⃣ Best Hotel With A Pool: Hotel Verde Zanzibar–Azam Luxury Resort And Spa
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6️⃣ Salama Hostel
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7️⃣ St Monica’s Lodge 
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TLDR; My Favorite Hotel In Stone Town

My go-to hotel is the Park Hyatt Zanzibar.

Yes, it’s fancey. And yes, its waaay above my usual ‘budget’ price bracket. But if you’re going through Stone Town I highly recommend you book at least ONE NIGHT at the Park Hyatt for a truly memorable experience.

This 5-star luxury lodging has unmatched views, elegant rooms, and impeccable service. There’s also a beautiful outdoor pool, spa, fitness centre, and restaurant on site. It’s also within walking distance of the main attractions–the House of Wonders, and the Old Fort. I believe it’s perfect if you want to splurge on a memorable and relaxing stay in Stone Town.

How Much Should You Pay For A Hotel In Stone Town

Where hotel costs are involved, various factors come into play. For example, some hotels have an array of amenities and a high level of comfort and service. For this reason, you should expect to pay a premium. Others offer basic services and amenities, so they tend to have lower to mid-range prices. 

To give you an idea, here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • Hostel: $10-$20 per night
  • Budget hotel: $20-$50 per night
  • Mid-range hotel: $50-$100 per night
  • Luxury hotel: $100-$300 per night

Hostel vs. Hotel

The main difference between a hostel and a hotel lies in the style of accommodation. Hostels typically provide dormitory-like settings where you stay in shared rooms, often with bunk beds, and shared bathroom facilities.

Hotels provide private rooms with en-suites and a higher level of privacy. The former is fantastic if you’re looking for a social and communal atmosphere. If it’s serenity and privacy you seek, hotels are definitely the way to go. Here are some pros and cons of each option.

Hostels

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Easier access to town attractions
  • Meet other travelers
  • Fun atmosphere
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free Breakfast 
  • Organized group tours and activities

Cons

  • Shared facilities
  • Less privacy
  • Less security
  • Noisy
  • Limited amenities

Hotels

Pros

  • Private rooms and bathrooms
  • More privacy
  • More security
  • Quieter
  • Wide range of amenities
  • Room service
  • Restaurant on site

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Less social
  • Extra charges

A word on safety in and around Stone Town

Stone Town is generally safe for tourists; I had a pleasant and trouble-free stay. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any precautionary measures. Though isolated, there are cases of crime. 

Here are my tips to stay safe in and around the town.

  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially in dark and deserted streets. Use a taxi or a trusted guide instead.
  • Beware of pickpockets, scammers, and touts. Keep your valuables close and secure.
  • Do not accept any offers or services from strangers.

NOTE: The city has limited access to clean water and sanitation. Avoid drinking tap water to prevent diseases. Rather drink bottled water or bring along water filters. 

Best Hostel In Stone Town (For Meeting People): Lost And Found Hostel

Tristan Balme Lost and Found Hotel

I recommend this vibrant and social hostel for an affordable stay. It offers dorms and private rooms, all with air conditioning, mosquito nets, and lockers. The hostel has a lounge for mingling with other guests and nightly events. The staff are helpful and hospitable, making it a cosy choice for a comfortable stay.

Amenities

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Game room
  • Airport Transportation
  • Baggage storage
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Laundry service
  • Car hire
  • Lounge
  • Communal area

Best Budget Hotel In Stone Town: Tembo Palace Hotel

Tristan Balme Tembo Palace Hotel

Tembo Palace is a clean, comfortable, and convenient 4-star hotel located in the heart of Stone Town. It features beautifully decorated rooms with traditional Swahili furniture, air conditioning, and private bathrooms.

The hotel is not far from the beach, the Forodhani Gardens, and the Old Fort. With attentive staff, it offers a quality stay without breaking the bank. Highly recommended for a super comfortable stay.

Amenities:

  • Free Parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free breakfast
  • Beach
  • Children’s play area
  • Airport Transportation
  • Pools
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Complimentary welcome drink
  • Taxi service
  • Rooftop terrace
  • 24-hour security
  • Sun terrace

Best Mid-Range Hotels In Stone Town: Zanzibar Coffee House 

Tristan Balme Zanzibar Coffee House

This is a charming and cosy hotel housed in a historic building that used to be a coffee trader’s house. The hotel boasts unique rooms, each with a different theme, colour, and decor. The rooms have air conditioning, coffee machines, and private bathrooms.

There’s also a rooftop cafe that serves delicious coffee, and snacks, with stunning views. I love that it’s located in a quiet street, within walking distance of the main attractions and markets. 

Amenities

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free breakfast
  • Rooftop bar
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Baggage storage

Best Luxury Hotel In Stone Town: Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Tristan Balme Park Hyatt Zanzibar

If you seek a stunning, serene, and superb luxury hotel, this is it. As mentioned earlier, it’s located in a convenient area and offers stunning views, elegant rooms, and excellent service. It also has a beautiful outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness centre, and a restaurant on site. 

Amenities:

  • Free Parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Fitness Centre 
  • Free breakfast
  • Beach
  • Babysitting
  • Airport Transportation
  • Pools
  • Restaurant 
  • Bar
  • Business Centre with Internet Access
  • Spa
  • Concierge
  • Sun terrace
  • Sun umbrellas
  • Doorperson

Best Hotel With A Pool: Hotel Verde Zanzibar–Azam Luxury Resort And Spa

Tristan Balme Hotel Verde Zanzibar

Hotel Verde is a 5-star resort with a spectacular beachfront location, a large and lush garden, and a variety of rooms and suites. The resort is located a short drive away from the city and offers a free shuttle service to and from the city. 

Amenities

  • Free Parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Pools
  • Fitness Centre 
  • Free breakfast
  • Water activities–Canoeing, boating, snorkelling, etc
  • Babysitting
  • Fitness classes
  • Spa
  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Outdoor dining area
  • Children’s playground
  • Airport Transportation
  • Taxi service
  • Conference facilities

Where NOT To Stay 

Salama Hostel

Though very cheap, this hostel is a nightmare. The cleanliness is subpar and the service is poor. I also didn’t appreciate that they charge extra fees for some basic amenities and even using the kitchen. Safety being my top priority when visiting new terrains, I felt it was compromised because of the absence of security features, like lockers for my valuables. 

St Monica’s Lodge 

St. Monica’s has poor hygiene, unfriendly staff, and uncomfortable facilities. The lodge is dirty, dusty, and infested with insects. And the bathrooms are filthy. After several requests to have my queries attended to, I was met by rude and unhelpful staff. Because of this uncomfortable stay, I checked out very early the next day. 

What Is Accommodation Like In Stone Town?

For Activities

There’s always something to do in Zanzibar, so you’ll never find yourself bored in Stone Town. Some hotels offer tours where you can visit museums, and palaces, enjoy sunset cruises, and many others. 

Because some hotels are next to the beach, you can rent water activity gear to enjoy a day of snorkelling, kite surfing, or kayaking. I also took up cooking classes to add more skills up my sleeves so I could prepare some of the meals when I returned home. 

In essence, you should choose a hotel that suits your interests and offers the activities you want to do.

Proximity to town

The city is walkable, but some hotels are closer to the main attractions and amenities than others. The accommodation I stayed in was in a convenient area–making it easy to explore the sights I needed to. To explore the city to the fullest, I recommend you book those with free shuttle service or arranged taxis.

Price

Most of the lodging is affordable. But, as mentioned earlier, the price sometimes reflects the quality, location, and amenities. Choose a hotel that suits your budget while still offering great value for money. The ones mentioned above are a great place to start. 

Some also offer seasonal discounts, deals, or packages, so keep an eye out for that. And be mindful of the taxes, fees, and extra charges that may apply, and read the booking and cancellation policies carefully.

Availability

Because the city is a popular destination, especially during the peak season and holidays, book your hotel well in advance. Most with fine amenities get snatched really quickly. 

Security

When visiting an unknown area, security is of utmost importance. Most hotels offer 24-hour security. This means for the duration of your stay, you’ll have peace of mind that your safety won’t be compromised. 

If the hotel you’re eyeing doesn’t mention security features, your best bet is to read the reviews of other guests and see how they felt about the safety of the hotel.

Facilities

While some lodgings in Stone Town are basic, most owners and staff ensure proper housekeeping by providing unlimited amenities and decent facilities.

These also depend on your personal preference, but try to book a hotel that offers essential ones like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and an eatery. I found these factors play a role in creating a memorable and comfortable experience. Another aspect I consider vital is the condition of these facilities–are they clean, functional, and well-maintained? 

3 Tips For Getting There

Taxi

If you want to travel at your own pace and comfort, you can take a taxi. Taxis can take you anywhere you want, but they are more expensive than other options. To save money, you can share a taxi with other people. But, be careful of taxi drivers who try to overcharge tourists. You should always negotiate the price before you get in. If you’re unsure how to avoid scams, I recommend you book the taxis online with fixed rates.

Dala Dala 

These are cheap mini-buses that run on different routes around the island. They don’t have a schedule, so you have to wait until they’re full to leave. Make sure you pay the same fare as the locals and avoid getting ripped. They also stop frequently to pick up and drop off passengers, which makes them slow. 

Shuttle Bus

Buses are a fast and convenient way to travel. They have set departure times, so you can book tickets online and get your own seat. Most also pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. 

Final Thoughts

Stone Town is a wonderful place to visit. You can find a hotel that suits your taste, budget, and activities. My top pick is the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, a luxurious and convenient hotel with stunning views and an array of amenities. But there are other excellent low to mid-range options to choose from. But be wary of a few that are unsafe and unkempt, like Salama Hostel and St Monica’s Lodge. Whichever hotel you go for, always have safety at the top of your mind, especially at night. 

Kilimanjaro Travel Planning Cheatsheet

 

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Tanzania?

100% YES! — Tanzania has now introduceed “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover high altitude hiking as it's a high risk activity!

(that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for high altitude hiking UP TO 6000m (Which most travel insurance companies don't offer!)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

Probably not — Tanzania now provide a visa on arrival (VoA) for most western countires which allows you stay for up to 90 days. However, some other countries do need a pre-approved eVisa (check here!). VoAs cost $50 USD for a single entry - Note, US Citizens are required to get a Multi-Entry visa which costs $100 USD. (View visa prices here)

If transiting through Kenya (a lot of people fly via Nairobi), you'll need a Kenyan visa too. Visa's cost $20 for a 3 day transit visa and $50 for a toursit visa

(By the way, on both my interactions with the imigration officers in kenya they tried to scam me, so know what your obliged to pay and BRING THE EXACT CASH for the visa!)

💉Do I need any vaccinations for Tanzania?

YES! Make sure you are up-to-date with all your vaccines. Common travel vaccines include Hep A/B + Typhoid, and Diphtheria + Tetanus.

A yellow fever vaccination isn't a requirment to visit Kilimanjaro but is for neighbouring areas in East Africa. In reality, you will might not be allowed back into your home country on your return (I was asked for proof of vaccination upon returning to Australia) so getting this jab prior made for good peace of mind. 

Rabies is an issue in Tanzania but the vaccine is expensive and ineffective as a preventative measure (it only lasts a few years and you'll need to get them again if you require treatment). If bitten by a stray dog seek immediate medical attention!

As always, talk to your GP or specialised travel doctor a few weeks BEFORE you leave.

🏩 What’s the best Kilimanjaro Tour operators?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

💸How do you pay for things in Tanzania?

Cash is king in Tanzania, so you'll want to get some folding tender out from an ATM when you land. Larger businesses and hotels will take Debit / Credit Card but most resturants, and street vendors want cash. I even had to pay for my Kili trip in cash!

I personally use a Wise debit card for all my international money needs as they only convert the funds when you make payment, plus they offer a much better spread (margin on the true exhange rate) than the banks do. They work in all the Tanzanian ATMs I tried. 

🚌 What's the public transport like in Tanzania?

There is a good basic network of local and inter-city busses in Tanzania and travel this way is very cheap. Domestic flight are also very affordable and a far more comfortable option. Checkout Busbora for booking bus tickets online.

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Tanzania and on the mountain?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is prepaid SIM cards are cheap and availible to tourists and locals alike (You don't need a pricey tourst SIM!)

Your cheapest option is buying a physical sim card on the street corner once landed and getting the shop assistant to help you set it up. I went with Vodacom and had generally good coverage, even up on Kili!

Another option if you're visiting other African countries is the Nomad eSIM. This is a little more expensive but gives you connectivity across 14 neighbouring African Countries!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Tanzania?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water in Tanzania?

Safest not to — tap water in Tanzania may be OK (the locals drink it) but is generally untreated and not reccommended for tourists. Purchase bottled water for drinking and teeth brushing.

🏔️💧Can you drink the water on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes — Your tour company with ensure the water provided to you is safe to drink by either carrying in bottled water, or by treating stream water with purification tablets or by boiling it. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I'd also recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

 

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