More about 236 Hurumzi
The place 've seen better days
The place must have been fantastic when they opened. Looks great, breath of the old times, but can't agree more with some of the reviews here that it is absolutely filthy dirty. We stayed in the Zenana room for 2 nights and the moskyto nets were gray and stinky as well as the sofa. Bed clothes not fresh, don't want to know the reason. On Saturday we had a dinner at the rooftop restaurant, the food was below average and the service not that friendly at all. At 22:00 we were asked to leave though they brought us new bottle of wine 15 minutes earlier. The next day we just wanted to have a coffee there in the afternoon, but they don't serve tee or coffee. I would not recommend this hotel to anyone who likes clean hotel rooms with crispy sheets.
This IS Zanzibar
Located in the heart of Stone Town, Emerson & Green is a real oasis. Do not be put off by the scruffy location of Huruzmi Street - all of Stone Town is like that, and you must remember that Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countires. The rooms do have air conditioning, a ceiling fan, electricity (don't we take this for granted in the West?), and are huge. The public areas of the hotel, the staircases in particular, are fabulous, and typically Arabic, perhaps a bit Moorish (?). We stayed in the Suite Tour, on the top floor. It has bags of character, plenty of furniture and a wonderful veranda affair (complete with swing!) on the roof, reached by a wooden staircase from the room itself. The bath is an enormous stone Turkish style tub located in the corner of the room, with a lavatory next to it. The description en-suite, therefore is somewhat inaccuarate. We checked in after a 5-night safari, having spent 4 nights under canvas, and looking forward to a bit of comfort. Our room was clean, and an efficient laundry service was a great benefit - although the clean laundry being returned to us at 7.30 am was a hassle. The restaurant was special for the location, although not the food. None of the rooms have telephone or television. There is no lift. We went to go and put some valuables in the hotel safe, and were invited to sit down with the manager in his office and have a chat! It is not the Hilton or the Sheraton, but it IS Zanzibar.
Magical South Room
We stayed for four nights in the South Room, accessed via its own wooden bridge. The room was magical, the hotel a reserved oasis of calm located in the middle of Huruzmi Street. If you sleep lightly be prepared to be woken early by the call to prayer - we were surrounded by minarets ,adding to the total experience of the hotel and Zanzibar Town. It's location was exactly what we were looking for - bang in the middle of Stone Town, but just minutes from the shore. The roof top Restaraunt is a must - the food's not the point, but the view, and the atmosphere, are incomparable. Breakfast at the same place was great to start the day in preparation for the streets below. Overall a unique experience.
we stayed here for 3 nights in January 2006 for our honeymoon, spent new year's eve.I thought that this was going to be the best place to stay in at Stone's Town but it was actually just a so so experience. The room felt moldy, and a bit run down. The sheets felt damp. But the worst part was our new year's eve dinner up in the turret, which was hyped up in quite a few articles. Besides being ridiculously expensive, the food was awful and unimaginative.
We tried to look for another hotel the day after because the E & G just didn't feel comfortable, and that dinner totally turned us off. We would have liked to stay at the Serena instead. Begged the reception at Serena, but to no avail, they were fully booked.
In our opinion, E & G's not your best option in Stone Town.
That's the point!
My husband and I stayed at Emerson one night and quite frankly think that the place is overpriced and overrated. It is true that it is an historical place with an interesting story, but we have been in many different historical places around the world and though we enjoyed it very much, this doesn't mean that we would like to stay there! Some of the reviews consider the stairs a minor problem but, unless you are young or used to climb Kilimanjaro, for older people like us (54 - 63), specially after a three hours tour in Stone Town, believe me it is not "a piece of cake"! Also the lack of telephone in the room can be a problem if you need to contact the reception. One thing that we wonder is if in case of fire there is any alarm or extinguisher.
I can survive (and in this case didn't expect) without slippers, shampoo and other amenities, but in my opinion, the telephone in an Hotel without lift and with those stairs shouldn't be considered an amenitie! We stayed at the Ballroom, which is considered to be the biggest room in Zanzibar. From an "antique" point of view it is interesting and different from any other Hotel room. Didn't like the bathroom in the room and the very small and ordinary wc room.Next morning we had the "pleasant" surprise to find out that there was no water in the room. Poor breakfast. Staff indiferent. We climbed to the Towertop restaurant which has a nice view, but it was fully booked for dinner so cannot comment. The Kidude restaurant in the ground floor is ok.
Regarding previous reviews, I don't think that we are "missing the point":
Being quirky, doesn't excuse the lack of water, the lack of telephone in the room and the overall sensation that the place has not been clean out for ages. However if we had paid a small amount of money for the room I wouldn't complain. But this is not the case. That's the Point!
In my country there are also some places considered to be "very typical" in which tourists pay a lot for poor quality of service. Some of them feel quite happy for that "very typical" experience!
Character but too pricey
Read these reviews with interest - it's about 5 years since I and a group of friends stayed a few nights (3 rooms) at E&G, on the recommendation of one of the friends who had stayed before.
It certainly had loads of character, but frankly it was grossly overpriced by local standards. In places like Zanzibar you've got to expect occasional problems like water or power going off. It's not realistic to expect phones. If you want TV what are you doing in Zanibar? It's not the only hotel in Stonetown where the early calls to prayer will waken you (not just light sleepers), but if you have an open fretwork like our room at E&G the ching-ching-ching of the Hindi temple next door characterfully rips you out of your drift back to sleep just when you think the prayer calls are all over.
We did the lot at E&G, rooftop meal, cocktails etc. It was fun - but not worth the money. A taxi driver we got friendly with (two of my friends who stayed longer visited his home and met his wife and baby) was simply non-plussed at why we chose to stay there. E&G's renown elsewhere isn't met by equal awe locally.
I stayed in four hotels in Stonetown, and visited friends at Serena. (Evidently very good, but more international ostentation than local flavour).
My favourite was the elegant, calm Dhow Palace. (Generally Arab style inner courtyard buildings will be more peaceful than the Indian style outer balcony ones). OK, no bar, but there are plenty of other interesting places to eat and drink. And the rooms even have satellite TV if you really need it.
Loved this place!
It seems that Emerson & Green gets mixed reviews and I can see why. Don't book this hotel if you are expecting a 'regular' hotel experience with cookie cutter amenities. Do book this hotel if you love something a little different and want to stay somewhere cool . Also, I would recommend booking one of the more expensive suites as the difference in price is not that much, but the rooms are vastly larger and often have rooftop balconies.
We stayed in the Tour Suite which was absolutely amazing looking with a real North African feel. The four poster bed was really comfortable, we had air-con and tons of hot water. The room was perfectly clean and the best thing was the tall staircase that led straight up out of the middle of our room and onto our own private tea house which is draped with curtains and has cushioned seating. We spent every evening up here sipping beers and watching the sunset with our friends who were staying in the smaller, cheaper, but equally lovely West Room.
I really recommend the Sat evening set meal at the rooftop restaurant - more food than you can eat and entertainment. This is were breakfast is served and you have to clamber up many flights of stairs draped with Bourgainvillea to reach it.
This hotel is not good for the elderly because of the stairs and everyone should take care when they have just washed them, but otherwise I would highly recommend a stay in this fabulous hide-away that makes the dirty streets of Stone Town seem a million miles away. If it's not your bag, then maybe you could try the Serena Inn for all the usual creature comforts - V. expensive though, be warned!
Unique and oozing with character
If you need your luxury and 5-star service then yes go to the serena inn, and yes E&G is a little overpriced. And if you're elderly or can't handle steep stairs - again go else where. But if you do want romance and a truely unique hotel oozing with character, then I really think this place is well worth it just for a couple of nights. We had the Suite Tour room, which had its own private balcony over looking the bay, and was perfect for the first two nights of our honeymoon. If you can only afford a non suite room, then try and go for the West Room. Dinner at their tower restaurant is also magical - again overpriced - but well worth it!!
Some TLC required
I was so looking forward to staying at E&G. Sounded just like the sort of hotel I love, one with personality and style. It does have both those things but some downsides as well. At these room rates, I think it's reasonable to expect that money would be put back in for general cleaning and upkeep, and that service and attention to detail would be evident. Not so. Our stay got off to a bad start when our flight from Nairobi was delayed by 4 hours. We called ahead to let them know we wouldn't arrive until around midnight and asked if we would be able to get something to eat and drink when we arrived. No problem, we were told. When we arrived the front door was locked. Once the door was unlocked we had to step over mattresses and sleeping staff in the foyer. We were shown to our room (South), which was quite dirty with an overbearing musty odour. There was no food available and we couldn't even get a cup of tea or coffee. We got into bed to find that the sheets were damp. Between the smell and the damp sheets, it was an uncomfortable sleep. In the bright morning light we could see the charm of our room. It was lovely, quite unlike any hotel I've stayed in before, but still dirty. Loved the view from the rooftop restaurant at breakfast and the spiced coffee was superb. Go for the experience of staying somewhere unique and interesting, but don't expect spectacular amenities or service. With a bit of TLC and attention, this place could be an absolute stunner.
E & G need to realise the power of the Internet
If you are contemplating booking this "hotel" think agin. It would not pass as a backing hostel in many parts of the world. And this is my point in submitting this review. If a guest has legitimate reasons to cancel accommodation booked then the hotel should be looking to give a discount as compensation for the lack of enjoyment and not look to be charging for a cancellation. We checked out after only one night. The manager insisted, despite our many valid complaints as to the total lack of standards across the board, that we had to pay full price for the next night. After a lot of arguing we settled on 50% of the tariff for the next night. Perhaps that is how the hotel stays in business. We were really looking forward to our 3 night stay at E & G. What a disaster. The taxi was late getting to the airport to collect us. The hotel had organised the collection. The rep who accompanied the taxi set the tone for the hotel - "thats not to say that our hotel is bad." The approach to the hotel is by foot walking through some of the worst rubbish and housing in Stonetown. The hotel is seperated from slum housing in all directions - some only 3 meters away. The reception staff are totally unco-operative and uncaring. The remainder of the staff only move if there is a tip to be gained. We were told that the only room available was the crystal room. Dark and depressing with a cement lump at one end representing a bath and shower! The bath took almost half an hour to half fill. The air conditioning did not work and room was invaded by mosquitoes. The smell of dampness pervaded the whole room. The noise from the people in the tenement blocks 3 meters away was deafening topped only by a blacksmith hammering away until the early hours. The restaurant is a joke. It measures no more that 5 meters by 10 metres including the food preperation area. Into that tiny area are squashed 25 people eating off an assortment of very small "tables" which are perched in front of people obviously suffering with some discomfort. The cushions provide no support or comfort. The food - forget it - its luke warm at best. The main couse was chicken massala - very uathentic. We talked to several other hoteliers later. All agreed that E & G was now regarded as a joke as a hotel.
Relaxing at Africa House Bar
It's free to wander the coastline - before a storm
View from the bar - Amaan Bungalows
Fishing Zanzibar Style
Airport to Hotel transfer?
What is the best way of getting from the airport to our hotel (SEA CLUB KIWENGWA ZANZIBAR) located on the NE coast.
The hotel itself can offer a transfer but are charging $100. Surely this is excessive!
Re: Airport to Hotel transfer?
There is no useful public transportation available - you wouldn't enjoy dala-dala ride on your first day and it would be too complicated as well.
I don't recall that there's any taxi company/association in Zanzibar. I can provide you with some phone numbers of the drivers I used, but I can't be sure if numbers are still OK.
There will be taxis available at the airport. They will ask less than your hotel, but prices will be inflated nevertheless. You should bargain for a better price, but you won't be in a good position with your luggage and considering you're fresh to the island and just out of a long flight.
I used to pay around 20 euros for a similar trip two years ago. I don't know if prices have changed, but I'm sure taxis didn't get any cheaper.