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Stone Town Zanzibar

Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, is a fascinating small town on the coast, brimming with the hustle and bustle of local life.  Steeped in history, it is a captivating living monument to the curious mix of cultures of its East African, Arab, Indian, Persian and European conquerors, traders and seafarers.  Not to see Stone Town while you are in Zanzibar would be a real shame!
Stone Town is an extraordinary place to explore; the ancient maze of narrow streets is a hotchpotch of historic old stone buildings, built close together for some respite from the tropical island sun and shaded by elegantly carved balconies, loggias and verandas that cling precariously overhead.

Stone Town gives a glimpse of the essence of Zanzibar; with the sights, sounds and smells of the market, restaurants, harbour and mosques; albeit a very gritty and un-airbrushed view!   However, it is increasingly becoming a dedicated tourist centre, with masses of tourist tat flooding the markets.  All visitors should be prepared for noisy street vendors, dirty pedestrian streets and a sense of crumbling glory.
A guided tour of Stone Town Zanzibar allows time to see the Sultan’s Palaces and experience the sights and sounds of this idiosyncratic centre.  There are many fine buildings to see and some, such as the House of Wonders and the Arab Fort, have been restored to create areas for coffee and relaxation.  Generally the best way to explore Stone Town is to meander the streets, window shopping and absorbing the atmosphere.  In the evenings a crowd gathers along the harbour front and in Forodhani Gardens, where smoke rises from barbecues at the assorted food stalls and the curio vendors assemble by gaslight amid a hubbub of banter.  Well worth a visit.

Stone Town: where to stay

Stone Town itself is best split into two parts, the sea front and the old town.  The Old Town is a myriad of tiny vibrant streets where you can walk past hotels and not even know they exist.  The first hotel to mention here is 236 Hurumzi (Emerson and Green as it used to be called) which is probably the town’s most famous hotel.  However, years of full occupancy have seen this lodge become a shadow of its former glory, and even though there are a couple of fantastic rooms, the service is often poor and we nowadays prefer not to use it. 

Fairly close by and of a similar style is the Zanzibar Palace Hotel, where the rooms are much nicer and the management offer a much more attentive approach to service.  Again in a similar style, Beyt al Chai is located a little further away from the heart of the old town, directly opposite the famous Serena Inn.  Beyt has one of the best restaurants in town.  Close by is the newcomer in town, the Seyyida, which is slightly more modern. 

Finally, the Serena Inn is the largest and most luxurious hotel in Stone Town and occupies a commanding position on the sea front.  It has a beautiful pool area and a couple of great restaurants with fabulous views of the sea and the sunset.

There a huge number of Zanzibar hotels and we are lucky enough to have visited them all, so get in contact and ask us anything!


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Some Of Our Favourite Zanzibar Lodges

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