Have you ever dreamed of staying in a palace, and living it up in a mix of old Arabic, African and Colonial style? Here in Zanzibar, several palaces still exist, but they have now been converted into charming hotels, adorned with antiques and collectables from all over the world. Zanzibar is also known as Spice Island, and ships would berth here to load spices destined for the Middle East and Far Eastern countries.
Choosing A Hotel
We chose to stay at Dhow Palace Hotel. A 3 to 4-star Palace, just one street back from the shoreline. I had heard the shoreline can get rowdy, so we wanted to be in the old town, but in a quieter setting.
We drove right up and there was a small place to pull in opposite the main front door to the restaurant of Dhow Palace Hotel. A traditionally dressed doorman complete with his fez hat PLUS two other staff quickly unloaded our 4WD, and at the same time, the man from ZanCars came to collect the vehicle. The timing was smooth and perfect. The main entrance is in a little alley on the side so we walked past a very inviting swimming pool and into that area as Dhow Palace Hotel is made up of two buildings.
Our Family Suite
We were on the top floor, and before my eyes, these strong men whisked our suitcases away on their shoulders – up the wooden stairs to the 4th floor and up again another small section of wooden stairs (past a lovely open Arabic style lounge area) and into our family suite. We quickly popped on both air conditioning units in both the main rooms and settled in. I like the fact that there were complimentary cool bottles of water in the mini bar fridge, and that we had coffee and tea making facilities in the suite included too – not all hotels do this. The Family Suite slept four persons, and as we are only two, we had plenty of room to unpack and move about. They have plenty of They have plenty of room choices here at the hotel too, including triple suites with single beds, and romantic double suites too.
Our en-suite bathroom was Arabic influenced and VERY large. I love the blue tiles.
We chose to have Room Service several times whilst we stayed here even though they have a restaurant area down on the ground floor. I felt a bit sorry for the staff having to ‘lug’ it up four flights of stairs, but to have our own private time on the balcony (or in-room dining) was a rare treat for Explorason, and he loved it!
The first meal we had here was by far our favourite! We ordered too much, but the cuisine was healthy and tasty, and their prices are realistic, not like some other hotels in Stone Town that we visited during our stay for evening meals.
Start With Breakfast
With the restaurant downstairs, there is seating also available around the pool area, so we dined downstairs on other occasions. This is also where we were served breakfast each morning.
The staff in the Restaurant (and most of the hotel staff I met too) were so lovely, and some of the most helpful we found on the whole island. “Real sweeties” (as a mother would say). I grew very fond of one particularly helpful young man, but overall the staff were very gracious and kind to us.
Whether it’s sunrise or sunset, ascending the spiral external staircase to the rooftop is a must. There’s a terraced level first, and then up to the tranquil roof area, and a great place to sit. It is a bit of a secret place and lovely if you want time in peace. You can also order drinks and food to be served up here too.
Arabic Open Roof Interior Swimming Pool
We enjoyed the interior pool so much as it was an open sky above us. The water was quite cool and so very refreshing. I love the way it is in a courtyard and the rooms look down onto it.
Double Loft Suite
On our last evening, we discovered the adjacent suite was vacant so we actually changed rooms. To me, it was a superior suite to me with rich antique furniture in dark wood. I did peek into a few vacant rooms at Dhow Palace Hotel and they were all quite lovely with their antique furniture.
External Arabic En-Suite
How cool is this? It had an external bathing area!! A hit for any child, and romantic if you were a couple. Here you could shower or bath in privacy with the sky overhead. Imagine that on a night where the sky is clear and full of stars!
Two Properties in One
This Arabian / Colonial style hotel is OLD – YES very old. So it is frequented by tourists and travellers (often with guides) to the lower level. They visit to see the thick old walls, the majestic antiques and stylish interior courtyards. It was once a single building, but now it is two buildings joined so a double sized hotel. The history is clearly displayed in the reception lobby area, so you can read all about it when you check in.
Air Conditioned comfort
Yes, this hotel has air conditioning – not like some that only have fans for cooling. In fact, our first room had two units so it was always lovely and cool.
The location of this hotel is ideal. Firstly because vehicles can drive up, not like some hotels in the back alleys. It is one street off the beach. And the side lanes lead you into a maze of mystery as you discover ancient Stone Town right beside you.
Choose To Get Lost
One of the things you need to do in Stone Town is to get lost. I know this sounds crazy, but just grab your camera, water bottle, and wallet and wander through the back alleys. The locals will constantly ask you if you need help. We found some incredible old wooden doors and loved people watching here.
The motto of Dhow Palace Hotel is ‘Simply the Best’.
So if you would like to experience staying in an old- style palace, why not do it in African charm right here in Zanzibar?