236 Hurumzi Street
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 77 742 3266
One of the most romantic hotels in Africa, 236 Hurumzi offers an immersion into the heady exoticism traditionally associated with Zanzibar. There's no pool, and the rooms lack modern conveniences like phones; instead, your unit is filled with original Zanzibar antiques, and you sleep in a regal bed draped with mosquito nets, piled with richly embroidered pillows, and scattered with jasmine flowers. Each of the 16 rooms is unique: The gigantic Ballroom has a wood-carved balcony running its length; the Keep Suite has its own tea house in a turret on the roof. Breakfast, included in the price, is served buffet-style in the rooftop restaurant, accompanied by stunning views of the Indian Ocean. A six-room annex at 240 Hurumzi, added in 2008, offers the same opulent sultan's style but with shared kitchen facilities—perfect for anyone looking to try their hand at grilling up a fresh catch from the market.
Closed in May.
Chumbe Island , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 24 223 1040
Escape from traffic, phones, TV, and e-mail on idyllic Chumbe Island. Guests retreat from civilization in palm-thatched bungalows right by the ocean, though this isn't exactly roughing it: Bathrooms have hot and cold water, and the rooms are decorated with African fabrics, traditional art, and hand-carved furniture. The eco-friendly accommodations use solar power, organic soap, and filtered rainwater. At night, dine under a palm-thatched roof, next door to the small mosque built for the lighthouse keepers nearly 100 years ago. The price includes boat transfers to the island from the beach of the Mbweni Ruins Hotel, as well as full board, plus guided nature walks and snorkeling excursions on the Reef Sanctuary.
Pemba Island , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 77 743 8668
Fundu Lagoon is nothing if not remote: You'll have to take a plane, car, and boat from Stone Town just to reach its secluded stretch of sand on Pemba Island. All the better for the A-list types drawn to British fashion designer Ellis Flyte's eco-chic vibe. The 18 hill- and beachside bungalows are well spaced for maximum privacy, linked by a network of sandy paths winding through the jungle. Rooms are stylish but understated, with dark hardwood floors, crisp white linens, and cushy king-size beds. The four massive superior suites, with private plunge pools and split-level, open-air common areas, are the perfect honeymoon hideaways. But despite all the canoodling couples, the vibe around Fundu stays lively. Most guests are happy to mingle on the jetty bar—or sip cocktails by the hilltop infinity pool—before retiring to their evening seclusion. Decadent seafood dinners are served in the breezy, thatched-roof restaurant. You're likely to work up an appetite through the range of activities on offer, from sailing to fishing to kayaking. In addition, Pemba lies at the heart of some of the world's top dive sites. The on-site PADI-certified dive shop offers a range of courses and excursions to help you explore them.
Closed mid-April through mid-June.
Tel: 255 24 223 1954
Located on the quiet northern coast of Zanzibar, Kilindi is a tranquil place to round out your time in Tanzania after the excitement of a safari or a Kilimanjaro climb. Antique Zanzibari doors lead to 15 private pavilions, which include a bedroom with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, a lounge, a dining area, a sundeck, an open-air bathroom, and two plunge pools. The white domes of the pavilions add a touch of whimsy to the landscape, deflect the sun, and collect rain for watering the 52-acre grounds. Much of the produce that chef Richie Tewnion (formerly of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen) pairs with local seafood is grown organically at the hotel; other plantings are designed to attract tropical birds and colorful butterflies. Keep in mind that Kilindi is an hour and a half outside Stone Town—if you're hoping to explore the city's restaurants and markets, book a hotel that's closer to town, such as the Zanzibar Serena Inn. Collen Clark
Mnemba Island , Zanzibar
Tel: 888 882 3742
A favorite haunt of stars and supermodels, this private island is astronomically expensiveand one of the most romantic places on earth. The resort offers just ten secluded beachside bandas, or cottages, roofed with hand-woven palm matting. Each features a spacious veranda, a huge bed with intricate Zanzibar-style carved wood, and a covered walkway leading to a separate bathroom. Guests feast on fresh fruit, fish, and lobsters. By day, they can laze on the beach, get a massage, or explore the reef around the island, which teems with 600 species of fish, ghost crabs, and green turtles. The price includes all meals, drinks, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking.
Bwejuu , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 77 444 0881
The Palms is an intimate alternative to the more generic family-style resorts cluttering Zanzibar's busiest beaches. Nestled on the idyllic Bwejuu peninsula an hour's drive from Stone Town, the resort's six palatial villas blend modern amenities such as satellite TV and DVD players with traditional Swahili-style trappings: brass lamps, hand-carved day beds, and palm-thatched roofs. Each of the 1,500-square-foot villas has a bedroom, living room, full bathroom, dressing room, and a second bedroom with its own en suite bathroom, not to mention a large furnished terrace with views of the Indian Ocean. Private plunge pools and beachside bandas—complete with cushiony loungers—are ideal for afternoon snoozes or sundowners, though beach traffic from the neighboring Breezes resort can occasionally interrupt your serenity. Still, an air of exclusivity pervades every inch of the resort, from the discreet but attentive service to the afternoon tea served in the elegant, colonial-style Plantation House. A host of water sports are also available through the five-star PADI center at Breezes.
Closed mid-April through May.
8 miles north of Stone Town on the waterfront
Bububu , Zanzibar
Tel: 39 051 234 974
This 19th-century Zanzibar country house was once the residence of Princess Salome, the offspring of a sultan and a concubine, and is now leased to the House of Wonders travel company by the royal family of Al Buseid. Exotically furnished with local antiques, colonial furniture, Persian carpets, and Arab tiles, the manor is surrounded by 18 acres of walled private orchards and verdant tropical gardens overflowing with bougainvillea. The four enormous bedrooms have four-poster beds with mosquito nets. Ask for the lovely Princess Salome room, which has nine double windows overlooking the ocean. Breakfast is included; lunch and dinner are available by request.
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 24 223 2230
Housed in a refurbished 19th-century villa, the Zanzibar Palace Hotel is an elegant addition to the Stone Town scene. The nine-room Palace doesn't stray far from the script written by its competitors—think high, timbered ceilings, richly embroidered silks, and ornate glowing lanterns. It's the meticulous attention to detail, though, that helps the Palace to stand out. The colorful collection of colonial-era bric-a-brac is thoughtfully edited and transcends what in other hotels could come off as an Arabian Nights rip-off. No less impressive are the palatial en suite facilities, ranging from private balconies overlooking the city to in-room spa treatments and massive stone tubs for two. Our favorites are the Farizah, located in the palace's former ballroom, and the Suite Dunia, with rooftop views to the sea. For all the royal treatment, though, a little warmth would go a long way in making this palace feel like home. Staff often seem to be walking on pins and needles, and while the kitchen dishes out competent takes on Swahili and continental cuisine, you'd do well to pass on the funereal dining room for one of Stone Town's livelier eating options.
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tel: 255 242 233 587
The Serena, Stone Town's most luxurious hotel, is right on the waterfront. The cool white rooms have traditionally carved furniture, with louvered doors that open onto wrought-iron balconies. Such details as carved staircases, lavishly embroidered rugs, and heavy brass-studded doors make the Serena resemble a sultan's palacebut one with modern conveniences (rooms have satellite TV, phone, and Internet access). Relax in the Persian bath-style pool, get a massage in your room, or have the attentive staff arrange a sightseeing tour for you. The hotel's excellent seafood restaurant serves guests on an open-air terrace; downstairs, the equally romantic Baharia restaurant is constructed so that waves lap within inches of the windows. As you eat, you'll see lateen-sailed dhows drift lazily by.