Earlier this year, I traveled to Zanzibar, a small island off the coast of Tanzania, to get my PADI Open Water Certification (scuba certification) and knew I wanted to stay at a hotel on the beach. After browsing through beautiful beach hotel after beautiful beach hotel, I kept going back to Park Hyatt Zanzibar in Stone Town, a UNESCO heritage site. This perfectly located hotel is just a short 10 minute walk from the ferry and offers privacy on the westernmost end of the Shangani beachfront. Its luxurious guest rooms, delicious on site dining, and stunning infinity pool are everything you want to come back to after a long day of exploring Stone Town or snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. Its on-site facilities are actually so plentiful and enjoyable that they might even tempt you into foregoing your plans of exploring the town to stay in and enjoy everything Park Hyatt Zanzibar has to offer. This review of the best of Zanzibar hotels on the beach: Park Hyatt Zanzibar will show you just what I mean.
History of Park Hyatt Zanzibar as Mambo Msiige
Unlike many hotels that were built as hotels, Park Hyatt Zanzibar was built as a Zanzibari castle called Mambo Msiige, which means “not to be copied or imitated,” back in 1847. Travel back in time with me to 1840, when the Omani Arabs were in control of Zanzibar and Sultan Said was the ruler over everyone on the island. One of Sultan Said’s good friends, Sheikh Salim, was a wealthy and prominent Swahili tradesmen from a prominent Omani tribe. In order to show two of his rich friends who was boss, Sheik Salim built Mambo Msiige between the years of 1847-1850 to compete with the two buildings that his friends were building simultaneously (neither of which still exists today). Unfortunately Sheik Said’s success was short lived as he was overthrown in a coup in 1859, had his mansion confiscated by two guys named Seyyid Majid and Seyyid Bargash, and was later executed in December 1889.
Despite Sheik Salim’s grim fate, Mambo Msiige survived to house the Universities Mission of Central Africa (UMCA) from 1864-1874, and in 1875, the British Agency took over the building after their previous building was damaged in the 1872 cyclone. Mambo Msiige continued to exist as a government building for over a century and also housed injured soldiers during the First World War. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Mambo Msiige was converted into a hotel. Rumor has it that the building’s strong and stable structure are a result of the soil used in construction being mixed with thousands of eggs! Today, Park Hyatt Zanzibar is a smorgasbord of old history and contemporary culture, with a blend of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European influences.
Luxurious guest rooms with private ocean view balconies
Even though Mambo Msiige is no longer being used as a castle for Zanzibar rulers or a government building for people of power, I felt like a queen from the moment I stepped inside Park Hyatt Zanzibar to the moment I left. After a staff member showed me the way to my Park Deluxe guest room, I was welcome by a personalized welcome message on the television and two luxurious beds fit for queens. My mom and I both slept very comfortably all four nights we were there, which really got me thinking about upgrading my own bed at home…
If you’re a big bubble bath person, you’re in luck at Park Hyatt Zanzibar. The shampoo, conditioner, and body wash provided by the hotel are all high end, locally sourced products and perfect for pampering yourself.The separate toilet and shower chambers inside the spacious bathroom make it extremely easy for multiple guests to stay in one room, as the toilet will always be vacant even if the shower is in use. This type of organization also makes getting ready in the morning much more efficient, as guests are able to use the vanity area even while someone else is in the shower or toilet. Although let’s be honest – you’re in Zanzibar to relax and not to be on a schedule, so what’s the rush, anyway?
I haven’t even gotten to the best part about the room yet! Our private balcony facing the Indian Ocean was my favorite part of the room. Since I tend to wake up earlier than my mom, I always had a couple of hours to enjoy the fresh sea breeze and get some work done on my laptop in the mornings. The view out onto the ocean never got old, and falling asleep to the waves crashing at night proved to be an incredibly calming and therapeutic experience.
A wide assortment of delicious foods on-site
Since my mom and I had traveled all the way from Kigali, Rwanda to Dar es Salaam and then taken the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar in one day, we were both pretty exhausted by the time we finally settled down into our room at Park Hyatt Zanzibar. We also both really needed a shower, so we decided to treat ourselves and order room service out of the big food menu in our room for dinner, even though we could’ve just as easily walked downstairs to the dining room. The room service was fast, and the food was delicious and still piping hot when it got to us since it was just made in the kitchen downstairs.
Over the next few days, we had the opportunity to have breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dinner (in their actual dining room) at Park Hyatt Zanzibar and were overall very impressed by the quality of the food and the variety of food options available. The menu ranged from local cuisine to beach hotel fare to western cuisine to just about everything in between. My only small complaint was that dinner seemed a bit overpriced, and the one item I was most excited about on the menu was unavailable that night. I actually thought room service was a better price than dining in the dining room for dinner, so I would recommend ordering room service for dinner or checking out one of the many delicious restaurants in Stone Town.
I loved that there was an indoor and outdoor option for every meal – a luxury I’m not used to having coming from a mostly-cold place like Chicago. And if you’re not happy with the indoor or outdoor dining rooms, you can also order food from the living room lounge or poolside. I always headed straight to the bar for some afternoon snacks and cold beers poolside after my dive lessons in the mornings. I know, I know, what did I tell you? I was living like a queen from the moment I stepped foot inside Park Hyatt Zanzibar.
My favorite place to hang out: the Park Hyatt Zanzibar infinity pool
With all the beautiful and cozy common space areas inside Park Hyatt Zanzibar, which were all equipped with wifi by the way, it’s hard to choose just one favorite place to hang out. However, I have to go with the Park Hyatt infinity pool, which jutted out over the beach and appeared to flow seamlessly into the Indian Ocean. There were comfortable lounge chairs poolside as well – not the cheap plastic kind that leave funny marks on your skin when you lay on them for too long, but the comfortably padded kind with built in head rests – you know what I’m talking about, right?
I always headed straight to the pool after my dive lessons (usually after ordering a drink at the bar, although I quickly realized I could just do that poolside as well) because fresh towels were already laid out for us on the lounge chairs by the pool, so I never had to run up to my room to get a towel first and then come back downstairs. There were also small tables between all the lounge chairs and plenty of staff available nearby, which made it very convenient to order a drink or some snacks to nibble on while relaxing by the pool. Since the far end of the pool faces west, this is also the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean on a clear night.
In addition to the beautiful infinity pool, you will also be able to enjoy a spa, fitness center, and guest shop on site. The hotel also provides 24/7 room service and laundry and dry cleaning services, which I always take advantage of since I like to pack light for my trips. As far as beach hotels go, Park Hyatt Zanzibar really has it all.
The best beachfront location in Stone Town
Located on the western end of the Shangani beachfront, Park Hyatt Zanzibar has the best beachfront location as it is within walking distance to the ferry port and everywhere in Stone Town but also offers added privacy since it only neighbors one other hotel on one side of the building. One thing I found to be interesting when I first arrived is that most tourists stayed on the hotel grounds at the infinity pool rather than going down to the beach and swimming in the ocean. As I ventured away from the hotel and onto the beach for a stroll one day, I understood why most guests preferred to stay at the pool rather than on the actual beach. While I was walking along the beach, I was approached by multiple beach vendors trying to sell me little trinkets in the span of only a few minutes. While it wasn’t a huge deal, it can get to be quite annoying if you’re just trying to relax and enjoy some quiet time. That experience made me feel even more grateful that I had such a nice infinity pool to relax in while enjoying all the other luxuries of being on the beach, like hearing the waves crashing and breathing in the warm sea air.
If you manage to pull yourself away from the hotel and into Stone Town to explore a bit, some sites you may want to explore within walking distance are the Old Fort, the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum, the Peace Memorial Museum, the Old Dispensary, and the Old Customs House. If you’re interested in venturing out even further and exploring more of the island, you can arrange a car service and guided trip through the hotel as well. Everything you need is at your fingertips when you stay at Park Hyatt Zanzibar.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar is truly the best of Zanzibar hotels on the beach. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with a group, Park Hyatt Zanzibar has everything you need to live luxuriously and feel like a queen. Look no further than Park Hyatt Zanzibar on your next trip to this culturally rich and beautiful island.
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A big thank you to Park Hyatt Zanzibar for making our stay possible. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.