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“Nice Place, Just Be Sure to Bring Cash!”
Review of Kisiwa House

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Kisiwa House
Ranked #14 of 34 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
Level 6 Contributor
675 reviews
128 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,867 helpful votes
“Nice Place, Just Be Sure to Bring Cash!”
Reviewed 7 November 2010

Kisiwa House is a Swahili-style home that has been converted into a hotel. It is small, with only about 10 rooms or so. The rooms vary in size from the regular room to the Senior Suite, which we had. The hotel has only been open for about a year, so everything is still in good shape. It's not a fancy place or lavishly decorated, but it is clean, spacious, authentic for the area and conveniently located.

LOCATION - Kisiwa House is located in the old center of Stone Town, just a few minutes walk from anywhere. The beach is about 5 minutes walk, so is the market. It is next to the Dhow Palace, half a block from the main shopping street and quite close to restaurants. Just be sure to ask directions because it's so easy to get lost in Stone Town. The ride from the airport takes about 15 minutes and they'll set you up with a nice air-conditioned transfer for $20.00.

ROOMS - We had the Senior Suite, which was very spacious. It had concrete floors which felt kind of cold, could have used some carpets, but was very clean. There is air-conditioning in the room (a nice surprise because it was REALLY humid during our stay) and a ceiling fan. The bed was quite comfortable, equipped with mosquito netting, but I found out that one blanket is not sufficient if you're going to use the A/C (I got cold and slept restlessly), so plan on sleeping with the windows open at night without the A/C for maximum comfort. The Muslim Prayer times start at 5:00 AM and are echoed throughout the city, so don't expect to sleep late here. Next door is a school where kids are singing and yelling all day, so it's not too quiet during the day either, but then you're in town so what do you expect.

Bathroom was clean with double sinks and a tub/shower without a curtain (six-footers practice your limbo moves, the shower head is about chest high). There is a small desk for working and a nice flat-screen tv. The room has minimal lighting, but there are quite a few windows which if you open it lights up pretty good. There is plenty of room to move around comfortably. The A/C worked well. There are no irons or ironing boards. The only thing that we didn't care for was the toiletries, which were just single-use packets that you had to tear open each time you use them - seems a dispenser would be a much nicer and more efficient way of handling that.

SERVICE - The service was excellent throughout, kind and courteous. One time we asked for a taxi to go to a restaurant at night that was really close but we were afraid we'd get lost in the dark and winding alleyways. Instead of calling a taxi, he offered to walk us to our restaurant and show us the way. Very nice of him. The manager is also very nice and helpful, as is all of the staff at the hotel that we met. English is somewhat limited with the staff, but they always seem to have a smile and a "jambo" for you. We didn't get turn-down the first night for some reason, but otherwise the housekeeping was excellent.

BUSINESS - While not really a business hotel, a business traveler can make do with a bit of effort. There is a small desk that works for one person, but nowhere for the second person to sit if you have two computers like us. There is one computer to use to check your email, but no printer that I saw. There is good cell phone coverage and some mobile broadband, though mostly EDGE which is pretty slow. The hotel has free wireless internet throughout the hotel, which is great, except it didn't work very well for us. The first day it was fine - 3 bars and slow but steady speed. The second and third days it was horribly slow and barely usable, though the connection stayed solid and didn't drop. There were some weather systems passing through, maybe that had something to do with it. There is no conference room or business facilities, but you could use the restaurant I suppose.

FOOD - The rooftop restaurant was always empty when we went there, so we were cautious, but decided to give it a shot because we were tired the first night. We were glad we did - it was really nice. The waitress was very sweet, and the food was delicious - a variety of Swahili treats and some Western dishes, plenty of seafood options. No view really at night because it's dark, but during the day you can look over much of Stone Town and see a sliver of the ocean as well. It's mostly run-down buildings, but better than no view, and the open air is always nice.

Breakfast was buffet the first day, extremely small with only a few types of bread, cereal and fruit, plus they'll make you eggs. No bacon or sausage for obvious reasons (it's a muslim community). It was enough though. The second day they served it to us, the same food just served. For some reason it seemed better that time though. Lots of food, you won't go hungry as long as you like fruit and bread. Everything was tasty though, and we were full.

CHECK-OUT - The only downer we had with this hotel was the payment policies. They charge you a 6% surcharge to use a credit card. As if that isn't bad enough, they can only charge you in USD if you're using a credit card, but they charge for the incidentals in Tanzanian Shillings, so they force you to use an exchange rate that is another 6% out of your pocket. All told, you get hit for a 12% surcharge on top of your bill if you don't want to pay in cash or in advance with a wire transfer. Of course, they don't reveal the exchange rate to you unless you ask, so most people probably don't even realize they're losing the second 6%. So plan to bring cash (USD for the room and transfers, TZ Shillings for everything else like the restaurant) if you want to avoid getting gouged.

Very nice hotel, simple but clean and well staffed and in a great location. We will recommend it to others.

  • Stayed November 2010, travelled on business
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Helpful?
3 Thank Johann&Sandra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Vancouver, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 October 2010

Kisiwa House is a beautiful little boutique hotel in a central location in StoneTown. We spent only 1 night at the hotel, but we would have gladly stayed longer if we had the time. The staff is very friendly and courteous. We were greeted with a mango/kiwi milk drink while we checked in. The hotel is very clean and well kept. The decor is beautiful and calming. The dining area is on the top floor, both indoor and outdoor. We had three meals at this hotel and we enjoyed each one. The hotel was not very busy when we travelled (during off season) and so we received very personal service. The hotel is an old house and so it does not have an elevator. This was not a problem for us however, could be a problem for those unable to climb several flights of stairs.

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Gillus1801
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 October 2010

We stayed three nights. The staff was fantastic and gave us recommendations and made us feel very comfortable. The hotel is very clean and the breakfast was fantastic and filling. The view from the restaurant is beautiful. The rooms are spacious and have all the amenities we needed. We always felt safe and never had problems with the street touts. Great experience.

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Queenchz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
glasgow
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 October 2010

Stayed two nights on way back from beach holiday at Sunshine Hotel, Mtemwe (also recommended). A friendly reception... staff and manager, Cheherazadhe, very helpful.
Beautiful big room and large bathroom with free standing bath and separate shower. Good free internet.
Really well laid out floors... between stairs large lounge areas with two/three rooms on each leading to restaurant/breakfast room on roof. All in dark wood and beautifully decorated... coffee lounge on ground floor with peaceful trickling fountain. Lovely.
Hotel perfectly situated for best restaurants, Secure ATM round the corner and best placed for sunset views nearby.
Booked Kisiwa when Zanzibar Coffee House full. Walked across to Coffee House to check it out. In a rougher part of the town and not the quality of Kisiwa... a cheaper hotel so possibly ok for the price... coffee great but lots of flies. Best, cheaper alternative I would suggest Temba House Hotel.... HOWEVER for a relaxing, quality stay you can't beat the KISIWA.

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank unclespoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Delhi, India
1 review
Reviewed 7 September 2010

An absolute amazing hotel!! The service, location and comfort were beyond my highest expectations. I truly perfect place that is centrally located, walking distance, to venture out into Stonetown. A cozy, warm and simply delightful hotel. The rooms were large with a big bed, super comfortable pillows which ensured us a very restful sleep. The morning breakfast was wonderful with nice view of the ocean. A must consider place, if your lucky to get a room as this hotel will surely be one of the finest most sought after hotels in Stonetown. We will definitely return!! The staff and manager are professional and very accommodating. I cannot give this place any higher recommendation then simply PERFECT!!!

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Helpful?
Thank ThomMarion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kisiwa House

Property: Kisiwa House
Address: 572 Baghani Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#7 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#10 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Kisiwa House 5*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A luxurious Boutique hotel in Stone Town, Kisiwa House is noted for its elegant blend of Zanzibar décor and gracious Swahili hospitality.Superbly located on a quiet street in the heart of Zanzibar historical centre within easy walking distance of famous landmarks, museums, antique shops and restaurants. Kisiwa House provides every modern convenience to the business or leisure traveller, promising an unforgettable experience of professional service, superb comfort and unmatched elegance.Get inspired, discover the new and unusual. Enjoy the charm of an old and typical Zanzibar town house. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kisiwa House Hotel Stone Town
Kisiwa House Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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