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“A dream come true!”
Review of Emerson Spice

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Emerson Spice
Ranked #1 of 33 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 April 2013

What a wonderful experience to stay in this top hotel in the heart of Stone Town. We had the most wonderful room with a balcony - so tasteful and at the same time surpassing! Hearing the prayers in the speakers was a mind turning experience. The restaurant on the roof top served the most delicious food and a view. We recommend this hotel with all of our hearts!

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank SatuM408
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this reviewResponded 12 April 2013

Dreams. Welcome to my dreams. Thank you for this excellent review. These rooms are all my dreams; daydreams and night dreams. It is so exhilarating when someone really enjoys them. Kigali is so close; in fact, we like to say that we're Rwanda's beach. Karibu sana tena!

Emerson

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316 - 322 of 551 reviews

Reviewed 9 April 2013

I loved this hotel! I can't believe what you get for the price, I felt the food was exquisite (for the price), the staff was very nice and the Room was above and beyond! We had the pleasure of staying in the Violetta room where the balcony and bathroom are fit for a king. I had wished we had more nights but really two days is enough in Stone town. I recommend booking a tour through the hotel that takes about three hours and gives a good little summation of the area and history. The dinner in the hotel is the best 30usd per person meal we have ever had and the sunset from the roof over cocktails is also a must. We've moved onto a beach resort and while nice (and more expensive), I find myself still dreaming of Emerson Spice!
**one important thing to mention, it's located within the town where cars can't get to. We didn't know this so when the cab pulled over and got out and told us we must walk, he took off his cab badge and walked us through very narrow alleys. We were quite nervous not knowing anything about the area and it feels more dangerous than it is (in fact it's very safe) but initially, until we reached the hotel we were very on edge!

Room Tip: Ask for The Violetta room!
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank jdave54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2013

Stayed for one night in Emerson Spice..loved it..Everything is thought of..lovely rooms, seems like one has stepped into a colorful but tastefully done dream! the even give you a mobile phone with credit to use during your stay in the room! air conditioning is great, much needed in Stone Town..the open plan of the room/bathroom makes it a bit awkward if traveling with kids or friends but its cool for couples...
Only negative thing I encountered was to be told we could not eat on the rooftop at night since there were limited tables and we would be served in the room...fortunately they relented eventually after much insistence from our side that we don't want to eat in the room they served us upstairs...Food is very good as is the breakfast served upstairs again...the views from the rooftop are of the tin roofs of Stone Town, a bit of a dampener but that's how it is and one can I guess put it down to the charm of the place...the other down side that is not just of Emerson but other boutique hotels/lodges here is that you have to lug your suitcases in narrow streets to reach the hotel as the car does not get there directly..
Despite these issues i loved the place....loved the decor and the original touches..

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with family
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Thank faryal2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this reviewResponded 11 April 2013

Thank you for kind review. It will prove very helpful to us and future guests. The "OPEN" plan bath is available in only four rooms. Couples generally endorse this as a very good idea, but as you say, it is not ideal for families or friends sharing. All other rooms have a door to the bathroom. I will see that this information is more full highlighted in those open plan rooms by reservations in the next few days.

About your carrying your own bags, this is rarely done by our guests. I'm sorry you missed the stress we try to place on your arrival info. If we do your transfers from the airport, port or another hotel, our staff appear at your taxi to carry your bags. If your transfer is by someone else, if you arrange for us to be in touch with your driver, the same will happen. We are sorry for your inconvenience, but we advise strongly all guests PLEASE LET US KNOW ABOUT ARRIVAL.

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Reviewed 8 April 2013

Four nights residing in Camille, a fantastic room on the 2nd floor with a nice balcony, breakfast every morning in the tea house on the roof, one evening with a fantastic dinner and not the least a friendly and always present staff ready to answer your questions and needs. You need some time to explore Stone Town. A small town, but so full of contrast. Narrow marked streets, cafees, beaches, historical buildings. At one side of Emersone Spice you find the touristic part of town. On the other the more ordinary town for ordinary Zanzibarian people. we continued with 4 days at Jambiani, to the South East.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Petter B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2013

I booked this hotel after reading the reviews on this site. We stayed two nights which is quite enough to explore Stone Town before heading to another part of Zanzibar. We had a beautiful room with long balcony and slept well despite the mosque. The staff are helpful and nice. The breakfast was disappointing, the choice was quite poor and frankly boring. You would probably hope for more tropical fruit being offered in a way of a buffet maybe instead of pre-cut bits on a plate. For someone who loves trying local fresh produce, that was absolutely heartbreaking. On the last day we have discovered that cash went missing from the bag we have left in the reception safe together with our passports. The management apologized and refunded the missing cash immediately, however that bad experience left a shadow over our stay. I would probably stay there again, but just wouldn't expect miracles because it is top ranked at the moment.

Room Tip: Try the roof top 5 course dinner if you like seafood!
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  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank MagdaPomange
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this reviewResponded 11 April 2013

Lightening strikes. The news that your cash was missing struck us like lightening! Everyone knows that this happens in hotels sometimes, but we did not expect it to ever happen in ours. Naivete I suppose. Forgive us.

The person(s) who did this were very professional. The police and we have combed through every bit of evidence in a failed attempt to identify the perpetrator. During the daytime, the safe in the lobby is mostly in full view of several staff members, as well as Len, a partner and Financial Admin officer. During the night all the keys are with the trusted security officer who has been in our employ for many years.

Whoever did this completely understood our system, habits and locks. They had some kind of master key for each step. NO locks showed evidence of tampering. Truly skillful work. Our response so far to this is to change every lock with one of a different type. We also request that anyone with cash have it checked with the Asst. Manager who then takes it to another office and puts it in a larger safe. Unfortunately this limits your access to the cash to 9AM to 7PM, unless special provisions are made.

In the meantime, we are searching for the best options. We considered individual room safes. The police advise against it. They say it is a false security, because sophisticated thieves have no trouble tampering with the computer mechanisms.

Being an inveterate traveler since childhood, 64 years, and a serious traveler from backpacking to luxury trips for 47 years, I was surprised to hear that no one travels with cash these days. Everyone travels with cards. This, of course, is your best option anywhere. I checked with friends at the most famous luxury hotels in the world. Even they get the occasional theft. Cards are definitely the best option.

About the fruit at breakfast, if you check the reviews, you'll see that this is one of the things most guests really appreciate. It is now rainy season when there are very few truly exotic fruits available on the market. It must have been a singularly bad market day when you had breakfast. Still we have managed on most days to offer particularly unusual fruits. Even this week, the pit of hell for fruit shopping, we have managed to offer (in addition to mango, pineapple, papaya, avocado, bananas, the standards) zambarau, zeituni, and stafeli (jack fruit, the only one with an English name). About the quantity, most are happy, but the waiter asks, or most often asks, "if you'd like more of something, you're welcome." Please ask.

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Reviewed 1 April 2013

Nine of us had stayed in Emerson Spice from Feb. 27- March 2, 2013. We are all from US. I stayed in Mimi Room. We are very happy to stay the hotel. The hotel provides excellent services , room with unique style , located inside of stone town. We all love it.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Linda D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2013

beautiful place, but staff does hardly talk to women and even refused to shake hands! such a pity that this experience will be remembered the most, although the hotel as such is so beautiful (the mosque next door is not for light sleepers).

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank A R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
babuemerson, Owner at Emerson Spice, responded to this reviewResponded 1 April 2013

I would like to thank the writer of this review. It will prove useful in guiding the right guests to Stonetown and to our hotel. It will additionally help to explain something of the laws of courtesy in the Zanzibari culture. It is interesting that the reviewer says "women are not respected." Quite the opposite is true. Respect extends to all guests. By the way, half our service staff and management are women.

If a staff member refuses to shake hands, it is normally because that staff member feels his/her hands are not clean enough. He/she may not have had the chance to scrub up properly after their last task. You will see some lovely rituals around this tradition played out on the streets; people bumping elbows, people touching the backs of their arms, anything to avoid what a person may feel would be dirtying their neighbors' hands. This most easily would be the explanation. Rather than not showing respect, they are showing what is genuine respect to the guest.

Guests should also remember that we hire local staff and educate them to be able to work in our hotel. We do not import pre-trained English speakers from other places, because we strongly commit to our community, culturally, socially, educationally, and economically; hence some faltering English occasionally could lead to an inadequate verbal response. There are probably 150 reviews on this page which mention the outgoing friendliness of our staff.

Another aspect of Zanzibari courtesy regarding the handshake. Women and men do not give each other the " hale and hearty" firm grip handshake. It is more of a light touch, followed by a quick touch over the heart. In many circumstances, this light touch approach is used between men as well. This Zanzibari chivalrous practice is appreciated by all Zanzibaris, male and female. This is the same reason, the common "wolf" has a hard time finding their chance to pounce. If someone breaks these rules, it is unlikely he/she is from Zanzibar. Community pressure does not condone the breach of traditional etiquette.

Stonetown is a World Heritage Site because of the strength of its tangible and intangible culture. When you come, please be ready to learn to absorb a bit of both. The experience is rich and real. There is no one in Stonetown anxious to Disney-fy it for you.

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Additional Information about Emerson Spice

Address: Tharia Street, Kiponda, Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#1 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
#5 Business Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range: £132 - £170 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An inspired and lovingly restored Merchant’s House, this multi-storied small Boutique hotel has an inner courtyard, eleven unique antiques-filled rooms, and two of Zanzibar’s best restaurants. All rooms are equipped with a small fridge, air conditioner, fan, and high ceiling mosquito net. The rooftop ‘Tea House’ hosts one of Stonetown’s most renowned restaurants offering a stylish ambiance amidst the sound of the calls to prayer from the town’s many mosques. The five course ‘Taste Safari’, prepared daily by our Zanzibari chefs, is seafood based and celebrates the freshest and best the market has to offer each morning. The sunset hour is an integral and pleasurable part of the experience so diners are encouraged to arrive at around 6pm to enjoy a ‘Sundowner’ before dinner. On the Ground floor The Secret Garden, set amidst lushly landscaped hidden ‘Ruins’, open to the skies, has a Zanzibari inspired A La Carte Menu. Look out for live music performed by The Dhow Countries Music Academy. Open for Lunch and Dinner. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Emerson Spice Hotel Stone Town
Emerson Spice Zanzibar Island/Stone Town

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