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Zanzibar Serena Hotel
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Reviews (727)
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All reviewsbig joeseafood restaurantindian oceanwrap around balconybeautiful hotelpublic beachmain restaurantterrace restaurantold worldsea viewnice poolwalking tourthe general managerspice tourhigh ceilingsold buildingno elevator
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Reviewed 28 July 2014

When selecting a hotel on Zanzibar we struggled with whether or not to stay in Stonetown or retreat to one of the all-inclusive resorts further away.
Fortunately we chose the Serena hotel in Stonetown which meant we enjoyed the best of both worlds! Perfect for us and our teenage daughter.
The hotel building is beautiful, bright and airy with traditional architecture and beautifully appointed rooms ( we had a 2-room suite with a shared balcony overlooking the pool and beach).
The location of the hotel, on quiet, charming Kelele square, is ideal - we could walk out the front door and immediately begin to explore the historic old town with it's maze of narrow alleyways, shops and restaurants. Most major sights are within walking distance including the bustling Darajani Market, the old fort, Forodhani Gardens (great food market at night) and a host of interesting places.
While the front of the hotel opens out on to the town, the back of the hotel is right on the water; the beautiful pool area overlooks the white sand beach and the turquoise sea.
The sight of the dhows sailing majestically by every day never failed to enchant.
Non-residents did not seem to be permitted to enter the hotel so that we enjoyed a very tranquil atmosphere, no noise or crowds at the pool or in the hotel restaurants and bar.
In the evenings we took a tuk-tuk to the restaurants with our regular driver who waited in the shade outside the hotel each day for customers. The tuk-tuks are the only vehicles small enough to navigate the narrow alleyways and it was a great way to get around and see parts of town we had not explored during the day.
The manager, Charles M., was very friendly and informative. In general, the staff were very pleasant and we really enjoyed Suleiman the friendly door man. The front desk staff were also very helpful.
Security guards were present at both the front door and back pool area but they are unarmed and we never saw any problems.
On departure the housekeeping staff gave us each a wrap or sarong as a gift which was a lovely touch and a special souvenir.
Any minuses? Access to the beach was only by exiting the hotel front door, walking up the street and through a space between the hotel and the next building. It would be nice if there was direct access from the hotel property.
The food definitely needs updating and "modernizing". We found the offerings dated and limited.
Consequently we did not eat dinner at the hotel because the restaurants around Stonetown were more enticing.
Also, the staff at the poolside restaurant were at times grumpy and inefficient! We did mention this to Charles M. and he was very receptive and appreciative of the feedback.

Would we return? In a heartbeat! We loved Zanzibar and the Serena really made our stay quite perfect.

Room Tip: We had a top floor 2-room suite (no elevator though!) overlooking the pool area and the ocean with a beautiful balcony. It was absolutely perfect!
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank JPSF49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2014

Tima Tours were my ground handlers during my vacation in Zanzibar & they did an excellent service in creating an ideal program for my visits in Zanzibar & recommending perfect places for my stay & beach relaxation. They airport & transfers made within Zanzibar were offered in clean, air conditioned vehicles & our guide Salum was exceptional in the manner that he took care of our requirements.

We spent the first night at Zanzibar Serena Hotel and I was amazed by the neatness of the luxurious rooms, the hotel is ideally built on the oceanfront of Stone Town with convenient access to Stone Town's attractions. The amenities were modern & the meals were superb. The staff were friendly & very professional in providing their services.

We spent two nights at Mbweni Ruins Hotel in a secluded peaceful & quiet beach spot. I enjoyed every minute of my stay here, from the luxurious rooms which exceeded my expectations, the service which was of fittingly high standards to the sumptuous meals & superb ocean front location in Zanzibar.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2014

Located in the center of Stone Town close to the beach.
Perhaps the best place to explore the city and the island.
Atmospheric rooms, great food, great music nights!
I do not want to change anything! Authenticity and luxury!

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Mariaithaki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2014

We added Zanzibar to the end of a week long safari and were booked into the Serena for our first night. I wish we had stayed there for our entire Zanzibar stay. Location is everything and the Serena has it. You can walk to all Stonetown attractions from the hotel. Good eats in the hotel and all around. Staff was super friendly and helpful. Our room was royally appointed, had a great view of the beach, yet was quiet at night to sleep. Plenty of hot water, a comfy tub and great shower. Bed was great and good mosquito netting. Food in the restaurant was great. Didn't get a chance to use it but the pool was beautiful, the deck gorgeous. Fun to watch the locals on the beach. Local kids diving and body surfing. Caught a local soccer game early Saturday morning. Transferred to a beach resort after one night and would gladly have gone back to town.

Room Tip: If you can afford the suite, splurge. We were upgraded because of an issue at a previous Serena property while on Safari and it was fantastic.
  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank comicbear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2014

Zanzibar Serena is extremely overrated and honestly not worth the money. I've stayed at beautiful, wonderful Serena hotels in Uganda...this famous Zanzibar Serena was a massive disappointment. The room was stuffy, the AC unit and TV non-functional, and mosquito net absolutely useless (it wraps around one's face rather than entire bed and doesn't close properly). The service was incredibly slow and disorganized and the general manager was downright rude. I was truly shocked by the entire experience considering the price of staying at this hotel. Ended up moving to Maru Maru, which was fantastic and lovely. Save your money and do NOT stay at Zanzibar Serena.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled on business
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank KMG414
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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