Tembo House, Stone Town, Zanzibar is a welcoming refuge!
My room Sweet Tembo, took my breath away with its beachfront location and traditional Islamic architecture. Not only did I have a private beachfront balcony, but a rooftop from which to survey the scenery.
At first I was a bit worried about security as a solo woman traveler, given I was literally in the midst of the bustling beach and port action.
However, once I got accustomed to the endless procession and heckling of souvenir sellers and dhow operators I relaxed.
Moreover, the 24 hour hotel security guards were excellent and stationed just beyond my room.
And boy, was I glad of the opulent traditional Swahili furnishings and beach side entertainment, because I got "Zanzibar Belly", I suspect from food I ate on a cruise on my very first night in town. I was confined to close, very close proximity to the bathroom for twenty-four hours.
To the credit of the staff, their concern and assistance was fabulous. I was a complet stranger, albeit a guest, but they ensured I had a ready supply of bottled water and a waiter organised clove tea, a traditional medicine to soothe and cleans my digestive system.
For a whole day, I was unable to keep down water, let alone anti diorrhea, anti- nausea, or even rehydration medication. But, the clove tea, really did seem to help on my path to recovery.
Meanwhile, I really didn't need to leave my hotel room to experience Zanzibar!
At dusk, local youths congregate to entertain those at the beach front with impressive acrobatics and gymnastic routines. A harbour full of boats, from tiny, local dhow, to cruise ships, oil tankers and the Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam ferry all come and go at regular intervals.
At dawn the beach fills with locals, jogging, doing yoga or tai chi, clients with personal trainers and swim coaches, men leading a procession of wives and daughters along the beach, the staff putting out the matresses on the lounges beachside. The housemaids sweeping the courtyard with local style brooms. People from all over the world taking lunch, or breakfast.
I loved the Islamic architecture of the place, the restful internal courtyard, and water feature, screens, in various forms, classic Swahili decorations, the crazy tangle of power lines fixed to the side of buildings. The place is a cycophony of vivid color, from before dawn till the wee hours.
Staff were also helpful in relation to advice on local customs and security when I ventured into town. I chose to wear a headscarf and was not hassled once, by locals or anyone else. I was as embarrassed by the women who were scantily clad revealing mainly their ignorance and insensitivity to local custom.
Women should at least cover their shoulders, cleavage and knees in Zanzibar.Just look at how the local women dress and take at least some modified cues from it.
And before anyone screams about restrictive and oppressive clothing, consider just how much high heels restrict female movement in other cultures. Not so far removed from the ancient practice of Chinese foot binding, I fear!
Tembo House drips history, colour and atmosphere. Though it does not serve alcohol, there is a warm, friendly bar next door, where I was comfortable on the two nights my health permitted venturing beyond the Tembo.
My one disappointment was that the women on staff carried out servile duties like sweeping and room cleaning. As a woman and solo traveler, I like to see both male and female employees given equal opportunities to undertake all the front of house management and hospitality roles.
Indeed, other than my woman guide at the palace in Zanzibar, and the waitress at the bar next door I did not have a single, extended conversation or interaction with any other non foreign women of Zanzibar.
I should also commend Zantours and their guides for providing reliable drivers and guides and a wealth of local knowledge and expertise that complimented my stay at The Tembo.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A Unique experience awaits at the Tembo House&Apartments.Tembo House Hotel&Apartments is situated at the heart of Zanzibar Stone Town by the picturesque seafront.The magnificent main Building has had various functions over the past centuries. Between 1834 and 1884 it served as the American Consulate in Zanzibar then passed on to become the trading offices of Cowasjee Dinshaw & Partners. Their headquarters was in Aden(what now is know as the Port of Suez), and with trading posts notably in most of the British Protectorate areas, it became the largest trading Company in the India Ocean. To this day , the name of Cowasjee Dinwash & Partners is still visible at the main entrance of Tembo House Hotel.Tembo House Hotel has seen a few celebrities pass through is doors during the consulate era, the Conwasjee Dinwash era and as a Hotel. Mahatma Ghandi, stayed here a few weeks with the Dinwash family on his journey back to India from South Africa 1930. As a rising new star in the British, and the world music scene, Freddie Mercury and his family used to retreat to what is now ”Marashi” apartment whenever they came back to Zanzibar on holidays.Next to Tembo House Hotel is also what used to be the British Consulate, where in 1874, Dr. Livingstone’s body was brought before embarking on its long journey back to England.A stone throw away is the Beit-al-Ajaib of House of wonders. This landmark building, is the largest and by far, the tallest building in Stone Town. Flanking the Beit-al-Ajaib is the Old Fort on one side and the Palace Museum on the other side.In other words, Tembo House Hotel is situated on a prime location, you need not go far to find the shops, the restaurants and the Historical sites that Zanzibar Stone Town has on offer.Zanzibar port is just 5 minutes drive away and the Zanzibar International Airport a further 15 minutes away.Welcome home away from home ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tembo Hotel Stone Town
- Tembo Stone Town
- Tembo House Hotel & Apartments Zanzibar Island/Stone Town