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“The Best Place In the World, to be Confined to A Hotel Room!”

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Tembo House Hotel & Apartments
Ranked #10 of 34 Hotels in Stone Town
Certificate of Excellence
Ballarat, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
415 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 341 helpful votes
“The Best Place In the World, to be Confined to A Hotel Room!”
Reviewed 18 October 2013

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.

Room Tip: Sweet/suite Tembo, right on the beachfront! Maybe not for reticent personalities though!
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank fional943
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Public Relations Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 21 October 2013
Dear fional,

We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. Thank you for your review and recommendation.
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2 reviews
Reviewed 17 October 2013

I stayed only two nights at the hotel but would definitely go back and stay longer.
The hotel is situated in the heart of stone town and has a beautiful beach at the rear.
The service at tambo hotel is excellent and the staff are very friendly.
The food is very good:)
Defos worth a trip:)

  • Stayed October 2013
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Helpful?
Thank Thmbgm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Public Relations Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 18 October 2013
Thank you so much Thmbgm .We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. We hope that you will be visiting us again soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 October 2013 via mobile

This is our second visit to Zanzibar and our second stay at Tembo House. Our first visit was only two days. This time we wanted to stay longer. Our stay was for 7 days. Tembo House is very convenient to all the activities in Stone Town. We were able to easily walk to all the sites of Stone Town.

The staff are very friendly and helpful. After the second day they were able to remember our names. The front desk was very helpful on setting up any tour you would like. The restaurant severed a nice variety of foods and snacks.

Rooms are are designed in the old Arabic style with all the beds draped in mosquito nets. In the evening the house staff close up all the windows in you room, turn down your bed and spray for mosquitoes.

If you like a private quiet beach, this is not the place for you. However if you like sharing a beach with the locals this is a great beach. The hotel sits right on Livingston Beach. A portion of the beach directly in front of the hotel is private. The rest of the beach is a public. The evenings along the beach are fIlled with local boys playing games, swimming and many locals and families walking along the beach. You are also near the harbor so there are many boats in the area.

If want a resort, this is not the place for you. If you like local flare and culture, this is a must stay place.

Great places to eat near by are the Silk Road and Bani. If you are into diving, One World is just around the corner.

Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Willieflier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Guest Relations Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 18 October 2013
Dear Willieflier,

We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. Thank you for your review and recommendation.The entire staff send their warm gratitude to all of you.

We hope that you will be visiting us again soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 October 2013

Stayed for 3 nights in Sept 13.

They have done a great job refurbishing this hotel. Hotel very clean and tidy. Location superb. We were in the Jasmine room which isn't very private as it was one the pool level but we only used is as a base for exploring Stone Town so no problems there.

Breakfast was ok and no alcohol served - but there is a cool jazz bar next door.

From European standards I would describe Tembo as an excellent 3* or a good 4*.

Would not hesitate to recommend....

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Jim C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Guest Relations Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 17 October 2013
Thank you Jim C for your review and recommendation.We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. We hope to see you again soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hastings, New Zealand
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 October 2013

A lovely old hotel in StoneTown, with its own beach. The rooms are a good size, clean. The swimming pool is well maintained. The hotel is well positioned to enjoy Stonetown. The hotel is alcohol-free but there are plenty of pubs not far away. Breakfasts are pretty average but good enough.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a sea view
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Pumba11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 17 October 2013
Dear Pumba11
We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. We hope that you will be visiting us again soon and thank you so much.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newcastle, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
420 reviews
91 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 203 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 October 2013

We spent 3 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment in Freddie mercury house.
The best comment is "different"
Like the hotel itself the apartment had a great atmosphere with local furniture pieces, old rugs & an "elephant repelling" front door. I estimated the top of our mattress to be well over 1 metre above the floor -- they do supply stools!
Yes, it was a bit "oldish" but everything, including 2 aircons & many overhead fans worked well.
Our 2 teenage grand daughters loved the pool & the tree lined beach area was a great place to sit with a cool drink & watch the boats & local kids, without being hasled by hawkers.
The only complaint was the food which we found to be poor.
After the first morning the girls prepared their own baked beans in the room. This was after 12 days through Kenya & Tanzania. One lunch they ordered pasta & left 75% of it.
We ate out the rest of the time because we found some wonderful, inexpensive food close by -- with fabulous drinks ( check out Lazuli)
Would I come back to Tembo House? Definitly as it is very pleasant & its position puts the best of Stone Town eating & shopping at your doorstep.
I found the reception staff a bit offhanded most of the time. Had it not been for a taxi driver standing there, who took the phone, I am not sure my flight time check would have happened.

Room Tip: Note that we were in the apartments around the corner not in the hotel proper.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Noel D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 21 October 2013
Dear Noel D
We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay.

We apologies for our short fall on meals which we realise that and we have taken proper steps to upgrade our meals to meet our client expectations.

Thank you for your review and recommendation. We hope that you will visiting us again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 October 2013

The Tembo House Hotel was the ideal place to spend a weekend in Stone City. The hotel grounds were simply beautiful, with the courtyard pool flowing to the beach. We boarded a boat right in front of the hotel to take us to Prison Island. A few blocks walk and we were enjoying the markets and the Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town. The hotel staff were welcoming and helpful. I carry wonderful memories of sitting on the beach enjoying breakfast in the morning and watching the sunset in the evening.

Room Tip: My room faced another building, which was fine since most of my time was spent wandering the streets...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank bluejean62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tembo House H, Guest Relations Manager at Tembo House Hotel & Apartments, responded to this review, 9 October 2013
Dear bluejean
We deeply appreciate your taking the time to post and are so glad you had a pleasant and comfortable stay. Thank you for your review and recommendation. We hope that you will be visiting us again soon.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Tembo House Hotel & Apartments

Property: Tembo House Hotel & Apartments
Address: Forodhani Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar City 3974, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Zanzibar City > Stone Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Stone Town
#6 Luxury Hotel in Stone Town
#8 Family Hotel in Stone Town
#12 Romantic Hotel in Stone Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Tembo House Hotel & Apartments 4*
Number of rooms: 50
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

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