This was my first visit to Zanzibar, and it won't be the last! For the most part, our stay was very pleasant . I spent quite a bit of time with the owner and made several practical suggestions on how this beautiful resort could be upgraded and improved with not too much effort or money,
I am not sure whether any of these suggestions were implemented, judging by some of the more recent reviews, it seems not!
My friend and I arrived after a nightmarish flight late at night and were shown to one of garden rooms which reeked so badly of mould and insecticide that it was impossible to spend even one night there. We complained to management, who said there were only certain rooms allocated to our travel agent - well now I know I should not be so trusting of them in future...
The staff were friendly but not too impressed at having to make another plan and organise an alternative room.
Eventually after much consultation with various hotel staff members, we were taken to one of the large family suites (the only one available) but told we could only spend one night there and would be transferred the next day to another room.
The sea facing rooms in the older section of the resort are really lovely. It was an expected bonus to spend time in this delightful, spacious accommodation. As it turned out, we spent two nights there because the promised move the next day did not materialise due to a double booking mix up.
Although the manager tried hard to persuade us to take another garden facing room, I managed after extensive negotiation, to secure a nice beach facing room close to the pool.
The only hassle was that it only had a double bed - not ideal for my friend and myself. However, faced with the choice of another mouldy garden room with no sea view and twin beds or the seaview room and having to share a bed, we decided to take the sea facing room option!
The rooms are small and the bathroom facilities really should be upgraded as they are grotty, to put it mildly. Are you listening guys?!
The staff are very warm, helpful and friendly and their attitude went a long way in making the holiday enjoyable. We loved the fresh flowers on our beds every day and the mosquito net came in very handy!
If you go to Mnarani expecting the food to be as fabulous as the views, you will be disappointed! I'd rate it mediocre to average and this aspect really needs to be radically improved as it was obvious that many discerning overseas visitors who were staying there were not impressed at all.
The suppers were ok, but the breakfasts were boring and bland with overcooked food and far too little variety.
THIS IS A SPECIAL REQUEST TO JAMIE OLIVIER!!
Please, won't you come to Mnarani beach cottages for a few weeks and show the local chefs how to cook properly and help them discover what magic meals they could create with their marvellous abundance of local seafood, fruit and vegs??!!
I am sure your film crew would love the place and the Zanzibar government would enjoy the media exposure!
I am convinced that while owner Nasoor's vision of employing local inhabitants to work at his beautiful resort is very noble, they DESPERATELY need some professional hospitality and service training to upgrade their service levels.
The resort offers massages - again another area that could be upgraded using very simple ideas and African beauty treatments.
Check out what African-themed beauty spas such as [--] are offering and then you'll understand why Mnarani could offer wonderful hand and foot treatments as well as massages on their stunning wooden deck overlooking the ocean, to just give one example.
Zanzibar is very hot and humid in Dec/Jan, so the fan in our room was on permanently.
The pool was a delight to cool off and the open air bar and dining room were very pleasant.
We walked for many km's along the beach and enjoyed a cultural visit to the nearby Nungwi village to learn more about the fascinating culture.
Like other visitors, we also had problems in booking a scuba trip through the hotel, but were quite happy with one of the excursions to the Spice farms (an absolute must, as is visiting Stone Town!)
We used Zantours to book some excursions directly and were very impressed with the service we received.
The live band on new years was a joke(sorry guys, but we were expecting better!) Sure there must be other good local bands that could have been booked for the evening? If you really enjoy alcohol you are going to fork out a lot of money as the drinks don't come cheap.
In Summary, I enjoyed my stay at Mnarani and would recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable holiday in Zanzibar at a beautifully situated resort that is neither pretentious nor overcommercialised.
But when I next return to this beautiful island I really hope that there will have been some changes at Mnarani.
This resort has so much going for it, but in my view it HAS to improve so it can still compete with the growing number of other resorts on Zanzibar.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Mnarani Beach Cottages is a beach resort hotel, located on the northernmost tip of Zanzibar Island in the village of Nungwi, next to the old lighthouse.Mnarani has been independently recommended by The Lonely Planet Guide, The Bradt Guide to Zanzibar and many other East African travel guidebooks. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mnarani Beach Cottages Hotel Nungwi
- Mnarani Beach Hotel
- Mnarani Beach Resort
- Mnarani Beach Cottages Zanzibar Island/Nungwi