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“On balance, there are probably better places to stay”

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Mnarani Beach Cottages
Ranked #13 of 17 Hotels in Nungwi
Certificate of Excellence
London, UK
Level Contributor
35 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
“On balance, there are probably better places to stay”
Reviewed 1 December 2009

Stayed here for a couple of nights during November 2009. Overall I'd say the cottages are fine - but just fine. I stayed in one of the beach cottages, which two seconds spent on the website show that are not on the beach (but are on the deck) so that's an unfair criticism to make. The food is fine, the staff are friendly, the views are stunning.

I have two negatives for the cottages. Firstly, the drinks at the bar - which you're forced to buy since it's a long way from the village and there's a $5 corkage fee per bottle for your own booze! - are the most expensive I found anywhere in Tanzania. Bit of a ripoff, frankly. Secondly whilst the cottage was of an acceptable standard (but don't think five star resort), the fan is positioned about the fly net in such a way that no breeze gets through, even on the highest setting. Bearing in mind the humidity here it made sleeping very difficult. I'd certainly consider going somewhere else in Nungwi for the benefit of a better fan or even A/C.

(Did go diving with the Spanish Dancer school - recommended.)

So on balance I'd recommend against staying at Mnarnai Cottages, although it is a very peaceful spot.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank getdown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 November 2009

I'm not one to complain, and am really not fussy - but...

...we were so disappointed with this place that we decided to leave on our first day there - which turned in to a debacle as they refused to refund ANY of the advance payment that we had made, we eventually recovered half our money and they made us feel like they were doing us a favour.

At Mnarani Beach Cottages the Mahaba Honeymoon cottage is not private, does not have it's own garden and does not have private access to the beach - their website and even the lonely planet make this place sound cool for a honeymoon, but steer clear. Zanzibar is cool but this place is not.

We checked in then had a beer and something to eat, every person we dealt with seemed emo and disinterested - contrary to everyone else that we met around Zanzibar. The food was a greasy mess and served very unenthusiastically.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say the Mnarani Beach Cottages are not to be recommended.

  • Stayed October 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Citizen_Shane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
KazzaAustralia, Owner at Mnarani Beach Cottages, responded to this review, 27 December 2009
firmly believe that we do take great care and pride in what we do for our valued guests especially with regard to “Honeymooners”. I would like to say as an owner that these comments were wholly unjustified from the clients in question. It was not a question of refunding or not refunding. My staff inform me that the clients stayed in the Hotel less than an hour, had made up their minds it was simply not for them…It happens…however, very few if any establishments will give a full reimbursement on an advance booking…we took a middle ground and made a 50% compromise payment on the booking…we have to secure our business on pre allocated rooms same as many other accommodation providers … policies that are adhered to on a global structure.
I feel that we were more than fair in having made this offer. On our website our Terms and Conditions are clearly stated. I am however sorry that that we did not meet their expectations and I am very grateful to hear their comments.
As is always the way “you cannot please all the people all of the time……”

Nassor Ali
Owner
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ballito, South Africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 12 October 2009

We decided to stay at Mnarani Cottages for the second leg of our honeymoon - wanting to experience Nungwi and the north. We were pleasantly surprised. The photos on the web do not do the place justice and some of the reviews on this site had me believing that the place was closer to a glorified backpackers than a lovely resort.

First we were booked into a garden view room but were upgraded (without paying extra) to a sea view cottage. The staff were friendly and very helpful too. The room was clean and had the most beautiful view over the ocean. Yes, the towel rail was falling apart - but really, if this is the only thing to complain about and it lands up ruining your holiday then you should think twice before taking a holiday in a 3rd world country!

We found Mnarani very charming. The bar area with the hammocks and the delicious cocktails were an awesome way to watch the sun set every evening.
One thing, however, if you are looking for a magnificent culinary experience, do not book into the dinner bed and breakfast option as (while very tasty and well prepared) all breakfasts are exactly the same and dinners are variants of the same thing! In this regard, they could add a little more variety to the menu!

Other than that, its a beautiful location - quiet and a bit out of nungwi so not so commercial, clean and friendly!

  • Stayed October 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank deebean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 October 2009

We recently stayed in the Mahaba Hut at Mnarani for a week in September and not only did we have an amazing East-African holiday in the sun we also got married at the resort as well!

We can not be more complimentary about the whole experience. In the months leading up to our arrival, Yussif the resort manager, answered all our queries about the finer details of the wedding day and ceremony. On arrival at the resort, it was a quiet time of year, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! The weather was amazing, over 30 degrees every day and 27 in the shade. It was the end of Ramadan, but that did not affect our experience at all. The Mahaba Hut was beautiful, and felt like a house there was so much space inside. It's nestled at the end of the resort, so you don't have many people walking past your hut which means it's nice and quiet. And you even have your own private deck area with hammock, just for you!

The pictures on the website do not do the resort justice, it's even better in real life and was exactly what we were looking for. Something relaxed, something rustic and something very chilled out. If you are looking for luxury, this is not the resort for you. But if you are looking for an authentic Zanzibar experience with genuinely friendly staff, then this is the right place to be. We were there for sun, sea, sand, relaxation and Africa. As an Australian and a South African, we wanted something very relaxed and laid back.

Our wedding was a Civil Ceremony, performed on our private deck overlooking the beautiful blue ocean. The staff went over and above to make it a special day for us, making arches from palm leaves and fresh flowers from the resort gardens! One staff member spent 2 hours on the morning of the wedding just tying fresh bunches of flowers all over our hut and balcony. Photos on the beach, a sunset cruise with Captain Jack to watch the amazing Nungwi sunset... and then a private lobster BBQ dinner back on our deck. What more could you ask for on your wedding day?

There is no excuse for anyone to complain when the tide goes out. The reef is full of amazing things to discover! Huge, bright starfish. Local villagers fishing and collecting octopus. Watching their daily routine of heading out to the reef from my hamock was an experience I will never forget. The same group of ladies came past every day, with large pots on their head brimming with their catch! And when the local women and children return and the tide comes in, then you get to watch the spectacle of the men in the dhow boats heading out to catch fish in the deeper waters beyond the reef. Truly postcard images. If exploring the reef is not for you, then there is the beautiful resort pool, relaxing in your hammock, having a cool beer at the bar, getting a massage in the Cinnamon Hut, or taking a stroll along the beaches. We walked all the way to Kendwa Beach and back one day, it was just a simple matter of timing it with the tides. Mnemba Atoll - fantastic snorkelling and a freshly cooked seafood lunch on the whitest beach you will ever see! Nothing beats some white snapper, fresh herbs and spices, wrapped up in some tin foil and cooked on a fire in the sand.

The owner of the resort, Nassor, was there during our stay and also at our wedding ceremony. It was great to be able to sit with him at the bar and learn more about the local culture and how the resort came to be what it is today.

We could not have found a more perfect place for our wedding and we are so glad that we chose Mnarani. The staff made us feel so welcome and by the time we left we felt as though they were our friends. It was a truly memorable experience and we cannot wait to go back again one day.

Nassor, Yussif, Berina, Shaban, Fatma, Andrew, Katemba, Captain Jack, Hatibu and all the rest of the staff....thank you so much!

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank AnnaOzLon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sinazongwe, Zambia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 August 2009

My partner and I stayed at Mnarani Beach Cottages in May 2009 - it was very quiet & we were pretty much the only people there.The hotel is great, but the management is disgraceful. WATCH OUT FOR KATEMA, the manager in charge there - he is a snake! He is extremely rude, unfriendly, unhelpful, disorganised and walks around like he hates his job and makes you feel rather unwelcome. On our first day there, we asked him to organise us a half day snorkelling at a nearby reef. He told us this may not be possible as there were not enough people - is it our fault that the hotel did not have enough clients and should we not allowed to go snorkelling because of this??! He never came back to me, did not organise anything for us and did not even apologise for all this. We eventually had to oragnise activities through local people who we met on the beach up from the hotel.
The food is also terrible and we eventually found other restaurants to eat at (even though we paid the full board rate). Drinks are also really expensive, so take lots of money if you enjoy a few drinks whilst on holiday! We booked and paid for 5 nights, but after our 2nd night we decided that we would leave and head back to Stone Town because we were so unhappy with the hotel and its manager. Katema refused to give us a refund (even though we were the only people there and it was not exactly like they had lost bookings because we were leaving) and when I requested to talk to the owner of the lodge (who I had seen walking around that morning but had not yet met in person) he told me a story that he had received an emergency call and had to rush to town that morning so it would not be possible for me to meet him. I requested for the owner's phone number and he gave me a number that did not exist/was not in use. We ended up losing about $450 because of this place and I am sure that this money went straight into his own pocket!
Lastly, the hotel does not have a great beach for swimming, at low tide it is very "dirty" - full of seaweed and smelly mud. At high tide there is no beach at all - the waves crash against the rocks making it unsafe to swim.
The management is a pity because it could be a great hotel to stay at but I certainly would not recommend this place to any of my friends or family.
Chennay Jordaan from Zambia

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank naytjie89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Africa
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 23 July 2009

I have been to Zanzibar 3 times but this hotel was certainly the best of the lot. The service was excellent, the staff very very friendly and willing to do anything you asked. Room service available, spotless rooms, sparkling pool. Nice, compact hotel. Internet available for FREE. We really liked it!
I do have a couple of complaints but I am being critical...
Its at least a 30 min walk to the main village/beach area. So you end up having to eat and drink at the hotel because of the distance to another bar or restaurant ( especially at night) The hotels prices are by no means cheap. For example: Hotel water 3000 shillings, in the village 800 shillings. Hotel beer 3500 shillings, in the village 2000 shillings. Just about everything is half the price elsewhere if you are willing to walk a bit and find it (-: ( The hotel would suit people wanting a quiet or romantic time because its away from the beach sellers and general hussle and bussle.
In a nutshell though I would highly recommend Mnarani Beach Cottages! We enjoyed ourselves very much.
Greg
Johannesburg
S.A

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank GregJoburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Africa
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 April 2009

This review is way overdue, but here goes.

We visited Zanzibar mid March 2009, supposedly the start of the rainy seasons. We had two days of showers, but still warm. March is definitely the month to go as there are fewer tourists and the weather is mild and not as warm as over the Christmas period.

Mnarani was our first point of destination on Zanzibar, and was truly a home away from home. From the word go, the staff were friendly and very helpful. All the staff at Mnarani will go out of their way to make your stay more enjoyable. We realised that we did not have the right adaptor plug to charge all the cameras, and they went out of their way to find us the correct adaptor. Our first impression was of a well looked after establishment (trust me, one of the other hotels we stayed in seriously needs a whole make over team). This establishment is extremely clean and well run. All the walkways and sandy areas are swept every morning.

If you want peace and quiet Mnarani is the place to go. There are other resorts which is vibier to visit or have lunch at.

The cottages were clean, and nicely decorated. Every morning the ladies transformed our bed into a garden with the most beautifully flowers. We didn’t have aircon in the room, but it didn’t bother us at all, at night there was always a light breeze and the ceiling fan did the rest. I always feel I have to re-adjust every time you walk outside from an air-conditioned room.

I have read many reviews complaining about the size of the rooms, not just on Mnarani but other hotels as well. In Zanzibar you really don't need a big room, I don’t know why everybody complain about the size of the bedrooms, you should be out and about, with so much stuff to do, all you do in you bedroom is sleep, unless you sleepwalk, the room sizes of the beach cottages are more that adequate. All the rooms have small verandas with views to the ocean where we enjoyed our steaming cuppa every morning. We even got to shower in the rain one morning. Mnarani do have bigger size rooms if you then wish to sleepwalk in a bigger space. We hardly spent any time in our rooms, as the public areas are so comfortably with nice couches or beach beds. They even have a hammock chair and swings to sit on.

The food was fantastic, breakfast, with pancakes, omelettes, eggs which every way you want, fruit to your hearts desire, cakes, breads, and the best coffee on the north side of the island. Dinner was different every night; we truly looked forward to each dinner to see what they were going to dish up for us. We even had a braai (barbeque) with the best chops I have ever had. The first night the Kilimanjaro Acrobatic entertained us with their awesome acrobatic show, those guys are really good. The beers were always cold, and served with a smile. Juma & Coco taught us with much patience the game of Bao, and were always up for a game. Nassor the owner always around with advice and good conversation.

The swimming pool is clean and very refreshing when the tied is out, but yet you still have view of the ocean. Is there anything better in the world than to take you afternoon nap next to the pool?

When you have a moment visit with Berina at the spa, she will give you the most beautiful henna tattoo, she’s a true artist. If you need a pedicure or manicure, or even a massage she can do it all.

The lazy evenings after dinner were spent in the hammocks, or beach beds. We also had the privilege of full moon. We never felt that the staff intruded on our space, but were always just there when you needed refreshments.

Why would you want to watch television when you have a national geographic view right on your doorstep, if you do need entertainment - read a book – its much more educational? If you didn’t bring one, Mnarani have quite the library. If you really do have to watch TV you can always do so in the open air bar area, or you can catch up with friends and family via email in the library.

Even though the cottages is not on the same level as the beach, you only have to walk down the steps to explore the beach, which is not a white sandy beach this time of year, due to the tides, but there are month in the year that this beach is really a white sandy beach. There is loads to explore when the tide is out. We saw the most amazing star fish and walked with the woman looking for squid. When the tide is in you can go for a swim right from you doorstep almost.

If you want to go to Mnemba Island for snorkelling just ask the resident skipper, Captain Jack. Mnarani has its own boat, so you don’t have to go search around for a dive experience of note a Mnemba

We always felt save (not that you ever feel unsafe in Zanzibar) but Mnarani have security staff doing their rounds at night.

We booked our holiday through a travel agent, so I have no idea what we paid but it was worth every penny. We were sad to leave as we made a lasting friendship with Mnarani and still keep contact with them.

Thank you to Nassor and all the friendly staff at Mnarani. We will be back.

“The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. ~G.K. Chesterton”

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Guselo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mnarani Beach Cottages

Property: Mnarani Beach Cottages
Address: North Coast, Nungwi, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Nungwi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Nungwi
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#10 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#11 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Mnarani Beach Cottages 3.5*
Number of rooms: 27
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

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