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Mnarani Beach Cottages
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Reviews (541)
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All reviewszanzibar househoneymoon cottagesea view cottageshalf boardhigh tidebreakfast and dinnerwooden decknice poolstone townlounge chairsrelaxing daysbeautiful spotrelaxing staymnemba islandindian oceanswimming pool issea urchins
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Reviewed 11 November 2010

A wonderful three day stay at the end of our Tanzanian safari. The location is idyllic. It is situated at the northern tip of Zanzibar next to the Mnarani lighthouse and the nearby village.
Our room in Zanzibar house was very spacious and comfortable with a wonderful shower and very comfortable bed. We enjoyed the daily floral decorations placed on the bed by the lovely lady who serviced our room.

Food was very good throughout our stay, and the breakfast omelettes deserve a special mention. Among the best we have ever eaten. As non meat eaters we always found plenty of choice. With a well stocked bar, an excellent pool, and lots of places to laze both in and out of the sun, who could ask for more?

The beach is wonderful for walking when the tide is out, and a worthwhile excursion made to the Turtle Sanctuary just beyond the lighthouse was fascinating. There were lots of possibilities for outings and excursions, but sadly time did not permit. Next time we must stay for longer. The staff here are all very friendly and helpful. Our Kiswahili was much improved by the time we left!

Reception was always helpful, WiFi worked, well stocked library.

Good beer, good food, super staff and the Indian Ocean, what more could one want?

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank TomnBobbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2010

We had 4 nights booked at Mnarani for a post safari chill out and were looking forward to the rest. Immediately on arriving (at 4 pm) we were disappointed at the standard of the facilities and were shocked to be greeted by the constant and extremely loud music from the bar area. Despite the fact that there were not any customers in the bar (and most of the punters were on loungers at the other end of the site as far away from the noise as possible) the music continued until midnight and seemed to be solely for the benefit of the bar staff.
We were booked in the "new luxury" Zanzibar House and the rooms were even more disappointing:
- strong musty smell of mothballs
- basic bathroom with awful shower
- exposed electricity cable to the light over the mirror in the bathroom
- " minibar" with ridiculously high prices so no point in actually having it because no-one is ever going to use it
- no drinking water except what you could buy from the minibar at $3 for a small bottle(we stayed in 7 different places in Tanzania and this was the ONLY place that charged for drinking water)
- music from the bar area (just in front of Zanzibar House) could be heard even over the AC hum)
We were on full board and the food was passable but the attitude of the staff is best described as surly. We certainly didn't get the impression that customer service is important or that the staff actually cared very much about what they were doing. You were more likely to get a grunted response rather than a smile when you asked for anything.
Overall we found it a great shame because the place could be absolutely fantastic, a stunning location spoiled by poor facilities, worse customer service and a penny pinching charge for everything approach.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank LindaandNeilM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 September 2010

We booked the Mahaba honeymoon suite (even though we were not on our honeymoon)but thought it might be fun to have our own little “cottage”. I read the mixed reviews about this place on TripAdvisor but still decided to give it a shot as it was only $200 total for two people per night (with half board included—dinner and breakfast). So it seemed like a decent price and the grounds looked beautiful from people’s pics, so I figured it was worth the negative with the positive for that rate and location.

The positive:
-The views are incredible
-The ocean is swimmable and the beach is fairly sandy but there are some rocks towards the shore, but no sea urchins (only saw one), which means that you can walk out to swim in the ocean in your bare feet with only a tiny bit of discomfort when encountering rocks.
-Since we booked the Mahaba cottage, we were given exclusive use of the outside bed which was super comfy and looked outside over the ocean, and was perfect for enjoying conversation, the views, a nap or a game of cards-was by far my favorite amenity.
-The pool overlooks the ocean, and appears very clean—you may only swim until 6:30pm though and at that point beautiful lights adorn the inside of the pool, making me wish pool hours would have been later.
-There is a pool table in the bar area that overlooks the ocean.
-When the tide is out, you can walk on the beach a ways for both directions which is a very romantic stroll.
-The breakfast is pretty good—omelets, crepes, fried tomatoes, beans, fried potatoes, some kind of meat, cereal, fruit, juice (seemed to be water downed so I didn’t drink any) and coffee/tea/hot cocoa.
-The dining area is also really lovely as you can see the ocean.
-For lunch we ate at the less formal tables that directly overlooked the ocean. People also enjoyed drinks there as well.
-They have Sheesha (or hookah) which is kind of a fun treat as you drink and enjoy the views.
-They had cards in the Mahaba cottage.
-The Mahaba cottage was well equipped with a small dining room table, fridge, kitchen sink, coffee maker, nook of pillows, hammock swing, bathroom was a nice size with a nice looking bathtub.
-You can hear the ocean waves crashing from your room, which is lovely at night.
-Clean, no bugs in sight.
-They respected the privacy please sign on our door, and didn’t go into our room which was nice (sometimes I’ve noticed even when you put the privacy please sign out, cleaners will still go in the room).


The negative:
-The Mahaba cottage had a stuffy odor.
-Reception can use some training regarding service (ie. upon check out I was informed there was a problem with my bank transfer as payment and I had failed to notify them about this issue, when what they meant to stay was that the bank transfer had come from someone other than me (even though it was the same last name) and I actually had in fact emailed them about this as well, proof of which was in the printed email exchange I brought with me.
-Any time we would step out of our cottage immediately a staff member wanted to know what we wanted for dinner, which actually felt a bit intrusive on our romantic getaway.
-The dinner is mediocre. There are a la carte options available between $20-$35, which is high, especially when we discovered the Mangrove Restaurant on-the-beach dining experience about five minutes away.
-There was a charge to play pool, which seemed kind of lame like nickel and diming-particularly as the waiters play freely when not being used by the guests.
-I’m glad I was not on a honeymoon, as Mahaba is not super private as the next place over is really only a few feet away, and the Massage Cinnamon Cottage is directly in front of Mahaba.
-Since the Cinnamon Cottage was directly in front of Mahaba and parallel to the outdoor bed, there was very little privacy and we were watched quite a bit.
-On the day that we left, we had the door open to Mahaba for about five minutes (at 9:59am, with checkout at 10am) and a worker came up to the porch and just stood there for a few minutes. We expected that possibly, he was there to help us with our bags, but he just watched us, and when we asked what he wanted he said he was there to clean the room.
-Mahaba is actually fairly dark inside, the windows are smaller, and the bed is upstairs without any windows which is too bad. Not sure what the other rooms looked like inside, but the rooms on the other side of the property had sliding doors w/little balconies and hammocks so it seemed maybe their ocean view would have been better.
-The way they have you pay for side items like beers and sodas, is kind of odd. The restaurant and the bar are separate. Which means that if you have lunch you are handed a food bill, but you may or may not be handed a drink bill until later that day or the following day with all of your drinks consolidated. It might be with the intention so you don’t feel like you are signing for things all the time, but it makes it kind of uncomfortable to be handed a bill from the day before, as you need to remember if you did in fact have three or four sodas the day before.

TIPS: On our last night, we actually happened upon a beach dining experience courtesy of the Mangrove Restaurant (if you keep walking past the light house), it’s on the beach, with the main restaurant on the land, or just have a taxi take you there ($10 each way)—it’s near the supermarket in Nungwi and down the little road where there is a sign that says East African Divers. There were all different kinds of fish they grill for you, and we enjoyed a wonderful romantic meal on the beach under the stars with candlelight all for about 35000 Tanzanian Shillings ($24). Was an amazing experience.

Ultimately, I felt the mixed reviews on Trip Advisor were justified. I think this place is perfect for people looking for a place near the water to relax, who are not looking for five star customer service. The miscommunications and strange customer service manners (which is expected and understood when traveling for Africa) are prevalent here, but if you can just accept then for a beach side accommodation you are fine. I definitely wouldn’t choose this place for a honeymoon though as Mahaba doesn’t have privacy and the service kind of jolts you away from the beautiful scenery. With a little service training and more attention to the dinner choices though, I think this place could be much better.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank luxvacati0ns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 June 2010

My wife and I spent our two week honeymoon in Zanzibar, with the first week spent on safari and the second week at Mnarani Beach Cottages in Nungwi.

We stayed in the Mahaba honeymoon cottage, which was excellent value. All of the other beach cottages looked to be of a high standard, but the honeymoon cottage has a second floor, hammocks, beach bed, etc. My wife loved it and we spent most of the week lazing by the pool or on the beach, eating in the restaurant in the evenings before a sundowner in the bar.

I chose Mnarani largely based on its TripAdvisor and Bradt ("friendliest staff on the island") reviews, and they were right. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, be it organising a snorkelling trip or simply advising you on which Nungwi restaurants to visit. Mnarani is really good value for money and I'd recommend it to anyone.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank StephenSmithInLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2010

We went up to Nungwe in the rainy season but the weather was actually really lovely. Short rains take the crazy heat out of the air but it still stays really warm. On arrival we were upgraded as there were only about 3 other people staying in the resort and it did not get much busier in the time we were there. Food was ok, but not a strong point. The place is pretty and the rooms (we were in a double storey cottage) were very nice. Beach is all rocks by the shore and you can only swim at high tide. The new pool makes a big difference; in short an average but pleasant place to stay; over-priced for the off-peak season.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank gm35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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