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Travel Blogs from Stone Town
Heighty top breakfast in a stiff breeze chasing stray napkins and enjoying the 360 degree view of the corrugated iron rooftops of Stone Town. Already the dhows out to sea are leaning right over and reaching as they scud over the bright blue sea. The small people ferries which chug back and forth to the off-lying islets banging through the waves in …
We are still in Tanzania but it feels like we're in another world. Welcome to Zanzibar! We had a pretty hellish flight. The plane out of Arusha decided the weather was too bad to land and so went to the Kilimanjaro airport instead. This meant we all had to take a bus about 45 minutes from Arusha to that airport. Then since they were already late …
Hi All, This isn't really a mindblowing entry, but I would like to share one thing, maybe a few more... So I have been CAMPING in a tent on safari, I have stayed in a small not-so developed town of Arusha in a bit of a less developed "lodge". I recieved ummm about 2 bug bites. I fly over to Zanzibar; beautiful island. I am systematically and slowly …
Arriving in stone town was interesting. I'm very glad we got here safely in our 12 seater plane!! We got to our hotel called Zenji which is right in the middle of the busy city. Our room is cute. It's quite small and simple with a double bed & mosquito net. We went for an explore once we thought it would be a bit cooler but there's honestly no escaping the heat here! It's so humid so your constantly sweating. We stuck to the road along the water where there were ...
Morning had broken and I hardly slept at all. I yawned and opened the shutter of the airplane window. And there it was, right underneath me... I couldn't believe my eyes. Mount Kilimanjaro in all it's glory. What a breathtaking view! We had just crossed the border from Kenya to Tanzania and that meant I was almost in Zanzibar!
I arrived at the airport around 9 a.m. local time. The heat and especially the humidity were already overwhelming, but I couldn't ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews 236 Hurumzi Stone Town
Total lack of professionalism
We have not stayed at this hotel but wanted to have dinner at its famous roof restaurant. We were not even allowed by the totally unprofessional receptionist to have a look at the restaurant before we would book a table there and he did not seem to care about his lack of kindness or worse, professionalism.
Having seen such attitude, and in view of all the other reviews, I am happy we did not stay there!
Very average indeed!
This hotel was recommended to us by a specialist UK tour company and I will be notifying them how very ordinary Emerson & Green really is!
Having stayed for 4 nights in paradise at Ras Nungwi Hotel on the northern tip of Zanzibar, we decided to stay at E&G for the final 2 nights of our 2 week trip. Big mistake!
Firstly, Stonetown despite being a World Heritage site is just one large dustbin and after one afternoon visiting 'national treasures' there really isn't much to do other than being pestered and hassled by street hawkers!
The hotel did not live up to its reputation! We stayed in the Rose Suite which was certainly different and designed to reflect traditional arabic decor, however it was dark and dingy until the afternoon sun came. It also had an appalling view of a poverty sticken alley way full of rubbish and dilapidated housing. We were woken every morning by the 'call to prayer' at the many mosques and struggled to sleep at night until 0100hrs due to a disco with a dodgy DJ! Breakfast was very basic. No room service and no phone to contact reception meaning a trek down 5 flights of steep stairs!
Only wonderful experience was the Towertop restaurant dinner with traditional dancers. Very romantic and great sunset views over the city. Dinner food was only of average quality. Just book the dinner, don't stay the night. I would never stay again.
Disappointing and overrated
I agree heartily with the other negative reviews. While the rooms were quite interesting in an antique-store way, they lacked any amenities, and the 5 steep flights of stairs made trips down to the reception a nuisance. Lack of phones and other amenities (hair dryers, shampoo, slippers) in the room was frustrating, especially given the price. The reception also misinformed us about the status of our lost luggage, causing us to make another round of frantic calls to the airline (from our international cell phone).
Our room, the East Room, also featured several pre-dawn wake-up calls in the form of very LOUD (amplified) calls to prayer. Since the room's "walls" are open lattice work on two sides, we couldn't do anything about the noise, and the hotel had no other rooms available.
Dinner at the rooftop restaurant was pleasant enough, but as another reviewer noted, the unskilled violin player managed to kill the mood by the end.
We were much happier at the Dhow Palace, which was less expensive, more comfortable, and better equiped.
Extremely disappointing. Quite interesting rooms full of character but poorly done. Poor service from the reception through to the restaurant and alot of workers just constantly hanging around. No ammentities ... neither room service (ok), nor telephones in room (even to contact the front office).
A wonder to me how it can be ranked so highly ...
We were advised by a reputable specialist Africa travel agent to stay at the E&G, it apparently being the most impressive hotel in Stone Town. On arrival a miserable receptionist just about managed to grunt at us before directing us up the 5 flights of stairs to our room. We were given the West room situated at the top of the building. I couldn't find any room service with out going all the way back down stairs where a member of staff reluctantly took my order. Breakfast was appalling and my order of scrabbled eggs didn't even turn up.
At a distance the room looks impressive but on closer inspection the fittings were shoddy. The wardrobe was falling apart, as was the table and the bed. The bed headrest lamp fell missing my head by inches. The bath, which is situated in the middle of the room is a nice touch, although it is advisable to close the curtains.
Having read the review of the Tower Top restaurant in the Lonely Planet we booked in for diner ($25 a head). The views are great, but the beers were warm, the food extremely average and the bloke playing the violin, although amusing at first, after a while was too much.
Very disappointing I'm afraid.
Very dissappointing and over priced
Everyone seems to be raving about E&G and I'm not sure why. It is certainly unique and full of character, but surely that's only a positive when it does not detract from your enjoyment of a hotel. I can think of many "characterful" places that are nice to look at and visit, but necessarily places I would like to sleep in and I think E&G fits into this category admirably.
The big plus going for E&G is the rooftop, which is a "must visit" for anyone staying in Stone town. Sundowners and supper here is fantastic.
The negatives are unfortunately plentiful. Service is poor, room service is non-existent and the rooms are indeed decorated very eclectically which may or may not appeal. Some rooms are nice while others (e.g. the ball room) are just very odd and soul less. Bathrooms are very spartan and resemble more those found in a backpack hostel than a hotel. Frustratingly there is also little/no outside space to chill out and get some rest spite from the hectic and characterful street life of Stone Town. Food (apart from supper) is also very poor and the restaurant next door again resembles somewhere more suited to backpackers.
We had originally booked for 2 nights and ending up checking out after one and checking into the Serena Inn, forfeiting a night's deposit at E&G. I must say it was worth it! The Serena is only marginally more expensive than E&G and yet its like staying in a different world. Given the comparative prices, why anyone would chose to stay at E&G over Serena is beyond me, particularly when you can always go to E&G for sundowners and supper even if you are not staying there.
we stayed here for one night after staying on the coast for 3 nights. I have to say the walk up to the hotel was a little worrying but once you got there it was unreal. It was unusually decorated, clean and very different from anywhere else i have ever stayed.
We had dinner at the roof top restaurant and the atmosphere was fantastic. Would definately stay here again. If you like somewhere with a bit of character and in a great location this is the place to stay. Its a little pricey but defo well worth it!
Great unique rooms!!
We spent three nights here in March 2005 and were very pleased. E&G is one of those hotels that everybody in town knows about because it is so unique. Every room is individually decorated with real Zanzibari antiques in a different theme, and since we inadvertantly ended up spending each night in a different room we got to sample three different styles. The hotel was great. Great staff, great rooms, centrally located.
However, we were disappointed with the rooftop restaurant 6-course dinner which is often touted as a "Zanzibar institution". The food was underwhelming, over-priced by Zanzibar standards, and more importantly, you'll experience its wonderful view every morning at breakfast, for free. The other, more low-key, attached dining option, Kidude (downstairs) was a third the price, and probably the best meal we had in Stonetown. It's very underrated.
The South room is on the roof across from the restaurant, and is charming in that it is so open to the cityscape, with an outdoor stone bath and breakfast area. The only problem with this is that it takes a pounding from the equatorial sun throughout the day, making it about 100F or worse.
We thus decided to move, and were lucky enough to get the Ballroom. This was our favorite. Almost the length of a basketball court, with a full bed, a daybed, and two seating areas, it is so grand we almost felt ridiculous. It also has a wonderful wood-carved balcony running almost the entire length, with a great view of the city including the House of Wonders. This has got to be the best room in Stonetown! Unfortunately this room was not available for our third night, so we moved again, to the Gallery Room. This was another wonderful, although less extraordinary room.
Absolutely amazing. Fantastically decadent with views to die for.
We spent three days at Emerson & Green in Fenruary 2005 and can only say that words cannot describe this hotel. It's the kind of place that you really have to experience in person.
But I will try........
From the outside, the hotel is fairly unassuming, and the foyer itself is quite dark. However, once you go up to first floor the hotel opens up into a series of courtyards on different levels, each teeming with gardens and plants, linked with wooden walkways, bridges and stairs. It is easy to get lost tryng to find your room, but what an amazing place to get lost???
We booked ourselves into the Keep Suite, which is one of the newer rooms. For our money, we got a fabulously decadent room, full of Zanzibar style furniture and drapes. This windows of this room had lattice work rather than glass, which added to the feeling that you are staying in the real Zanzibar. To cater for our Western weaknesses, however, the windows of the bedroom did have glass and the air conditioning was great. This room also had a huge "harem" style bed, built on a platform at one end of the room. This bed was about seven foot square and was built into the walls on three sides. The fourth side has a mosquito net essential in this environment, and very romantic. Best of all our room came with it's own "tea house" on the roof. Essentially this was a wooden stairway leading up to a turret on the roof of the hotel, which was exclusive to our room. At the top of this a little trellis "house" had been built with lots of big cushions and a double swing. The whole place was shrouded in drapes that we could open or draw, depending on how private we wanted it. All very bedouin, and the most romantic place imaginable at sundown. Given the hotel is the second highest building in Stone Town, you can imagine the views over the streets and Indian Ocean that this place had.
We also sat in the bar one night with Tom and Emerson, who own the hotel, and can honestly say that they are two lovely guys who have really interesting tales to tell.
The place isn't for everyone. If you need your modern luxuries (swimming pool, telephones in room etc) then go the Serena. However, if you want a hotel that is quite unlike anything you will experience anywhere else, then Emerson & Green is the only place to be.