Mashariki Palace

Stone Town & around, Tanzania Book from

Reviewed by Rachel Hamada
A stylish hotel, where warm minimalism combines with beautiful Zanzibari detailing and great service
Like a phoenix from the flames, this breathtaking design hotel arose from the rubble of an Arabic palace, over 200 years old, in January 2011. Thankfully the hotel designer, a structural engineer from Italy, was able to retain some original features, hence it's a unique mix of old and new; a stunning restoration. Well located for exploring the evocative, winding alleys of Stone Town, it's a sophisticated, grown-up place, finished to the highest standards - exceptional for Zanzibar.

After a day’s hot and dusty meandering past carved doors, with glimpses of courtyard and hushed interiors, Mashariki Palace offers a calm and cool sanctuary in which to recharge over sundowners while you gaze over the harbour. It’s buzzy without losing the friendly intimacy of a townhouse hotel. And perfectly situated for island trips and tours to learn about spices or the former slave trade, it's also convenient for the shops, restaurants and cafes nearby. From history buffs to honeymooners and shopaholics, the modern luxury of Mashariki will appeal to all.


  • Elegant and spacious rooms with soaring high ceilings, stucco detailing and carved wooden doors - plus comfy beds dressed in crisp linens and power showers
  • The design is functional as well as beautiful - many hotels elevate style over substance, but here all the practical details have been well thought through
  • A great choice of public areas, including a lovely sundeck with loungers, and a rooftop terrace with sea views
  • Excellent service from friendly staff
  • Thoughtful details - jasmine perfume in the bathrooms, fresh cinnamon and star anise adorning the towels


  • Zanzibari infrastructure is still not great, though it is improving, so electricity can be a problem; the hotel has generators to cope with blackouts
  • There's no restaurant as such, though seafood and pasta dinners can be pre-ordered and there's a tapas menu
  • No swimming pool, but you can pay to access pools at nearby hotels
  • Not much in the way of toiletries other than soap and shower gel, though you do get robes and hairdryers
  • WiFi can be erratic

Best time to go

In climate terms, July to September is a great time to visit Zanzibar, when the monsoon winds guarantees relatively cool weather. February is hot and humid but is the month of the fun - buzzy Sauti za Busara festival very close to the hotel.

If you want to avoid other tourists and aren’t too fussed about sunshine then the rainy season from April-March is quiet. Also check annually for the dates of Ramadan, when it will be much harder to find restaurants to eat at in town - but being in Zanzibar for the end of Ramadan to see the Eid celebrations can be great fun.

Our top tips

Ask reception to book you an art and architectural tour of Stone Town. You can visit the home of renowned Goan-Zanzibari artist John da Silva, who has a host of tales about the island and can fill you in on the architectural history and details of Stone Town, then a local guide can take you to visit many of these sites. Most tourists leave Stone Town without getting any great insight into the buildings and history of the place; be one of the few to unveil its secrets.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 11
  • Breakfast (+ other meal on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


The rooms are consistently glorious. Each is different in terms of layout, but all have a coherent style. Decor is neutral - from cream to sand to charcoal - but there's enough detailing to avoid the tedium of minimalism-by-numbers.

When we visited we were lucky enough to see every room, and there genuinely isn’t a bad one - they all have great features and atmosphere. Some rooms have beautiful views, others are spilt-level spaces that feel like chic Swahili apartments.

The more expensive Forodhani rooms have the best sea views and are very spacious, with private balconies or seating areas. However, the Darajani rooms, with stunning traditional features, are still excellent.

Bed linen, towels and robes are all cool, crisp whites, then most rooms have decorative accents - from tables adorned with gold leaf, to stucco carvings and cushions in rich, vibrant textiles. Bathrooms have power showers, and you also get tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge, plus air con and atmospheric lighting.

There can be a bit of noise at night because the hotel is in a busy area of town, but it is just passing noise and the comfortable beds are a great aid to slumber. For those who can't switch off, there are writing desks and free WiFi.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Breakfast is served until 11am, with fresh pains aux chocolat, croissants, ciabatta and rolls. Guests can also have fresh juice, pancakes, cooked eggs, bacon and sausages, as well as yoghurt with fresh fruit such as mango, pineapple and papaya. If you get peckish later on, there's an in-house tea lounge called Aroma, where guests can relax and fill up on fresh pastries, coffee and tea throughout the day for free.

The hotel has a small kitchen and therefore no restaurant as such, but guests can pre-order dishes for either dinner or lunch. Dinner consists of a 3 course set menu which tends to have 3 choices per course (book in advance) and there is a light lunch menu too. The menu varies and can include local seafood (lobsters or giant prawns), skewered meats, curries or freshly made pasta. Since we visited an evening tapas menu has been added. The rooftop Kusi Bar, where meals are eaten, is perched above town with great vistas and a range of tempting sundowners; we loved the margaritas.

Most guests will want to explore the nearby restaurants - from fine dining at Beyt Al Chai, to affordable fresh fish at Archipelago or stylish Italian at House of Spice, to tasty Indian with a Swahili twist at Silk Route. The hotel is also a stone’s throw from Forodhani Gardens, where a bustling street food market offers local delicacies such as Zanzibar pizza (a pancake-omelette hybrid with a choice of fillings) and fresh sugar cane juice.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Kusi Bar
out of date


  • Take a spice tour. This is sometimes dismissed as too touristy an activity, but it's actually a great chance to see the island’s lush interior, learn about the plantations, and buy spices to take home; vanilla and black pepper are the best bargains

  • Book a Safari Blue trip. This day trip by boat includes snorkelling, swimming in a mangrove lagoon, lazing on a breathtaking sandbank and a seafood barbecue on a small island. If you’re on a timetable, this is one of the best ways to quickly sample the allure of the Indian Ocean

  • Go microlighting. These light planes give aerial tours of the whole island, with whale and dolphin-spotting opportunities and a wonderful overview of Zanzibar. Prices are not extortionate and it's a thrilling experience

  • Go shopping. Stone Town is blooming in terms of interesting shops, with Dada selling fair-trade soaps made from island spices and scents, Upendo and Kanga Kabisa selling pretty clothes made from traditional Zanzibari textiles, and Doreen Mashika selling gorgeous high-end shoes, bags and accessories. The bookshop A Novel Idea is a great place to stock up on books about Zanzibar or the African continent, as well as lighter holiday reads

  • Learn how to cook Swahili-style. Local tour operators offer the option of visiting a local home and being taught how to prepare traditional dishes, such as the celebration dish of pilau rice. You can combine this with a cultural tour, where you can also see handicrafts being made

  • Get active. Staff can arrange scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing expeditions, and sunset cruises, as well as guided tours of Stone Town; just ask!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Microlighting
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Whalewatching


Children are welcome at the hotel, but the grown-up atmosphere might not suit all families. Hazards include lots of stairs, although older children would enjoy the great location. A babysitting service is available and baby cots and rollaway beds are available on request.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


By arrangement

Kid Friendly:

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