The Oyster Bay Hotel

Dar es Salaam, East Coast & Dar, Tanzania Book from

Reviewed by Rachel Hamada
A luxurious city oasis just 30 minutes from Dar's airport - ideal for sophisticated stopovers on the way to or from Tanzania’s glorious safari parks and islands
Famously acerbic British critic AA Gill described the Oyster Bay Hotel as “startlingly comfortable and elegant”. And he’s right. Set on the northern beachfront of Tanzania’s commercial capital, only 20km from the airport, it looks out over swaying palms and the ocean in a view almost reminiscent of Miami. Inside, the 8 suites and gorgeous communal areas combine gentle minimalism and carefully selected African artworks such as abstract geometric carvings and a pair of whitewashed giraffes. There are also nods to the Tanzanian setting in the weathered Zanzibari doors, the wooden dhow-boat sculptures and the cushions decorated with coconut-shell discs.

The garden and swimming pool give the place a tranquil feel that makes you forget you’re in a sprawling African metropolis. Meals, drinks and even airport transfers are included in the rates, and the food is tailored to guests’ wishes, whether you fancy coffee and cake after a long flight or a full-on lobster dinner. The overall atmosphere is that of a chic house party of old - swap tales with other guests, relax with a cocktail in the lounge or gazebo, or retire to a quiet corner of your own. This isn’t a cheap option, but for pampering, hassle-free stopovers, it’s hard to beat.


  • The spoiling suites all have sitting areas, ocean views and huge bathrooms with freestanding tubs and walk-in showers, plus little details like fresh flowers and a welcome tray of fruit and homemade flapjack
  • Guests are made to feel like kings and queens - whether you want champagne or a city tour, friendly manager Maretha and her staff can arrange it for you
  • A haven of calm, away from the frenetic activity of downtown, and far more stylish than other top-level Dar hotels (mostly run by large chains)
  • You can check in as early as 7am, or book a suite for the day only - ideal if you’ve come off an overnight flight and need some sleep
  • If you feel like squeezing in some shopping during your stay, you’ll find malls and markets just a hop and skip away


  • Luxury like this comes with a serious price tag, but all-inclusive rates mean you don’t need to worry about hidden extras
  • The hotel doesn’t feel representative of the city outside its walls - but that doesn’t matter if you just want a pleasant bolthole between flights
  • Heavy traffic means the journey to and from the airport can sometimes be longer than expected, so leave plenty of time
  • You might hear occasional noise from the road outside the hotel, but it’s not enough to disturb your sleep

Best time to go

With shaded gardens and beautiful indoor spaces, this is a lovely hotel to stay in at any time. Dar es Salaam sits near the equator and is hot and humid all year round, although February is particularly steamy while June to August is slightly cooler. When you visit will depend on whether you’re heading to Zanzibar or off on safari, but in either case you might want to avoid the monsoon seasons of March-May and November/December.

Our top tips

If you’re interested in learning more about Dar es Salaam itself, pick up a copy of Sarah Markes’ great book Dar Sketches. It’s a beautiful and accessible illustrated exploration of the city’s buildings and history, right up to the modern day.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • All meals and drinks included
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Books to borrow
  • Board games to borrow


The 8 ocean-facing suites are light and extremely spacious, with similar styles and layouts. The minimalist theme means interiors are fresh and uncluttered, but photographic prints, modern African carvings and textured lamps add characterful detail. Walls and linens are white, with pops of colour in the tiles, bedspreads and fresh flowers. It’s grown-up interior design.

All suites have mosquito-netted kingsize or twin beds with views of the rustling coconut palms dotted along Oyster Bay beach (best from the upper-floor rooms). You also get a desk, a flat-screen satellite TV and a lounge area with a sofa and coffee table, where you can recline and read up on your upcoming safari or island visit. The luxurious bathrooms offer freestanding tubs, large walk-in showers and double sinks, as well as bathrobes, bamboo-ladder towel rails and top-quality South African toiletries. They’re semi open-plan, but the toilets are hidden away. Louvred shutters and French doors let in sea breezes and lead out to private balconies, and there are ceiling fans and air-conditioning if you need them.

If you’re coming with a family, you can book a pair of suites (one a double, the other a twin) that, while not interconnecting, are set apart from the others for privacy. Extra beds and baby cots are also available.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Desk
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Welcome tray of fruit and flapjacks
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Meals are convivial affairs served in the candlelit dining room or out on the veranda, although you can request a more private spot if you prefer.

The food is healthy and vibrant, with an emphasis on quality produce. The menu each day is set, but it’s tailored to guests’ preferences and vegetarian options are available with advance notice. For example, if you’re coming from a safari you might be keen to try some fresh seafood, but if you’re on your way back from Zanzibar you might fancy something meat- or vegetable-based for a change. We enjoyed super-fresh lobster served with a selection of colourful salads, including beetroot and avocado, as well as homemade bread and a dessert of tropical fruit kebabs. Other popular options include seafood platters, prawn curries and fresh snapper cooked over an open fire.

Breakfast, served at a time to suit you, is equally delicious - perhaps coffee and cake if you’ve just landed, or something more substantial like fresh fruit salad, cereals and eggs cooked to your liking. Afternoon tea is also available, and the huge array of drinks covers everything from South African wines to Pimms to top-label fizz.

If you’re staying for a few nights and fancy a change of scene, staff can recommend and book local restaurants, and organise transport. All sorts of international cuisines (from sushi to Italian) are available in the area, which is popular with expats and diplomats, or you can stay African and try Ethiopian food at nearby Addis in Dar.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


    Laze in the sun in the garden, filled with giant palms, frangipani flowers and fig trees, or sprawl out in the lounge or shaded gazebo with a good novel. The emphasis is on unwinding at the start or end of your holiday, and staff will bring drinks to your lounger. There are books and board games to borrow, too

  • If you fancy doing something more active, the pool is big enough for laps, and there’s a gym next door, which guests can use

  • Go shopping for African design at the Oyster Bay mall, just a few minutes’ walk away. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs and clothes

  • You can also head out to explore Dar es Salaam - staff can help you plan any activities you want, from guided tours of the fish market to gallery and museum visits. They can even organise day trips out to islands lying just off the coast, where you can go snorkelling or beachcombing

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being


Children of all ages are welcome, although you might feel self-conscious staying in such a serene setting with boisterous toddlers. An extra bed or baby cot can be added to all suites, and 2 suites (a double and a twin) sit slightly apart from the others, providing a very private option for families who book both. Mealtimes and menus can be tailored to kids, and there are books, board games, TVs and a WiFi connection to entertain them once they tire of the pool.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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