Fodor's Expert Review The Zanzibar Serena Inn

Shangani St., Zanzibar, Zanzibar Urban/West, Tanzania

On one side of Shangani Square, on the fringe of Stone Town, this beautiful hotel is the result of the restoration of two of Zanzibar's historic buildings: the old Telekoms building, an original colonial-era building, and the Chinese doctors' residence, where several local Chinese doctors practiced their traditional medicine. As you step through the front doors, polished stone floors with inlaid tiles, carved arches, fountains, antique furniture, and high ceilings will take you back to a time when gracious living was the norm. The sea facing rooms look out over a small beach or a huge palm-filled courtyard with an inviting pool. Be sure to watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean as romantic white-sailed dhows drift by in the golden light. Rooms are decent, albeit quite small if you do not have one on the upper levels, nevertheless each has an en-suite bathrooms, hand-carved four-poster beds, and cool stone floors. Unfortunately some of the rooms are in need of maintenance, with sporadic air condition and confusing room service. If you want sun and sand, you have to take a shuttle to the hotel's private beach at Mangapwani, 25 minutes away as the onsite beach is not worth swimming in. It's worth paying an extra get a prime room with a huge balcony directly overlooking the beach.


  • gorgeous location and swimming pool with views


  • lots of stairs
  • often fully booked
  • onsite beach not great
  • large hotel which can get loud and busy and sevice is slow at best
  • rooms around the bar area can be noisy




Phones: 024-223–3051


51 rooms
Rate Includes: Free breakfast

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