The Best Hotels to Book in Tanzania for Every Traveller

Hotel Slipway in Dar Es Salaam is one of many fabulous hotels in Tanzania
Hotel Slipway in Dar Es Salaam is one of many fabulous hotels in Tanzania | © Thomas Cockrem / Alamy Stock Photo
Amar Grover

If you’re heading to Tanzania for a traditional safari or Indian Ocean stay, you’re likely to stay at lodges in the wild and boutique beachside retreats. Yet for the more practical middle ground, in terms of style, comfort and price, why not try the island of Zanzibar, or the capital, Dar Es Salaam. Here’s our pick of the best hotels in Tanzania.

1. Hotel Slipway

Independent Hotel

Double bed on wooden frame in white-painted room with two lamps on bedside tables at Hotel Slipway
Courtesy of Hotel Slipway / Expedia

Facing a breezy bay from the Msasani peninsula’s low-rise seafront, Slipway’s cheery enclave encompasses shops, restaurants and bars. Around 7km (4mi) from the city centre, this is an upmarket neighbourhood that’s as popular with locals as visitors. The original blue-washed property has an appealing, faintly art deco exterior and characterful rooms with traditional furniture, while a newer wing boasts more upmarket accommodation. Slipway can organise boat cruises, fishing and diving trips for you, along with excursions to Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve.

2. Xanadu Villas & Retreat

Luxury, Independent Hotel

Double bed in beige-toned suite with sofa, armchair, wardrobe and nest of wooden tables at Xanadu Villas & Retreat
Courtesy of Xanadu Villas & Retreat / Expedia

On Zanzibar’s remote eastern coast, Xanadu is an impeccably luxurious yet discreet beachfront hideaway. With domes, vaulted ceilings, archways and rounded chamber-like rooms, individually designed villas offer a notably stylish retreat. Shady terraces with plunge pools, lush tropical gardens, chic furniture and 24/7 butler service suggest an aristocratic Swahili estate owned by a spice magnate. Activities from kayaking to spear fishing and spice farm tours will help pierce the bubble.

3. Promised Land Lodge

Independent Hotel

Double bed with tartan bedcover, plus zebra artwork on thatched wall behind it at Promised Land Lodge
Courtesy of Promised Land Lodge / Expedia

If rustic simplicity with a bohemian vibe fills your sails, this lodge lives up to its name. Garden hammocks, driftwood furniture and fisherman’s gazebos complement a cluster of thatched conical-roofed cottages with four-poster beds and diaphanous mosquito nets. Framed by an Indian Ocean beach, its simple unpretentious Zanzibari style lends an easygoing atmosphere.

4. Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa

Independent Hotel, Luxury

Four-poster bed with net drapes in white-painted ensuite room with sofa and wooden cabinet at Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa
Courtesy of Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa / Expedia

Tucked away on the island’s northwestern tip, beside a superb stretch of blinding-white sand, Gold is a conventional resort-style property veined with pleasing touches of Swahili design. Accommodation generally features muted earthy tones with gold accents; the jungle and beach villas offer private plunge pools or jacuzzis. The main beach-front restaurant boasts a striking cavernous makuti thatched roof, while the arches and pendant lanterns of the Sultan Bar reference the island’s historical connections with Arabia.

5. Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar

Independent Hotel

Double bed on tiled floor in white-painted room with sink at Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar
Courtesy of Sandies Baobab Beach Zanzibar / Expedia

Named after the striking baobab trees that grace its leafy compound, Sandies is an all-inclusive resort on Nungwi Beach, in the northwest of Zanzibar. The accommodation is sleek and unfussy – gleaming white rooms with wooden accents – while traditional makuti thatched roofing lends a pleasing veneer of Swahili style. An amphitheatre hosts evening shows, and the curvy swimming pool resembles the body of an acoustic guitar.

6. Miramont Retreat Zanzibar

Independent Hotel, Budget Hotel

Four-poster bed with net drapes on wooden frame in white-painted room with two wall-mounted lamps, Miramont Retreat Zanzibar
Courtesy of Miramont Retreat Zanzibar / Expedia

Idyllic oceanfront hotels in Tanzania don’t always come with a hefty price tag. Miramont’s simple garden bungalows and rooms have a bohemian-meets-gap-year feel, buoyed by a beachside terrace of rustic loungers moored beneath elegantly leaning palm trees. A generally young and fun clientele lend a cheery rather than polished atmosphere with the laid-back Bob Marley-tinged ambience of a Zanzibari fishermen’s commune without the nets or chores.

7. Aluna Nungwi

Independent Hotel, Budget Hotel

Four-poster bed on wooden frame in white-painted room with candle lit on wooden bedside table at Aluna Nungwi
Courtesy of Aluna Nungwi / Expedia

At the island’s most northerly point and practically in the shadow of its oldest lighthouse, Aluna is a modest newly renovated property with two pools. Traditional makuti thatched roofs atop simple cottages lend a touch of Swahili style and weekly communal barbecue dinners with live music aim for a friendly family feel. Here on the quieter rim of Nungwi town, the bucolic charm of its leafy surroundings is enhanced by the neighbouring turtle sanctuary occupying a tidal pond.

8. Pongwe Bay Resort

Independent Hotel, Budget Hotel

Four-poster bed draped by netting in white-painted room with three cushioned wooden chairs and a sofa at Pongwe Bay Resort
Courtesy of Pongwe Bay Resort / Booking.com

Perfectly scalloped out of the eastern coastline, Pongwe Bay hosts this resort on its northern reaches. With bougainvillea, frangipani and banana trees in the gardens, the property faintly resembles a Swahilian village, albeit one with a sky-blue pool and modern loungers. Rooms and suites feature sleek whitewashed decor with dark wooden furniture while sandy footpaths help make the resort feel like an organic extension of the fine beach.

9. Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Chain Hotel, Luxury

Two adjacent single beds face TV in room with cushioned chair, chaise longue and city views at Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam
Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam / Booking.com

Facing but set back slightly from the harbour, this sleek, modern hotel stands in the convenient Kivukoni district, famed for its fish market. Rooms and suites offer sensible, practical decor with floor-to-ceiling windows affording panoramic views. There’s a particularly well-equipped fitness centre and the elevated infinity pool seems to blend into the nearby harbour, interrupted only by the line of palm trees in the front garden.

10. Riu Palace Zanzibar

Chain Hotel, Luxury

Four-poster bed on tiled floor in cream-toned room with wall-mounted TV and wooden desk at Riu Palace Zanzibar
Courtesy of Riu Palace Zanzibar / Expedia

This palatial resort – with golf carts for guests who don’t want to walk – occupies fetching gently sloping terrain overlooking the powder-perfect sands of northwest Zanzibar. Extensive, well-tended gardens combine with stylish interiors skilfully distilling Swahilian and Arab aesthetics with archways, pillars, lanterns, lattice screens and woodwork. An enormous infinity pool complements facilities for watersports and tennis that outdo those of many other hotels in Tanzania.

11. The Palms

Hotel

Two cushioned chairs, a sofa and a soft bench in a lamp-lit indoor social space at the Palms
Courtesy of the Palms / Booking.com
Sumptuous plunge-pool villas and butler-serviced tranquillity underline the atmosphere of this boutique property on the island’s south-eastern coast. It’s an all-inclusive, child-free resort popular with moneyed couples and honeymooners, and its enviable location beside Bwejuu Beach – reputedly the island’s best – lends further cachet. A library and some unusual activities, ranging from coconut palm climbing to learning bao (a local board game) and village tours, encourage discerning guests to embrace Zanzibari culture.

12. Serena Mivumo River Lodge

Hotel

European country-house glamour meets East African culture at this remote riverside lodge in the vast Selous Game Reserve – Africa’s largest. The elevated position lends stunning vistas across the tea-coloured Rufiji River often dotted with wallowing hippos and sly crocodiles. Full English breakfasts, sundowners, puddings and cheese – a minor miracle considering its location – tick all the boxes. Beyond the usual game drives, there are guided walks – some tailored to birdwatchers – and compelling riverboat safaris.

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