Why we love it: Tanzania’s first Design Hotel delivers eco-chic 20 miles off the coast
- A very haute take on African village architecture with 56 thatched bungalows, suites and villas
- The sight of dhows (traditional wooden sailboats) silhouetted at sunset
- Lush tropical landscaping with a spice garden flourishing over a quarter of the 32-acre grounds
The review: Set on the equator, Zanzibar glows with color from the pearl-hued beach to lush vegetation and the turquoise Indian Ocean. “Zuri” means “beautiful in Kiswahili, the island’s language, and the hotel delivers on this promise at every turn. Of especial note: the carved doorframes, contemporary African art and locally made furniture, often crafted from old dhows. Enjoy nice upcycled touches too like the rainbow of hanging lamps in the open-air Peponi bar, made from old bottles.
Tucked on a west-facing slope, most of the accommodations face the sapphire Indian Ocean, and all have large terraces with bold-colored hammocks and wicker furniture. They also boast outdoor showers, where concrete floors contrast with curtains of paper beads, handmade by artisans at the female-led social enterprise Chaka. Inside, the warm tones of Tanzanian teak and eucalyptus compliment the nyasi (grass) thatch from the mainland. Make sure to veil your bed with the mosquito net, which contains an energy-efficient cooling system!
Bungalows can sleep up to two adults and some have hot tubs. Suites step things up with larger terraces, living rooms and private outdoor Jacuzzis. Or really splash out with an exclusive oceanfront villa that can host up to six adults, complete with an infinity pool and private swathe of sand.
Guests can dine on the shore, at the pool or in one of the beachfront restaurants. Expect a fusion of African, Indian and Arabian cuisine, though European and Middle Eastern elements come into play as well. Zuri Zanzibar is especially strong on shisha (hookah) offerings and sugar-cane cocktails, along with dishes like beef samosas, coconut-milk ceviche, octopus-tentacle salad and pilau rice with kachumbari (a tomato-onion salad popular in the African Great Lakes region).