Zanzibar’s best boutique resorts captivate with their intimate atmospheres, beautiful style, and incredible Indian Ocean views.
Conceived by architect Neil Rocher, Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa's design is based around the site's existing flora, with aged trees supporting overhangs and the natural landscape integrated into the nine acres of tropical gardens. The eco-conscious resort opened in 2014, and its interiors are fresh and minimalist, fashionable and high-end. Everything is open and breezy, with eye-catching contemporary and African art -- ranging from masks to black-on-black woven tapestries -- taking the decor up a notch. The complex is made up mostly villas connected by meandering, palm-tree-lined footpaths that wind down to one of the widest and most picturesque private white-sand beaches on the island. It's a perfect honeymoon destination, with couples making up the bulk of guests, though plenty of families and groups of friends also pass through.
Just six villas with sea-view plunge pools make up this boutique resort on Bwejuu Beach -- considered one of the finest in the world. The villas are huge, beautiful, and well-equipped, though their traditional style seems almost fusty compared to Zanzibar White Sands. Prices here are much higher than those at Zanzibar White Sands, but The Palms' all-inclusive rates cover most drinks and all meals, which are uniformly excellent. Unfortunately, there are no spa facilities or fitness center here, while Zanzibar White Sands' tranquil spa features waterfalls, a steam room, and a sauna.
Zanzi Resort is a lovely and upscale hideaway that's big on privacy, eco-friendliness, and African art and style. Thirteen villas and bungalows are individually decorated, but all show lots of local personality with colorfully patterned fabrics and hand-painted wall details. The bungalows are made from natural materials like clay and wood. The villas feature private sea-view pools and daybeds, as well as direct access to small secluded beaches (which are rocky, like Zanzi's main beach). The units are connected by a series of footpaths that lead to a jetty stretching into the Indian Ocean -- sunsets are spectacular from this point. Zanzi is just as romantic as The Palms, but its pools are larger and rates far lower (its beach isn't as nice as the one at The Palms, though).
A simple thatched roof and leafy foliage canopy Z Hotel's colorful, open-air lobby -- a preview of the rustic-chic style seen throughout this charming and trendy Philippe Starck-designed spot. Most of Z Hotel's 38 rooms are quite compact (significantly smaller than the villas at The Palms or Zanzi Resort), though there are a few larger suites and cottages. All units are individually decorated in bright colors and vibrant patterns and feature lovely balconies or terraces. Amenities include iPod docks, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi, plus bottled water that's replenished during turndown service. Flat-screen TVs are ingeniously built into the four-posted beds so that their screens aren't concealed by the beds' mosquito netting. The romantic touches and careful attention to detail make this place attractive to honeymooners and couples, many who appreciate the more relaxed, intimate vibe, especially when compared to other nearby chains.
Traditional masks, sculptures, and fabrics are seamlessly integrated throughout this romantic beachfront resort, a low-key retreat with 16 rooms and a breathtaking beach. (Unfortunately, super-low tides make it impossible to swim in the sea for much of the day. Beach lovers should stick with Z Hotel, whose excellent beach features tame tides and swimmable aquamarine water.) The spacious, air-conditioned rooms come with large furnished balconies, plus modern amenities like flat-screen TVs with satellite stations, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s restaurant overlooks the pool and ocean, and menus feature local fish. Honeymooners can request a candlelit beach dinners at no extra cost. The free breakfast buffet includes sparkling wine and a decadent selection of fresh fruits and juices -- including fresh coconut water from nearby trees.
The three-pearl Pongwe Beach is a quiet and secluded beach retreat with tons of local charm. The beach is one of the area's best, as is the hotel's infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. The property's 20 guest rooms have simple, attractive traditional decor and colorful accents. All units have balconies or terraces, but lack most modern amenities, including TVs, coffeemakers, and mini-fridges. Some rooms are located right on the beach, and others feature private plunge pools. There's a full-service restaurant that gets high marks from guests, which serves regional cuisine and offers breakfast for a fee. Travelers looking for a stay with more amenities will be happier at one of our top five hotel picks.