Though a trip to Zanzibar isn’t cheap by most standards, it is possible to find hotels with good amenities, reasonable rates, and even a few freebies.
Driving to this boutique hotel might be a mildly stressful experience, but we promise the payoff is worth it. Located on the northwestern tip of Zanzibar, this relaxed and romantic boutique property is on Kendwa Beach -- one of the best on the island, with tame tides and swimmable aquamarine water. Wi-Fi is free in the common areas and the 33 rooms, but it can be slow (as is the case throughout Zanzibar). Z Hotel's international breakfast buffet (with eggs made-to-order) is also free, as are parking and daily water in the rooms.
Ocean Paradise Resort & Spa is a large three-and-a-half-pearl resort on the northeast coast of Zanzibar. The 100 rooms are bigger than Z Hotel's and many have ocean views, but their decor is tired and nowhere near as sharp and fun as what is found at our first pick. The lively family-friendly resort has three on-site restaurants serving international and Zanzibari cuisine, plus a huge lagoon-style pool with a swim-up bar, a spa, fitness center, and shops. Wi-Fi is only free in the lobby, but a daily breakfast buffet is free.
The two-pearl Mbuyuni Beach Village is much more of a typical budget property than Z Hotel, a trendy boutique hotel, or Ocean Paradise, a large dated beach resort. This rustic beachfront hideaway has a relaxed atmosphere, a pool, restaurant with free hot breakfast, bike rentals, and 24 thatched-roof bungalows. They're spacious, but lack Z Hotel's vibrant, modern decor plus air-conditioning, TVs, mini-fridges, free daily-replenished water, and free Wi-Fi (only available in the restaurant and lobby area). And while Z Hotel is located on the stunning white sands of Kendwa Beach, Mbuyuni's white-sand beach has lots of coral.