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Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort 4.0

Nungwi, Zanzibar Island, Zanzibar Archipelago

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Review Summary

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  • Upscale resort along a gorgeous white-sand beach
  • Spacious rooms with balconies -- some with sea views
  • Four freeform pools, including one with an infinity edge
  • Main buffet restaurant serves a varied menu
  • Massage treatment rooms with ocean vistas
  • Kids' club (albeit basic) and certified dive center
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout


  • Wi-Fi is slow and patchy in places
  • All-inclusive rate doesn't include dinner at a la carte restaurant
  • Underwhelming room decor
  • Limited and worn equipment in fitness center

Bottom Line

The Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort is an upscale, all-inclusive hotel set on 20 acres of gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean in the northwest tip of the island. The gorgeous, white-powder beach is indeed superb and popular with guests, though not private and hence prone to hawkers. While the 96 rooms, including 16 suites, are a bit unembellished, they have large balconies and bathrooms, and several offer sea views. The property's four freeform swimming pools are among the most impressive on the island, and the ocean-facing massage rooms are a standout. There are two restaurants on-site, but travelers looking for a wider range of dining choices might want to check out the Melia Zanzibar on the east coast.

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Popular beachfront resort with kasbah-style buildings set on expansive grounds

A simple dirt road lined by shrubs on one side and tended, colorful flora on the other, leads to a pair of kasbah-style turrets that guard the entrance of this grand resort. Reception is in a huge, airy space with a gorgeous thatched roof and North African furnishings. The 20-acre grounds are pretty and well-maintained, though parched in places and with long stretches of meandering, shade-less footpaths. Rooms are spread across a dozen buildings that stand in rows pointing toward a vast, freeform swimming pool that tiers down toward the immaculate, powder-sand beach and turquoise sea. The Royal Zanzibar is one of the largest beachfront resorts on the island, as well as being one of the most popular, attracting mostly couples from Europe.


Set on the northwest tip of the island, overlooking white sands and the Indian Ocean

The resort is set on the northwest tip of Zanzibar island, overlooking a stretch of white-sand beach and the Indian Ocean. The beach is public, however, so expect to encounter locals selling various things. While there's not much within walking distance, Nungwi -- one of the larger settlements on the island -- has a number of dive shops and other hotels; there's also another long swath of beach a couple of miles away -- theoretically it's a six-minute drive, but some roads are poorly maintained and the going can be slow. The island's capital, Zanzibar City, with its historic Stone Town district, is a little over an hour's drive. Abeid Amani Karume International Airport is about an hour and 20 minutes away by car.


Spacious but spartan rooms with four-poster beds and balconies

While spacious, the 96 rooms, including 16 suites, are somewhat underwhelming in decor, and the simple tile floors give them a spartan feel. Carved wood furniture, patterned rugs, and four-poster beds with wispy, white netting do add a little character. Amenities include tea- and coffee-making facilities, mini-fridges, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players and satellite channels, plus free Wi-Fi (though the signal can be patchy). Bathrooms are plain but roomy, with large walk-in showers, dual basin sinks, and tubs big enough for two. All rooms open onto furnished balconies, many with sea views; some directly overlook the beach.


Huge lagoon and infinity-edge pools, plus ocean-view dining

The main restaurant, Spices, has indoor and outdoor seating, and serves a buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner that includes a mix of international and local fare. All meals at Spices are included in the room rate. Samaki is the a la carte restaurant, which has a traditional wood-burning oven and sea views. Lunch is included in the all-inclusive plan, but dinner is not. There are also a couple bars, one overlooking the beach and another next to a marshy, green pond.

The lagoon pool is enormous, with several sections, tiers, and bridges, while another infinity-edge pool looks directly over the beach. The beach is popular with guests, despite some complaints about frequent hawkers. There are also a massage hut and gym, both with excellent views of the water, though the fitness equipment is in need of an upgrade. A kids' club is available, though it's pretty bare-bones and in an open-air space with a thatched roof. There is an on-site dive center that offers PADI-certified training. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.

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