I was lucky enough to travel to Zanzibar when I was 14 with my Local youth work organisation. We were working with a school in Tanzania but on one of our free weekends we travelled to its neighbouring principality to explore. Now 21, my memories of Zanzibar have a lot more fuzz around the edges than makes for good travel blogging, however it should be noted that despite my trip being seven years ago Zanzibar has since remained one of my favourites and remained unbeaten on the top spot most visually beautiful places I have ever visited.(The top picture is your view from the beach facing balcony)
I choose to review the Zenji hotel as many of my Zanzibar memories focus around this lovely little place. It is located in Stone Town – known as being quite a touristy area of the Island, however the slightly tucked away feel (that I remember) and rustic décor give a more authentic feel. In addition you are also a quick walk away from many of the key sights – such as the mysterious and out of this world night food market, the beautiful white sand/ turqiouse sea beaches and the ferry to travel to smaller Islands off the coast.
(Which we did, I have no clue which island it was but I definitely remember visiting a super cool Great Tortoise sanctuary whilst a Marie Claire photoshoot was going on next door …. True story!)
Within the Zenji hotel the rooms had cute little names like Spice Corner or Indigo Nights – I’m a sucker for a sprinkle of thought put into things like that.It’s a simple place theres no denying but when on a budget it was a lovely find for a good price. I fell in love with the carved dark wooden poster beds and am happy to see that with a quick search on TripAdvisor they still create these beautiful origami towel swans in every room/ suite that just leave you feeling a bit, well, pampered. Also a funny side note was that the AC in the room was so strong that when my roomie left it on all night I was forced to layer every piece of clothing I owned, and towels , and sheets to keep warm …. In Africa?!?! – you will never be too hot in this place for sure.
The room also comes with local handmade soaps that again add to this feel of luxury not having to come in a generic way. It all just gave the place a real sense of Africa meets Arabia character which is probably why it has stuck with me for so long. The bathrooms can feel a bit sterile but that’s just the interior designer in me coming out, because at the end of the day they were all clean, tiled and functioned well – which is not guaranteed on every p(dot) travel!!
Another set of memories was going up to the roof terrace for breakfast… afternoon reading….to catch the sunset and just well … any time I could! Light and airy with a partial roof for shade I remember having simple yet delicious spanish omelettes while reading ‘I know why the Cage bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou. It should also be noted that surprisingly Zanzibar has a strong connection to the band Queen as the famous lead Singer Freddy Mercury had a house there – prepare yourself for references to him everywhere.
Lastly it was on this terrace that I first heard the Islamic call to prayer – for those that don’t know Mosques (which are spread all over the city) call Muslims to prayer over these large megaphones – but in a really melodic way. I’ve visited other majority Islamic countries since and my response has ranged to “OMG IT’S 5 IN THE MORNING WHYY!!!” but my strongest memory of this hotel was looking out over the city at one sunset as all the song calls merged and layered and droned and lifted and feeling like it was the most magical thing in the world.
Have you had any places that remain fuzzy in memory but stuck with you?
Or just a little moment on a travel that felt truly magical?
I’d love to hear it – let me know in the comments.
*None of these pictures are mine all credit goes to the respective owners*