10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"We arrived after a Tanzanian safari holiday which had been outstanding in every way. The four days her were meant as a final chill.
We were greeted on arrival by Aalia, the hotel Manager, who promised to be available at all times."Highly unlikely" thought I quietly to myself. During our stay she lived up to her promise by immediately rectifying two small issues we had and was constantly seen strolling and chatting to guests in her charming manner. So much so that I have sent an Email commending her style to her superiors!
The hotel is in an idyllic location and provided a superbly relaxing experience.
But do try and see Zanzibar outside the hotel enclosure. Ther's a half day trip to the capital and other trips. Although only there four days we did a full day around the lagoons and a half day in the towns - well worth it!
As I said - Faultless!!"
- Travel date: Sat 14th of November 2009
"Fantastc location by the beach and set in lovely gardens. Rooms clean and spacious. Food is excellent - buffet style when busy and a la carte when that bit quieter. We had both during our stay. You can also eat in the Blue Bay next door, so check both menus during the day to see which you fancy!
Staff are very helpful and friendly."
- Travel date: Tue 27th of October 2009
"An absolute heaven - the closest you could get to paradise I would assume. There is nothing that could be changed for the better - the rooms, the beach, the food, the staff. Everyting is so wonderful, charming and beautiful.
Highly recommended, especially for a perfect honeymoon!"
- Travel date: Mon 5th of October 2009
The Best Resort of Zanzibar
"Having just returned from a long and very dry safari, the welcome and ambiance of this resort was manna from heaven. it is the best in Zanzibar as have stayed at many others prevously, food exellent and not always the dreaded "buffet" of others.
It was quiet this time of year and the room was very good. geat place to chill out.
The South African Manager couple run a very good operation.
Would recommend any time."
- Travel date: Mon 5th of October 2009
Beautiful spacious rooms
"The hotel has beautiful and spacious rooms... close to the beach ..had an excellent stay.
Only negative...was the a la carte menu..there should have a buffet option for the hungry ones!!!"
- Travel date: Sun 20th of September 2009
"There is so much to say about this hotel that I could write an essay but will try and keep it brief.
We arrived at Sultan Sands for the second part of our honeymoon after a safari in Kenya. Quite simply this is the most amazing hotel either of us has ever stayed in. We chose Sultan Sands as we wanted somewhere quiet and not too big. As teachers we also wanted to try and avoid children!!! This was the smallest hotel Virgin had to offer and how they can claim that this is ONLY a 3 star hotel beats me.
Room - We were in Room 306 which is on the beach front and by the smaller of the two pools. On quite a few days we had the small pool to ourselves all day. When we arrived, we found a beautiful floral archway made for us over our room. Fresh flowers had also been put on the bed, around the room and bathroom. The room was very spacious with a big balcony which also had another bed on so we could laze on it if the sun became too hot. The bath was lovely and big and there was a separate shower. The room was cleaned thoroughly every day. At night, the room was sprayed, the covers turned down and the mosquito net put round the bed. It was a wonderful room that we were extremely comfortable in and exceeded our expectations.
Food - Simply outstanding!!!! Every meal was absolutely amazing. Most nights we had a buffet which had plenty of selection. On most nights you can select some food and they will cook it in front of you. We also had a lobster honeymoon meal by the sea front. This was absolutely beautiful. It was delightful to see the chef Usie out in the evening to see if people were enjoying their meals which gave you the chance to talk to him about his food. We have never visited a restaurant before where the chef does this and made it all the more special. Gordon Ramsey would have been proud!! It is also very clear how much pride Usie takes in his food through his presentation of it. We tried to compliment the chef every night on his food but to be honest we ran out of words that were appropriate for his amazing dishes. We were completely blown away by the food and can honestly say it is the best hotel we have ever eaten in.
Service â The service in the restaurant was incredible. Sometimes maybe taking your plate the second you finish your last bite!!! The staff are all very pleasant, extremely happy and address you at all times round the hotel. They quickly remember your room number and make you feel very welcome. If you have a favourite place to sit in the evening, they will remember and take you to your place. There is a language barrier with most of the restaurant staff but to be honest we didnât come to Africa ignorant enough to think English was the only language. However they do try very hard. Abdul is a wonderful manager who is there most meal times and ensured that any problems are sorted straight away. He would always come to talk to us to make sure we were satisfied and if there is anything he could do to ensure our meal was perfect. He is also tried to teach as some Swahili and explained to us about cultures and society in Zanzibar which was lovely. Jimmy was also excellent in the restaurant looking after us.
Drinks â There is plenty to offer in terms of drinks at the hotel. Most afternoons we would have a cocktail on the beach and another in the bar after our meal. Daniel and Filbert are excellent bar men who are delightful to speak to. Daniel also tried to teach me some of the âdown with the kidsâ phrases in Swahili which I always managed to get wrong so donât know what I was saying to the Masai!!! The cocktails Daniel and Filbert made for us were absolutely wonderful and we would definitely recommend them to other guests.
Pool â There are two pools at the hotel. The big one is by the main restaurant and bar where most guests go. The other is much smaller and surrounded by 6 of the beach front rooms. As mentioned it was our own private pool at times and where we spent most of out time. The pools were very clean. Staff will also come out at times to see if you need a drink and bring it to you.
Security â The hotel employs members of the Masai for security. They are on the beach front and around the hotel 24/7 and make you feel extremely safe. Although it is clear from looking at them you wouldnât want to get on the wrong side of them, they are very welcoming and pleasant, taking time to talk with you. In terms of the beach, there are 5 or 6 beach boys who will come to you if you stray on to the public beach whilst the tide is out. However the Masai keep a very close eye on them and will sort out any problems. After the first day, we only went on to the public beach when the tide was in as the beach boys couldnât get to you as the water was almost up to the private hotel beach.
Entertainment - I don't want to ruin what the hotel offers most evening but every night was wonderful and made meal times very special.
There is so much more you could say about the Sultan Sands but donât want to ruin all the surprises that the hotel has to offer. The final thing to mention is Karen, who manages Sultan Sands and Bluebay with her husband. She was just absolutely brilliant. She takes a lot of pride in the hotel and made us feel very special at the hotel. She would come and sit and chat with us to ensure that there were no problems and we were happy. Any problems we did have were sorted immediately by her. She also offered us excellent advice on places to visit. Either her or her husband were also around at every evening meal which showed that they cared about the hotel and guests. This was the best management staff we have ever seen at a hotel and cannot speak highly enough of her. Truly wonderful. Thank you for making our stay so perfect. She ensured that this was the perfect honeymoon for us.
If you are looking for a quiet peaceful break in a safe top class hotel, donât look anywhere but the Sultan Sands. As we experienced and other reviews show, you will not be disappointed and all your expectations will be exceeded.
Finally there is so much of the world to explore that we have always said we wouldnât visit the same place twice. That was until we discovered the Sultan Sands. I think we may have to break our rule!!"
- Travel date: Wed 19th of August 2009
Really Really good value for money!!
"My wife and I recently visited this newish hotel on the Kiwengwa coast of Zanzibar.
Its placed right next door to the Blue bay hotel which is also part of the same chain and you are allowed to use the facilities of both the hotels and you can also have dinner at either of the properties provided you make a reservation.
The rooms are very very comfortable. We have previously stayed at some overpriced hotels in Zanzibar. Yes priced even more than this property that had half the facilities the rooms at Sultan sands have. One of the hotels is quite close and itâs the Matemwe Zanzibar Retreat ( not to be confused with Matemwe Retreat that has villas)further down the road at Matemwe. Its a small 10 room hotel built out of a house. They charged us 180$ per night and the rooms were half the size and the facilities negligible.
The Rooms at Sultan sands are meant to have a safe( that were not visible when we visited), our room had an lcd tv, good working air conditioning, large shower and bathroom. Dressing area. A couch for just chilling out and watching tele in case youâve had enough sun.There is also a fridge to keep the water cold.
The drinks and food pricing is very reasonable here compared to other hotels in Zanzibar that are of a lower class as well. Itâs a given, that when you go to Zanzibar, expect to be ripped off for food and drinks. Last year we stayed at Matemwe Zanzibar retreat and the sodas were 5$ each and sandwiches 10$.Surprisingly water was 8$ cause they knew you needed water. Sultan Sands was reasonable and charged 3.5$ for sodas and food was under 10$ for the lunch menu. Water was under 3$.
The food at the sands was very good for the adventurous and also the chef went out of his way to ensure everyone was catered for. We however preferred the buffet at Blue bay and it was really good with lots of variety. Sultan Sands generally had an ala carte menu and thus choices were limited unless you spoke to chef well before and they made something special for you( which by the way he had no issues doing.)
The mosquitoâs when you sit on the verandah in the evenings. This was because of the plants the hotel has put in front of the rooms. I think these should be removed or sprayed to ensure the mosquito menace is wiped out. The mosquitoâs are not a menace in the rest of the hotel and even during dinner they will not bite so I put it down to the bushes in front of the room.
Would I go back??
Definitely and would also recommend this hotel to all my friends and fellow travelers. Donât be conned into going for the smaller boutique hotels that offer much less in terms of facilities and charge much more cause when you are on holiday whether you use the facilities or not, sometimes you may want to use them and in that instance you will be happy that they were there.
We hired a car for the duration and roads are easy to follow. We got it from dhow and jeep speak to Zainab [--]. They gave us a good car and good service so we would recommend them.
Rooms to look for:
Beach front rooms: ( additional surcharge payable)
We got room 305 which was directly overlooking the beach.301/302 are separate in a block and beach front. 303 and 306 are bigger beach front corner rooms. 304 and 305 are sandwiched in between but beach front none the less.
307-311 are also beach front but placed in front of a small plunge pool and looked nice. Would be ideal if you wanted to lounge just outside your room.
Pwani rooms( sea view)
321-328 are good rooms and no surcharge.
A point to add: some people we met at the airport stayed at Arabian Nights in paje and they had paid much more for a hotel whose food sucked. they ate out all their meals except breakfast and the room did not even have hot water. Zanzibar is reputed to be a place where travelers say luxuries are not required, but I say why would you pay the same to stay in a shack as you would in a 4-5*. people need to be sensible and pay what a property is worth."
- Travel date: Mon 10th of August 2009
"We stayed there for 12 days on our honeymoon after being on safari in Amboseli, Kenya. Sultan Sands is a superb resort with excellent staff and a very good location. The beach has been voted as the third best on the Island. There are some local "beach boys" which tries to sell you fake brands, but even they are polite and respect when you're not interested. The security of the resort is taken care of by masai-guards (don't know if they're real or just dressed up like Masai's, but still very nice). We arrived early in July, before the rush, and the first week they served very good dinners with good variations, the second week more guests arrived and the courses were switched to buffet, but still very good. The swedish chef is very nice and meet the guests himself to advice what to pick from e.g. the Swahili buffet. We had an amazing end of our honeymoon here and will remember you all for the rest of our lives! All the best to all of you!"
- Travel date: Tue 4th of August 2009
Excellent location, beautiful grounds, lovely hotel
"You will not be disappointed if you stay at the Sultan Sands Hotel if you are looking for a quiet peaceful holiday with classic Indian Ocean views.The hotel has recently been refurbished. The majority of rooms do not have direct sea views and are set amongst beautiful very well tended gardens, this alone makes it special. There are a few detached rooms No 311 to 315 with true sea views. They are set around a small plunge pool and are only a matter of yards from the powder white sand beach. Set slightly back from these are some more detached rooms No 316 to 320 which do have sea view, but they are alternatively spaced behind the front ones. (I would have been very disappoitned if I had paid the sea view supplement and landed up in one of these).
The staff are all very friendly and most welcoming. They do try very hard to please. nothing is too much trouble, excellent. all round.
Did find the lunch time menu rather limited. As virtually all the food / drinks are imported, did find water/beer/ etc quite expensive.
Would suggest the hotel is unsuitable for children. In fact it would be a vast improvement if the hotel would be adults only, the location and size of hotel certainly lends itself to the adult market. The sister hotel, BlueBay Beach is only a stroll away through the grounds. The swimming pool there is slightly larger.You are free to use all the facilities there too.
The beach is known to be one of the best in Zanzibar. It's beautiful and safe. (Topless sunbathing is against the law in Zanzibar, on the beach and within hotel boundaries). The beach boys are only trying to make a living, poverty is dire. We found that a hand shake and a friendly chat with them and a firm no thank you did the trick.
We did go on a couple of trips (would have done more, but we felt the cost of them were rather high). A trip to Stonetown is a must. Just incredible, everything you have ever read or seen about the town, comes to life before your eyes. and of course the famous carved doors.............
Rumour control has it that March is meant to be the start of the rainy season. According to the locals this does not start until the last week in March. We were there second and third week and it was 95-100F every day, with glorious sunshine.
Do not hestitate about going to this hotel. Many add it on as an extension to a safari and only stay 3/4 nights. Too short a time ! Make it a minuim of a week. Would suggest 9 nights ideal. Would certainly go again."
- Travel date: Sun 5th of April 2009
Loved the FOOD!
"We had a pleasant stay at Sultan Sands last December and overall: We were not disappointed. The hotel being relatively new had very few guests coupled with the fact that we went at a time of low season.
Loved the architecture, contemporary yet Swahili in theme looked good, the rooms somewhat small though. Sultan Sands does not stand on lots of space, but the grounds are well kept with alot of green and colour from the variety of flowers. Access to the beach is direct.
My best part: THE FOOD! Absolutely A1. It was a break from the normal hotel food that is served buffet, the meals were a la carte and there was variety to choose from not to mention the generous portions. Needless to say, there was a consultant chef around so that made quite a difference.
They could do better with the spa in terms of services on offer and the massages which were just ok! Night entertainment was rather bland and no variety, we had belly dancers every other day for the time we were there and my view is if they could stick to more cultural/African entertainment, that would be much better.
For visits to Stone Town, Spice Island or Prison Island, the hotel can make transport arrangements as it is approximately 45 minutes from Stone Town.
Overall i would recommend it!"
- Travel date: Mon 9th of February 2009