10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Real character; good vibe
"We promised Nassor, the owner of the resort, that we would write a review on Tripadvisor. We stayed in September 2006, so the review could be a little out of date, but I think that unlikely. The reason I promised to write a review is because (a) Mnarani Beach is gorgeous, and (b) Nassor is an incredibly friendly guy who canât do enough to help his guests. Heâs good to his staff, and thatâs good for everyone. The first thing that stands out is how lush and colourful the place is. The gardens are looked after, and the buildings are painted in bright, funky colours. There is a beautiful pool, and a picturesque waterfront. The rooms are basic, but generally clean and full of character. The cooking is OK, but a little bland, something not untypical. The best thing is that they take credit cards, and given the only cash machines are an hourâs drive away, that is very good news. Now, a few reviewers have been somewhat negative about this place. Please think. Think where you are. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and Nungwi is a poor and isolated village in a far off corner of it. All the electricity has to be generated on site. The water is delivered not by pipe but by road. It costs a fortune just to provide western âbasicsâ; so if you want to see how most of Africa really is â step out into Nungwi village proper."
- Travel date: Fri 22nd of June 2007
Quality & serenity
"My wife and I spent ten days in Zanzibar and moved from Kendwa on the West coast to Mnarani in the NE, to Stone Town in the SW. I am sorry that we did not spend more time at Mnarani as the quality of service and the Serenity we experienced was exceptional. We found the service, friendly, honest and efficient whilst not overbearing as elsewhere on the island. We will return and have listed this venue with our regular travel agent in RSA."
- Travel date: Wed 20th of June 2007
Idyllic, True Zanzibarian beach resort
"My wife and I have stayed at this suberb, rustic resort 7 times over the last 4 years! We had our honeymoon in the Mahaba hut. We have now also been there with my stepdaughter. We have also recommended it to our relatives and friends - 4 different couples have all gone and come back truly impressed. The Zanzibarian staff are wonderfully welcoming and go to great lenghts to make every stay just perfect. We have stayed in other resorts on this island - but this one is the most relaxing and welcoming. As a result I was shocked to read the very negative comment from irish2108 about losing their money - I tried to contact them to find out what truly happened, but they do not respond. I can only say that our experience (and all our friends) has only been the exact opposite of theirs! I continue to recommend this reort to all my friends."
- Travel date: Mon 18th of June 2007
Lovely small-medium hotel and friendly staff
"Me and my wife were delighted to have found this lovely hotel in the north of Zanzibar, it made our week long stay a time to remember.
The hotel is layed-out in front of the Indian Ocean, in a green and lush garden with direct access to the beach and a beautiful swimming pool with a palm tree inside it, must be seen.
The rooms are well proportioned, well decorated, with balconies overlooking the sea and the gardens, and very comfortable and clean. It is also worth mentioning the staff because of their friendliness, we always got a smile and even learned some kiswahili from them.
Top recommendation for those seeking a relaxed holiday in the tropics with plenty of activities to enjoy. Thanks Mnarani!"
- Travel date: Wed 23rd of May 2007
Do Not Stay Here!!! Front Desk Stole Money From Us
"We decided to stay here as we negotiated a reduced rate ($30 per night). Initially we were satisfied with the room, property and restaurant, although the hotel was very quiet. However, we kept our money and travellers cheques behind the front desk in a locked bag in the safe as advised and when we arrived back in Stone Town and carefully checked how much we had left, we discovered that $150 in travellers cheques and $200 USD in cash had disappeared in the time that we had been staying there. We reported it to the police, and they filed a police report but didnt seem very interested in following it up.
DO NOT STAY HERE!!!"
- Travel date: Thu 17th of May 2007
"We stayed at the hotel for 4 days after a couple of weeks travelling through Kenya and Tanzania. The location is very nice, on the East side of the north coast and the hotel has been quite nicely built, so for a couple of days sun bathing or discovering the island it is OK, however you shouldn't expect an unforgettable experience. We stayed both in the 'standard' and the 'deluxe' room and it's really not worth the extra money for a balcony and an air conditioner that stops every 10min - due to electric failures - and brings the temperature down to a pitiful 26 degrees!
The food was OK and the staff very friendly....however the standards of service are rather poor - guess just not what we are used to in Europe:
We booked a double room and were shown into a twin (without warning). When we complained about we were just told there were no other rooms available! although we had been confirmed on the internet weeks before! no apology was extended.
One evening they organised a band on the restaurant, which initially we thought was a nice initiative. However, the band was just playing blund 80's corny songs - rather than the african music we expected - so we went to bed to discover the band was literally in our garden! We contacted reception three times about this and all the kept saying was 'they will play only till midnight' so we had to make a fuss for them to stop and let us sleep. Great idea but they should make sure they have the right facilities.
We booked a taxi early one morning but they forgot to do it, so we almost missed our boat.
We thought that was simply a difference in standards, however we visited two other hotels in the island and realised that ,although service is relaxed in general, Mnarani could do lots to improve."
- Travel date: Mon 15th of January 2007
Beautiful location run by incompetent staff
"Guess I should have checked the previous reviews prior to booking. I'll never do that again!
My husband and I booked Mnarani Beach Cottages as a weekend getaway after a month of doing volunteer work in Moshi. We were so looking forward to relaxation and play, and decided to splurge on MBC.
I've never in my life felt more taken advantage of as I was by the staff of this establishment.
It is in a beautiful, peaceful area of Zanzibar. It is unfortunate it is so poorly run.
First-our transfer was late to pick us up. (the car was unmarked and very dirty (with trash). We were almost reluctant to get in. We asked several times if he was from the MBC. On the way to MBC he kept stopping and then asked us for money for petrol!
Our room was in the Zanzibar House. It was simple, and we loved the hammock on the balcony.
The room smelled of mold and mildew the entire time we were there. The mini bar was not kept cold, nor restocked. The rugs were made out of some sort of twine and very rough on the feet!
The staff did not clean the rooms each day-only made up the bed and adorned it with some flower petals (which was a nice touch-but did not make up for not cleaning!)
We did not get to use the pool-it was not completed. (even thought the website advertised its completion well before we were to arrive)
We did not get the sunset cruise. The first night was full, so we booked the next night-guess what!? The captain was too tired to take us out...pity. We booked the third night.-guess what? Not enough guests, even though we were assured it would go out if not enough guests, we would just have to pay $5 per person.
They advertise activities. Well-hard to do when the activity shed is unmanned and closed all day. We inquired each day. One day, he wasn't able to be found. The next day he was out fishing. The third day he wasn't going to be around either....so much for play!
We did get to take the snorkel cruise. The reef was fantastic! We were able to see many colorful fish and coral. My only concern was that they did not give a demonstration or have someone to watch over us. I am a strong swimmer, but my husband is not. I didn't feel comfortable until he was on boat again. Other than that, an ok day trip.
As other reviewers stated-there is not much of a beach. The tide comes up all the way to the resort area, so they have put lounge chairs in front of the cottages/house with some sand.
Next door is the light house, which you can see from the top of the Zanzibar house. There is also a nice turtle conservation next door that costs $2. The people there are quite knowledgeable and friendly. You can hold the baby turtles, and feed the larger ones.
When the tide goes out, you can also walk to up the coastline to the more crowded areas with loads of beach-front bars, restaurants, shops and activities.
Would I stay here again-no way. There are plenty more places on this island that are not only cheaper-but have something called "customer service"!
Enjoy your trip to Zanzibar!"
- Travel date: Tue 26th of September 2006
"We booked this hotel on the basis of a good write up in a couple of guides, but were immediately dissappointed. The rooms were damp and we were greeted by a can of insecticide when we entered the small room. After the first night both my wife and I were covered in bed-bug (not mosquito as we were very careful using DEET and a mosquito net) bites. We were then upgraded to a larger room, but soon found out that all of the mattresses were covered in mould. The general cleanliness was poor with swarms of dead insects everywhere. The quality of the food was also poor. The only redeeming factor was the swimming pool. It certainly was not worth the $84 per night that we paid."
- Travel date: Thu 14th of September 2006
Simple and over-priced
"We have just returned from a 2-week vacation in Tanzania consisting of a 7-day Safari, 3 days in Stone town and excursions and 2 days in Mnarani that were supposed to be our rest before going back home. In Stone town we stayed at the wonderful Tembo House hotel (see separate review).
We found the web-site and liked the fact that it was small and not a huge resort. We contacted them and reserved a room. We knew we wanted "good" conditions such as an a/c room with a minibar to relax.
We arrived on the planned date in the afternoon after notifying the reception a day before of our late arrival.
The room we were given was in the Zanzibar House as ordered BUT was totally without character - it could have been in any road-side motel in the USA. There is a lot of space but the space is empty. Straight away we noticed that there was a beach towel missing and that the a/c was not working and notified reception. We also asked to switch rooms if there is a problem with the a/c and were told it was no problem and would be fixed in the morning along with stocking up our minibar.
As it was very hot and humid (more than 37C) and although there was a breeze from the ocean, it could come in through a window or an open door. We would have left these open but there was no netting on either as well as no nets around the beds...
Following a COLD shower - they forgot to switch on the hot water switch (that is external to the room), went to dinner. Both dinner and breakfast were very good on both days.
The hotel itself is tranquil and relaxed but it's hard to relax in the heat and there is no swimming pool to cool down during the hot hours. The beach in front of the hotel is also not for swimming as there is a very massive tide. As opposed to the rooms, the public areas are very nice: the eating cottage, the bar and the deck.
In the morning, after several more calls to reception, we left for a stroll on the beach and returned in the hottest hours to our still not a/c room! We did get a second beach towel though...
There is supposedly a complementary sunset cruise if there are more than 10 guests. We were more than 20 on both days/nights but no cruise left. The excursions offered by the hotel are more expensive than those offered in Stone town as well as the transport to the airport.
We paid $170 per night for a room with half board. We did NOT have air-condition during all our stay and found out from one of the attendants that the maintenance people were not even present to fix it (reception were constantly telling us that it will be promptly fixed and we do not need to switch rooms). The minibar was stocked the night before we left (actually we left in the morning so it was irrelevant). Although we asked to switch rooms constantly we were not moved (reception claimed on the 2nd day that there was no vacancy), we were charged the full amount for the room!
Overall I would say this is probably the most over-priced accommodation I have ever been to (and I travel a lot). For this price we could have done much better in a number of different places in Zanzibar."
- Travel date: Mon 6th of March 2006
"We got to the Mnarni beach cottages web site and liked it - we did not want a large international resort but a small place near the beach to relax at the end of our safari. We commenced in a correspondence with the hotel and reserved 2 nights secured by credit card. We reserved an a/c large room with a minibar and a porch facing the ocean. Upon arriving, we were indeed brought to such a room BUT...
The a/c did not work and we were told it would be fixed the next day, there were no hot water because they forgot to lift the right switch (external to the room), we were missing a beach towel and were told it would arrive shortly, the towels were smeared in black ink (probably due to an unsuccesful typing of the logo) etc.
When we saw that the a/c was not being fixed, we asked to change a room and were told to wait a bit as it will shortly be fixed (just to let you know that the temperature was around 37C with very high humidity). The room did have a nice breeze from the ocean most of the time but that could enter the room through a door and a window that had no netting. The beds themselves had no nets as well...
The room decorations were minimal (actually, there was minimal furniture at all) and without distinction - It could have been a US roadside motel. The beach is very nice but you cannot swim there (too shallow). There is no swimming pool to cool down in during the hotter hours.
On the positive side: the central facilities such as sun deck, bar, restaurant etc. are nice. There is also a free internet service and reduced rate of international calls.
All other services offered at extra cost are more expensive than elsewhere. There is supposedly a complimentary sunset cruise if there are more than 10 guests. There were more than 20 guests when we were there but there was no cruise on either day...
We stayed 2 nights at Mnarani, our a/c never worked (and maintenance never showed up), the 2nd beach towel arrived on the 2nd day (although 2 regular towels came instead), the towels dropped on the floor to be changed were re-hung for us (yes - the exact ones), the minibar was stocked just a few hours before we left and for all this (and HB) we paid 170$ a night - we could have done much better!
Actually, aside from the very good food (thumbs up for the chef), there was nothing above average at this establishment with most below average. There are many places in Zanzibar that cost much less and offer much more."
- Travel date: Tue 28th of February 2006