10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
I'm in the positive group
"I've read the reviews and it seems that Emerson and Green polarises people. I stayed two nights in the East room and loved it. Yes, the stairs are steep and there are no telephones but I found the staff friendly and helpful (maybe the people who didn't like the place pushed the staff too far). I didn't think much of the food in the evening on the roof but it was an interesting experience and worth trying. In contrast to some others I thought that the breakfast was good and the spiced coffee was the best I had anywhere. I also stayed in the Serena and although it has a bit of character it was just too bland for me. I'd stay at E&G again and ask for the same room, despite the noise from the local mosques and temple - that's part of the experience. It obviously doesn't suit people who want a sanitised existence and it isn't luxurious in the normal sense but it has a certain something."
- Travel date: Thu 21st of September 2006
One of the World's most amazing hotels
"Emerson & Green Hotel is an oasis in Stone Town's madness.
It is a real experience to stay here and you feel like you have been transported back 100 years to Arabic Africa. Don't expect all the latest amenities, but if you have got soul, you will absolutely love it.
It's not immaculately clean, but if that is what you want, stay at home. All the bedding is clean of course, but the hotel is a little like a beautiful antique shop, so some things can be a bit dusty.
We stayed in the Ball Room which is quite probably the largest (and most atmospheric) hotel room I've ever stayed in.
The roof top terrace restaurant is amazing. Great view."
- Travel date: Tue 12th of September 2006
Quirky but dirty
"Could be fantastic. Looks great, really quirky but absolutely filthy dirty. Having discovered another guests footprint on the bathroom floor and sheets that were absolutely revolting I wouldn't recommend this hotel to anyone who likes to return at the end of the day and have a nice bath or shower. We didn't even want to stand in the shower/bath it was so awful apart from the fact we had to hold the shower in our hand because it was broken. The rooftop had a good atmosphere but the food was inedible. We stayed in the ballroom and Zanana and at $200 and $160 you would expect a clean room at least!"
- Travel date: Fri 8th of September 2006
An over-rated quirky hotel
"Compared to the hype, our two night stay in this hotel was a big disappointment. The rooms (we had to change for the second night) were not over clean and the bathrooms were impractible and in one room the shower head came off with the force of hot water and in the other, the bath water did not drain away). The hotel has no bar or lounge area to relax and the much heralded visit to the Tower restaurant was a joke. The meal was very ordinary, and the mains were nearly cold- hardly a culinary experience. Also, the hotel has ridiculously steep stairways which would be a hazard to people with walking difficulties. The reception staff were also unfriendly and unhelpful when we asked for a room change on arrival.
We do not recommend this hotel to anyone."
- Travel date: Wed 30th of August 2006
Fabulous experience at the Emerson & Green
"Stayed two nights at the E&G have a wonderful experience made to feel very welcome staff could not be more helpful so much so they made special arrangments for us to dine at the roof top restaurant when both nights were fully booked (very impressed when they did`nt have to) from reception staff to waiting and room staff very pleasant and genuine.
Service good, food very good, rooms superb very in vougue with period.
Would recommend staying at the E&G."
- Travel date: Sun 30th of July 2006
Has Everyone Else Missed The Point?
"Anyone who stays at Emerson and Green and complains about the lack of shampoo or slippers should stay at home. They have missed the whole point of the place. We stayed in the East Room on the top floor with just open lattice work for walls. Being woken up by the call to prayer,feeling the warm wind on your face as you lay in bed and having a balcany with of 50 foot drop and a 6 inch safety wall is WHY YOU STAY THERE.
The steep stairs, quirky furniture and the 'pedestrian' service are the things that make it so special. If you want a lift and a bathrobe stay at the nearest Hilton or Holiday Inn.
True the food in the rooftop resturant isn't anything special but the atmosphere and the views are out of this world. I must admit I have eaten some fantastic meals over the years but six months after eating them I can't even remember what they were. But I'll never forget staying at Emerson and G or eating at the top of the world.
An AMAZING place. Stay there or regret it!"
- Travel date: Fri 7th of July 2006
A bit overpriced but unique
"It's expensive but they sell a piece of time travel in the colonial age. Rooms are unique and the terrace is great for feeling the stone town beat."
- Travel date: Mon 3rd of April 2006
Missing the Point!
"I stayed at Emerson & Green for two nights during my honeymoon in September 2005 and thought that it was very good.
I was surprised to read several poor reviews about this hotel from people complaining of a "lack of phones and other amenities (hair dryers, shampoo, slippers)", the steep stairs and it being "dark and dingy". There are even complaints about being woken every morning by the 'call to prayer' at the many mosques" (you're in a predominantly MUSLIM country, what do you expect!!). These people are entirely missing the point of this hotel (regularly voted as one of the best small hotels in the world)!
This is an entirely unique and amazingly stylish hotel that I loved, but you do need to sacrifice your comforts and it certainly is not for everyone. It really is important to carefully consider whether this place is for you before you book. You do have to put up with the "glorious" sound of the streets (including the calls to prayer), the disfunctionality of the building (the stairs), the ancient furniture that wobbles and water that runs out, etc, etc... But it's an amazing experience and feels like you have taken a trip back in time.
If you need your comforts then stay at the Serena. If you are prepared to take the rough with the smooth then Emerson and Green is really great.
The one aspect of the hotel which we were disappointed with was the Tower Top restaurant. Far too many people were crammed in, the food was poor, service slow and in general the "experience" felt tired. Climb up there around five in the afternoon and have a beer watching the sun set instead, and eat out afterwards down at the sea front at one of the many good restaurants (although ask the hotel for a guide to pick you up if you are returning after 9pm)."
- Travel date: Sun 2nd of April 2006
Living on past glories....
"Suggested by a UK travel specialist. However, quirky" does not excuse dirty, poor service and mediocre food.
The rooms have seen better days although they have been elegently designed and furnished.The hotel does not change travellers cheques, does not supply toiletries except soap and has not been well maintained. The roof restaurant, however, has great views but be warned it is very small and there is little or no other outside space. Look elsewhere for better value and position but book the evening dinner at the roof top restaurant as an experience."
- Travel date: Mon 20th of February 2006
"We arrived at Emerson and Green for a 3 night stay to finish our holiday. Whilst this hotel is a little rough around the edges, it is a beautiful place to stay in. The wooden stairs (very steep and almost vertical) are really not ideal for elderly travellers, children, or anyone with breathing difficulties, as none of the rooms are on ground level, there is no lift. The walk up to your room is a wonderful experience, as you really are not quite sure where you are actually going. Its very hard to explain but the middle part of the hotel is open air, filled with small balconies, stairs and walkways up and down the hotel. These walkways are complete with flowers, plants and even a wooden swing ot two! We stayed in 2 rooms during our stay The 'Blue suite' and the 'Rose Suite'. Both are really beautiful yet very different, the blue being the much smaller of the two. However the blue is still a very comfortable room, and both rooms have air conditioning, and ceiling fans which you need as stone town itself is stifling and the air is very humid. Admittedly there are no real luxury's here if you consider there are no shampoo, shower gel, telephone, and room service available. However I guess its what you feel is important, the rooms themselves are a real treat, look on the Emerson website as it does give a very good idea of what the rooms look like. Our main complaint about the Blue room was that the paint on the ceiling was peeling away and if we had the ceiling fan on we did get a slight covering of paint particles on us and the bed!! As far as the food is concerned breakfast is a bit laughable, as although the scones, muffins and scrambled eggs are very nice, theres not actually much else, especially if you want a full english! However the setting for breakfast at the tower top is stunning. A full view of the harbour in the morning is breathtaking and you really could always nip down to the Kidude restaurant next day which does do a more full on breakfast. The kidudes food was actually very good, the air conditioning is a welcome relief from the very humid streets of stonetown. We had many a coffee, beer, and very nice lunch in here, staff are friendly, professional and you can also walk up to your room from this restaurant as it is part of the Emerson and Green Hotel. We stayed here over valentines day and was lucky enough to have an evening meal at the Tower top restaurant. There was a wonderful atmosphere as we arrived, everyone seated on colourful cushions, sipping cocktails, overlooking the harbour. Food was average, probably very good for zanzibar but not that impressive by english standards. However the service considering there is no lift here and the waiters have to provide 20 people with a 5 course dinner, by running up and down stairs to get the foodstuffs already prepared, just added to the appeal of the night. Expect simple foods, and remember it is a set menu. I would highly reccommend this hotel especially for couples if you want to experience something very unique and different, it doesnt have all the creature comforts you may expeect, but what it does have is romance, fantasy and some fantastic photo opportunites. I would love to return and stay in every one of there 20 or so rooms, and if he takes me I probably will!"
- Travel date: Sun 19th of February 2006