Where all the other well-known hotels in Zanzibar have decorated themselves to the hilt with bright, festive colors, and some have sacrificed flair and location over service and maintenance, the Mashariki Palace stands head and quietly elegant shoulders above the similarly priced pack.
Once home to the sultan of Zanzibar’s religious counselor, for over 200 years the large wooden doors and thick white walls of the palace have stood evocative of the centuries of traders and explorers who have ventured to the Island. The hotel unfortunately did slip into ruin, but has now been masterfully restored, and despite the slightly worn-down neighborhood that surrounds the palace, it is a welcoming and charming way to see Stone Town.
When you enter the hotel, which is accessible from the main road, you are captivated by the sweet scent of Zanzibar spices, which follows you throughout the entire hotel. Crisp white finishes accentuated with rich Zanzibar carved wood give the palace an ancient flavor with all the modern amenities. An onsite spa and stunning views (from some balconies) make this place a real standout, with each room fully equipped and subtly decorated. There are only 18 small sized rooms, and guests on the eastern side might get startled every morning and evening as the next-door mosque sounds its call to prayer. But as you are in the center of Stone Town, allow yourself to enjoy the sounds of local people going about their daily business, as it adds a whole different dimension to your travels.
As with other hotels that ascend into the sky on the island, there are no lifts and many stairs, but the thick walls retain a lot of the cool air, making it very manageable during the midday heat to find a place to rest comfortably in little nooks around the palace. The rooftop restaurant has a delightful sunset view over both the town and the ocean, and an a la carte menu with local and Italian flavors that are always perfectly presented and tasty. The octopus salad is one of the best in town.