Zuri Zanzibar : the ultimate 5 star boutique hotel on the Spice Island
Zanzibar... The name of this archipelago alone resonates as a promise of an exclusive experience, an enchanting journey along a blue lagoon. Let's fly together to this Eden off the coast of Tanzania, to this small piece of land that is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I will take you south of the ecuador in order to enjoy the magical atmosphere of Zuri, a brand new 5-star boutique hotel located in Kendwa, on the most beautiful beach of the paradise island of Unguja.
Zuri is a contemporary heaven, an eco-chic setting and a paradise for foodies; it's a real gem focused on sustainable tourism. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, but this address, like the staff who make it live, certainly did not usurp the 9/10 given by the Telegraph or its recent nomination by Travel & Leisure as one of the best new hotels in the world.
Designed by Jestico+Whiles, an design company based in Prague and London, Zuri also received the prestigious EarthCheck’s Sustainable Design Gold Certificationa few days ago. It is the first hotel in the world to receive this certification established by the world's largest group of certification and scientific evaluation for travel and tourism.
At the end of September 2018, Michel and I had the incredible opportunity to stay 10 days at Zuri, just two and a half months after it opened. If the desire to keep this paradise a secret has undoubtedly crossed my mind, I could not reasonably let you ignore it. I therefore warmly invite you to discover the unique boutique hotel of the Design Hotels network in Tanzania, its chic and mixed architecture, its delicious cuisine, its gardens, its beach, its dream landscapes and its memorable sunsets.
"Les portes du paradis s'ouvrent comme s'ouvre un visage, sous la puissance lumineuse d'un sourire." Christian Bobin
"The Doors of Paradise open as a face opens, under the lumineux power of a mile"
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Zuri Zanzibar: a 5 star hotel focused on sustainable tourism
The choice of our hotel in Zanzibar is the result of many and long researches; it's also a crush for a concept, before it is for the hotel.
Focused on protecting nature, preserving natural resources and respecting local populations, Zuri's design minimizes its impact on environment and the hotel has gardens beautifully designed with indigenous species; it also employs local people and participates in actions for their well-being.
When the word "hospitality" becomes meaningful
It is about 8.30 a.m. when we cross the Zuri wooden gate opens and we enter the resort. On either side of the alleyway to the reception, the plants and shrubs of the tropical garden greet us with exuberance.
At the reception, an impressive baobab tree dominates the entrance. Like a guardian, he seems to use all his plant power and intimidating height to annihilate any attempt at intrusion by some evil soul. We are safe here.
This feeling is reinforced by the discreet but terribly effective presence of the Masai who, in addition to the guards, - as we will see later - walk the paths and the beach of Zuri day and night.
When we get out of the van, we discover through the amazing and chiquissime lobby, a magnificent view of the ocean. We see blue, green and more blue. Postcard effect. I'm exulting. Sure, heaven is here.
The welcoming team soon interrupts our blissful contemplation. With kindness and professionalism, they invite us to sit comfortably on the sofas. After almost 23 hours of travel - yes, from Belgium, Zuri is deserved -, this invitation comes at the right time! So, feeling relaxed and a glass of ginger lemonade in hand, we enjoy our first moments in our superb boutique hotel and check in with full serenity.
Zuri presents itself as a village that is perfectly integrated into its environment. It has only 55 bungalows and villas, divided into districts and scattered in a huge tropical garden, ensuring a high level of privacy for each of its guests.
Built on stilts, the spacious thatched bungalows are surrounded by a large, well-furnished wooden terrace. Inside, mixing modern design and DIY spirit, the decoration is warm and relaxing: wood flirts with smooth concrete, Foscarini luminaires blend with beaded curtains or Masai crafted coasters; we also discover this vegetal painting, composed of leaves glued on canvas, subtly concealing a television set above an ultra-contemporary desk.
Everywhere, African identity unites with modernity, with an obvious attention to detail. So, in our bungalow with ocean view, we feel like e're in another world, immersed in another culture and yet reassured by the comfort we are used to.
Food & wine
If there is one point I would like to emphasize, it is certainly the hotel's cuisine. Orchestrated by Chief Jussi Husa, - who previously worked at Essque Zalu, another 5-star hotel in the north of the island - the Zuri table is a fusion of cultures, worth a star. In our opinion, it goes wonderfully well with the island's blend and delights the most delicate palates.
Dining by design
Zuri's "Dining by design" service provides a differentiated offer. It is also possible to have a barefoof luxury aperitif or a dinner on the beach. We tested this service at sunset.
Imagine crossing a Sandy path lit by torches and leading to a beach area that is entirely dedicated to you. The floor is decorated with carpets, pouffes and soft cushions for your comfort. In front of you, the Indian Ocean and the blazing sun, whose flames are extinguished as they descend to the waves.
Now it's up to me to guess your emotions... Right now, you are probably like us, during this sublime and romantic aperitif: your heart rate hesitates between acceleration and slow motion, your mind travels between exaltation and serenity. The choice is a difficult one.
It is at this moment that the discreet arrival of your server interrupts your existential reflections. In front of you is a cocktail glass filled with a carmine elixir and a tray divinely filled with appetizers each more tempting than the other - Plus, you're hungry; you haven't eaten since lunch. - it invites you to settle down and enjoy the moment. The dilemma has ended. Enjoy!
Tip: To fully enjoy this magical moment, order your aperitif at the beginning of the golden hour. Mosquitoes also love sunset and the closer the twilight is, the more they will enjoy your company.
If we did not have the chance to inaugurate the kitchen of the Spice Garden, we had the privilege of participating in the very first cooking class organized at Zuri, by Chef Jussi Husa and his team. Accompanied by a young couple, we were able to learn about traditional Zanzibari cuisine. A great moment of sharing, laughter and delicacy!
Overlooking the beach, facing the Indian Ocean, the Zuri's long mosaic swimming pool offers another atmosphere and allows you to enjoy the proximity of the Maisha restaurant.
The most beautiful beach of Zanzibar
Aesthetics is always a matter of taste and subjectivity. Is Zuri's beach therefore the beach of all superlatives?
Honestly, there are many beaches in Zanzibar that offer magnificent views. But Zuri beach, and more broadly Kendwa beach, offers the undeniable advantage of being long, wide and very little impacted by tides. More, it's located to the west, allowing you to enjoy spectacular sunsets. Finally, it is clean, which in our opinion is an undeniable asset.
The spice garden
My love for gardens probably comes from my father, who introduced me to his famous "garden tour". This almost contemplative vesperal walk in our family Eden has become, over time, a true tradition Michel and I kept alive after we created our own cocoon.
It was therefore with great pleasure that we walked, day after day, the paths of the Zuri Spice Garden, admiring the progress of the latest development work, wondering about the nature of plants or pursuing exotic butterflies, like children in awe with the beauty of the world.
Zuri is much more than that. We therefore invite you to visit the hotel's website for more information on activities in the area, and our guide to Zanzibar, for valuable advice on the island but also on everything you can do from the hotel.
Dear visitors, we would like to point out that this article is not sponsored in any way; we have covered all the expenses related to this trip. However, we would like to thank the Zuri team, and in particular the following people:
William, who by his kindness, his tips and his professionalism, allowed us to personalize our stay and our discovery of the island;
Sophie, who helped us to better understand how Zuri works and ensured our Dining by design was well organized;
Chef Jussi Husa, who gave us the opportunity to participate in the very first cooking class held at Zuri;
David and Dominique, at the reception desk, for their kindness and efficiency;
Emmanuel, Baraka, Lydia and Bora, who in their respective roles at the restaurant or bar, contributed to the full success of our unforgettable stay.