As part of my multiple month long trip through the beautiful island of Zanzibar, I was able to stay in some amazing properties. One of my favorites had to be the Boutique Hotel Matlai. Located in the Michamvi area in southeast Zanzibar, this beautiful stretch of beach is home to numerous boutique hotels. The beach here is absolutely breathtaking, the beach is filled with white sand, and generally this area is much more chilled compared to areas like Paje just south.
In the Kiswahili language of Zanzibar Matlai means the first wind in the early morning that blows into the sails. For the Zanzibari, especially the fisherman, this is a very special moment.
Our philosophy is to give our guests many special moments every day for a perfect dream of holidays. At the same time it is very important for us to protect the beauty and uniqueness of this wonderful place and to meet the Zanzibari people in mutual respect and acceptance.
I spent four nights in this beautiful property and absolutely loved every moment of it. While the Matlai hotel is not as ultra luxury as compared to the Zawadi hotel (also nearby), it is extremely beautiful and fitting for anyone that wants a luxurious and unique experience.
Booking my stay at the Matlai Hotel
I booked my stay at the Matlai hotel with booking.com. This is a boutique hotel that skews more towards the luxury side than the middle or budget. It is not a cheap place to stay but I think the value for money is strong.
The base rates always include their phenomenal breakfast, but you can pay more to book the full board package which includes dinner.
The good thing about stayin gin Michamvi is that there are many other options around you where you can have a meal so you are not confined to where you’re staying the entire time. More on that later.
Where is the Hotel Matlai – Michamvi
The Matlai Hotel is located in the southeast of Zanzibar at the northern tip of the peninsula in an area called Michamvi. To the south are popular tourist areas like Bwejuu, Paje, and Jambiani. Michamvi is located at the very northern tip and offers a much more chilled out vibe than surrounding villages.
There are little to no beach boys in this part of the island so you can enjoy the peace and quiet that’s afforded to you. Like the rest of the area, it’s mostly smaller and quaint boutique hotels in this area. If you’re looking for the 100+ room all inclusive type resorts, you’re better off going to Nungwi.
The peninsula is known for its stunning turquoise blue ocean, barrier reef and palm trees and you will find just a handful of high-quality beach retreats. The beach is mostly full sandy, but sometimes a bit rocky – it depends on the direction of the monsoon wind, that moves the sand around the island – an interesting natural phenomenon. It’s not as flat with endless sand like in Paje, but you will still be able to swim in the ocean without much issue.
At certain times of the month, there is a sandbank directly in front of the hotel which reveals itself during low tide that you can visit. Unfortunately, it was not the right time when I visited.
How to get here?
From Zanzibar’s Stone Town airport, it is just under 1.5 hours to get to Michamvi. The fair cost for this trip is somewhere between $30 and $40 from my experience but of course this is up to your bargaining skills.
The drive is quite uneventful as it mostly passes through the interior of Zanzibar island. Once you get to the coastal town of Paje, it is beautiful views from here!
The property at Matlai
The Boutique Hotel Matlai is run by a very nice German family who bought the land just ten years ago. They had quite an interesting story and without a doubt were not the typical Germans that I’ve become accustomed to while living in Germany.
They were very nice and warmly greeted me upon arrival. The property as soon as you enter is absolutely beautiful. They’ve done such a good job with the aesthetics and keeping the natural side of the island in tact.
There are two different houses in the Matlai hotel, the Asili House and the Kidosho House. This was confusing to me on the booking website but they are both part of the same property.
The Asili house was the original house they built in the beginning. Featuring four rooms with ocean front views, these rooms are built in the traditional Zanzibari style with wood finishes and the makuti rooftops.
The Kidosho house was built in recent years and looks like an upscale oceanside villa with Middle Eastern finishes. It’s very luxurious with two huge rooms that look out at the ocean and a shared common space. The Kidosho house would be the ultimate Airbnb to rent with a group of friends in my opinion. The two houses are located next to each other but with enough of a separation where you can’t see one from the other.
Both houses have beautiful ocean view pools as well. The Asili pool is leading out from the lounge to the ocean and has a palm tree island. The Kidosho pool is an infinity pool facing the ocean and has jacuzzi jets on both sides.
I stayed at the Asili house and absolutely loved it. The aesthetics and finishes of this resort are nothing short of beautiful. It’s rustic and original, but luxurious and stunning at the same time. The pool
The rooms at Hotel Matlai
The Asili house at the Matlai hotel has four rooms. It’s essentially two separate two floor houses, each with a room on the top floor and the bottom floor. I stayed in the “honeymoon” suite on the top floor.
The rooms come with a beautiful balcony with amazing views of the pool and turquoise colored water in front. The inside featured a comfortable king bed looking out at the beach as well as ample storage space to keep your things. The bathroom might have been my favorite part as there are two sinks with windows that open out to face the beach. Nothing like brushing your teeth in the morning looking at ocean views!
As the hotel is quite small and intimate, breakfast can be served in the room. This was one of my favorite things of the stay. The breakfast was phenomenal with everything you could think of but being able to eat this delicious food with even more beautiful views was bliss.
The food at Hotel Matlai
As the hotel is quite small and intimate, the food is served a la carte and whenever you want. The menu was small but the items on the menu were very delicious.
For lunch, I had their burgers were which delicious. For dinner, you can either have their pre-fixe menu with three courses, or just order a la carte. Even better is you can have them set up a table on the beach where you can dine under the stars. Highly recommend this.
To keep our guests completely contented and to offer them an entirely comfortable stay, an around-the-clock personal butler service is available. The kitchen team will spoil you with an ingenious cuisine based upon all kinds of exquisite seafood, vegetables, fruits and spices provided by the island.
Of course, breakfast was my favorite part of the stay. Eating eggs, bacon, french toast, fruits, juice, and pancakes for breakfast made sure I would not have to each lunch. Enjoying your coffee with that view made my stay.
To protect the natural resources of Zanzibar, Hotel Matlai is operated eco-friendly as much as possible. Water dispensers makes the use of problematic plastic water bottles obsolete.
Foods such as fish, vegetables and fruits are bought at farmers and fishermen in the area.
If you don’t want to eat at the hotel, then simply walk out the hotel onto the beach and towards the many other options that you have in the area. My favorite place was the local restaurant down the beach called Coconut. They had such delicious seafood offerings for a fraction of what you’d pay at a hotel.
Visit the Rock Restaurant
Without a doubt, Zanzibar’s most famous restaurant has to be the Rock restaurant. Located on a small rock peninsula, this mini island is surrounded by water during high tide making it seem like you are dining in the middle of the ocean.
This restaurant is located only 10 minutes walking from the Matlai Hotel so it is well worth the trouble to at least come here for a drink during high tide. I visited this place twice during my stay because I really enjoyed the view so make sure to read my review of the Rock Restaurant in Zanzibar!
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