Zanzibar is chalk full of amazing hotels to stay at. However, if you’re staying in Stone Town, there are few places that can rival the history and luxury of the Park Hyatt. Located in the historic city center, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar hugs the coast line of Stone Town and is the perfect place to stay for a few nights in Stone Town.
I stayed here for two nights at the end of my two month long trip through Zanzibar where I got to see so much of the island. It was the absolute perfect place to relax and settle down before my next flight to the even more beautiful Pemba Island.
This is the second Park Hyatt hotel I’ve stayed in after the Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives which is without a doubt one of the most amazing places on Earth.
History of the Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this hotel is its long and storied history. The Park Hyatt Zanzibar is the former home of the Omani sultanate. During the 18th century, Zanzibar was a colony under the Omani empire as it was a key stop in the lucrative spice trade of the day.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar is situated on the beachfront in Stone Town, the historical center of the city and a designated UNESCO Heritage site. As the cultural heart of Zanzibar, little has changed in Stone Town over the last 200 years. The town’s unique blend of Arabic and African cultural influences originate from the 19th century when Zanzibar Island served as a center for the trade of spices. During this period, Zanzibar, also known as the “Spice Island,” was the most important trading hub along the east coast of Africa. Today, the streets of Stone Town are filled with rich aromas of spices, perfumes and local handcrafts.
The hotel is housed in two buildings, one of them Mambo Msiige, a building steeped in history, grace and mystique with a story dating back to the 17th century. A typical Zanzibari mansion, centered round a peaceful courtyard, a retreat from the summer heat, Mambo Msiige is a unique gem with architecture that embraces Swahili culture alongside Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. The new and purpose built Zamani residence connects to Mambo Msiige, blending old with new, historic with contemporary.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar does not have nice beaches
I think the most important thing to mention about the Park Hyatt is that it is in the center of Stone Town. While Stone Town is an amazing town to visit, it is not a beautiful beach destination. The beaches in and around Stone Town are mediocre at best. Nevertheless, the Park Hyatt is probably positioned on the best beach that Stone Town has to offer.
As with the rest of Zanzibar, it’s forbidden for properties to have private beaches. Therefore, while the beach is in front of the hotel, it is open to everyone. There are many local guys trying to hustle tour packages which makes relaxing on the beach not viable.
If you’re after a nice idyllic beautiful beach destination, I would recommend looking at Nungwi if you are keen for the big all inclusive type of resorts, or Paje for a more relaxed and chilled vibe. My favorite hotel stay in Zanzibar has to be the Zawadi hotel just north of Paje.
Nevertheless, as long as you know that you are not here for a beach getaway, then I can safely say you will love staying at this hotel when visiting Stone Town.
Checking in at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar
When you first arrive at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, it doesn’t look or feel like a hotel from the outside but rather someone’s giant palatial residence. Of course, that’s exactly what it was at one point. It feels a bit unassuming from first glance as you pull up into the small drive way.
As soon as I left my taxi, I was greeted by porters eager to help me with my (few) belongings. The reception area was beautiful. It blended modern touches of the Hyatt chain with the traditional wooden finishes of the Omani times. It felt premium, but rustic at the same time.
The staff here were very friendly and the check in was seamless. I was in and out within five minutes which was great considering I had just spent the morning packing my stuff and going on a Zanzibar spice tour.
The common spaces in the Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Although the Park Hyatt Zanzibar is not exactly a classic vacation hotel, there are some recreational options. First of all, there is of course the pool, which is located towards the sea and thus offers a great view. There are also enough loungers and a very good service with towels and food.
The gym of the hotel is unfortunately not directly accessible by the pool. Unfortunately, this is in the basement of the hotel, so you can only enjoy a minimal view of the pool and the sea. In addition, the room is not really well equipped and looks more like a fitness room somewhere in the hotel. Nevertheless, there is the most important equipment that you need.
Lastly, the spa area, which is located on the first floor of the hotel, should be mentioned. This is one of the best providers in Stone Town and offers various treatments.
The rooms at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar
The hotel has 67 guest rooms, including 11 suites. Because I booked on Hyatt points, I was booked in the standard Park Deluxe King room. It featured a large king bed with a gorgeous bathroom. There is also a balcony but my room was not ocean facing so the balcony only looked out into the city which wasn’t so nice.
The room itself is a good size and included a small table with a few chairs, plenty of space for luggage, and a smart TV. I didn’t spend much time in the room just because the balcony was not very inviting. However, if I were to stay here again on Hyatt points, I would ask to be booked into a room that has an ocean view. I’ve seen pictures of such rooms and they are much much nicer.
The dining at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar
The Park Hyatt is equipped with an eclectic restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is as you would expect from a high end hotel like the Park Hyatt and is priced accordingly.
Breakfast is included as part of the stay and this is the only meal I had here. There are much cheaper options to be had in the town for your other meals. However, breakfast was delicious and included everything you could imagine from a breakfast buffet.
Eggs of all kinds, yogurt, pancakes, waffles, bacon, local breakfast dishes, fresh fruits, juices, etc. You could easily eat a big breakfast and skip lunch altogether. I had my breakfast on the outdoor patio facing the beach which was fantastic.
The bar and lounge
Next door to the restaurant is the bar and lounge area. This beautiful decorated room is perfect for a sundowner while enjoying one of their carefully crafted house cocktails. I also found this room to be good to do some work in as there are ample outlets on the walls with comfortable couches.
There is also ample outdoor patio space which extends from the restaurant all the way to the pool. In years past, you could even smoke shisha here but that’s since been banned in the city of Stone Town. Sad days.
Exploring Stone Town
One of the best parts of the Park Hyatt hotel is the location. It is located beach side in the center of Stone Town’s old town district. It’s minutes walking to the night markets, the Emerson hotel, beach bars, and more.
You will never need a taxi to see any of the main Stone Town sights so you can tell the swarms of taxi drivers that you don’t need their assistance when they inevitably haggle you.
I spent two days in Stone Town and this is enough to see the main sights. You don’t want to spend most of your precious vacation time here because the other parts of the island are probably what you had in mind when you booked your Zanzibar trip.
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