Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Zanzibar, Tanzania

The hotel

Imagine watching dhows drift by as you dine above the Indian Ocean on a romantic jetty. Or cooking Swahili dishes with Chef Rose, as she shares recipes passed down through generations. Or experiencing a pampering Maasai Ritual, before sipping sundowners around an old Baobab tree, or along the wooden jetty. This hideaway delivers the real Zanzibar experience. Near the northern tip of the island and Nungwi village, it’s authentic from its lobby (set in the island’s highest makuti thatched hut) to its 48 suites and residences, each with dazzling ocean or garden views (and also a private deck or patio and plush bathroom in each detached suite). It may be utterly genuine, but Essque Zalu Zanzibar also provides those ‘musts’ every international island-hopper is after – like an oversized lagoon pool, a cocktail-driven poolside bar, and water sports like snorkelling and kayaking.

Amenities

  • Bar
  • Romantic
  • Spa
  • Swimming Pool
  • Honeymoon
  • Room Service
  • Internet Access
  • Beachfront location
  • Restaurant

Where is it

In the village of Nungwi, 50 minutes drive from Stone Town. Transfer time from Zanzibar Airport: 1 hour.

Hotel information

40 Suites and 8 Residences. All with private patio/terrace, air-conditioning, TV, tea/coffee-making facilities, personalised mini-bar* and safe. Garden Suites enjoy garden views and sleep maximum 3 adults.

All Inclusive/All Inclusive Plus options: are available at a supplement.

Full Board includes: breakfast, three-course lunch and 3-course dinner, excluding beverages.

Superior Garden Suites are located on the upper floors and sleep maximum 3 adults. 

Ocean View Suite and Seafront Suites are also available. 

Market Kitchen (restaurant and deli). The Jetty (restaurant and bar). Pool bar. Boabab bar. Lagoon-style pool. Spa*. 24-hour fitness centre. Water sports centre. Yoga. Complimentary WiFi. Room service*.

5 nights between 23 Dec-3 Jan.

* Denotes local charge.

Rating summary

  • Sleep Quality Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Location Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Rooms Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Service Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Value Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Cleanliness Image of the Tripadvisor rating

Traveller rating

  • Excellent (604)
  • Very good (141)
  • Average (40)
  • Poor (21)
  • Terrible (11)
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Extremely disappointing customer service

Aug 19, 2019 josé miguel m

We returned to Essque in Aug2019 after having had an excellent experience in Aug18 (we thought we’d found our sunny hotel to come back to every year). The only improvement we’d suggest last time was that the Wi-Fi range was very weak and didn’t work in the rooms (it’s still like this). This time it was quite a different experience. We had to book… Read more
We returned to Essque in Aug2019 after having had an excellent experience in Aug18 (we thought we’d found our sunny hotel to come back to every year). The only improvement we’d suggest last time was that the Wi-Fi range was very weak and didn’t work in the rooms (it’s still like this). This time it was quite a different experience. We had to book the stay with 2 different operators and to ensure no delays we shared both booking invoices with the hotel 1 week prior to our arrival and requested a 1st floor room. The 2 responses we received from Mr Joseph (back office customer service) were generic but after sending 3 emails on the topic we believed it was sorted. We arrive at the hotel at 2pm (check-in time) only to be told that we’ll be checked-in but we must contact one of the operators as they didn’t get the confirmation (which should have been done before based on our email) and we’re informed that they will provide a top floor room but it must be prepared; it took 1.5 hours for the room to be ready which Mr. Philip (Reception Manager?) blamed on the booking not being received and having to prepare the room (as our emails were completely ignored – ignoring customer requests is the new norm at Essque). During our 4 day stay the room was not tidied up as room service basically makes the bed and folds the pyjamas. For the last 2 days the bathroom hand towels disappeared never to be replaced; also the shower toiletries were never topped up. On the last day we didn’t even get a water bottle. On the food and beverages side the customer must always ask for the a-la-carte menu as it’s always hidden, probably hoping you’ll stick to the buffet/special of the day. The improvement this year was that there is live music at the restaurant. One of the nights the buffet was served at the Jetty (sea) restaurant and both me and my wife were sick the day after (which didn’t happen in the other hotel we stayed in Zanzibar for 5 nights). The pool staff is helpful and accommodative. The spa service was also good but not stellar. The last nail in the coffin was on our last day at the Essque. As we were checking-out at 2:30 am and not having that morning’s breakfast; around midday we headed to the reception to ask if it was possible to get a box with some breakfast items to go since the Airport food in Zanzibar at 5 am is almost null. We were told yes and asked what we’d like to have in it, lovely. After dinner when we settled the bill we asked the night reception clerk Mr John (the staff doesn’t use name tags) to confirm we could pick-up the boxes at 2:30 am, which he confirmed. As you can imagine by now there was no box prepared and we left empty handed to eat a 2-day old muffin at the airport. Again, the same apathy from the staff, as if these were all minor mistakes. Apparently, the kitchen never got the order, they told us, and no one bothered to follow up with them even after diligent follow up. Overall the service provided by the staff was poor for a 3 star hotel and they absolutely have no regard for the customer’s requests. What you didn’t ask you wouldn’t get, and somehow you feel that everything is going to go wrong unless you ask, follow up and essentially do their jobs on their behalf. As I believe it’s clear by now we won’t be coming back to Essque as there are now much better options in the northern/western side of the island. If you value Customer service and Customer Experience I advise you not to choose this hotel. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Decent hotel that could do with a couple of improvements

Aug 16, 2019 misterz1977 San Francisco, California

My wife and I stayed here for 4 days after our Safari experience. My main reservation before showing up here was that it was actually doesn't have a sandy beach on premise (reading from one of the other reviewers), but it turned out OK, we just took taxis to Nungwi beach. The hotel was fine overall, and I thought the food and services were… Read more
My wife and I stayed here for 4 days after our Safari experience. My main reservation before showing up here was that it was actually doesn't have a sandy beach on premise (reading from one of the other reviewers), but it turned out OK, we just took taxis to Nungwi beach. The hotel was fine overall, and I thought the food and services were reasonable (we booked thru a tour operator so I am not sure what the negotiated rates are so hard to say whether that's to be expected at this price point). Like all other reviews, the pool is unbelievable. However, two things could sure use improvements. 1) For our suite, the hot water takes more than 30 mins to be hot enough for a shower. Before that it's simply lukewarm. We complained a couple of times and gave up. 2) The bed in our hut is crazy soft. It's not a mattress but rather some soft padding. After the first night my wife and I both woke up with sore lower backs. We travel a fair amount and this has never ever been an issue for us. We were told all beds are the same and even the night manager on day 2 whom we complained to agreed perhaps they should upgrade to real mattresses. It seems like a small investment, and I certainly hope they make this upgrade for their future guests. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating High End Prices without the High End Service

Aug 9, 2019 Exploration815176

I don't typically write reviews, but I thought it necessary to share my experience at Essque Zalu where I stayed for 4 nights. Like many others, we just completed an amazing Safari experience and were looking for a few nights to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, I feel like I need another vacation after my stay at the hotel and felt obligated to… Read more
I don't typically write reviews, but I thought it necessary to share my experience at Essque Zalu where I stayed for 4 nights. Like many others, we just completed an amazing Safari experience and were looking for a few nights to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, I feel like I need another vacation after my stay at the hotel and felt obligated to share my experiences. Food 2/5: Breakfast was a buffet with a typical African composite of a few hot items (e.g. mushrooms, beans, bacon, sausage), egg station, juices and cereal. However, there were so many flies everywhere on the food and tables that made it very uncomfortable to eat. Quality of the food was just average and I felt that I ate much better at many of the mid-range safari lodges I stayed at. Dinner was very hit or miss, with it missing the majority of the time. For example, the avocado in the avocado salad was so raw that the fork could barely poke through it and I've never had avocado taste sour until now. The fish and meat tended to be overcooked and tough. To top it off, after one dinner, my S.O. developed traveler's diarrhea despite being careful with the water. Dinner Service 0/5: Of all the hotels and lodges that I have ever stayed at, I have never experienced the slowness of the staff that I did at Essque. Dinners will truly test your patience for how long you are willing to wait for your food. After sitting down at a table, it will take almost 10-15min before someone comes by to bring a menu and another 15min before coming back for drink and food orders. They serve a 3-course meal, which would be fine except that it takes extremely long for each course and even a bottle of water to come out. By the 2nd night, we ended up just bringing a water bottle to dinner with us so we wouldn't get dehydrated waiting for drinks. I also stopped asking for desserts, because I knew that it would take them another 40min. At the end of the meal, I would have to ask for the bill to 3-4 different servers until someone finally gave me it after 20min. You could sense the frustration on the majority of the diners as many were waiting for food without even any drinks on their table. One individual got so upset that he was asking why the food was taking over an hour. The server ignored him and while walking away actually had a smile on his face. Essque really needs to train their staff better as there was absolutely no reason for the poor service given that there was plenty of staff (about 1 server per table). WIFI 1/5: They should really change their website to say "slow wifi available in lobby only". Although the WiFi network showed in our rooms, it was so slow that it never worked. Even in the lobby, a website would take almost 30s to download one page Some positives: Environment 4/5: the best thing about the hotel is definitely the views and pool. The lobby is absolutely beautiful with amazing triangular roofs and the infinity pool overlooks the beautiful ocean. The pictures on the website are very reflective of reality. Like many have mentioned, there is not a beach that one can lay on, which was fine with us as we didn't mind lounging around the pool. They also have a small gym, which was nice to get a workout in. Do note that due to the location, there isn't much in terms of activities to do outside of the pool, which would have been fine with us if it wasn't for the poor food and service. Spa 5/5: I got a deep tissue massage and it was probably one of the best back and head massages that I've had. I highly recommend asking for Caroline if she is working. Overall, the resort is very beautiful, but the poor food and especially poor service led to a very unrelaxing stay. If you're looking for some R&R after a safari, I'd highly recommend looking elsewhere. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Wonder hotel

Aug 4, 2019 aviranlevi8

A quiet place on north zanzibar, beautiful views, some of nature shows ..beside the impressive hotel u also can enjoy warm , caring and kind service . People like Josef kadaso the assistant manager that was there for our every requests even the stupid ones Total relax in zalu 🤗
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Bad Experience, Left Early & Dishonest Hotel!

Jul 27, 2019 RyanHarv London, United Kingdom

I stayed at the Essque Zalu for 6/8 nights checking out 2 days early. On first viewing the hotels landscape is done very well and the infinity pool looking out over the Indian Ocean is fantastic. I am not normally one to write a bad review as I know many people use these to base decisions and I would not want a company to suffer on my… Read more
I stayed at the Essque Zalu for 6/8 nights checking out 2 days early. On first viewing the hotels landscape is done very well and the infinity pool looking out over the Indian Ocean is fantastic. I am not normally one to write a bad review as I know many people use these to base decisions and I would not want a company to suffer on my opinion. HOWEVER, there are many things which let this hotel down and in my opinion mean it should not be considered as a choice. Firstly, as others have mentioned the staff are completely dishonest and when expressing concerns with any area of the hotel were extremely dismissive. The room bathroom smelt like sewage from the second day and although I expressed this to the hotel they did not once offer a new room or even check the smell. The WiFi did not work in any area other than reception and when querying this again nothing was done. We also had half board and the food for breakfast is limited and for some reason everything else we ordered came out cold. The hotel is also located in the middle of nowhere, which I understand will be good for some and others prefer being closer to other amenities. To top it off after the bad experience, we agreed with management that we would like to check out early and was offered 2 nights compensatory at a different hotel. We decided to change our flex air ticket and fly home early and agreed that 2 days would be reimbursed. Once home, the hotel then denied any knowledge of this and are refusing to reimburse. We have travelled all over the world from Home Stay & Hostel to 5*+ and this is the worst experience we have had. I would not recommend this hotel one bit, the hotel was quiet but those we did speak to thought similar to us regards hotel etiquette (especially food). Read less