Zanzibar Hotels

Beyt al-Chai

This tiny guest house (6 rooms) is located in the heart of Stone Town on Kelele Square (directly opposite Zanzibar Serena), one of the city’s quieter quadrangles. It is housed in an old tea house (hence the name). The hotel has a charming lounge and bar area (the bar works on an honour system), a courtyard restaurant where breakfast is served, and an impressive reception area.

Accommodation at Beyt al-Chai

Rooms are furnished with antiques and luxury fabrics and are well air-conditioned and equipped with ceiling fans. The rooms vary in size and chic, but staff will facilitate a room change if you are unhappy (given the hotel’s size this may not be possible). All rooms have good A/C. There is also a hotel safe. The accommodation is clean both the rooms and the communal areas of the hotel are well cared for.

Service at Beyt al-Chai


The hotel offers a uniquely personal service. Staff are very friendly and obliging. Any problems with rooms, no matter how small, will usually be addressed directly. Reception staff are very knowledgeable and will help organise tours and activities with you if asked.

Some of the hotel’s more authentic features may be disconcerting for the Western traveller. In one suite there is a traditional curtain bathroom. This means that the en suite area is exposed, separated from the main room by only a curtain. The traditional tubs also mean that having the sort of shower one is accustomed to will be tricky. Yet this is all part of experiencing life in an old fashioned Swahili city lodging.

The breakfast included in the hotel price ranges from pastries and toast to eggs and bacon (made to order), with good coffee and juice, all served in a relaxed atmosphere. Service is not rushed however. It you are in a hurry it is best to advise staff who have a laid back and individual service style (unsurprising given the hotel’s size).

Beyt al-Chai’s Location

The hotel is located to the North-western side of Stone Town, close to the sea. This is good area from which to explore and feels safe, even at night. There are a number of restaurants and the night market in Forodhani Gardens within walking distance of the Beyt al-Chai. However, the price paid for this location is its proximity to the mosque. The morning call to prayer is very audible from all hotel rooms. This must be taken as part of Stone Town’s charm as the Muezzin is pretty inescapable wherever one chooses to stay in the city.

How to get to Beyt al-Chai

It is not difficult to reach the Beyt al-Chai which lies on a main thoroughfare opposite the more famous Serena Inn. The hotel can be economically reached by taxi from Zanzibar’s airport otherwise it is a short walk from the local port.

Stone Town itself lies approximately 7 km from Zanzibar airport. The taxi takes approximately 15 minutes to reach the town. Ferry routes link Stone Town with Dar es Salaam daily and with Pemba less frequently. Passengers are warned to beware ticket touts when buying ferry tickets and advised to take the faster, more expensive ferry as travellers have raised safety concerns with the older slower stock of boats.

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