Following our trek to Everest Base Camp, we were looking to spend a few days resting and recuperating before heading home, and Zanzibar caught our attention as a beach destination with great award flight availability and hotel options we could book with points. Scanning our options, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar stuck out for its great location in the heart of Stone Town and the ease of booking with points. Did it live up to expectations? Read on to find out.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar | From $400/night
Booking and Check in
Rates at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar routinely top $400 per night, so if you’re paying cash, expect to take a heavy hit to the wallet. Certain dates dip down below $300, but in my searching, most dates show $400+. Many other hotels in the area also carry hefty rates, which makes award booking all the more attractive.
At the time of our stay, an award night through the World of Hyatt program cost 20,000 points per night, as the property was listed as Category 5. But starting March 19, 2019 the property is moving down to Category 4 meaning it will only cost 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night. Better yet, if you have the World of Hyatt Visa card, you can use the annual Category 1-4 free night certificate when the new pricing takes effect.
We booked 6 nights for 120,000 World of Hyatt points, mostly transferred from our Chase Ultimate Rewards account. Under the new pricing, a 6 night stay will only cost 90,000 Hyatt points. Quite the savings! Either way, we still got to stay at a great property right on the beautiful Zanzibar beach without having to shell out $2,400+.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we were escorted to the check-in desk, greeted as World of Hyatt Explorist members, and given a quick tour of the property.
The main lobby and a number of rooms are in the historic Mambo Msiige, a 19th century Omani style palace built by the former Sultan of Zanzibar for a nobleman. There is some controversy about the conversion of this historic site into a hotel, which we were unaware of before we arrived. Some opposed turning this historic site into a hotel, while others see it as a positive for the local economy. We didn’t know what to think, but decided our position was that we were glad we used points to book the room, and that the money we spent in Zanzibar would go to local shop and restaurant owners instead of an international hotel group.
Adjacent to the historic Mambo Msiige, a new building was constructed with additional rooms, which is where ours was located. The two compliment each other well, and you don’t realize at first that they are separate buildings built in different eras, which is somewhat ironic given that Mambo Msiige means “Do not copy or imitate.”
The only rooms available were Twin rooms, and we were “upgraded” to one with a view of the water. I was hoping we’d get upgraded to a suite of some kind, but I can’t complain too much, as the room was very nice.
A concierge escorted us to the room and showed us all the included amenities. Our room had two double beds, with mosquito netting, which we didn’t have to use as the rooms are well-insulated, but I suppose if you wanted to sleep with the window open and listen to the waves lapping the shore you could make use of the netting.
The bathroom was quite spacious, and had a large tub in front of sliding doors that opened to the sleep area. It also had it’s own monitor, I guess if you just really need to watch TV while taking a bath. There was also a separate shower and toilet behind closed doors.
A pleasant surprise was the included Illy espresso machine and pods. We often got up before the breakfast buffet was open, as we were still adjusting to the time difference, so it was nice to wake up and have coffee available. There was no milk, but we could have gotten some and kept it in our fridge. In the fridge there was an assortment of soft drinks, which were surprisingly available at no extra cost. Also, there were numerous bottles of filtered water which were replenished regularly. We liked that they used glass bottles and had their own on-site refilling station to cut down on plastic use.
Closet space was ample, along with a security safe.
There are two restaurants onsite, oddly called the Dining Room and Living Room. The Dining Room is the main restaurant, and is where breakfast was served, which was included in our stay. You can also sit outside on the veranda with views of the beautiful Indian Ocean and watch dhow ships coming and going. It’s a great way to start your day before hitting Stone Town. The breakfast buffet was delightful, not very expansive, but everything was quite excellent. It mostly consisted of traditional Zanzibari dishes with a few standard international offerings. I especially enjoyed the lamb kofta with rice. A full coffee menu is available, and a fresh juice bar. The staff was very pleasant and friendly, and eager to get us to try the fresh local juices.
The Living Room is a casual space with a full service bar, but you can also order food there. With plenty of options around Stone Town, we only ever ate breakfast at the hotel, although once we enjoyed a snack poolside.
Speaking of the pool, it isn’t very big, but it overlooks the beach toward the ocean, so if you don’t want to fuss with getting sandy on the beach, you can still cool off and enjoy great views.
It’s important to note that the beach in front of the hotel is open to the public, so if you’re expecting a private beach, you will have to look outside of Stone Town for that experience. But we enjoyed interacting with the locals and made a few friends. No one tried to be pushy with us selling us their tours. They genuinely just wanted to talk and get to know you!
Inside the hotel there are also a few spaces to cool off and relax and read a book, but you’ll probably end up spending most of your time by the pool.
If you want to stay close to the action in Stone Town, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar is about as good as it gets. We had no trouble walking to all the area attractions and finding plenty of good, local restaurants to enjoy. The location right on the beach is also very convenient. If you are interested in activities outside of Stone Town, the hotel can arrange those for you, or any of the taxi drivers outside the hotel can also be of assistance. Just be sure to price a few options before committing to anything.
If you’re wanting a beach escape, there are places more ideally suited to that, but for those wanting to mix in a more culturally immersive experience with their beach time, Zanzibar’s storied history makes it an appealing destination. The Park Hyatt Zanzibar represents a great value for those who can book it with points, especially with the reduction in award pricing.