Exciting times today, our first Zanzibar review! If you’re not quite sure where Zanzibar is, it is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off of the coast of East Africa (part of Tanzania). A huge thanks to Hena for sharing her thoughts on her trip to the Baraza Resort and Spa.
My parents, my husband, my two little girls – Aria (3) and Amaya (2) and myself.
Why did we book this hotel?
We were going to be in Kenya for a wedding so decided to venture over the border to Zanzibar for a beach holiday afterward. The hotel came highly recommended from a very hotel savvy friend for its amazing facilities and service!
I booked directly with the hotel but my friend also gave me the email address of the manager who she had met when she went and so I emailed her directly too and she let Aria go for free (Amaya was free already as she was under 2).
The flights were not part of the package but because we were already in Kenya we took a flight from Nairobi which was only 1.5 hours each way. I don’t think you can fly directly to Zanzibar from the UK but you can fly to Nairobi, stop over for a night and then fly to Zanzibar (or not even stop over for a night but a few hours). British Airways and Kenya Airways fly directly to Nairobi and we used Precision Air to fly from Nairobi to Zanzibar.
In Nairobi itself, one day is probably enough as there isn’t much to do with children apart from the Nairobi National Park, The Giraffe Centre and the Elephant Orphanage which could all be done in a day.
The hotel is fully all-inclusive so all meals and alcohol are included. Transfers are extra but the hotel can arrange them. The hotel is just over an hour away from the airport so this should be taken into consideration. We asked the hotel to arrange our transfers and it was all very smooth!
Visas are needed for Zanzibar but can be bought on arrival. They were about US $50. We also needed yellow fever certificates but I think this is because we flew from Kenya but they are worth having just in case.
When did we go?
We went for 6 nights at the end of August and whilst August can generally be rainy in Kenya and Zanzibar, we were very, very lucky and got perfect weather the whole time. Temperatures were between 29 degrees and 32 degrees and there was no rain!
What can I say? It definitely lived up to our expectations in every way possible. It had all the facilities we could want, amazing sofa beds by the pool (so we could all sit on one bed! Someone actually told me the best way to judge a hotel is by the quality of the pool beds so this definitely scored high on the pool bed scale!). The service was amazing and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. There was a kids club too which I will be honest, the kids didn’t even go into let alone use but my friend assured me it was top notch too!
There was free Wi-Fi throughout and apparently an awesome spa (which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to use).
I had booked 2 two bedroom garden villas because they were the cheapest despite having two bedrooms.
The villas were out of this world. They were massive!! Two full sized bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a little fridge area and the biggest lounge ever! The lounge even had a nook separated with a curtain that worked perfectly for a cot! So Aria slept in one room, us in the other and Amaya in the nook (sorry love!).
We also had a big garden with sun loungers and a plunge pool which wasn’t massive but big enough for a quick dip!
The only downside was that these were the furthest rooms from the pool/dining area but the hotel wasn’t massive so this wasn’t a big deal (apart from when we had to drag two tired and grumpy toddlers back and forth at dinner time!) There weren’t any specific baby/kid items provided in the room apart from a cot but I’m sure if we had asked beforehand they would have provided items. We didn’t really need anything else so it was fine.
The hotel was all-inclusive which is very rare for a truly luxurious hotel but it made it a lot easier to basically not leave the hotel at all!
Breakfast and lunch were buffets in the main restaurant near the pool and dinner always occurred in a different restaurant and was either a set meal or buffet if they had a special night (such as Swahili night).
My parents, myself and the kids are vegetarian (and my mum is super fussy with her food), the kids are kids and only eat certain things and my husband doesn’t eat beef, seafood or fruit (don’t ask!) so we were not the easiest bunch to cater for but the chefs did amazingly! We spoke to the head chef on the first day and he said he would make us whatever we wanted for dinner if we told him in the morning and they did actually end up making us two separate 3 course meals every day which was fantastic. The food was all fresh and tasted amazing too.
There were kids menus too but they still made the kids whatever they wanted even if it wasn’t on the menu and Aria still remembers the lunch restaurant and calls it her favourite restaurant (and it takes a lot for something to beat Pizza Express so that’s saying something!)
On the first day we got to the hotel quite late and the kitchen was closed (after 10pm) so they had made sure they left a cold dinner for us in both villas which was great. It would have been good to have known of this before as there really wasn’t anything there that the girls could have eaten but luckily they were both shattered from the journey and fast asleep so it didn’t really matter!
Breakfast finished at 9.30am which was a bit early for us so they kindly brought our breakfast to our villa for us after a few days (there was a nominal tray charge for this which was like £10). Every afternoon they served afternoon tea with teas and coffees and sandwiches and plenty of pastries, cakes and biscuits.
The hotel had a main swimming pool. Each room had its own plunge pool and the spa also had a pool. There was also a private beach which was absolutely lovely and all non-motorised water sports were included in the price.
There was a kids club, a shop and a bar and restaurants. There was a lounge by the pool with board games and a pool table. It was a small, intimate hotel but we didn’t feel anything was missing. On some nights they had entertainment after dinner such as live bands or acrobatic performances
Trips / Excursions
We didn’t actually do any with the kids but my parents did a trip to the old town one morning. They said it was ok, probably not worth going with kids. This was arranged directly by the hotel. There were things available in the hotel such as glass bottom boat rides and walks in the reef during low tide but I would recommend taking crocs or beach shoes for children for these as even though they had shoes that they provided, they didn’t have small sizes.
The staff were very, very friendly and happy to accommodate any crazy request we had.
Hena’s Tips For the Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar
Overall the trip was amazing and we had the best time. If booking this trip I would suggest the following:
- Ensure you have yellow fever jabs done and certificates to prove it.
- If you do book the two bedroom garden villas, be mindful that they are the furthest from the pool / Restaurants / beach so ensure you have a stroller for smaller children.
- Speak to the chef to see if they can make you anything not on the menu.
- Take crocs or beach shoes for the children
- Make sure you take some food if you are arriving late at night.
Would you go back?
Definitely! We are actually thinking of returning in 2016!