Will you be travelling somewhere in East Africa soon and are wondering where to stay while you are there?
Well, that’s something my readers ask me about often, so I thought I’d put together a resource page for anyone who might be interested.
The recommendations on this page fulfill two requirements: 1) I have been to each of these places myself, and 2) they each have an average user rating of at least 8.0, or “Very Good”, on Booking.com (no need to take just my word for it!)
The establishments listed under each city or town are ordered in a sort of value-for-money ranking, with the high-end options that offer the best value for money at the top of the list and the less expensive establishments that offer good value—or more high-end ones that don’t quite offer as much value—at the bottom.
I will continue to add more recommendations as I discover other great places across the region.
If you would like to find out more about each establishment, simply click on its name to be redirected either to a page on my blog that will tell/show you more about it, or a page off my blog where you’ll not only be able to learn more about the establishment but also to make a booking there.
If you don’t find what you are looking for among these recommendations, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] It would be my pleasure to help you find something better suited to you.
If you do end up staying at any of these establishments, please let me know what you thought in a comment below. (If you have other establishments that you would like to recommend to me and others, also please let me know by leaving a comment below.)
I hope you find my recommendations useful.
Table of Contents
- Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Hotels in Abidjan
- Sofitel Abidjan Hôtel Ivoire – Historically one of the best hotels in Abidjan, Hôtel Ivoire has been renovated relatively recently. The hotel overlooks the Ebrié Lagoon, has beautiful water features, a choice of bars and eateries, and stunning views of downtown Abidjan.
- Hotel Tiama – Good business hotel in the center of downtown Abidjan
- Sheraton Addis – A beautiful grand hotel in the heart of Addis Ababa
- Serena Beach Resort & Spa – The Serena Beach Resort & Spa is my favorite hotel in Mombasa. Why? To begin with, because it has the cleanest beach and the whitest sand that I have ever seen anywhere in Mombasa. Also, everything about the hotel, including its architecture, serves to remind you that you are on the charming Swahili coast. The Serena brand, which I must admit I am partial to, lives up to its promise of great food and amazing service at this establishment too. Another thing I particularly like at the Serena Beach Resort & Spa is the quiet calm at the establishment. The only thing that could be a bit of an issue here is that the Serena Beach Resort & Spa, located on Shanzu Beach, is about a 20-minute drive from the livelier parts of Mombasa. This may or may not be a problem depending on what kind of Mombasa holiday you have planned.
- Fairmont The Norfolk – Old-world charm near the heart of downtown Nairobi. Fairmont the Norfolk also features beautiful gardens, award-winning culinary experiences, and a fantastic bar.
- Nairobi Serena Hotel – One of my favorite hotels in Nairobi (my experience of it spans more than 30 years), the Nairobi Serena Hotel makes me think of one word: excellence. Beautiful charming décor meets delectable food and efficient, warm staff ready to cater to your every need.
- Sarova Stanley – Located at the heart of Nairobi’s central business district, the Sarova Stanley offers you a way to really get a feel of the pulse of Nairobi. A historical hotel closely tied to the origins of Nairobi as a city (the hotel has existed since 1902 and was Nairobi’s first luxury hotel), the Sarova Stanley offers a lot of old-world charm but also everything you would expect from a modern-day 5-star hotel. Despite it being so centrally located in noisy Nairobi, the silence achieved in the luxuriously decorated rooms is amazing! I had one of the best night’s sleep of my LIFE(!) at the Sarova Stanley.
- Sarova Panfric – Located right outside Nairobi’s central business district, the Sarova Panafric (which has been undergoing renovations for a seemingly long time) offers what you would expect from any standard business hotel. The rooms are clean and the beds comfortable. The Sarova Panafric is less expensive than the three offerings further up this list. My favorite part of the hotel is the balcony of its Flame Tree Restaurant, which I’ve frequented often over the years, even when not staying at Panafric. They serve a mean quick business lunch!
- Fairview Hotel – When I first stayed at the Fairview Hotel in the ’90s, I made a mental note never to do so again. A decade—and a beautiful renovation—later, Fairview Hotel became one of my preferred places for a workday lunch. Beautiful gardens and several noteworthy eateries to choose from are some of the things that you can expect to find at the Fairview Hotel. You’ll also find cozy spaces and a general feel of historic-meets-contemporary. The one thing that bothers me at the Fairview Hotel, though, is the heightened security—the hotel is located opposite the Israeli embassy. Still, if terrorist attacks while travelling are something you worry about, then this could easily be one of the safest places in Nairobi.
- Swiss Lenana Mount Hotel – Mid-range hotel on the edge of a residential area. Close to the central business district. Good sauna.
- Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi – Run by the South African hospitality group, Tsogo Sun, the Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi is a good hotel located near the trendy neighborhood of Westlands. Within close proximity of two major malls and lots of chic restaurants, clubs, and bars, one of the The Mayfair’s main attraction is its location. It’s also set on beautiful grounds with lots of greenery and has a Spur steakhouse (that serves amazing ribs) on the premises of the hotel. That said, it’s a little expensive for what it is.
- Silver Springs Hotel – 4-star hotel in the busy neighborhood of Hurlingham. On the same street as Nairobi Hospital, one of Nairobi’s best hospitals. Beautiful spacious renovated rooms. The Deluxe Suites are tastefully decorated, spacious, and fitted with a jacuzzi. Good food. Pretty decor. Great gym and spa.
- Jacaranda Hotel Nairobi – Located on a leafy jacaranda-tree-lined street at the heart of Westlands, one of Nairobi’s trendiest neighborhoods, Jacaranda Hotel is a 2-star basic hotel. When I was last there, I remember feeling that it was somewhat dark, but for the price and location, it could well be the place for you. It’s in walking distance of malls, markets, interesting stores, services, banks, supermarkets…you name it. And well, Westlands is known for its chic restaurants, bars and clubs. You get the drift… 🙂
- Salmiya Place – This is a personal favorite of mine and one of my preferred places to stay in Nairobi. Why? Because it offers AMAZING value for money. For as low as $65, you can get a room in a luxuriously decorated apartment near Valley Arcade (a small shopping center with many eateries and some basic services). The service at Salmiya Place, in the form of its caretaker Pauline, is outstanding! The decor is beautiful; the beds super comfortable. For me, the location is very prime because most things I’d want to do in Nairobi are an easy, inexpensive Uber ride away. If you are looking for a great budget place to stay in Nairobi, I HIGHLY recommend Salmiya Place.
- Methodist Guest House & Conference Center – As its name suggests, the Methodist Guest House is a Christian facility (and therefore serves no alcohol). When I think of the Methodist Guest House, the three words that come to mind are basic, safe, and no-frills. If that is what you are looking for, this could be the place for you (though I think it is expensive for what it is). Well-located at the edge of Lavington, an upscale neighborhood, the 100-room Methodist Guest House is particularly well-suited for large groups. Despite my description of the guest house as basic, it does have a 25-meter outdoor swimming pool and nice green grounds. The Methodist Guest House is close to a bus stop and so is convenient if you plan to navigate Nairobi by public transportation.
- Safari Park Hotel – Located further away from central Nairobi than any other establishment on this list, Safari Park Hotel is still worth a mention because it’s a great establishment that’s a world unto its own. Safari Park Hotel may be the choice for you if you don’t have much business in central Nairobi or if your business happens to be close to where the hotel is located (for instance anything to do with the United States International University – Africa). Built on 50 acres off Thika Road, Safari Park Hotel feels very much like a resort with an emphasis on “safari chic”. Beautiful woodsy decor and animal print meet beautifully landscaped outdoor spaces complete with water features and a host of restaurants, events & conference rooms, a casino, a nightclub and more. Safari Park Hotel serves good food in several restaurants offering different cuisines. One of the highlights of the Safari Park Hotel experience is the nightly 9 p.m. stage show at the Nyama Choma Ranch restaurant. This is worth experiencing even if you don’t stay at the Safari Park Hotel.
- Town Lodge Upper Hill – When I think of Town Lodge Upper Hill, the words that come to mind are compact, super-clean, neat, and efficient. Located next to the more upscale Fairview Hotel and owned by the same hospitality group, Town Lodge is really a 2-for-1 deal: you get to use the services of both establishments at the lower price of Town Lodge. The rooms are very small but have everything you need. Town Lodge is somewhat no-frills but the services provided are done so perfectly. Just like at the Fairview Hotel, the security at Town Lodge is tight because of the interconnectedness of the two establishments and their proximity to the Isreali embassy. Town Lodge is close to several good medical facilities in Nairobi, namely Upper Hill Medical Center and Nairobi Hospital. It’s also quite close to Nairobi’s central business district.
READ ALSO: 5 Places to Stay in Nairobi for $50 or Less
- Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club – If you are looking for luxury accommodation from where to enjoy the beauty of Mount Kenya, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club might be the place for you. Set on 100 acres in Nanyuki, and originally the holiday retreat of American movie star William Holden, Mount Kenya Safari Club has grounds and views that are simply to die for. The food is good, there are lots of activities to participate in, and what amazed me most when I was given a tour of the property is the variety of accommodation available. There seemed to be something for everyone!
- Sweetwaters Serena Camp – Sweetwaters Serena Camp was my first experience of a tented camp. What surprised me most was how luxurious the “tents” were. These tents had solid floors, electricity, ensuite bathrooms with hot-water showers and flushing toilets, wardrobes, and a turndown service that gave you the pleasure of discovering a hot water bottle when you slid into your bed at night. Still, that was not the best part of the Sweetwaters experience for me. The best would have to be sitting on the private veranda in front of my tent taking in the view and having animals wandering up to what felt like the front of my tent to drink from the waterhole near the hotel (luckily, there was a trench between the waterhole and tents, so the animals couldn’t actually get all the way to the tent). The food at Sweetwaters Serena Camp is very good, and all in all what amazes me most about Sweetwaters is how the experience of being in the wild can coexist so seamlessly with the feeling of being in the lap of luxury.
- The Ark – The Ark is a once in a lifetime experience. This lodge, modeled on Noah’s Ark from the Bible, overlooks a floodlit waterhole and salt lick inside the Aberdare National Park. Once you get to The Ark, doors are locked at 6 p.m. and, for your safety, not unlocked again until six o’clock in the morning. In that time, you get to be holed up in The Ark as animals come to drink at the nearby brightly lit waterhole. From there, you get to watch them up close and personal as they remain completely oblivious to you. The best way I can sum up the experience is that it feels like coming eye-to-eye with an elephant…all that while you dine, have drinks, and connect with fellow guests in a cozy cabin-like interior, complete with a fire burning in the fireplace. The Ark offers a completely magical experience that I recommend highly.
- The Aberdare Country Club – To get to The Ark, you first have to check in at its sister establishment, the Aberdare Country Club, which is an amazing place to be in and of itself. Why? Because set in a 1300-acre wildlife sanctuary in the Aberdare Highlands—which are part of The Great Rift Valley—the Aberdare Country Club offers views that had me proclaiming this area the most beautiful part of Kenya I had ever seen. The views, consisting of the Solio Game Sanctuary (famous for its rhinos) to the north, the Aberdare Mountains to the west, and Mount Kenya to the east, are simply stunning! All this you get to enjoy from an establishment steeped in Kenyan settler charm and from cottages lined up Kamatongu Hill: the higher up the hill, the better the view. The food at the Aberdare Country Club is plentiful and amazing, and the nature walks are not to be missed (the Aberdare Country Club Game Sanctuary is home to zebra, giraffe, impala, warthog, duikers, leopards, and many species of birds)!
- Moriah Hill Resort – One doesn’t normally think of beautiful water experiences when they think of Rwanda—especially that it is landlocked—but Lake Kivu, in Western Rwanda, is one of the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever seen. Karongi/Kibuye (new name/old name), an easy 3-hour drive from Kigali, is one town from which you can enjoy Lake Kivu. Moriah Hill Resort, on the shores of Lake Kivu, is one of the best properties in the area. From there, you can arrange excursions to tour the lake by boat or simply enjoy lake views from the privacy of your room.
- Kigali Serena Hotel – Centrally located luxury business hotel. Beautiful environment. Great friendly service. Cozy, comfortable rooms. Historically, one of the best hotels in Kigali.
- Radisson Blu Hotel & Kigali Convention Centre – If you have seen a recent photo of Kigali’s skyline at night, then I am almost certain you have seen the iconic lit-up dome—a nod to the shape of traditional Rwandan huts—of the Radisson Blu Hotel & Kigali Convention Centre. The Radisson Blu Hotel is a self-proclaimed conference hotel, and you definitely feel that when you are there. Everything is sparkly clean and the spaces are big, big, big. With 291 rooms, the Radisson Blu Hotel is the place to stay if you are attending an event at the Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali’s premier event venue. The service is great and friendly…typical of Rwandan hospitality.
- Ubumwe Grande Hotel – Ultra-modern, ultra-swanky new hotel in Kigali. Amazing rooftop bar & grill with a pool that offers dazzling views of the city. Beautiful big rooms with spacious balconies. There is very little not to like, though the ultra-modern design can feel a bit sterile at times. Ubumwe Grande is located in downtown Kigali.
- Hotel Chez Lando – If I had to choose one word to describe Hotel Chez Lando, it would have to be the French word ‘sympa’ (sorry, no English word describes it as succinctly—understand: nice & easy). From its beautiful lush gardens, to its spacious rooms (with great bathrooms, by the way!), delicious food, and its Chez Lando Grill (which is a great place to hang out, whether or not you are staying at the hotel), Hotel Chez Lando very quickly begins to feel like home-away-from-home. It’s very well priced relative to the establishments further up this list and is a good option if you need to be close to the airport. Hotel Chez Lando, located in the business district of Remera, is a 5-minute drive from Kigali International Airport and offers both 24-hour check-in and complimentary airport transfers.
- Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel – If you are looking for a place to stay that is not just a hotel but also an entire social enterprise that serves AMAZING food and has great, warm service, then Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel is the place for you. Located in the tranquil upscale neighborhood of Kiyovu, Heaven Boutique Hotel is a 22-room 4-star establishment stretched out over 3 properties on the same street. Very colorful and charming, though a bit expensive for what it is. Heaven Restaurant is consistently rated among Kigali’s top restaurants with an ambiance and culinary creativity that is hard to beat!
- Lemigo Hotel – Kigali’s largest 4-star hotel, Lemigo Hotel is a walking distance from the Kigali Convention Centre. It has a beautiful outdoor area, with a big swimming pool (complete with a swim-up bar). The service at Lemigo Hotel is particularly friendly and attentive to detail. Good spa facilities as well as notable beauty salons in adjoining buildings.
- Virunga Hotel – If you are in beautiful Musanze/Ruhengeri (new name/old name), chances are you are on your way to Volcanoes National Park to see Rwanda’s famous gorillas. That’s sort of what took me there. Virunga Hotel is a good hotel in Musanze town. It’s neat and clean. The beds are comfortable. The bathrooms have nice hot water. The Wi-Fi’s great. The food is good and, above all, the service is very friendly.
Hotels in Arusha
- Kibo Palace Hotel – In the heart of Arusha, an easy walking distance from many points of interest, lies Kibo Palace Hotel, which offers amenities that you can expect from most urban hotels. Spacious, well-decorated rooms with very comfortable beds, beautiful views of Mount Meru, a wide selection of delicious food to choose from—these are just some of the things you will find at Kibo Palace Hotel. Professional service and good meeting rooms too.
- Mount Meru Hotel – Modern luxury hotel in Arusha with great views of Mount Meru. Beautiful lush gardens and a relaxing swimming pool area. Professonal service and good food. My favourite hotel in Arusha.
- Arusha Giraffe Lodge – When you are budget travelling, there’s nothing better than finding accommodation at a steal that is safe and that provides everything you are looking for in terms of a place to stay. Arusha Giraffe Lodge is one such place. Housed in a residential property that has been converted into a lodge, Arusha Giraffe Lodge is small and efficient. The space is a little cramped to maximize the services provided, but that said: the beds are unforgettably comfortable, the water from the shower is nice and hot, the food is good, it has a well-stocked bar complete with a bar seating area, and the service is very friendly. The lodge has a safe parking (useful if you are driving your own car), and free transportation is provided to and from both Arusha town and Arusha airport. If budget is your primary consideration when travelling to Arusha, then I recommend Arusha Giraffe Lodge wholeheartedly!
- Kilimanjaro Eco Lodge – About 40 minutes outside Arusha, in Usa River, lies Kilimanjaro Eco Lodge. Clean, comfortable accommodation housed on grounds with lots of foliage and verdant nature. Beautiful views of Mount Meru.
- Rivertrees Country Inn – Rivertrees Country Inn is a charming upmarket establishment in Usa River, about 40 minutes outside Arusha. It counts among its former guests: two German presidents, the Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall, and Jane Goodall, to name a few. Set on lovely grounds with lots of trees and a river running through the premises, Rivertrees Country Inn is a haven of peace and tranquility. The cottages are very spacious with lots of privacy. The service is very friendly, and the atmosphere relaxing.
- The Walkgard Transit Hotel – If you will soon be visiting my hometown Bukoba, then a reliable place to stay is The Walkgard Transit Hotel. An easy walking distance from many parts of town, including the main bus stand, which is a 10-minute walk away, The Walkgard Transit Hotel, has spacious clean rooms, beautiful outdoor spaces, and good food (though that may take a while to come). The Walkgard Transit Hotel can help you organize tourist activities in and around Bukoba.
- Balili Mountain Resort – You are probably wondering where in the world Bunda is and why you would want an accommodation recommendation for it, so let me start there: Bunda is a small town about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Mwanza, but more importantly, Bunda is a 20-minute drive from the Ndabaka Gate of the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. Balili Mountain Resort is one for adventure lovers! It lies at the top of Balili Mountain in Bunda. You can hike up and down the mountain, but you can also drive there (warning: the drive is scary but safe!). Once there, you will see beautiful views of the Serengeti, Bunda town, and Lake Victoria. If you hike to the viewpoint at the very top of the mountain, you’ll see a 360° view that is one of the most beautiful I have seen in Tanzania. The accommodation at the resort itself, is simple but very clean. The staff at Balili Mountain Resort have a great passion for their establishment and go out of their way to make sure their guests have a great time.
Dar es Salaam Hotels
- Sea Cliff Hotel – My absolute favorite place in the whole of Dar es Salaam is the upper outdoor deck at the Karambezi Café located at the Sea Cliff Hotel. Why? Because of the UNBEATABLE ocean views. This is a place I often take people to, and some have even been known to change their departure date from Dar es Salaam once they have been there. Yes, the view at Sea Cliff Hotel is that powerful! The hotel is beautifully decorated. The food at its restaurants is fantastic. The service is some of the best you’ll find in Dar es Salaam. As you can tell, I can’t find much negative to say about it. Just click the button below to find out more.
- Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel – One of the two most prestigious hotels in Dar es Salaam, the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel is located in the heart of the city. Although it has beautiful gardens, it generally doesn’t have the delightful ocean views that are so special in Dar es Salaam. From some rooms/places in the hotel you can see the Indian Ocean in the distance but nothing compared to what you can get at the Sea Cliff Hotel or at The Hyatt Regency. Still, the rooms are very comfortable; the service is amazing and very customer oriented. The food is good and, as I mentioned earlier, the gardens are beautiful!
- Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro – When the Who’s Who stay in Dar es Salaam, there is a great chance that they will stay at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro. The Hyatt Regency, located on Dar es Salaam’s downtown waterfront offers magnificent views of Dar es Salaam’s harbour (best enjoyed from Level 8), the hotel’s rooftop bar. The rooms are beautiful and comfortable (though frankly I find them a little underwhelming given all the hype surrounding The Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam). The Hyatt has some excellent eateries, including Oriental, a great East Asian restaurant, and the Flame Tree Lounge, which is where in my family birthday cakes are always ordered (they are simply delicious!).
- Sea Cliff Court Hotel & Luxury Apartments – Nestled in the affluent neighborhood of Masaki on the Msasani Peninsula, Sea Cliff Court Hotel & Luxury Apartments always gives me the feeling of being one of Dar es Salaam’s best kept secrets. Featuring studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments that all have kitchens, the accommodation at Sea Cliff Court can be rented on a daily or monthly basis, self-catering or not. Whatever the case, Sea Cliff Court also features two reputable restaurants, so meals are always available on the premises. Sea Cliff Court also has a beautiful swimming pool and a gym.
- Azure Boutique Resort – Dar es Salaam is a big city plagued with serious traffic jams, so the first thing I will have to point out to you, if you are thinking of staying at Azure Boutique Resort, is that it is located on Dar es Salaam’s northern Mbezi Beach strip. This is not particularly far from the city center, but if your business in Dar es Salaam requires you to commute during rush hour, then this might not be the place for you. If, on the other hand, your are in Dar es Salaam for leisure and are looking for an inexpensive place to stay on the beach, then this new Dar es Salaam offering (it used to be the Beachcomber Hotel until very recently), might just be what you are looking for. Right on the ocean, in an area full of beach hotels and water-related activities, Azure Boutique Resort is particularly quiet and peaceful. On top of proximity to the ocean, it also has a big beautifully maintained swimming pool. The service is friendly and attentive, but the choice of food and beverages is a little limited.
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar es Salaam Oysterbay – If you are looking for easy, apartment style accommodation, then the Protea Hotel Oysterbay might be the place for you. With friendly staff, the Protea Hotel Oysterbay offers studios, lofts, and one to three bedroom apartments—each with a kitchenette—in an open airy environment. The hotel also has a restaurant, so though self-catering is an option, meals are also readily available. This establishment is in a prime location, in the upscale residential neighborhood of Oysterbay, only a short 10-minute ride from downtown Dar es Salaam.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Dar es Salaam Oysterbay – The Msasani Peninsula is home to some of the best restaurants, shops, clubs, and bars in Dar es Salaam. DoubleTree by Hilton Dar es Salaam—Oyster Bay is a great place from which you can enjoy these. Located right next to The Slipway, a popular shopping and leisure center, within a few minutes walk from the DoubleTree hotel, you can buy local arts and crafts, catch a boat to scenic Bongoyo Island, and have a meal at some of Dar es Salaam’s best restaurants. At the DoubleTree itself, you get to enjoy bright clean surroundings with very professional service. The Double Tree has a choice of restaurants, beautiful green gardens with a swimming pool, and a selection of outdoor spaces from which you can fully enjoy glorious sunsets over Msasani Bay.
- Ramada Resort Dar es Salaam – Ramada Resort Dar es Salaam is one of Dar es Salaam’s premier beachfront properties. Like Azure Boutique Resort, Ramada Resort is also on the Mbezi Beach hotel strip, so pay attention to this if you have to commute to town regularly while you are in Dar es Salaam, especially if you have to do so during rush hour. That said, if you are on a leisure holiday or your business in Dar es Salaam doesn’t take you too far from Mbezi Beach, Ramada Resort with its white sands, beautiful swimming pool, and amazing ocean views might be the place for you. I find the food and drinks at Ramada unnecessarily expensive, especially that the food doesn’t always live up to expectations. Still, the location and environment are great pluses. Be sure to get an ocean facing room if you can. The ocean-facing suites are particularly delightful.
- Southern Sun Dar es Salaam – If you want to stay in downtown Dar es Salaam, then the beautiful Southern Sun Dar es Salaam is a place to consider. I say this first because of its location: the Southern Sun is conveniently located in a leafy part of the city centre that is a walking distance not only from the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre but also Mirambo Street (a street that is home to many embassies and international organizations and that I affectionately call Dar es Salaam’s Embassy Row), as well as many government offices. At the Southern Sun Dar es Salaam, you’ll find friendly professional service and beautiful artfully decorated spaces. The thing that takes me to the Southern Sun Dar es Salaam regularly, though, is the food. It is officially my favorite place to have lunch if I am in downtown Dar es Salaam, and the daily breakfast buffet served from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m (1 p.m. on weekends and public holidays) is not only delicious but outstanding in its breadth of choice.
- Colosseum Boutique Hotel & Spa – The Colosseum Boutique Hotel & Spa is a charming little hotel in the heart of Dar es Salaam’s upscale Oysterbay neighborhood. Notable for it’s unsual-for-Dar-es-Salaam Greco-Roman-inspired architecture, the Colosseum Hotel’s salient feature is its fitness facility of the same name. Colosseum Gym, Dar es Salaam’s premier fitness facility, not only offers three well-equipped cardiovascular and weights studios but also a large pool, two squash courts, and about 40 aerobics classes a week including spinning, step aerobics, kickboxing (Oyster Bay), yoga, and Pilates. Use of the Colosseum Gym is complimentary for all guests of the hotel. If top fitness facilities are paramount to you, then this might be the hotel you are looking for. The rooms at the Colosseum Hotel are particularly spacious. The hotel also has a good spa and a branch of the trendy South African restaurant chain News Cafe.
- Harbour View Suites – If you want to stay in downtown Dar es Salaam, the Harbor View Suites is a hotel to consider. Located in the heart of the city centre, Harbour View Suites offers both regular and self-catering accommodation (in the form of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites with kitchenettes). Harbour View Suites also has a good restaurant, Flavours, that offers fantastic views. This is where you can find my best local secret place in Dar es Salaam. Harbour View Suites features a gym and swimming pool. It is located within a big commercial building, with the hotel taking up only a few floors of that building. This unusual location and the navigation it necessitates is a small drawback of the establishment. Harbour View Suites is only a 5-minute walk from the Zanzibar ferry terminal.
- Hotel Slipway – Hotel Slipway, found at The Slipway, a popular Dar es Salaam leisure and entertainment center, is the place to stay for those who want to be at the heart of the everyday life of the city’s well-heeled. At The Slipway, you will find beautiful boutiques, lots of arts and crafts, your choice of great restaurants and bars, and some of the best sunsets you can witness in Dar es Salaam. That said, the rooms in the older wing of the hotel are a little dated and, for me, not what I would expect from this part of town (Hotel Slipway is located on the Msasani Peninsula, Dar es Salaam’s most affluent locale). If you’ve got a little more to splurge, and yet still want to take advantage of all that is on offer at The Slipway, I would consider staying at The DoubleTree Hotel next door. For the young, trendy, and artsy, though, Hotel Slipway is an easy way to enjoy some of the best that Dar es Salaam has to offer.
- Best Western Coral Beach Hotel – If you love beautiful sunsets, then you are in for a treat at the Best Western Coral Beach Hotel (this is a place where Dar es Salaam locals go for those too). Coral Beach Hotel is located on the same street as two other establishments already featured on this list: DoubleTree Hotel and Hotel Slipway. So…how does Coral Beach differ from these two? Above all, Coral Beach Hotel is the most peaceful and relaxing of the three. Whereas the DoubleTree is more of a standard business hotel, and Hotel Slipway is a hive of activity given its location in a popular entertainment and leisure center, Coral Beach Hotel feels very much like a big private villa with its beautiful lush gardens, indoor rock fountain features, and multi-level spread. The rooms are neat and beautifully decorated, some with ocean views. The Beach Club, a swanky restaurant at the hotel located by the ocean, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Indian Ocean, while having bites and drinks. The service throughout the hotel is somewhat lackadaisical, though, and the food is a little touch-and-go: at times it is very good (especially the Indian cuisine), sometimes not so good.
- Best Western Plus Peninsula Hotel – Good, functional hotel with spacious rooms located centrally on the Msasani Peninsula. Friendly service & good breakfast.
- Jangwani Sea Breeze Resort – If you are coming to Dar es Salaam for a budget beachside holiday, then Jangwani Sea Breeze Resort might be just the place for you. A very popular establishment, even for Dar es Salaam locals, Jangwani Sea Breeze Resort has good access to the beach, 3 swimming pools, and entertainment on weekends and public hoidays. Jangwani Sea Breeze Resort is very well priced and serves noteworthy breakfast (my ex-boyfriend and I used to go there often for regular breakfast dates). The accommodation facilities are a bit dated and simple, but they are very clean and serve the purpose. I do not recommend this hotel if you are in Dar es Salaam for business. Jangwani Sea Breeze Resort is located on Mbezi Beach, which is quite a while away from dowtown Dar es Salaam, especially during rush hour.
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar es Salaam Courtyard – If you need to stay in downtown Dar es Salaam, but want to stay at a hotel that doesn’t feel like you are in the city centre, then Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar es Salaam Courtyard might be the place for you. For many years, I had my reservations about this hotel, but I recently spent the better part of a week there, and I have since formed a new opinion. The central outdoor courtyard around which the hotel, which first opened in 1948, is built is tranquil and sheltered. The staff is very professional and friendly, and the food is actually quite good.
- Saadani Tourist Center – Hostel – If you are looking for an inexpensive/budget place to stay in Dar es Salaam, then you might want to consider the Saadani Tourist Center. I discovered this establishment by accident one day while looking for accommodation for interns from work. I was immediately impressed with the organization and pleasantness of the place. The exterior, complete with a small swimming pool, was brightly decorated and felt particularly inviting. The staff was very accommodating when I tried to find out more about the establishment. Something to watch out for is the location: Saadani Tourist Center is located in the residential area of Mikocheni not close to a main road. Finding transportation could be a little tricky, but then again there are several ride-hailing services in Dar es Salaam now, such as Uber and Taxify, so there are ways around this. Saadani Tourist Center is very well priced.
- Kipepeo Beach and Village – Many of Dar es Salaam’s beaches are highly commercialized, noisy, and because of proximity to urban waste, have dirty water that many people choose not to swim in. When I want to spend time at the beach in Dar es Salaam, includng swimming in the ocean, I go to one of two places: Mbudya Island or Kipepeo Beach in Kigamboni. Why? Because in those two places I am sure to find clean ocean water as well as the simplicity and calm that I expect when I spend time at the ocean. On top of very good, well-priced food, a well-stocked bar, and good service, Kipepeo Beach also offers budget accommodation in the form of beach bandas (huts) and chalets. Beware though: Kipepeo Beach is located in Kigamboni, which is a 5-minute ferry ride from downtown Dar es Salaam across Dar es Salaam harbour. The establishment is then a further 20-minute drive from the ferry terminal. The Kigmboni ferry can get very crowded and runs on an erratic schedule, so I do not recommend this option if 1) you are in Dar es Salaam for business, 2) if you plan to cross over to the city often, or 3) if you plan on having late nights out on the town. Kipepo Beach is a good choice if you are looking for a calm, leisurely, beach-based Dar es Salaam holiday.
- Mediterraneo Hotel & Conference Room – On the shores of the Dar es Salaam residential neighborhood of Kawe (between Mikocheni and Mbezi Beach), is a charming boutique hotel called Mediterraneo. With beautiful gardens that are a delight both during the day and at night, artistically decorated Mediterraneo is also home to one of Dar es Salaam’s most popular Italian restaurants of the same name. The experience of the Indian Ocean and the views across it, at Mediterraneo, are simply stunning! Before I moved to Dar es Salaam, this is one of the places that first made me fall in love with the city. Mediterraneo is a small one-level boutique hotel with tastefully decorated rooms and well-fitted modern bathrooms. It has a swimming pool near the ocean and beach access. Kawe Beach, where Mediterraneo is located is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Dar es Salaam (longer during rush hour), so beware of this if you need to commute to other parts of the city, especially at that time.
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar es Salaam Amani Beach – 33 kilometers south of downtown Dar es Salaam lies the lovely Protea Hotel by Marriot Dar e Salaam Amani Beach. Idyllic, tranquil, and with only 10 cottages, Amani Beach offers one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere near Dar es Salaam…complete with a four-poster bed. The food is simple but good. The service is very friendly. If you want an unadulterated, quiet beach away from the city, this might be the perfect place for you.
Hotels in Karatu
- TanzanIce Farm Lodge – When you visit the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the ways to reduce the cost of your safari is to stay outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in nearby Karatu. TanzanIce Farm Lodge, located 12 kilometers from the Lodoare Gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is a place I recommend highly. A Tanzanian/Icelandic collaboration, TanzanIce Farm Lodge is a farmhouse located on an operational farm and fully fledged social enterprise. It is very neat and clean, and the customer service is among some of the best I have encountered anywhere in years! The accommodation is simple and well-priced. The (super-)hot-water shower with strong pressure is a delight when you are on safari. The food is good, but a little expensive for what it is. Still, I recommend TanzanIce Farm Lodge wholeheartedly!
- Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge – You may recognize the “vanishing horizon” swimming pool of Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge from Instagram— it’s one of those Instagram-worthy places—and that is probably one of the things that would take you there: the stunning vistas seen from this lodge. When you are visiting Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit—Lake Manyara National Park & Ngorongoro Crater/Conservation Area to be precise—Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is a splurge option. And oh, what a breathtaking splurge it is!
- Lawns Hotel – If you are planning a trip to the beautiful mountainous district of Lushoto, and want to stay in Lushoto town, then a place I recommend is the Lawns Hotel, which is over a 100 years old and has been owned and run by a Cypriot-Tanzanian family for three generations. The hotel’s early 20th-century architecture is charming; the views of the Usambara Mountains from the hotel are mesmerizing; but, above all, the service from the staff and owner who will stop at nothing to give you what you want while you are a guest of the hotel will be sure to have you leaving the Lawns Hotel with a smile on your face. The Lawns Hotel is also very pocket friendly.
READ ALSO: Lushoto, Tanga, Tanzania
- Tan-Swiss Lodge – If you are headed to Mikumi National Park and are looking for fairly priced accommodation right outside the park, then one place you should consider is Tan-Swiss Lodge. I wrote about Tan-Swiss Lodge extensively here, but to give you some highlights: Tan-Swiss Lodge is neat, clean, and colorful. It is well-priced, with spacious rooms, good bathrooms, a kids’ play area, and a big swimming pool. It’s very close to the entrance of Mikumi National Park, and serves unexpectedly good food. For more details, click here.
- Mama Pierina Restaurant and Annex – If you are headed to Morogoro, and are looking for an easy, inexpensive laid back place (think: backpackers or hostel style), then the charming, quaint Mama Pierina Restaurant and Annex is a place to consider. The owner and staff are very friendly. The food is unexpectedly-for-Morogoro delicious. Mama Pierina Restaurant and Annex is in the compound of a converted home and feels very safe.
- Malaika Beach Resort – If you will be in Mwanza and want a beautiful place from which to enjoy the best of Lake Victoria’s beauty, then Malaika Beach Resort might be just the place for you. Plush well-maintained grounds, with gorgeous views of the lake. Neat, beautiful rooms and a swimming pool also with views of the lake (as you can see above). Malaika Beach Resort is only a 10-minute drive from Mwanza airport and the resort offers complimentary airport transfers.
- Hotel Tilapia – When I am in Mwanza, even for a few hours, I make it a point to drop by Hotel Tilapia, which is my favorite place in Mwanza. Why? Because the terrace bar/restaurant with it’s sensational view of Lake Victoria and the rocks that earn Mwanza its nickname Rock City is so worth it! The rooms are not as impeccable as at Malaika Beach Resort, but win-some—lose-some…I guess. 😉
- Adden Palace Hotel – If it’s not important for you to stay on the shores of Lake Victoria when you are in Mwanza, or if budget is a big consideration, then the place you want to stay is Adden Palace Hotel. Located near Mwanza airport, Adden Palace Hotel is very neat and clean. The rooms are particularly comfortable—not only the beds but also the good air-conditioning and thick curtains that make the room very dark. The service is very attentive. The food is good, and the lively outdoor bar is a nice place to hang out.
- Ryan’s Bay Hotel – Pleasant modern hotel on the shores of Lake Victoria. Beautiful grounds with large swimming pool. Friendly service and good views of the lake.
- Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge – One of a handful of hotels located on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, as you would expect, offers amazing views of this astonishing feat of nature. Built with natural materials, such as stone, timber, and rope, the architecture of the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge keeps in line with the natural environment around it and does not detract from the magnificence of where you are. Cozy spaces meet welcoming, professional service…and good food!
- Kasha Boutique Hotel – If you are looking for a delightful seaside getaway when you are in Zanzibar, then you will have to leave Stone Town and head to another part of the island. Matemwe, on the east coast of Zanzibar is one such part of the island where you won’t have to fight off crowds. In Matemwe, Kasha Boutique Hotel is a colorful, delightful, serene place where the rooms are beautifully decorated and have everything you need to enjoy yourself by the ocean including a private terrace with a sea view and a personal plunge pool. The food is very good and the service attentive. There is not much to do in the proximity of Kasha Boutique Hotel, though, other than water-related activities, so if this is your destination, be prepared to spend your time there whiling away peacefully and calmly at the hotel.
- Park Hyatt Zanzibar – When money is not an issue and you are visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar, the place to stay is the Park Hyatt Zanzibar. The latest, most modern high-end offering on Stone Town’s waterfront, Park Hyatt Zanzibar features everything you would expect from an international luxury hotel. With amazing views of the Indian Ocean and of the charming hustle and bustle of Stone Town’s waterfront, Park Hyatt Zanzibar is within walking distance of most points of interest in Stone Town.
- Zanzibar Serena Hotel – Right next to the Park Hyatt Zanzibar is Stone Town’s other best offering: the Zanzibar Serena Hotel. At this beautiful, charming hotel that does a great job of capturing the unique feel of Stone Town, you’ll not only find understated luxury but also a level of attentive, professional service that is synonymous with the Serena brand. The food at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel is noteworthy, especially the breakfast; the dining room right at the ocean’s edge is unforgettable. The nightly live Taarab music performances at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel are worth experiencing, whether or not you stay at the hotel.
- Dhow Palace Hotel – Away from the more expensive hotels that line Stone Town’s waterfront, are the charming hotels found in the rich maze of Stone Town’s alleys. One steeped in history—the original building dates back to 1559—is the Dhow Palace Hotel. The Dhow Palace Hotel describes itself as a living museum, and I couldn’t concur more. When you stay at the Dhow Palace Hotel, you have to stop and take a closer look at everything: the bed, the bathtub, the knickknacks in the common areas, the pictures on the wall. Staying at the Dhow Palace Hotel, brings to life the experience of being in Stone Town.
- Tembo House Hotel – Located on Stone Town’s waterfront with beachfront access, Tembo House Hotel is a big hotel. The rooms are spacious with ornate Zanzibari-style beds, and the air conditioners work very well (important in Zanzibar’s heat). The staff is flexible and accommodating. Tembo House Hotel is a walking distance from most points of interest in Stone Town.
- Kisiwa House – Elegant boutique hotel in the heart of Stone Town. The service is particularly good and friendly, and the decor attractive. The rooms are very spacious with bathrooms that are equally as spacious and lavish. Comfortable beds. Breakfast served on the rooftop, with a view of the Indian Ocean, is particularly delightful.
READ ALSO: Stone Town: Where to Stay for Every Budget
- Gately Inn Entebbe – I drove past the entrance of Gately Inn Entebbe for many months, going to and from Entebbe airport. Each time, I would crane my neck trying to get a glimpse of what lay inside its attractive exterior. Finally, one day, I just had to stop and walk in. I loved what I found there! What I found was an enchanting establishment in luxuriant gardens where everything was tastefully decorated in local materials and natural elements such as wood, earth, and stone. The rooms were no different and the Gately bathrooms, with their signature step-down garden-pebble shower, had me at hello. The service at Gately Inn Entebbe was very warm and welcoming. The cozy, rustic terrace restaurant/lounge, which served amazing fresh juice by the way, was a delightful place to be.
- Wildwaters Lodge – If you are headed towards Jinja and want an experience as intoxicating and powerful as the River Nile, then the place to stay is Wildwaters Lodge, in Kangulumira, 25 kilometers down the river from Jinja. Wildwaters Lodge, with its timber-floored, canvas-walled, thatch-roofed luxury suites—complete with free-standing outdoor bathtubs overlooking the river—is located on a private island with dense rain forest vegetation. The constant sound of the flowing river, heard all over the lodge, is just the thing to refresh your mind. The lodge’s common areas, which are connected to the suites by wooden walkways, are located right on the edge of the river’s Kalagala Falls. The swimming pool at Wildwaters Lodge is a natural pool, carved out over the centuries from the granite rock that the the lodge sits on. Although Wildwaters Lodge is on an island, its only a short (but harrowing!) boat ride to the mainland, where you can take advantage of the adventure activities that Jinja is famous for, namely bungee jumping and white water rafting.
- The Emin Pasha Hotel – A beautiful, luxury boutique hotel nestled in the upscale residential area of Nakasero (close to the city centre). Lush, green grounds, warm environment, and spacious bright rooms. Very good restaurant and professional service too.
- Kampala Serena Hotel – One of the best hotels in Kampala, located in the city centre, the luxurious Kampala Serena Hotel is located on 17 acres of manicured water gardens. It has fantastic fitness facilities and a selection of bars, restaurants, and eateries to choose from. Comfortable spacious rooms and good security at the hotel.
- Villa Kololo – If you are looking for a boutique hotel with bespoke furniture and decor that is both chic and full of character then Villa Kololo, off Acacia Avenue, might be just the place for you. Villa Kololo is also home to one of Kampala’s best Italian restaurants, so the food promises to be a treat if you stay here. Acacia Avenue is one of Kampala’s hippest and trendiest locations, so if good restaurants, chic bars, nightclubs, and trendy shopping malls are your thing, then this is a great part of Kampala to be in. But…for that same reason, this hotel can prove noisier than what you would expect from such an exquisite establishment.
- The Seventeen Apartment Hotel – On Summit View, at the top of Kololo Hill, the premier residential location for Kampala residents, is an apartment hotel called The Seventeen Apartment Hotel. The complex, as its name suggests, features 17 two- and three-bedroom fully furnished and serviced luxury apartments, with views that are some of the best in Kampala. The complex also has a gym, sauna, massage rooms, and a swimming pool, as well as a fantastic crêperie on the premises.
- Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa – On the outskirts of Kampala (about halfway between the city and Entebbe airport), lies the magnificent Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa, my favorite of the the two Serena hotels in Kampala. At the Lake Victoria Serena, you’ll find amazing grounds, with well-manicured gardens, water fountains, and beautiful views of Lake Victoria. The rooms, which are as you would expect at a hotel of this caliber, are spread out across the property, so you truly get to enjoy the grounds and views of the lake. The service is welcoming and friendly, and the food is very good.
- Cassia Lodge – Like Rome, Kampala was originally nicknamed The City of Seven Hills. Over the decades, the city expanded and grew to include many more. Cassia Lodge sits high on Buziga Hill, about 10 kilometers outside the city centre. The spectacular view from Cassia Lodge—both at night and during the day—of Kampala and Lake Victoria is one of the best views I have ever seen anywhere in the city. Because of the distance (and traffic) between Cassia Lodge and many parts of Kampala, this hotel is best for a leisure holiday that doesn’t require a lot of time-sensitive commutes to the city centre or other parts of town (unless, of course, your business in Kampala doesn’t take you far from the lodge).
Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Mweya Safari Lodge – For decades, Mweya Safari Lodge has been one of the best (if not the best) properties in Queen Elizabeth National Park. With spectacular panoramic views over the Kazinga Channel, Mweya Safari Lodge is all about its unbeatable location. The lodge offers several types of accommodation ranging from standard rooms to luxury tents, suites, and entire cottages. The service is very friendly and will regale you with tales about life in the wild, especially when you have (safe!) animal encounters on the lodge’s grounds.
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