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  • Swahili: not just a language

    Nestled in the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is much more than a tropical paradise. It is a place where history, culture and language blend together. It is where Swahili is not just a means of communication. Join us on a language journey through Zanzibar. Jambo, jambo Bwana Habari gani (How are you?) Nzuri sana (Very fine) Wageni, mwakaribishwa (Guests, you're welcome) Tanzania yetu (Our Tanzania) - original : Kilimanjaro yetu Hakuna matata (No worries) "Jambo Bwana": From Kenyan Roots to Disney's "Hakuna Matata" This song is very well know all over the world. "Jambo Bwana," a Swahili greeting meaning "Hello, sir," initially found its rhythm in the Kenyan music scene thanks to the band Them Mushrooms. Composed by Teddy Kalanda Harrison in the 1980s, it was a homage to Mount Kilimanjaro. These days this joyful song welcomes hotel guests all over Tansania and celebrates Tansanias landscapes and the welcoming spirit of its people. The tune's fame soared when Disney featured it in "The Lion King" as "Hakuna Matata." This adaptation by Timon and Pumbaa added a carefree vibe to the movie, making "Jambo Bwana" a global symbol of African warmth and hospitality. Some of the Matlai team members are singing here for you: The power of unity through language Zanzibar's linguistic history is closely linked to its past. Tribal conflicts threatened harmony. It was Julius Nyerere, former president of Tanzania, who then recognized the importance of language in promoting unity and preventing conflict. His vision of a unified language led to the widespread use of Swahili. This decision bridged communication gaps, and created a strong sense of community among the diverse tribes that lived on mainland Tanzania and on the islands. Varied dialects Although Swahili is the lingua franca of Zanzibar, it is worth noting that the language varies in different regions. There are different dialects of Swahili in Zanzibar, giving each village its own charm. Even on the mainland, Swahili can have a wide variety of dialects that show the adaptability of the language. Words with influences from other languages The charm of Swahili extends to its vocabulary, where you will find words borrowed from different languages. For example, "daktari" for doctor, "shule" for school (from the German "Schule"), and "kilomita" for kilometer represent the rich linguistic diversity of Swahili, in which foreign influences combine seamlessly with native words. Helpful words for your stay 1. karibu - welcome 2. ndiyo - yes 3. hapana - no 4. pole - sorry 5. tafadhali - please 6. asante - thank you 7. sawa - ok 8. chakula - food 9. maji - water 10.Kwaheri - goodbye 11. haraka - hurry 12. chap chap - hurry, hurry, faster, faster (slang) Very important is also the phrase "Pole, Pole", which translated into English means something like "slowly, slowly". This usage can have different meanings. 1. relaxation: people in Zanzibar tend to lead a relaxed life and not to be stressed too much by time pressure. "Pole, Pole" encourages people to take things easy. 2. respect: when locals use this phrase, it can also serve as an expression of respect to others, emphasizing patience and consideration. 3. tourism: in the tourism sector, "Pole, Pole" is often used towards tourists to show them that they should take their time to enjoy the island instead of being stressed by a hectic schedule. Overall, "Pole, Pole" represents the laid-back lifestyle and warm hospitality that Zanzibar is known for. It's a reminder of the importance of enjoying the moments and leaving the stress of everyday life behind. Greetings that go beyond a simple "hello". In Zanzibar, greetings are very important. They reflect the warmth and respect in the local culture. It's not just a matter of saying "hello." There are many ways to greet someone. Hello: "Hujambo" - I'm fine: "Sijambo" How are you?: "Habari Gani?" - Good: "nzuri" or Very good: "nzuri sana" How are you doing: "Mambo vipi?" - "Fresh" (answer in english) To old people: "Shikamoo" - "Marahaba" (literal translation: "hold on" - "congratulations") It is also important to note that greetings often go beyond the person. People often inquire about families, loved ones, and other aspects as well. Respectful salutations Respect is deeply rooted in Zanzibar's culture and is reflected in how people address each other. For example: Respectfully for younger women: "mama" (mother) For older woman: "bibi" (lady) Younger man: "baba" (father) Older men: "babu" (grandfather) Women of the same age: "dada" (sister) Men of the same age: "kaka" (brother) These forms of address emphasize the importance of age and experience. They strengthen bonds within families and communities. Hakuna Matata - No Problem! You have probably heard the well-known expression "hakuna matata" before. In Swahili it means "no problem". This saying, made famous by Disney's "The Lion King," embodies the relaxed and carefree nature of the people of Zanzibar. It is a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a positive outlook prevails. Say yes instead of saying no In Zanzibar, the word "no" or "I don't know" is often avoided. Instead, people tend to answer positively, even when they don't have a definitive answer. This reflects a desire to maintain harmony and preserve a sense of hospitality. The goal is to ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable. In summary, Zanzibar is a place where language, culture and community come together in a network of diversity and unity. Swahili, with its rich history and dialects, is a testament to the vibrant spirit of this enchanting island. When visiting Zanzibar, remember to embrace the language, the culture and the people, and you will experience the true essence of this fascinating paradise. Hakuna matata!

  • Journey Into Tradition: Exploring the Riches of Swahili Weddings

    In the enchanting world of Zanzibar, Swahili weddings unfold as a celebration of love and a testament to tradition. These weddings are not just family gatherings; they are profound cultural affairs deeply rooted in the heart of the Swahili community. A Proposal and Beyond The path to a Swahili wedding commences when a suitor approaches the family of the bride with a proposal. Yet, this is just the opening act of an elaborate ceremony. The engagement event is a time of merriment and joy, filled with the recitation of Swahili poems known as "mashairi." These poems convey the immense happiness of uniting two families. Amidst the joy, discussions about dowry take place, where both families negotiate the terms, be it money, property, or furniture to be bestowed upon the bride. Preparation and Pampering In the lead-up to the grand day, the bride partakes in a time-honored tradition, a Swahili body scrub enveloped in a traditional fabric called “kanga”. This cherished experience readies her skin for the forthcoming celebrations. The scrub is meticulously crafted using a blend of exquisite ingredients, including cloves, fresh coconut, fragrant jasmine flowers, aromatic sandalwood, turmeric, and soothing rose water. As the bride undergoes this pampering ritual, she is accompanied by her friends and family. Together, they sing songs laden with well-wishes for a joyful marriage and a future adorned with the laughter of children. For those seeking to immerse themselves in the heart of Swahili culture and traditions, our Bustani Spa extends an exclusive invitation to honeymooners. Here, you can partake in this authentic experience, complete with this famous homemade body scrub that captures the essence of Swahili heritage. It's a unique opportunity to indulge in the richness of tradition and bask in the beauty of love. It's worth noting that our body scrub is not the original recipe; we've reimagined it to make it suitable for all occasions. In the run-up to the wedding, meticulous preparations take place. Women adorn themselves with "henna" designs on their arms and legs, a cherished tradition in Swahili culture. Shopping for the bride's attire is a top priority, while men diligently share responsibilities related to the wedding program. The Nikah Ceremony The pinnacle of the wedding day is the "nikah" ceremony, often held at the mosque. Here, the bridegroom seeks the bride's consent, with the bride represented by her father, brother, or uncle in the absence of her father. This sacred process, aligned with Islamic traditions, ensures that consent is freely given. It is asked three times, reflecting the importance of free will. The ceremony is followed by a delightful meal, most often a buffet. A feast for the Senses No Swahili wedding is complete without a sumptuous feast prepared by the bride's family. The menu features an array of traditional delights, including “mikate ya sinia” (cake with rice and coconut), sambusa, kebabs, and the famous aromatic “Biriani”, a rice dish infused with Indian spices, succulent chicken, and fresh herbs. A Celebration of Unity While the men partake in their meal separately, women engage in various activities. The "shinda" lunch party sees them don matching "sare" outfits as a symbol of solidarity. "Kupamba" and "kesha" ceremonies follow, characterized by melodious "tarab" songs and spirited dancing. During these events, men are typically not allowed in the vicinity. A Memorable Conclusion The wedding reaches its climax when the bride arrives at the hall, taking her seat on a special stage where all eyes are on her. Soon after, the bridegroom makes his entrance, leading to a joyful photo session where cherished memories are captured. The bride is showered with presents to begin her new life, including house utensils, jewelry, and clothing, often featuring the traditional "leso" fabric. Discover the magic of Swahili wedding traditions at our Bustani Spa, where we offer the special Swahili scrub under the name "Bibi Hasali Scrub". Let the spirit of Zanzibar enchant you.

  • Celebrating Culture: Festivals and Celebrations in Zanzibar

    One of the best ways to experience the cultural richness of Zanzibar is by taking part in the various festivals and celebrations that grace the island throughout the year. From centuries-old traditions to contemporary cultural extravaganzas, here are some of the most captivating events in Zanzibar. Sauti za Busara: Where Music and Culture Converge (February) Sauti za Busara, which translates to "Sounds of Wisdom" in Swahili, is an annual music and cultural festival held in Zanzibar. Created in 2003 by a cultural NGO, it is a prominent and celebrated event that has gained recognition not only in East Africa but also on the international stage. During a weekend of three days, the island celebrates music, theater, and dance highlighting African traditions. The festival typically takes place in February, attracting visitors and music enthusiasts from around the world. It showcases a diverse range of performing arts, combining both modern and traditional styles. The festival takes place in the historic Stone Town, with the main stage located inside the Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe). Concerts and performances are held in various venues, including outdoor stages, historic buildings, and open spaces, creating a vibrant atmosphere. One of the highlights of the Sauti za Busara festival is the carnival-like street parade that kicks off the event on the first day. This colorful and lively procession through the streets of Stone Town is a sight to behold, featuring musicians, dancers, and performers from various cultures and regions, setting the tone for the vibrant festivities that follow. Mwaka Kogwa Festival: Welcoming the New Year with Zanzibari Flavor (July) Makunduchi, a village in the southern part of Zanzibar welcomes every year's, a four-day-long celebrationcalled Mwaka Kogwa. The celebration takes place around July 23rd or 24th. The origins of this holiday are Zoroastrian (a Persian religion older than Islam). It is a celebration of the Persian New Year and some of the events include huge bonfires and mock fights. These fights involve men using banana stems to engage in combat, symbolizing a way to release their built-up frustrations and tensions during the year. Meanwhile, women are walking in the village in their finest clothes, serenading the community with enchanting songs about family and happiness. The highlight of the festival is when the village's traditional healer lights a fire, interpreting the direction of the smoke as a way to predict the prosperity of the upcoming year. Mwaka Kogwa concludes with a grand feast, symbolizing happiness and abundance for all. Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF): A Tapestry of Dhow Cultures (July) For two weeks every July, Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) unfolds its cinematic treasures. This festival, known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries, celebrates the arts and cultures of Africa, the Gulf States, Iran, India, Pakistan, and the Indian Ocean islands. Its centerpiece is a captivating film program featuring both competition and non-competition screenings. Fiction and documentary films from around the world explore themes that resonate with the Dhow countries. Beyond cinema, ZIFF offers a vibrant array of music, theater, dance performances, workshops, and exhibitions. Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town come alive with music, and numerous events are open to the public. The festival includes film competitions, and selected films compete for prestigious awards, including the Golden Dhow and Silver Dhow Awards. These awards recognize outstanding contributions to the world of cinema and storytelling. Eid El-Fitr: Grand Celebration of Generosity Eid El-Fitr is the crowning jewel of Zanzibar's festive calendar. This grand festival arrives at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, reflection, and self-restraint. It exemplifies the essence of giving and charity. The Islamic calendar dictates the ever-changing dates of Ramadan and Eid, typically shifting by approximately 11 days each year. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from activities like eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours. Some restaurants may close at this time, and obtaining food outside the main towns can be challenging during the day. However, once Eid arrives, the island bursts into celebration. Families and friends come together, exchanging gifts and visiting one another's homes. Eid is a visual spectacle where new clothing purchased or made during Ramadan is showcased. As night falls, Taarab concerts and discos beckon revelers to dance the night away. Eid celebrations continue for four days, with festivities, offering a chance for visitors to join in the joyous revelry. During your stay at Boutique Hotel Matlai, consider aligning your visit with one of these captivating festivals. Each event promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Zanzibari culture.

  • Interesting Facts about the History of Zanzibar - Part 2

    Zanzibar is known for its numerous innovations and progress throughout the centuries. From the early days of cinematography to the advent of automobiles and railways, and the advancements in healthcare, Zanzibar's journey towards modernity is genuinely remarkable. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating efforts of the population to develop the island. 1. The Glorious Era of Zanzibar Cinemas Zanzibar's passion for the silver screen began in the early 20th century. The first cinema, a white tent located in Stone Town, was established in 1916, showcasing mainly British films. Over time, more cinemas popped up across the island such as the Empire Cinema, the Sultana Cinema, and the Majestic Cinema. These venues entertained Zanzibari audiences with a diverse range of English, Arabic, and Hindi action films, as well as popular musicals. H.M. Sayyid Khalifa bin Harub, the Sultan of Zanzibar at the time, was a regular patron at both the Majestic and Sultana cinemas, often enjoying Arabic films from the Royal Box. The Government decided to operate a “Mobile Cinema” that traveled to small towns and villages, offering free entertainment through newsreels. 2. Zanzibar: Pioneers in the World of Automobiles In an era when the automobile was a rare sight, Zanzibar made history by being the first country in East Africa to introduce cars. A photo was found, dating back to around 1913, showcases H.M. Sultan Khalifa bin Harub, Sultan of the Island seated in his Italian-manufactured "Isotta Fraschini" car, alongside his young son Prince Abdalla. Isotta Fraschini, an Italian car firm, was renowned at this time for its luxury vehicles. Before the automobile, horse-drawn carriages were the primary mode of transportation on the island. However, the arrival of Isotta Fraschini and other famous brands marked a significant advancement in Zanzibar's transportation history. 3. The innovative Zanzibar Railway Zanzibar holds the distinction of having had the first railway in East Africa, constructed 138 years ago. In 1879, the Sultan of Zanzibar, commissioned a seven-mile railway connecting the House of wonders in Stone Town to his Palace in Chukwani. This line consisted of two cars pulled by mules. In 1881, the Sultan acquired a locomotive from the UK, marking the first locomotive-powered railway in East Africa. Although the Chukwani railway service ended with the Sultan's death in 1888, it paved the way for the famous Bububu Railway line, established in 1904. This railway, built by the American firm Arnold Cheney and Co., served as a popular means of transportation for locals and even featured a first-class coach for tourists wanting to explore the island. 4. Healthcare in Zanzibar: A Model for the Region Zanzibar's healthcare system was renowned for its excellence and advanced medical care in East Africa. Apart from hospitals and medical centers, the country had a dedicated department for community health services to prevent and eradicate communicable diseases. The collaboration between the Zanzibar Government and UNICEF trained local health inspectors and midwives allowed the establishment of a Maternity Center in Makunduchi in 1950. In 1955, the modern "Hassanalli Karimjee Jivanjee Hospital" opened in Stone Town, providing exceptional medical care to the Sultan and his family. Zanzibar also had a team of highly trained and specialized doctors and nurses, offering excellent medical services across the islands. The dedication to healthcare extended to public health initiatives, including efforts to eradicate malaria and other communicable diseases. Thanks to a close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Zanzibar achieved the remarkable feat of being declared "Malaria Free" in 1963. Zanzibar's history of innovation in cinematography, transportation, and healthcare is a testament to its pioneering spirit. From the early days of cinemas in white tents to being the first country in East Africa to introduce the automobile and the railway, Zanzibar has always been at the forefront of progress. Its commitment to healthcare and public health initiatives set a high standard for the region, making it a beacon of excellence in East Africa. As Zanzibar continues to embrace the future, the island is proud of its past achievements.

  • Interesting facts about the History of Zanzibar - Part 1

    Zanzibar has a rich and captivating history of diplomatic relations with various countries. In the 19th century, during the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan, Zanzibar's strategic location and robust economy allowed it to maintain positive ties with the global powers of the time. This article explores Zanzibar's diplomatic achievements, its relationship with European powers, and the intriguing tale of the shortest war of the world history that unfolded on its shores. 1. The Diplomacy of Sayyid Said bin Sultan In the early 19th century, Sayyid Said bin Sultan ascended the throne of Zanzibar, aiming to create an economically strong empire with harmonious relations with all nations. At the time, the Indian Ocean was bustling with European and American merchant and navy ships. Despite the Napoleonic War raging in Europe, which had spilled into the Indian Ocean, Sayyid Said pursued a policy of neutrality, avoiding favoritism towards any particular nation. He maintained a strong navy to protect his empire and deter potential threats. Sayyid Said cultivated strong ties with the British, who held significant influence in India. Together, they cooperated to combat pirates in the Sea of Oman. The Sultan's navy engaged in extensive trade with countries as far as China and as south as Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Reunion. Zanzibar's strategic location and excellent harbors made it a pivotal entrepôt for merchants from around the world. Sayyid Said also encouraged European merchants to settle in Zanzibar, entering into commercial treaties with various countries, including the United States. Notably, the voyage of the ship 'The Sultanah' to New York City in 1840, bearing gifts to the U.S. President, highlighted the strong diplomatic ties forged by the Sultan. 2. Portuguese Arrival in Zanzibar In the early 16th century, the Portuguese arrived in Zanzibar, leaving a lasting impact on the island's history. The Portuguese commander Ruy Lourenco Ravasco's unprovoked attack in 1503 created bitterness among the local inhabitants, leading to a series of conflicts and opposition against the Portuguese presence. Despite initial resistance, the Portuguese influence in the region persisted for some time. 3. The Shortest War in History In the late 19th century, after the death of Sayyid Ali bin Said, Zanzibar faced a succession dispute among three contenders for the throne. The British played a significant role in influencing the outcome, ultimately placing Sayyid Hamed bin Thuwainy as the Sultan of Zanzibar under certain conditions. In 1896, when Sayyid Hamed passed away, Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash, one of the contenders for the throne, declared himself the new Sultan. However, the British, anticipating this move, demanded his surrender. Refusing to comply, Sayyid Khalid and his followers barricaded themselves in the Bait al Hukum. The British warships, positioned and prepared, gave Sayyid Khalid an ultimatum to vacate the palace. When he refused, the warships unleashed a devastating bombardment on the palace and the Sultan's forces. In just 40 minutes, the war ended with over 500 supporters of Sayyid Khalid killed or injured. Fleeing to the German Embassy, Sayyid Khalid was eventually taken to German East Africa, where he remained a thorn in the side of the British for years. The incident further complicated relations between the British and the Germans, leading to the breaking of the 1890 agreement between the two governments. Zanzibar's history is interwoven with its diplomatic relations with various countries, especially during the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan in the 19th century. The island's strategic location and flourishing trade made it a valuable player in the Indian Ocean basin. While its relations with other nations brought prosperity and cultural exchange, it was also marred by occasional conflicts and territorial disputes. The shorter war on Zanzibar's shores stands as a reminder of the complex geopolitical dynamics that have shaped the island's history. Today, Zanzibar remains a melting pot of cultures and a popular destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in its vibrant past and present.

  • Let's dive into the fascinating stories of our exceptional butlers at Boutique Hotel Matlai

    Justus: 35 years old Justus started his experience in the hospitality industry with studies of hotel management, followed by a three-month field study in Zanzibar. His love for customer service, attention to detail, and excellent multitasking abilities led him to work as a waiter in Kiwengwa before joining Matlai as a butler in 2015. With over a decade of experience, Justus is an asset to our team as the head butler. Born and raised in the Mwanza region of Northern Tanzania, Justus's background in the Luo tribe adds a unique cultural perspective to his service. He takes immense pride in organizing island tours for guests, showcasing the beauty of Zanzibar while creating memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression. Ramadhan: 31 years old Ramadhan's journey to becoming a butler is reflecting his passion for the hospitality industry. After attending college to acquire specialized knowledge, he ventured into the world of hospitality in Romania, starting as a humble waiter. Over time, Ramadhan's dedication and determination led him to expand his skill set, and he eventually became a skilled bartender. This diverse experience has enriched his capabilities as a butler, allowing him to provide exceptional service to our guests. Hailing from the beautiful Mara region in the North of Tanzania, Ramadhan's cultural heritage from the Sukuma and Kimu tribes brings a unique touch to his interactions with guests. As a member of a large polygamous family, Ramadhan Ramadhan knows how important social skills and tolerance are - values that shine through in his role as a butler. Derick: 38 years old The work of Derick as a butler is shaped by his extensive experience in the hotel industry. Having grown up in the village of Nyamuswa, West of Tanzania, Derick's is deeply connected to indigenous farming and livestock rearing. This background instills a sense of responsibility and care, which he brings to his role as a butler at Matlai. Derick values the strong sense of teamwork and cooperation among the butler team at Matlai. Working seamlessly with other departments ensures that guests receive unparalleled service and attention during their stay. His commitment to providing a harmonious and memorable experience for guests reflects the true essence of Matlai's hospitality. Hashim: 22 years old Hashim received education at the renowned Jambiani Training Institute in Zanzibar. His commitment to learning and professional development is evident in his desire to excel in every aspect of his role as a butler. An acrobatic show background adds a unique flair to the New Year's Eve celebrations at Matlai, making them even more special and unforgettable for our guests. Raised in the charming village of Jambiani, Hashim developed a strong sense of community that resonated deeply in his service. Taking the time to understand each guest's preferences allows Hashim to provide personalized and heartfelt experiences, creating cherished memories for our guests. Gideon: 36 years old Gideon's experiences as a butler began with hotel management courses and a diverse range of roles at different resorts such as Bluebay beach in Kiwengwa.. Growing up in the Western Tanzania region of Tabora, Gideon's roots in the Nyamwezi and Ngoni tribes impart a sense of tradition and respect that he carries into his interactions with guests. Among the many aspects of being a butler at Matlai, Gideon particularly cherishes the strong sense of teamwork and organization within the butler team. This collaborative environment fosters a warm and welcoming atmosphere, ensuring that guests feel at home during their stay. At Boutique Hotel Matlai, we take pride in our commitment to the local community. As part of our initiative, we are inviting local people from hospitality schools to join us as butler trainees for 3 months. This program will not only offer them experience and training in hospitality but will also provide them with the prospect of a work contract upon successful completion of the training. We believe in nurturing local talent and empowering our community, and this initiative reflects our dedication to creating a positive impact while delivering an exceptional guest experience. Our butlers' diverse backgrounds, experiences, and cultural heritages make them exceptional individuals who contribute to the heart and soul of Boutique Hotel Matlai. Their dedication to providing personalized, thoughtful, and unforgettable experiences for each guest truly sets our hotel apart as a destination of luxury and exceptional hospitality. Whether it's a soothing aloe treatment or a personalized island tour, our butlers are here to ensure that your stay at Matlai is nothing short of unforgettable. Hashim's acrobatic group

  • Zanzibar's Culinary Delights: A Gastronomic Journey for Your Tastebuds

    Let us take you on a virtual culinary tour, where your senses will come alive with the exotic aromas and appetizing tastes that make Zanzibari cuisine truly unique. The Swahili cuisine of Zanzibar reflects the long history of conquest along the East Coast of Africa by the Portuguese, the Arabs and the British. Arabic and Indian immigrants and traders influence bear the strongest influence on Swahili food. Widely spread by the locals is Ugali, a polenta-like side dish made from maize, accompanied by meat, fish or vegetable curry, greens or soured milk. You want to try it? Here is our Chef Saleh's recipe: · 250 g maize flower · 1 tbsp butter · 
salt · 
pot with 500 ml boiling water, butter and salt added
 (var.: add coriander powder, 300 ml water/200 ml milk) Mix 1 tbsp of maize flower with 1 tbsp of water, bring to the boil in a small pot and make fluid porridge (use wooden spoon and watch that it does not touch or stick to the floor); add porridge to the boiling water or water/milk mixture in the big pot, than add rest of flower, mix by moving the wooden spoon from the centre to the edge of the pot to form dough avoiding clumps, cook for 5 minutes until Ugali can easily be separated from the floor of the pot. 
To eat Ugali, pull off a small ball of mush with your fingers. Form an indentation with your thumb, and use it to scoop up accompanying curry and other dishes. The first stop on this culinary adventure is the aromatic world of spices. Zanzibar's spice farms boast an amazing variety of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla and more. These fragrant ingredients serve as the foundation for the island's signature dishes. One of the island's most beloved delicacies is Zanzibar Mix called “Urojo” in Swahili, a vibrant street food creation that combines the flavors of fried potatoes, limes, and spices in a soup. As you stroll through the bustling streets of Stone Town, be sure to sample this local favorite. For seafood enthusiasts, Zanzibar is a true paradise. From succulent lobster and prawns to grilled fish infused with aromatic herbs, the island's waters offer an abundance of culinary delights. Indulge in a seafood feast by the beach, where the freshest catches are expertly prepared to highlight their natural flavors. No culinary exploration of Zanzibar is complete without a taste of Zanzibar Pizza. Don't be fooled by its name; this delightful dish is more akin to a savory stuffed pancake. Bursting with an array of fillings like minced meat, vegetables, and cheese, these crispy delights are a true local specialty and a must-try during your stay. Don’t hesitate to come at our Zatiny restaurant, where our skilled chefs meticulously craft Zanzibar Pizzas. To quench your thirst, don't miss out on Zanzibar's refreshing juices from local fruits such as pineapple, coconut, and mango. These natural elixirs provide the perfect respite from the island's warm embrace. As a special welcome treat, upon your arrival at our hotel, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy the pure delight of fresh coconut water from our very own garden. For an extra touch of tropical flair, feel free to request a splash of Malibu to elevate your experience even further. At Matlai, we are dedicated to providing you with an authentic Zanzibari experience in your accommodation and on your plate at our Zatiny restaurant. Our passionate chefs draw inspiration from the island's culinary heritage, sourcing the freshest local ingredients to create exquisite dishes that showcase the very best of Zanzibar's flavors. Indulge in our delightful Swahili breakfast, featuring an array of local bread varieties, flavorful beans, nourishing porridge, and mouthwatering rice balls. Allow yourself to be tempted by the famous coconut crab soup prepared by our talented chef Saleh, an unforgettable culinary masterpiece that exemplifies the richness of Zanzibar's gastronomy. For a truly personalized dining experience, we offer the option to reserve our special Swahili menu. Delight in traditional dishes such as aromatic Pilau rice, Ugali, and Urojo soup. Our attentive butlers will be delighted to accommodate your preferences and guide you through the culinary journey, ensuring every dish is tailored to your liking. Prepare to embark on a gastronomic adventure like no other, as you explore the unforgettable tastes of Zanzibar. Karibu sana! (Welcome!)

  • Discover our New Relaxing Treatments at Bustani Spa

    Dear guests, We are happy to introduce the latest additions to our magnificent sanctuary of relaxation, the Bustani Spa. Our talented therapist, Lilian, is delighted to offer you two new soothing treatments that will take you on a unique sensory journey. Get ready to escape and experience deep relaxation with our Konokono Massage, inspired by the Swahili shell massage, and our Hot Stone Massage. These exquisite treatments have been specially designed to provide you with an unforgettable experience. The Konokono Massage, also known as the shell massage, draws inspiration from ancient African techniques that blend gentleness and depth. Heated shells are delicately used to massage your body, creating a soothing and harmonious sensation. This one-hour massage is available at the price of $70 and is a perfect way to unwind, release accumulated tensions, and rejuvenate your senses. For those seeking an even more intense experience, our Hot Stone Massage is the perfect choice. Hot stones are placed on specific points of your body, releasing a comforting heat that penetrates deeply, relaxes tense muscles, and enhances blood circulation. This one-hour massage is available for $80 and guarantees a blissful state of tranquility. Both treatments can be found at our Bustani Spa, where our skilled therapists ensure your utmost comfort and well-being. We are delighted to inform you that our spa is open not only to hotel guests but also to external clients. So whether you are staying with us or simply wish to indulge in a luxurious spa experience, our doors are open to welcome you. Pamper yourself and surrender to the enchanting ambiance of Bustani Spa. Allow our dedicated therapists to transport you to a world of serenity and rejuvenation. Book your Konokono Massage or Hot Stone Massage today and embark on a journey of ultimate relaxation. We look forward to providing you with an exceptional spa experience that will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized!

  • 🌟 Discover Boutique Hotel Matlai: TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice 2023! 🌟

    Escape to a world of unparalleled luxury and enchantment at Boutique Hotel Matlai, the proud recipient of the prestigious TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Award for 2023! Prepare to be captivated by an experience that transcends the ordinary and embraces the extraordinary. 🏝️ Paradise Found: Nestled in a pristine tropical paradise, Boutique Hotel Matlai offers an idyllic retreat where the sparkling turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean meet the golden sands of Zanzibar. Lose yourself in the beauty of this exclusive destination, where tranquility and indulgence go hand in hand. 🌺 Unmatched Elegance: Step into a realm of elegance and sophistication as you enter Boutique Hotel Matlai. Individually designed suites and villas exude opulence and style, showcasing a harmonious blend of traditional African influences and modern comfort. Immerse yourself in an atmosphere that effortlessly combines luxury and authenticity. 🌅 Breathtaking Views: Experience the awe-inspiring vistas that await you at Boutique Hotel Matlai. Whether it's the mesmerizing sunrises over the ocean or the lush tropical gardens that surround you, every moment is an opportunity to be mesmerized by the beauty of nature. Allow yourself to be transported to a world where serenity reigns supreme. 💫 Impeccable Service: At Boutique Hotel Matlai, your every need is anticipated and fulfilled with the utmost care. Our dedicated team of professionals is committed to providing personalized attention and creating unforgettable memories for each and every guest. From the moment you arrive until your departure, expect nothing less than exceptional service. 🍽️ Gastronomic Delights: Indulge your senses in a culinary journey like no other at Boutique Hotel Matlai. Our experienced chefs create a symphony of flavors, using the freshest local ingredients to craft gastronomic masterpieces that will leave you craving more. From tantalizing seafood to exotic spices, prepare to embark on a culinary adventure. 🌟 TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice 2023: Join us in celebrating the recognition bestowed upon Boutique Hotel Matlai as a TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice winner for 2023. This prestigious accolade is a testament to our commitment to excellence and the unforgettable experiences we offer to our cherished guests. 🎉 Book Your Escape: Embark on a journey of a lifetime and immerse yourself in the enchantment of Boutique Hotel Matlai, the TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice 2023 winner. Discover a world where luxury, natural beauty, and warm hospitality converge to create an unforgettable experience. Book your escape today and let us create magical moments that will last a lifetime. 🔗 Visit our TripAdvisor page to learn more and secure your reservation. Your dream vacation awaits at Boutique Hotel Matlai, where memories are made and cherished forever.

  • Rejuvenated and Ready: Hotel Matlai Reopens its Doors with Exciting Upgrades!

    Welcome back, dear guests! We are delighted to announce that Hotel Matlai is all set to open its doors once again after our annual renovation in a few days. It's been a busy few months, filled with creativity, innovation, and meticulous attention to detail. We can't wait to share the amazing changes we've made, enhancing your stay and providing an unforgettable experience. Introducing Our Stunning New SPA Prepare to be pampered in our exquisite new SPA, a sanctuary of serenity and relaxation. Carefully designed with your comfort in mind, this rejuvenating space boasts new facilities and an ambiance that invites you to unwind and indulge your senses. From luxurious massages to invigorating treatments, our expert therapists are dedicated to providing you with a blissful escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. Villa Kidosho's Revitalized Pool As part of our commitment to ensuring your utmost enjoyment, we've renovated the pool at Villa Kidosho. This idyllic oasis now shines brighter than ever, offering an enhanced swimming experience surrounded by lush tropical beauty. Dive into the crystal-clear waters, soak up the warm sunshine, and let your cares float away in this tranquil retreat. Refined Balconies at Asili House The scenic beauty of Asili House is now complemented by newly modified balconies. We've reimagined these outdoor spaces to provide the perfect setting for savoring breathtaking views. Relax with a morning coffee, bask in the glorious sunset hues, or simply immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere while admiring the stunning landscapes surrounding our resort. A Culinary Adventure Awaits Food enthusiasts, get ready for a culinary experience like no other! Our dedication to excellence has led us to construct a brand-new kitchen, allowing our talented chefs to craft extraordinary dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. From delectable local delicacies to international gourmet delights, every meal at Hotel Matlai promises to be a delightful celebration of flavors, prepared with passion and served with care. Maintenance and More In addition to our major upgrades, we've also taken care of the essential repairs and maintenance throughout the hotel. Our commitment to providing a seamless and comfortable experience means that every corner of our property is immaculate and ready to welcome you with open arms. Looking Ahead to a Spectacular Season As we gear up for a new season, we can't help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. The upgrades we've made and the attention to detail we've invested in every aspect of Hotel Matlai reflect our commitment to offering our cherished guests an unparalleled stay. Your comfort, relaxation, and satisfaction are at the heart of everything we do, and we can't wait to share the results of our hard work with you. Whether you're a returning guest or planning your first visit, we invite you to experience the renewed Hotel Matlai. Be prepared for an exceptional journey filled with moments of tranquility, culinary delights, and heartfelt hospitality that will create memories to treasure for a lifetime. We look forward to welcoming you back to our beloved resort. Prepare to be captivated by our outstanding new SPA, Villa Kidosho's inviting pool, the refined balconies of Asili House, and the culinary wonders that await in our new kitchen. Get ready for an extraordinary stay at Hotel Matlai! Book your stay today and let us make your dream vacation a reality. We can't wait to see you soon! With warmest regards, The Hotel Matlai Team

  • Before you pack your suitcase

    Some useful information Visa Travellers to Zanzibar require a valid visa. The costs are US$50 for most nationalities (US$100 for US citizens) for a single-entry visa, it is valid for a maximum of three months. If you want to avoid long lines at the airport, it's recommended to apply for your visa online in advance. You also get it on arrival at the Zanzibar International Airport, it has to be paid by credit card. Vaccination For Zanzibar a Yellow Feaver vaccination is an entry requirement for all travelers arriving (including airport transit more than 6 hours) from countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. Zanzibar is considered to be malaria-free, but there were some cases from November 2020. Please contact your doctor for more information. Payments The official currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). Banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 TZS. However, if you're bringing cash, the preferred means of payment is the U.S. Dollar. Just be sure to bring bills that are no older than 2006, as older bills may not be accepted. On the east coast, there are no banks, but there is an ATM in Paje. It's worth noting that all ATMs in Zanzibar only dispense Tanzanian Shillings. You can also withdraw money at the airport or in Zanzibar Town. Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Time Zone & Swahili time Zanzibar's time zone is East Africa Time (EAT), which is UCT (Universal Time Coordinated) plus three hours. This means that during Central European Time (CET), Zanzibar is two hours ahead. The Swahili Time is different from all other parts in the world. The reference points are sunrise and sunset. Most Swahili speakers live close to the equator, where sunrise and sunset are at the same time all year long between 6 & 7 am and 6 & 7 pm. The rising sun is the beginning of the day, therefore 7 am is 1 o’clock in Swahili time.

  • The best time to visit Zanzibar

    The seasons Contrary to what guidebooks may suggest, Zanzibar can be visited throughout the year, as it enjoys perpetual summertime. The air temperature remains above 20°C, even at night, and the Indian Ocean's water temperature fluctuates between 25°C and 28°C, owing to the island's equatorial location and tropical climate influenced by monsoon winds. The northern monsoon (Kaskazi) lasts from December to March, lasting for three to four months and elevating temperatures to over 30° - 35°C. At this time, the coast is the most comfortable place to be, as there is often a gentle breeze. The south-west monsoon (Kusi) prevails from April to November and brings with it the rainy season (Masika), which usually starts in March or April and continues until the end of May. The rainfall is not comparable to that in your home country. It occasionally rains heavily for a few hours, but the sun quickly comes out again. During the rainy season, there are fewer tourists in Zanzibar, resulting in a more serene atmosphere and numerous special offers. The dry season from June to October offers comfortable traveling conditions with temperatures ranging between 25° - 28°C. Although there may be brief rainfall known as Vuli during this period, the majority of the time is characterized by sunny weather. In November, a short rainy season occurs, but with less precipitation than in April or May. Dry season - rainy season During the rainy season, there are fewer tourists in Zanzibar, resulting in a more serene atmosphere and numerous special offers. The dry season from June to October offers comfortable traveling conditions with temperatures ranging between 25° - 28°C. Although there may be brief rainfall known as Vuli during this period, the majority of the time is characterized by sunny weather. In November, a short rainy season occurs, but with less precipitation than in April or May. Necessary clothing? Due to its proximity to the equator, the intensity of sunshine in the area can be quite high, making it crucial to take precautions against sunburn, such as using a strong sunscreen. If you plan on going for a walk on the beach, wearing a hat or head covering is a good idea. Although temperatures in the evening are usually pleasant, it can get a bit windy at times, so it's advisable to bring a light sweater along. Your experience? Based on your experience, when would you recommend visiting Zanzibar?

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