Do you know that feeling, when you walk into the reception of a hotel, receive the warmest of greetings from all the staff, look out onto the pool and think … “yes, this is going to be wonderful”?
After spending three days in Essque Zalu, Jack and I made our way to the south of the Island to reach The Residence Zanzibar. Submerged deep in the tropical palms that Zanzibar so fruitfully offers, it’s a hidden sanctuary that invites only complete relaxation and bliss with everything else to be left at the gates. I was in admiration, and excited to spend the final two days of the most unbelievable honeymoon in this dreamy retreat. Here are my top 5 reasons why I loved the Residence and would recommend it to any honeymooner, or otherwise-goers!
1) The setting
As soon as you enter the open plan reception at The Residence, you realise you’re in somewhere quite special. A marriage of modern decor with inspiration from African heritage, and the perfect final touch to make it all so incredibly coherent.
The steps down from the main lobby lead out onto dark wooden-clad decking, surrounding an infinity pool that mirrors the beauty of the surroundings. There’s a subtle but excitable buzz around, made up of guests enjoying a romantic stay (the couple next to us were celebrating their 50th year anniversary) and kids excited to exploit their happy and relaxed parents!
Because Zanzibar is so tidal, we had resigned to the fact it was going to be less beach and more pool, but the Residence is purposely built back from the beach which means no matter the time of day, there is somewhere you can lie out in the sand.
Safe to say, it didn’t take long to get settled in and enjoy the surroundings!
2) A myriad of small touches
Upon arriving, we were told we had been upgraded to a luxury Ocean front pool villa – happy honeymooners! All the rooms are villas at The Residence, but it’s just whether you’re nestled in the tropical gardens or overlooking the Indian Ocean.
I’m not sure if the private plunge pools are heated or it’s the gift from the hot sun, but they’re the perfect temperature, equipped with sun beds and a lounge area.
Welcomed with a decorative display and edible treats – what could be better!
(The milk and white chocolate buttons lasted all of two minutes)
And just incase your feet get a little sandy exploring the surroundings … help is on hand!
3) The ever-changing food
Being a real foodie – when I realised after our first lunch that The Residence only had one restaurant, I thought it might have been a good thing our stay wasn’t a lengthy one. That was until I checked the daily programme that is delivered to the rooms each day, and was kindly informed that most nights at The Residence are filled with different themes, in different locations and special guests. I quickly enquired about the availability for additional nights!
The main restaurant is called The Pavilion which is an idyllic spot overlooking the ocean with an open indoor section if you fancy taking a break from the sunshine.
Breakfast is everything you would want from a 5* hotel – a banquet of freshly cooked eggs, selection of patisserie, yoghurt, fresh tropical fruits and my guilty-pleasure whenever I am away on holiday – a feast of crepes, pancakes and ‘hot out the oven’ crispy waffles! I tend to top them with honey and whichever local fruit takes my fancy (The feast had not quite been completed here!).
There’s an extensive lunch menu filled with fresh seafood carpaccios, “fish of the day, Fish & Chips” (which was so unbelievably good, it was difficult to give much else a look in), salads, Italian feasts and much more.
And then the evenings! We were fortunate to be there for their weekly Friday Barbecue on the beach. The tranquil space is transformed into a beautiful dining spot, full of sandpit fires and sails to set the seafood mood.
We had our first glimpse from in front of our room and the setting looked like something out of a story book.
A medley of salads, barbecued lobster, squid and prawns, tempura fresh fish and a pasta station that made so much more than your average Bolognese! We had a rather excessively full plate of the creamiest and most delicious lobster Gnocchi.
All coupled with a bottle of red and romantic spot by the fire.
The last evening was a well-matched true Indian feast. They had even especially shipped over an authentic Tandoori oven from which I believe I still have the taste of the most incredible freshly baked garlic naan in my mouth. Truly exceptional! The food at The Residence was really second to none and J and i were both so impressed by the thought and effort that goes into making each evening something really special.
4) That Sky, though.
Putting exquisite food and a stunning setting to one side, there was is one thing about this place that really left me speechless. The Residence may not own the sky, but wow have they built the ocean-view rooms to perfectly see this kind of sunset!
5) The activities
Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to visit Stone Town during our stay in Zanzibar, if I could change anything about the trip it would be to allow ourselves a little more time in each place so that you can explore once settled in. Diving however, was not something we were going to miss! We had tried to go in the North but the visability throughout our stay was extremely poor so we made the most out of our to nights at The Residence!
The hotel recommended Buccaneer diving, which is a company guests frequently use, about a 45 minutes drive away from the hotel. Given I haven’t been diving since the Maldives last year, I was a little apprehensive but the team were great and clearly knowledgeable which put me at ease. We did two dives, one in the lagoon, and one along the reef. The lagoon brought Sea Horses, stingrays, crocodile fish, lion fish and a whole host of colourful sealife! The dive along the reef was a little less adventurous but still amazing to be in the water and experience a world we rarely get to see.
Mid-dive snacks were AH-mazing too! The sweetest bananas I have ever tasted, freshly sliced watermelon, tea biscuits and hot ginger tea to go with them, YUM!
God damn I’m a lucky wife!
AND if you’re not a diver, preferring a more relaxed day at the hotel then the spa is not to miss! I had the ‘Marine Facial’ just before leaving for Dubai and we both tried the deep tissue couples massage (the best of the week!). They also have a really well equipped gym so if you’re staying for slightly longer than us, it’s a good way to work off the vino from the night before!
What an amazing way to end such a memorable trip! I hope you enjoyed my honeymoon posts and let me know if you want to see more travel related content and any specific areas!
You can visit the Residence’s website here to find out more details about staying at the hotel and please feel free to comment below with any questions about my stay.
As a sashimi lover that carpaccio sure looks tasty! Your photos and description make it sound soooo appealing! It’s almost like I’m there having the same experience as you … love reading your posts Carly
Hello and welcome! I'm Carly, originally from London but currently enjoying a little adventure in Dubai. A travel and wellness blogger exploring the world one step at a time. Think fabulous food at undiscovered gems, unique destinations, skin care obsessions and so much more. This is my life, I hope you enjoy the ride!