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Falling in love with Zanzibar: Essque Zalu

  • October 18, 2016
  • By Carly Neave

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It turns out we’re not the only ones who thought of the ultimate holiday combination; pairing destination safari with beautiful blue seas, fresh seafood and relaxing down time. Reaching Zanzibar was a welcome sight of swaying palm trees and crystal clear blue water.

When I was looking for places to stay in Zanzibar for our honeymoon, Essque Zalu was one of the first to shine through. It was an independent hotel which we hadn’t stayed with elsewhere but the deciding moment was finding out it’s in fact just become a part of the Per Aquum brand. We stayed with Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives last year and it was genuinely one of the best experiences of all my travels! Insanely delicious food, beautiful setting, outstanding service and a great general atmosphere.

Come join me in Essque Zalu!

The Hotel

A scenic hour and half drive from Zanzibar airport, Essque Zalu lies in the very north of the Island. You wouldn’t know it’s there until you actually turn round the corner and are greeted with a spectacular open building with high wooden ceilings and simple chic furnishings.

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The rooms are all being newly refurbished into these exquisite African-inspired suites that are either nestled in the flowering gardens or overlooking the iconic blue waves.

Essque Zalu

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They have fine-tuned the concept of creating a space that breathes tranquility whilst promoting a ‘buzz’ around the property by playing music throughout the day from their pool side bar and jetty restaurant. People are happy and relaxed and it’s an infectious feeling!

An afternoon banana daiquiri and beach walk were just part of the daily routine!

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The Restaurants

It’s all very well having a restaurant overlooking the cliffs into the sea, but a Jetty restaurant brings a whole new dynamic. It’s my favourite part of Essque Zalu because there’s no camparing it to home – you truly are away, immersed in the beauty of the world around you.

One part chic ocean view bar, and one part seafood restaurant extraordinaire.

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WARNING: Perfect picture taking spot – beware of the imitating photographer!

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The food is beautifully simple which is what it needs when it’s so fresh. Seafood is definitely more their speciality so I would recommend enjoying the freshness of what the Zanzibar seas have to offer. Paired with a glass of pale Rosé and cold beer, of course.

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The Market Kitchen is back in the main part of the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also soon to be a stunning new opening of a gourmet, glass windowed evening spot – gutted we didn’t get to experience it!

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The Activities

Show me a cooking class and I’ll grab the apron.

I ADORED Essque Zalu’s approach, theme and style of their cooking class. It’s the most relaxed but informative one I’ve done, cooking food I never have and am looking forward to doing myself at home. On the menu was 7 traditional Swahili recipes, pool side, snacks and drinks in hand, and some very cheerful chefs to teach!

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If only all meals could be prepared for you like this before cooking…

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The base for most of the Swahili recipes we created were onions, tomatoes, garlic, chilli and spices. The dishes that locals cook make use of the affordable and quality produce they have growing and living around them which means they can eat delicious meals which are inexpensive.

The dishes were:

Octopus in coconut milk, Zanzibar mixed tomato salad (Kachumabri), potato croquettes, chicken spice rice, spinach in coconut (my fave), beef samosas and one accompaniment I shall be using forever more- Coconut chutney!

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Rather a natural I must admit, although J seemed insistent I should still be the one to cook the majority of the time at home. Personally, I’m all for sharing!

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This is the coconut chutney: a simple mix of fresh coconut meat, lime juice, chilli, chopped garlic, coriander and salt to taste. It paired perfectly with everything from the beef samosas to the octopus and chicken rice. I have it in mind for healthy grilled fish recipes!

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After an hour and a bit of cooking, J and I sat down to a Swahili feast. Despite not realising quite how strong the chillis are in Zanzibar, it was a delicious meal and lovely to try something different.

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The space for the cookery class is also used for other special occasions. It transformed into our romantic dinner for two spot with a personalised menu and delectable food to go with it.

How pretty does it look!?

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The food was fresh as fresh can get! The poached crayfish tail was the best I’ve tried and the whole evening was such a lovely way to say goodbye to our short time at Essque. If  you’re coming for honeymoon or simply a romantic trip then make use of what’s on offer because this kind of time is harder to find when home routine kicks in!

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The Spa

No honeymoon is complete without couples treatments (and maybe a few single ones added in too!). The spa made up a big area of the hotel in itself, interwoven with treatment rooms, showers, reception and relaxation areas.

Choosing between treatments wasn’t an easy task because they have quite a unique offering. We ended up trying out their massages and facials (interestingly using the same Africology products as in the Four Seasons Serengeti) but the Maasia Ritual would have been the next stop if we had one more day!

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The Maasai ritual is a renewal journey that takes you through different tented rooms, offering a feet specific treatment, a body scrub and aromatherapy, cold showers and african facial. They only have one time a day that it’s performed at 6pm and it gets booked up really quickly so I suggest calling in advance of your stay and not making the same mistake we did!

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To End…

The cross over hasn’t quite been completed in Essque Zalu becoming fully integrated with the Per Aquum brand. There’s so much to do and think about when perfecting every aspect, but I got a glimpse into Essque Zalu as it is now and fell in love. I can only imagine the incredibleness of the hotel when that transition if fully completed.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my stay at Essque Zalu and please comment below with your thoughts and any questions!

Carly x

You can check out the Essque Zalu website here or call +255 778 683 960 for more details.

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By Carly Neave, October 18, 2016 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!
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Carly Neave

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!

About Me
Hi, I'm Carly!
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!
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