Culture, History, Art, Music & Gastronomy experiences set in Stone Town heritage buildings of boutique hotels.
Emerson Zanzibar is a homegrown brand located in the World Heritage Site of Stone Town. Two unique hotels where culture, history, design and art have richly fused together to create exclusive award-winning experiences – with its partner Emerson’s Foundation, the beating heart of community and environmental engagement.
Originally merchants’ houses, the sprawling Emerson on Hurumzi is known for its flamboyance and ostentatiousness, while Emerson Spice offers lovingly restored, stylishly furnished rooms structured around an airy central courtyard. Similarly, Emerson Zanzibar celebrates gastronomy with its popular conceptualized restaurants that honour the heritage of Zanzibar with international influences – be it at the Secret Garden in Emerson Spice, the Tea ceremony at Roshani in Emerson Hurumzi, or one of the two rooftop Tea Houses.
Furnished with antique Zanzibar furniture, be it the classic ornate Swahili bed, or the Zenji Déco take on the international design era, every single room is different from the other. Built for romance, the bathrooms are fully or partially open to the bedrooms. The mixture of glamour, mystery and history make them the best hotel rooms for your stay in Stone Town. Here you can experience the real Zanzibar, with its several distinct styles of architecture typical of the Stone Town heritage site – offering the visitor a feeling of stepping back in time when crossing the threshold.
Emerson on Hurumzi
Grande Dame of restored palaces in Zanzibar, Emerson on Hurumzi resides in an exotic and curious building of historical significance and unique style. The recent refurbishment combines the elegance of the period in which it was built with period antique furnishing and the colour and comfort of the 21st century.
The cuisine in the rooftop teahouse restaurant celebrates the distinct culinary heritage of the epoch in an oriental menu of Persian and Omani dishes prepared with authentic ingredients and served with faithful attention to the customs and etiquette of the era.
The Rooftop Tea House Restaurant
A lavish à la carte lunch offers the choice of Vegetarian, Fish, or Seafood Sinia - the antique copper trays from which all meals are served. Advance reservation is advised, and because a seat at the Rooftop Tea House is so coveted, tables are held for 15 minutes after reserved time, and released to waiting guests who are ready to indulge themselves in an evening of gastronomic and atmospheric pleasures should one miss their slot.
Marrying the culture and style of the building with the distinct culinary heritage of the era, the unique dinner menu celebrates the pleasure of oriental Persian and Omani dishes prepared with attention to customs and etiquette of service. Traditional Taarab is performed by accomplished musicians from the Dhow Countries Music Academy most nights.
Guests are reminded that there is one exclusive sitting for dinner only, and service begins at 7PM, though dinner guests are welcome from 6PM to enjoy the sunset hour and spectacular views of sea and city. Seating is Swahili style on the cushioned floor, or baraza style at regular table height, with a call to specify your preference at the time of your booking.
Roshani Tea Ceremony
Chambre separée Roshani, is available for reservations for private groups of up to 15 guests. This is also where the Emerson Zanzibar Tea Ceremony takes place, a uniquely delightful experience which introduces you to this melting pot of cultures and religions living side by side.
Guests are shown the tea spices, how to mix them and also learn more about the traditional tea and coffee drinking culture of Zanzibar, while enjoying them with traditional appetisers and sweets. For added measure and atmosphere, seating is on low chairs and on Swahili style cushions.
An inspired and lovingly restored Merchant’s House, this Boutique Hotel also features Zenji Décor colours and motifs and has eleven stylishly furnished rooms structured around an airy central courtyard.
The hotel hosts two restaurants: The Secret Garden, located in the distinctive ruins of the adjacent garden and the rooftop Tea House - one of Stone Town’s most renowned restaurants offering a stylish ambience amidst the sound of the calls to prayer from the town’s many mosques.
Emerson Spice’s Rooftop Tea House Restaurant
Lunch offers a delectable choice of a grilled Seafood or Vegetarian platter, with seasonal variations of accompaniments, and served along with chilled beverages, while five course Seafood based tasting menu is especially prepared daily for dinner by Zanzibari chefs, with all ingredients locally sourced. The Sunset Hour is an integral and pleasurable part of the ‘Emerson Experience’ and as expected, diners are encouraged to arrive around 6pm, as the first course is served promptly at 7pm.
The Secret Garden
Set within the al fresco ruin of the adjacent building, the Secret Garden offers a Zanzibari inspired à la carte menu. You can expect jazz infused evenings, occasionally featuring live music, with the hidden away Sebleni lounge a perfect spot for a discreet coffee or cocktail.
The Foundation lovingly continues the legacy of its founder Emerson Skeens, whose passion for all things Zanzibari – art, music, film, food, people, community – is deeply embedded in the texture of Stone Town life.
To know more about Emerson Zanzibar and Emerson Foundation’s projects, events and exhibitions, simply connect with the boutique hotel on the below listed channels: