Zanzibar, the Spice Island. What does it conjure in your imagination? Sea breezes laced with the aroma of cloves? In the time of the Oman sultanate perhaps this was true. Zanzibar today is far rougher, with buildings in need of paint, an antiquated electricity grid and too many young men without meaningful work. We could tell you about that, but first let us share our beautiful hotel on the beachfront.
Located in historic Stone Town, the Zanzibar Serena is a pleasing combination of two buildings - the Chinese doctor's house and the telecommunications office (circa 1930s) - and looks across the Indian Ocean towards mainland Tanzania. The hotel is a echo of the island's Oman, Indian and African past. Turkish carpets lie on the hallway floors, ancient chests in the courtyard whisper of Scheherazade's silk treasures, a concubine's silver belt hangs in a wooden frame, and everywhere, paintings depict a rich era hardly remembered.
We will remember the soft mornings and strong coffee served with hot milk, fresh fruit by gentle waiters. We will remember the refreshing pool under a hot equatorial sun. On the beach we watched Zanzibari men jog and stretch at the day's beginning, and at day's end, we watched the fishing dhows return with their catch.