236 Hurumzi Hotel
Stone Town, Zanzibar Island
An integral part of the skyline of Zanzibar, along with
mosque minarets, Hindu temple towers, and church spires, is the
Tower Top restaurant of 236 Hurumzi. The second tallest building
in Stone Town Zanzibar, the Hurumzi hotel has been
restored to its former glory when it was the residence of one of
the richest men in the Swahili Empire. Atmosphere is of principal
import as the furnishings are all original Zanzibari antiques of
varied origins and styles that, together, create the impressions
of Arabian Nights and sultan princesses escaping in the dead of
the night for romance.
236 Hurumzi Accommodation
The sixteen guestrooms at 236 Hurumzi hotel are beautiful and romantic,
each representing Zanzibari traditions in a distinct way. All guest
rooms have large Zanzibari beds complete with netting.
All rooms at 236 Hurumzi except for the Kipembe room are equipped
with large stone bathtubs providing unusual bathing pleasure where
a bubble bath and a bottle of wine are a frequent request. Ceiling
fans keep our guests cool along with the constant breeze on the
Second and first floor rooms as well as the South room are equipped
with air conditioning for added comfort. The sultan-sized rooms
on the first and second floors have 20 foot ceilings, carved doors,
original stucco décor and hand painted glass lamps and window
History of the Hurumzi House
Folklore and local memory tell that the Hurumzi House was built
and lived in by a man named Tharia Thopan, often called the Bismarck
of the Swahili Empire. Due to his close ties to the Sultan of the
time, Thopan was permitted to build his house as the second highest
in Stone Town; second only to the Sultan's own ceremonial palace,
The House of Wonders.Further stories say that in the 1880's this
building was where British authorities paid Arab slave owners to
free their slaves. It is said that the name Hurumzi comes from "Huru
- MUUZE", meaning "let them free". Still not verified
by the complex maze of Zanzibar archive records, these stories add
to the mystery of this impressive building on Hurumzi Street. The
building has survived yearly monsoons, numerous inhabitants and
various governments. After the revolution in 1964, Zanzibar engaged
in an experiment with socialism along with Tanganyika, what is now
known as mainland Tanzania. Regretfully, this caused the grave neglect
of Stone Town and its treasury of heritage buildings including the
In the 1980's Zanzibar was re-opened to international investors.
Starting in 1991 investors Thomas Green and later Emerson Skeens
were able to convince the local authorities to lease them the site
in order to restore it to its former glory in the manner of a hotel.
The main restoration began in 1994 and continues today in the way
of minor revisions and maintenance. Sixteen splendid rooms are available
for guests to enjoy along with the delicious dinners served in the
well-known Tower Top Restaurant, while the Kidude Café Restaurant,
located on the ground floor, offers excellent lunch and dinner menus
in Arabian style and air-conditioned comfort.
Tower Top Restaurant
236 Hurumzi, Stone Town, Zanzibar
The Tower Top Restaurant, a common stop for newlyweds and marriage
proposers alike, is undoubtedly one of the most romantic restaurants
in the world. Featuring a panoramic view of Zanzibar Stone Town
and a spectacular view of the Indian Ocean, it is the perfect to
watch the sun set.
Eighty feet above the Stone Town and sitting on Persian carpets,
more than one guest has said that dinner here feels like a ride
on a magic carpet. The dining room is open on all sides and guests
sit Arabian-style on pillows and carpets, their shoes having been
left at the door, while their dinner is served in five or more courses
and accompanied by the sites and sounds of exotic Zanzibar.
The Tower Top Restaurant lies high among the minarets, temple
towers, and church spires of Zanibars Stone Town. It is undoubtedly
one of the most extraordinary eating venues in the world. Located
on the roof of the building, it makes guests feel as if they're
on top of the world as they sip exotic drinks and watch the sun
disappear into the Indian Ocean.
The Muslim call to prayer accents the eastern setting of Arab-style
pillows and small tables and the Hindu Temple chimes remind visitors
that they are far away from the stress they left at home.
A typical menu for the Prix Fixe meal consists of appetizers of
local vegetables, seafood and small canapés, a soup or salad,
a main course of fish or chicken with vegetables and spice scented
rice and, finally, dessert with tea or coffee and after dinner drinks.
Vegetarians can easily be accommodated, with prior notice to the
chef. As you leave the restaurant, be sure to look up at the stars,
we think they're brighter here.
Reservations are necessary for the Tower Top Restaurant.
A Brief History of Zanzibar Cuisine from the Tower Top Restuarant
When people discover that I was a chef in Zanzibar, they usually
ask, "What kind of food do they eat in Zanzibar?" This
is a difficult question to answer since Zanzibari cuisine is a polygamous
marriage of the different cultures which have inhabited the island
over the past ten centuries. The question is much like asking "What
is American food?" There is not one answer. It depends upon
each person's background, upbringing, and personal tastes. Zanzibar
has always been a trade port, and therefore has long attracted people
from all over the world. Zanzibari cuisine owes its unique flavors
to a variety of cultures including Africans from the mainland, Arabs,
Portuguese, Indians, British, Chinese, and Americans. Eating in
Zanzibar is therefore like sampling a piece of the island's history.
To give you a better understanding of where the various cooking
techniques, spices, and flavors originated, following is a brief
view of the island's history as viewed through a culinary lens.
The original inhabitants of Zanzibar were presumably African fishermen
who lived in villages scattered throughout the island. They subsisted
on a diet of mainly fresh seafood, including tuna, kingfish, lobster,
octopus, squid, and oysters. This diet changed radically during
the ninth and tenth centuries with the arrival of the Arab and Persian
traders who came to trade in East Africa, built settlements, and
intermarried with the local people. As they integrated themselves
into the African societies, they introduced their religion, Islam,
as well as cooking techniques and eating habits, bringing with them
coconut palms, mango trees, citrus fruits, and rice. Spiced pilau
rice, one of the island's most common and delicious dishes cooked
with coconut, nuts, and spices, is of Arab origin. Zanzibari Recipies
Break the Fast Date Nut Bread Sorpotel Mango Cobbler with Cashew
Cinnamon Crunch Topping Spice Island Spice Cake Battered Pepper
Shark Oysters Alla Matemwe Meat Pilau Boku-Boku Curried Fishcakes
with Chutney Yogurt Sauce.
The fifteenth century brought the first Portuguese explorers to
East Africa. Vasco Da Gama arrived in Zanzibar in 1499 as he was
headed south to round the Cape of Good Hope. Although he only stayed
one day, other ships soon followed and by early in the 16th century
the Portuguese ruled the entire East African coast. They ruled in
Zanzibar until 1651 when Omani Arabs destroyed the Portuguese settlements
and gained control of the island. Although the Portuguese built
a trading post, a factory, and a church on the site which is today
the Stonetown of Zanzibar, overall their social influence was minimal.
Their colonization did have great impact, however, on the island's
cuisine as they were responsible for introducing what are now three
major East African staple crops: cassava, maize and pineapples.
The Omanis ruled Zanzibar from their capital in Muscat until the
early 1800's when the Sultan, Said Seyyid, visited the island while
on a trip to mainland Africa. He was so taken with its beauty he
decided to move to Zanzibar, taking with him not only his personal
items, but relocating the entire capital of his dynasty to the island
as well. Seyyd's decision to move the capital radically changed
Zanzibar, as he was responsible for the genesis of the island's
spice plantations and led the island into a century of great wealth.
It was during this period that the majority of the Stonetown of
Zanzibar was built, as well as many palaces, grand houses, and mosques.
Behind much of the great wealth were a number of prosperous Indian
merchants. Trade between Zanzibar and India had been going on for
centuries, and by the 1800's businessmen from India had a mercantile
strong-hold on the island and were also the money-lenders for many
of the Arab plantation owners. They came from many different regions
of India and were from a variety of backgrounds, including Hindus,
Muslims, and Catholics. They built their own temples, mosques, and
churches, and added more layers to the cultural diversity on the
island. The Indian men did not tend to intermarry with other cultures,
but instead brought their families with them from India. Their wives
brought with them a long legacy of Indian cooking techniques. Their
traditional recipes combined with locally available ingredients
has created a variety of spicy pickles, chutneys, biriyani, curry
sauces, fish cakes, samboosas, and other common Indian snacks, but
all with a unique Zanzibari flavor.
Cloves were not the only item traded on the islands, as Zanzibar
was the site of one of the largest slave markets in Africa. The
slaves, sold to Arab plantation owners for use on the islands and
in the Middle East, as well as to Europeans, were captured from
the mainland from as far west as what is now present day Zaire.
The British abolitionist movement finally pressured the Omani government
to outlaw slavery by the turn of the twentieth century, but due
to the years of slavery, a large number of mainland Africans inhabit
the island. Their diets still consist of items that they ate on
the mainland, including fried cassava chips, stewed greens, sweet
potatoes, yams, and roasted maize.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, other cultures
have also played a role in Zanzibar's history. Americans were the
first to set up a consulate in the early 1800's, and were soon followed
by the British, French, and Germans. Many explorers, including Livingstone,
Burton, Speke, and Krapf, began their journeys into the heart of
Africa from the shores of Zanzibar. These explorers lead to the
eventual German and British colonization of East Africa and paved
the way for an influx of settlers. While the British did not necessarily
make a contribution to Zanzibari cuisine (unless you consider leathery
pepper-steak and greasy chips a contribution), they did import china
from England, Holland, and Japan. Large, flat serving bowls, decorated
with bright colored flowers and geometric designs from the 1920's
are still commonly found throughout the Stonetown and used in many
of the local homes to serve piles of steaming rice dishes.
After independence in the 1960's, the Chinese were brought to the
island to serve as technicians, doctors, military advisers, and
agricultural experts. While only a handful still remain, it is possible
to buy soy sauce on the island and enjoy dinner at a local Chinese
Kidude Cafe - Restaurant
236 Hurumzi Zanzibar Stonetown
Relax and enjoy the African rhythm of life at Kidude Cafe &
Restaurant on the ground floor at 236 Hurumzi and is great for a
Light Meal, Sandwiches, Desserts, Drinks, or just morning coffee
or afternoon tea with delicious baked goods in a relaxing Zanzibar
For Dinner enjoy the Kidude menu inspired by the cuisines of the
old Slave Trading Countries from the Indian Ocean, Arabia, Africa,
to the Caribbean and Cajun cuisine of the Americas.
Comfortably air-conditioned, KIDUDE offers a full bar in a beautiful
setting showcasing art, handcrafts, and antiques of Zanzibar.
Open from 10:00 am to around 10:00 pm.
Prices are per person in US Dollars. Valid for 2009..
Bed & Breakfast
Double or Single Rooms
from US$182 per room
Double or Single Rooms
with access to self catering kitchen
from US$80 per room
from US$90 per room
from US$225 per room
from US$35 per person