Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar: The Lowdown

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Matemwe Main Lodge is a long-standing fixture of the Zanzibar hotel scene. It was one of the island’s original barefoot-luxury hotels- we loved it when we first visited many years ago, and it still gets rave reviews today.

What’s Matemwe Lodge really like?

Matemwe has just twelve large, whitewashed bungalows, lined along the top of a small cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. They’re very much designed with nature in mind- there’s no air-conditioning, instead- the walls are thick and the thatched roofs are high to keep you cool. Curtains billow in the sea breeze, and you can lose hours rocking in your hammock listening to the sounds of the ocean from the verandah.
Follow the winding stone pathways back through the gardens to the main Matemwe Lodge and you’ll pass two small pools. These are just lovely for snoozing beside and taking a dip in, but they’re more for relaxing in than swimming lengths. There’s also a bar, which, if we remember correctly, serves an excellent G&T. Heading further along, you’ll arrive at the main lodge where there’s the reception, internet (of a kind, we’ve always found it to be painfully slow on Zanzibar) and the dining room, again looking out over the dhows floating back and forth on the water. Food focuses on what’s best locally, freshly caught fish, spices and endless, just-ripe tropical fruit.
At the end of this long thin strip is the beach, a small, pretty cove, occasionally used for candlelit dinners. Like the majority of beaches on Zanzibar, Matemwe’s is a tidal beach, and the water can go a long way out, making it difficult to swim at very low tide (unless you want a long walk to get there). However, with two pools to pick from, there’s always somewhere to dip your toes in.

What can I do at Matemwe Lodge?

Well, we’d make a quick mention of the watersports centre- unusually for a lodge of this size there is a dive-shop on site and the fantastic diving at Mnemba Atoll isn’t too far off. It’s also possible to arrange kayak trips, go out on a traditional outrigger canoe, or take a guided tour of the next door village, which is very much part of the Matemwe experience.

 

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