Emerson Zanzibar

Emerson Zanzibar is made up of three organisations founded by the flamboyant Emerson Skeens.  He restored Emerson Spice Hotel and Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel, still rated two of the best hotels in Stone Town.  Then motivated by his big-hearted passion for the local community he formed the Emerson Foundation for Zanzibar.  The Emerson Foundation is still making a difference today.  The intriguing story of how the inspirational Emerson Dewey Skeens created three top restaurants in Stone Town and two of the most famous and exotic hotels in Zanzibar, could have come straight from Arabian Tales of 1001 Nights…  Find out more….

Emerson’s Zanzibar Foundation

Emerson Skeens believed in Zanzibar, in Zanzibaris, and their potential to create a vibrant and self-sustaining future that uniquely reflects the rich history and cultural heritage of these islands. So a fund was established to support individuals with exceptional talents in artistic and academic fields.  It assists local organizations that preserve and enhance the culture of Zanzibar. 

The foundation is non-governmental, non-political, non–commercial, non- religious and non–profit making.  But it is certainly changing the stories of many people.

Emerson’s legacy through his exotic Stone Town hotels and top restaurants is still changing the lives of Zanzibaris.   

Read more about The Emerson Zanzibar Foundation here


Experience the Real Zanzibar

Emerson On Hurumzi Hotel

Stay at Spice Hotel

Looking for a place to stay in Stone Town to experience the real Zanzibar?

An inspired and lovingly restored Merchant’s House, this Boutique Hotel has eleven stylishly furnished rooms structured around an airy central courtyard.

The hotel hosts two of Stone Town’s top restaurants: The Secret Garden, in the distinctive ruins of the adjacent garden and the Tea House one of Stone town’s most renowned rooftop terraced restaurants.  Emerson Spice Tea House offers stunning sunset views over Stone Town and the harbour.  It offers an authentic stylish ambiance, amidst the vibrant, mystical and magical sounds of  the city – including the call to prayer from Stone Town’s many mosques. 
More about Spice

Emerson On Hurumzi Hotel

Stay at Hurumzi

Looking for more than just accommodation in Stone Town to experience the real Zanzibar?

In the heart of Stone Town is a beautifully restored palace of one of the richest men in the Swahili Empire – Tharia Topan who served as  principal financial advisor to Sultan Bargash.

The majestic ‘Grande Dame’ of restored Zanzibar palaces has spectacular views.  The building is designed to marry culture and style with the distinct culinary heritage of the era.  The main house has particular historical significance as it is located where the abolition and emancipation of slaves occurred in the 1870’s.

The hotel combines the quality and style of the late 1800’s when it was built, with the colour and comfort of the 21st century.  A strikingly magnificent building with historical significance and unique style. 
More about Hurumzi


Flavours of Zanzibar

The Sunset Dinner at Emerson Spice or Emerson Hurumzi Rooftop Tea House Restaurants is an experience you simply must not miss if you come to Stone Town. Step into the Soul of the Real Zanzibar.
Stone Town’s Rooftop Restaurants

Rooftop Tea Houses

Indulge all your senses as you dine out for Lunch or absorb the stunning Sunset Dinner at either of Stone Town’s renowned rooftop restaurants.  More than a meal, this experience offers a simply breathtaking 360-degree view, accompanied by the sounds of a city quietening for sun-down. This whole evocative evening is described by many guests and travellers as a “truly ‘movie-like’ memory”.

Make your choice:

  • Emerson Spice offers a five course seafood based tasting menu, which is prepared daily for dinner by our Zanzibari chefs.

  • Emerson on Hurumzi offers a three course menu based on local Zanzibar cuisine fused with oriental Persian and Omani influences.
Where Magic Happens

The Secret Garden

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town streets? Take a coffee in Stone Town’s Secret Garden haven.  Just metres from the vibrant streets of the city you will be instantly and miraculously transported to another dimension.  

The Secret Garden is open for Lunch and Dinner and has a Zanzibari-inspired a la carte menu.

Look out for live music or art events hosted in the Secret Garden with performances by The Dhow Countries Music Academy or other local artists.

The Enchanting Secret Garden Restaurant at Emerson Spice, is set amidst lushly landscaped, hidden ‘Ruins’ and open to the skies. Truly a Tranquil haven.
Roshani is the name of one of the architectural styles of the mansion houses of cosmopolitan Zanzibar in the 19th Century. It is a private area, where guests would be treated to ‘high tea’ and entertained with music, poetry, and the sheer pleasure of beautiful conversation.
Taste the Real Zanzibar

Zanzibar Tea Ceremony

The Emerson Zanzibar Tea Ceremony is held at Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel.  It introduces guests to the Zanzibar food culture and Stone Town as a melting pot of cultures.

The seating is on low chairs and on “Swahili style” cushions. The guests are shown the tea spices, how to mix them and also learn about the traditional tea and coffee drinking culture of Zanzibar, while enjoying them with traditional appetizers and sweets. 

Roshani Room

The Tea Ceremony is held in the Roshani Room at Emerson Hurumzi, which is also available for private parties or functions.

Step into the Soul of Zanzibar

Authentic Music and Live Events

Experience Stone Town

Step into the Soul of Zanzibar

Zanzibar is like no other place on earth. For centuries, this Indian Ocean island off the coast of Africa has lured explorers, traders, adventurers, and romantics of all kinds.

It is a land of contrasts; a place to delight the senses. With us you will be able to experience the island’s many pleasures, along with Zanzibar’s celebrated hospitality.

Join us at one of our regular evenings of live music, art exhibitions or other hosted events.  From Food Festivals to Film Festivals we are at the heart of this vibrant pulsating Spice Island capital.  

Don’t miss out, follow our social media channels to keep up-to-date with the very latest in what is happening in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Please Follow and Like Us 

Emerson Skeens

The Man with a Dream

“Spaces are magical, always have been for me. Since childhood, often when I walk into a space for the first time, I’m confronted with a narrative, a feeling, a history, some characters. Like Jaques, in “As you Like It,” there is a myth, an opera, a film or a play stretching out on stage before me. These stages present themselves for me to play on and, for even more fun, to play with. The romantic and erotic are always embedded in the space.

May I ask the visitors of Emerson’s Zanzibar’s hotels to indulge with me and perhaps join in by feeling the archetypal stories that inspired the designs of each room. For all the mad romantics that remain among us in a digital age, here’s the scoop”…
Emerson Skeens The Story