1 Foundation 2 Hotels 3 Restaurants

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.  Each hotel has an amazing rooftop restaurant.  In Emerson Spice there is also the magical Secret Garden Restaurant.

Motivated by his big-hearted passion for the local community Skeens formed the Emerson Foundation for Zanzibar.  The Emerson Foundation is still making a difference in the community 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….

Two Hotels

Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel Entrance
Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel
Emerson Spice Hotel Entrance
Emerson Spice Hotel
Emerson Staff really care! They are all trained in the WHO covid-19 procedures - see more information here

Three Restaurants

Emerson on Hurumzi Teahouse
Emerson on Hurumzi Rooftop Tea House
Emerson Spice Rooftop Teahouse
Emerson Spice Rooftop Tea House
Emerson Spice Secret Garden
Emerson Spice Secret Garden

Recommended Holidays in Tanzania

Explore mainland Tanzania’s classic African Bush safari adventure. Maybe add Zanzibar’s breath-taking coast with clear azure sea on the Spice Island’s stunning white sands. Then immerse yourself in the timeless, authentic sounds, tastes and sunsets at an Emerson Zanzibar hotel, with truly magical rooftop views in the enchanting Stone Town (UNESCO World Heritage site).

Stay at Emerson Zanzibar Hotels and combine the wonder, and magic of Stone Town with our Bush or Beach recommendations. Learn more…

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 Spice Rooftop Teahouse
Emerson Spice Rooftop Tea House
Emerson on Hurumzi Teahouse
Emerson on Hurumzi Rooftop Tea House
Emerson Spice Secret Garden
Emerson Spice Secret Garden
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

Two Hotels, Three Restaurants

There are two Emerson hotels with three distinct restaurant experiences. Both Emerson Spice Hotel and Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel have a restaurant in their Rooftop Tea House.    Both Emerson Hotels’ Tea Houses serve sunset drinks at 18:00 and dinner at 19:00. There is only one sitting. Our Chefs are happy to cater for dietary requirements, but Emerson Spice is more suited to those who enjoy fish & seafood.

Emerson Spice Rooftop Teahouse
Emerson Spice Rooftop Tea House
Emerson on Hurumzi Teahouse
Emerson on Hurumzi Rooftop Tea House
Emerson Spice Secret Garden
Emerson Spice Secret Garden

The Tea House at Emerson Spice has a smaller, more intimate, Rooftop Tea House. At Emerson Spice, a daily-changing, set five course, seafood tasting menu is served.

The Tea House at Emerson on Hurumzi was opened in 1997. This Tearoom is higher than it’s sister in Emerson Spice. The seating is Swahili Style on thick Persian rugs with low tables, and usually a singer & band performs during dinner.  The menu comprises delicious authentic Zanzibari cuisine. 

There is a magical, secluded, walled garden at Emerson Spice, ‘The Secret Garden’. A romantic, magical haven from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town.  Great for a quiet rest and a beverage. There’s an a la carte menu for you as well and this restaurant serves dinner from 17.00 – 21.30

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 Two 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 Romance and Magic Happens

The Secret Garden

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town streets? Take a spiced coffee or cold beverage in the haven that is Stone Town’s Secret Garden.    Just metres from the vibrant streets of the city you will be instantly and miraculously transported to another dimension. Step into the ‘timeless’, tranquil and magical world of the ‘Secret Garden’. The romantic and secluded Secret Garden is open for Lunch and Dinner and has a Zanzibari-inspired a la carte menu. Look out for our ‘Step into the Soul of Zanzibar’ live music or art events hosted in the Secret Garden with performances by The Dhow Countries Music Academy and many other local artists each week.
Emerson Spice Secret Garden
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 Local Music, Art & 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 cultural events.  From Food Festivals to Film Festivals we are at the heart of this vibrant pulsating Spice Island capital.  

Follow our social media channels to keep up-to-date with the very latest in what is happening in Stone Town, Zanzibar. 

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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

Emerson’s Zanzibar Foundation Art Award 2021

In the months preceding this exhibition, artists have participated in workshops with different themes. Luba Roshchyna led the workshops and brought together the artists for an opportunity to share their experiences and move a step further together as an artist community.

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Luba Roshchyna Interview

LUBA ROSHCHYNA was born in the former Soviet Union, but for the past 20 years East Africa has been her home. In collaboration with Emerson Zanzibar, she curated two exhibitions last year, Chimlo and Kadudu, and set a whole new standard for art exhibitions on the island.

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Art Exhibition Sharing Experiences

In the months preceding this exhibition, artists have participated in workshops with different themes. Luba Roshchyna led the workshops and brought together the artists for an opportunity to share their experiences and move a step further together as an artist community.

Read More »
Latest Articles

Where Heritage Meets Passion

Read some of our latest articles and travel blogs. Find out more of the culture, history, art, music and gastronomy of Zanzibar.  The magical, timeless story can be experienced in either of Stone Town’s two famous ‘heritage’ boutique hotels.

Emerson Zanzibar is a home-grown 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.

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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