Best for Spice Island Charm, The Palms Zanzibar

The lure of the exotically nicknamed Spice Island of Zanzibar was made stronger when Condé Nast Traveller named Bwejuu Beach ‘one of the 30 top island beaches in the world’. We had no choice but to surrender to the call and found ourselves at The Palms. It’s made up of only six stunning palm-thatched villas with private midnight-blue plunge pools, all with enviable ocean views, set in tropical gardens full of swaying palm trees and tumbling bougainvillea. The villas are a lovely blend of colonial, traditional African and Arabic styles, typical of Zanzibar’s rich heritage: they’re deliciously sumptuous with warm tones of coffee, caramel and cream. The beach was everything we had been promised and more: pure, almost blinding white sand gently caressed by the most turquoise of oceans stretching to the horizon in ever-changing stripes of blue. Being on the south eastern coast of the island, away from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town, the resort shares the beach with its sister properties Breezes Beach Club & Spa and the luxury all-villa Baraza Resort & Spa. We would have been equally happy in any of these lovely resorts, but had decided to cocoon ourselves away in the intimacy and exclusivity of The Palms. We enjoyed the freedom of staying on an all-inclusive basis, dining by candlelight at The Plantation House or enjoying a light lunch made with the freshest ingredients at the poolside bar. When we felt like being more sociable we ventured out, sometimes to Breezes’ excellent Sultan’s Table Restaurant, set on stilts overlooking the Indian Ocean. We loved discovering the island, s seeing the weathered buildings of Stone Town’s winding alleys ( just over an hour away), cruising the mangroves in a traditional dhow or venturing into the interior for a spice plantation tour, learning about pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. Returning to our serene sanctuary, though, was always bliss, relaxing with a cocktail in-hand on the beautiful beach or lounging on our decadent silk-draped four-poster day bed. And after a day’s exploring (or a few days on safari), the Sanctuary Spa is the perfect retreat for some indulgent pampering.

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