With last week’s safari stories, I hope I haven’t given you the false impression that I’m a rugged traveler. While I’m not big on lounging by the pool, I’m generally not a camper, and I quite enjoy a hotel that makes pool lounging look like a good idea. Following our safari, we spent five days on the island of Zanzibar, which fit the bill nicely.

pool

Just as we were the first guests of the season at our safari camp, we were the only visitors at the Shooting Star Lodge the first two nights, and had the place to ourselves, not counting the super friendly owner and staff, and resident cat and dogs.

courtyard

We used the travel company Expert Africa to arrange our trip. For African trips, it seems pretty necessary to go through a company that can set up all the necessary details. They suggested, since we were going such a long distance for a safari, we may as well hop a short flight to Zanzibar and spend a few days there. Because we were so early in the season, we got a great deal on the combo.

I have a friend who likes to tell me “a hotel is just a place to sleep.” No, sir, it is not. The hotel is half the vacation, in my opinion. It’s a huge bonus when the hotel comes with a gawk-worthy garden to boot.

bed looking out

bed

There are many luxury resorts on Zanzibar, and the Shooting Star is one of the older resorts, and budget friendly. Apparently the Zanzibar resorts get way fancier, but I’m not sure what I’d do with a much fancier place. This seemed pretty much like paradise.

I learned Zanzibar is a popular destination for Italian tourists, who stay in resorts with Italian staff. I’m happy we ended up in a spot with a Tanzanian owner and staff, since it’d be funny to go halfway around the globe and not even meet people from the area.

The most basic “garden rooms” are two story cottages, all with private verandas overlooking the ocean.

beach view from the hut

patio

Not a bad place to admire the sunset.

sunset from the patio

Here’s a shot of the next room over. The verandas truly are private.

neighboring house

We only used the first floor, but this is what was upstairs, with two twin beds, and a view of the ocean.

upstairs sitting area

upstairs

I get excited when hotels have fancy details like fresh flowers in the bathroom. Or everywhere, in this case.

bathroom soap

bathroom washcloths

bathroom

entry

The flowers were replaced daily. If you’re wondering where the all the flowers came from, they’re right outside the door.

hibiscus from the garden

There was a spa and an offer for beach massages, but we didn’t take part in any spa activities. Especially since we were the only guests, it felt like too much luxury, like rich in a bad way, if that makes any sense.

beach bar and spa

The bar was open “until the last guest goes to bed,” and meals were served whenever we were ready for them.

bar

bar_view from the bar

Breakfast always included a selection of fresh fruit. Fresh warm mangos are one of my favorite things.

breakfast fruit

Pancakes, or what I think of as crepes, were served daily at our safari and the Shooting star, usually with some sort of local jam or honey. I thought the tiny limes were adorable.

lime sugar pancakes

All the meals were served under the thatched roof, either in the sand or on the tile floor.

night time dining

This looks back toward the kitchen. The Linky the cat was our constant mealtime companion. Apparently some reviewers didn’t appreciate him, but I loved having a little friend. Especially after a couple weeks away from my own animal family.

toward the kitchen and linkie

The lounge was a nice place to sip a tropical beverage in the shade and admire the view.

lounge_ocean view_2

lounge_ocean view

lounge

drink specials

The island is 99% islamic, which is a modest culture. In hotels, it seems anything goes as far as beach wear, but in local culture, almost all women are covered head to toe. Resort life is a stark contrast from the nearby village life, which is a bigger topic I can’t do justice for now. But I appreciated that the hotel provided sarongs, which were great for covering up a little more appropriately on the beach. And the beach bag and towels were a thoughtful touch.

beach towels and sarongs

And perhaps I’m not the majority, but one of the first things I check out in a hotel room is the closet. I love when you get your stuff all organized. No stepping over an open suitcase bag all week for me.

closet

closet_robes

Not bad at all, Zanzibar.