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Small Hotel Big Stay: Historic Architecture and Contemporary Cuisine Collide at Zanzibar’s Neela Boutique Hotel

Weekends away in Zanzibar’s ancient city never felt more luxurious

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | January 25, 2024 | Travel Leisure

Newly opened in the heart of Zanzibar, The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town offers exciting new food and beverage outlets to entice the palates of visitors and locals enjoying a weekend away in Zanzibar’s ancient city. Stone Town is already being veted as a gastronomic marvel enticing the palates of foreign travellers and African weekenders alike.

The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town. Photography by Keegan Checks.

In its two outlets– the Breadfruit Restaurant & Café and Views Rooftop Bar & Lounge – hotel developers Steve and Raju Shaulis together with executive chef Lance Louise have created an experience encapsulating the romance and vibrant flavours of the island’s famous cultural hub.

Each of the properties in the collection, either in restored landmark heritage buildings or architecturally designed and built properties using local craftsmanship and international experts, have their distinct personalities rooted in and authentic to their location.

Featuring 14-rooms, The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town provides families with a beautiful location to spend quality time together while enjoying the freshest seasonal food in the natural beauty of Zanzibar.

Featuring 14-rooms, The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town provides families with a beautiful location to spend quality time together. Image: Supplied.

The signature Breadfruit eatery, arising from the vision of internationally renowned interior designer Nelly Levin, offers visitors a tranquil courtyard setting and the city’s historic architecture where they can enjoy exquisite dining and expertly crafted coffee prepared by world-class baristas.

Its strong focus on quality, sustainability and authenticity makes it the perfect destination for an unforgettable dining experience.

Among Breadfruit’s standout dishes is Zanzibar classic Zanzicuterie, which comprises cold smoked marlin and tuna, kimchi, cashew nut tapenade, pickled sardines, pickled feta, labneh, mango confit and fermented papaya.

Zanzibar classic Zanzicuterie, which comprises cold smoked marlin and tuna, kimchi, cashew nut tapenade, pickled sardines, pickled feta, labneh, mango confit and fermented papaya. Image: supplied.

A prized large-plate item, particularly among weekenders from the Tanzanian mainland and Kenya, is Swahili Seafood Curry, where the ingredients range from songoro and squid to toasted local spices and coconut milk.

Pweza Please, local octopus served with braised chickpeas and white beans, lemon aioli and bok choi, and Bing Bing Baby, a portion of bing bread and truffled honey butter, sesame chilli crunch, smoked eggplant and pinenut with whipped ricotta, are also not to be missed.

A Saltan of Spice Cocktail served at Views Rooftop Bar and the Parlour Lounge. Image: Supplied.

Views Rooftop Bar and the Parlour Lounge, meanwhile, are perfect for unwinding with delicious cocktails and access to the full BreadFruit Menu while soaking up the atmosphere that is so unique to Stone Town as a destination.

The rooftop setting is a wonderland of contemporary décor, superb service and romance and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the ancient city below. Cool live music and a gentle breeze offer a state of complete relaxation.

The rooftop setting is a wonderland of contemporary décor, superb service and romance and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the ancient city below. Image: Supplied.

Light but out-of-this-world small-plate dishes like Salt and Pepper Squid, noted for its red chili teriyaki seasoning, Prawn Bao Bun (togarashi mayo, pickled onion and furukake) and Popcorn Pweza (slivers of octopus with seaweed mayo and lemon) will tantalise any tastebuds.

The Parlour Lounge is tailor-made exclusively for hotel guests wanting to enjoy a morning coffee, light bite or afternoon drink as they plan their day or unwind after a day exploring Stone Town.

South African Chef Lance brings to The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town a remarkable culinary arts background. The chef credits his mother and the late pastry master Aaron James Maree for his passion for cooking, has worked for East Africa’s largest property management group overseeing international brands like Kempinski, Hemmingways, Marriott, and Acacia Premier, including the popular Nairobi Street Kitchen.

South African Chef Lance brings to The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town a remarkable culinary arts background. Image: Supplied.

As evidenced by the hotel menus, Chef Lance’s ethos is to procure local produce and ingredients to empower communities, and turn jobs into exciting careers.

“My inspiration comes from the resourcefulness of local farmers, the hunger of the individuals I mentor, and the stunning locations I’ve worked in, spanning from Dubai to London,” he says.