If you find yourself in East Africa one of these days, do yourself a favor and hop over to Zanzibar. It's a great side trip, with both culture and physical beauty. Hotel-wise, both stylish luxury and simplicity exist. While I was there last year, being the nosy design buff that I am, I wandered around some of them, with my camera. Here are two of my favorites, both of which are beautiful examples of Zanzibar style.
On the luxurious end is Baraza, located on beautiful Bwejuu Beach, on the eastern part of the island. Baraza is one of those hotels from which you will emerge, a week later, as a well-massaged and well-rested shadow of your formerly frenzied self.
All the buildings and rooms are a bright clean white plaster, with accents of gold. The result is light, airy and cool. The arched doorways are classic features of old Omani architecture. (I wouldn't be surprised if you ran into a Sultan on the way to the pool.)
Zanzibar Coffee House: $-$$
Unlike Baraza, the Zanzibar Coffee House is in the thick of everything, opening out into the busy winding alleys of Stone Town. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Stone Town is a slice of the 19th Century, with crumbling but beautiful coralline buildings and a rich and complicated history. The hotel runs a coffee shop downstairs (hence its name) and a guest house above.
Guest rooms are off the tall plant-filled stairwell. The white plaster walls and traditional carved openings make it open and bright.
Carved wood furnishings, draped beds, chandeliers and arched windows show the mix of Swahili, European and Arab styles.
A rooftop lounge overlooks the town. The low seating and colorful pillows make it relaxed and comfortable.
(Images: all Dabney Frake, except for Zanzibar Coffee House guest room photo, via Trip Advisor)