Back in the 19th century, Tharia Topan was the chief financier to the Sultan of Zanzibar, which meant that he got away with building the second-tallest tower in Zanzibar City. Once a place for Omani viziers to take tea, the top of this tower is now the restaurant of Emerson & Green, the most idiosyncratic hotel on the island.
Visitors sit on cushions and carpets while local musicians play and food is handed round. The done thing is to be there for the sunset and then to spend the rest of the night living it up like a sultan. Not surprisingly, given Zanzibar's position on the Indian Ocean, the fare is a blend of seafood and Indian spices with plenty of seasonal vegetables.
Eighty feet above street level there are vertiginous views of mosques and minarets, palaces and Hindu temples, plus the crumbling houses that used to belonged to wealthy Arab and Indian merchants who made Zanzibar the spice capital of the world. When the muezzin starts up you half expect Indiana Jones to wander into shot. Best of all, however, is the sight of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. Unforgettable.
Like most upmarket eateries in Zanzibar, the bill comes in dollars. For $25 (£16) a head (Monday-Thursday) or $30 (£19) a head (Friday-Sunday) you get a fixed menu (eg, courgette soup, crab claw starter, fish ratatouille and tropical sorbet and coffee). Wine and cocktails are expensive and not really ideal in such a climate. Stick to Kilimanjaro or Safari Beer ($2 a can).
The restaurant is open for dinner every evening providing enough people have booked. They like you to arrive for sunset but will accept latecomers if you've made a reservation.
Tower Top Restaurant, Emerson & Green, Hurumzi Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar (00 225 24 223 0171; www.zanzibar.org/emegre)Reuse content