We turn our focus to Nairobi in this issue, listing some of our favourite spots around the city; from those with a rich history that have been around since the early 1900s to business hotels, and more…
FAIRMONT THE NORFOLK
If you’re looking for a place with history, then The Norfolk, as it started out in 1904, is it. Sitting on the Lord Delamere Terrace, one can still imagine what it must have been like for a guest in the early days, drinking a beer overlooking green wilderness that has inevitably given way to the city spread.The then Jewish-owned hotel went through huge upheaval in 1980. These days, it’s a rare, high-class idyll in a quieter part of the centre, and hosts two excellent restaurants. Location: Harry Thuku Rd.
It launched into Kenyan history in 1902 by becoming the first luxury hotel in Nairobi and the gracious host to prominent world leaders and celebrities. Sarova Stanley retains much of its historical charm while offering all the luxuries and amenities of a five-star hotel. Towering high up on the 8th floor is the charismatic and chic 1902 Club Lounge. With it comes a promise of the very best personalized business solutions; exclusive boardroom access, specialized concierge services, whole day refreshments and city sundowners to wind down your day. Location: CBD.
NAIROBI SERENA HOTEL
A celebration of sophistication and a rich fusion of Pan-African design influences from Ethiopia, the Maghreb, West Africa and East Africa – it merges business and leisure, art and gastronomy and five-star style and service. The 199 guest rooms and suites have been newly remodelled and appointed with the sought-after extravagances. Established in 1975, it stands on the land that carried the current National Museum in 1922. The hotel is a living embodiment of its locale and has played a role in a number of historic moments in Kenya over the years. Location: CBD outskirts
This 85 room landmark hotel which currently has modern art and design opened its doors in 1961, quickly becoming popular as an important hub in East African politics. It played host to East African presidents, senior government officials and civil servants as well as Elite Africans in various conferences and meetings of state. It is said that Kenya’s first president, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was a regular guest. Location: at the heart of the CBD, along Tom Mboya Street and opposite Kenya National Archives.
In 1969 when Hilton Nairobi was officially opened, it stood out as the pinnacle of international style and class. Owned by the Hilton family, the brand has a world renowned history. Today it has a good blend of old and new decor. Whether you are seeking an indoor or outdoor dining experience, their three restaurants, two distinct bars and charming Hollywood-themed café offer innovative cuisine and friendly service. Tour the five continents with weekly themed buffets at Travellers restaurant, there’s the British-themed Jockey Pub, and more. Location: Mama Ngina Street.
The 127-room Fairview Hotel’s decor is typical of Georgian colonial style. The original hotel was built with a countryside atmosphere in mind. Having been built earlier, in 1946, a family bought and successfully ran it for three generations spanning almost 70 years, until only recently. Over the years, renovations have been done, careful to retain the country feel in what has now become a bustling urban center. Expect neatly manicured and well kept tropical gardens, four restaurants, a swimming pool, sundowner bar with pianist, and more. Location: Bishop Rd.
Named after the home of the striking kingfisher birds, the two-bedroom serviced apartments here are spacious and comfortable, and come with a fully functional kitchen, two bathrooms and a large balcony. The apartments have a rooftop heated pool and gym, where you can work out or go for a relaxing dip while taking in the Nairobi skyline. Indulge in Italian and Indian cuisine at Feaston, the restaurant on the first floor. Meals can however also be provided at the comfort of your apartment. Location: Opposite the former Nakumatt Ukay, Westlands.
The property consists of one and two bedroom apartments, and presidential suites. Each is designed with large panel windows, spacious wardrobes, a living and dining area as well as a fully equipped open plan kitchen with modern facilities. If you’re not keen to cook, however, head up to the 11th floor for some continental cuisine at the main restaurant, Argenti, which means “silver” in Italian. There is even a gym with a fitness instructor, sauna and steam room, as well as a world class spa. Location: Riverside Lane.
PALACINA RESIDENCE & SUITES
The beautifully-furnished one, two and three-bedroom suites which all have very well-equipped kitchens come with all the conveniences of a hotel – the Moonflower restaurant on site, a lobby with sofas to sink into, and daily breakfast. There are also double bedrooms available, the newer ones, at a higher price, in The Residence North. Throughout the hotel is the Palacina touch, and the interior design arm is situated in the shop just next door. There is a long indoor pool and gym on site. Location: off Dennis Pritt Rd, Kilimani.
KAREN BLIXEN GARDEN COTTAGES
The cottages have been designed after the historic Swedo House which was originally built as a hunting lodge in 1906. They give a sense of relieving history in elegant style, with high beam ceilings with fireplaces, and wood and mazeras stone floors complimenting modern bathrooms. All cottages have a verandah for relaxing while enjoying the birds, butterflies and flowers of the garden. They even have feeders to attract a wide variety of birds. A private swimming pool and private garden bar are available for a relaxing afternoon. Location: Karen Rd, Karen.
NAIROBI TENTED CAMP
This Porini-branded camp is an intimate property in a shaded part of the national park, and has just nine tents and a minimal footprint. All are set on a wooded rise above the main part of the camp. The communal area is a lovely, old-style area with large sofas and leather armchairs, again all under canvas. By staying here, guests access the wealth of Africa knowledge of the Gamewatchers Safari family, started by safari old-timer Jake Grieves-Cooke who has decades of experience in Kenya’s tourism sector. Location: within NNP, Langata.
This 10-room classy property has hosted all manner of celebs, including Madonna. It is the home of Emma and Anthony Childs who have created a luxurious bush idyll, a true escape whether en route to safari, or just looking for an escape from the city for a night or two. The bedrooms, all of which overlook the park, are huge and designed with a modern, contemporary feel. Each has a fireplace for chilly nights, and guests can feast on the views from their own wooden decks. Within NNP, Langata.
HOTELS IN A MALL
The hotel is softly lit with warm colours, and boasts a good steakhouse called Jiko. The standard rooms are spacious – some with a bath, others are shower only – and adorned with colourful artworks and tribal artefacts. The tribal theme plays out across the hotel, which has some 900 pieces from around the continent. There’s a library with 3,000 books, a stone table on a raised deck in the pool should the idea of dining with water lapping around your feet appeal, and Kaya spa. Location: Village Market.
With 215-rooms, this elegant and urban business hotel is inspired by the cultural and creative renaissance in Nairobi, reflecting the city’s industrious and innovative nature in its design. Each sound proof room offers a workstation, black-out curtains and various amenities. There is a clubhouse with striking views of the area on the topmost floor. Harvest, the hotel’s open grill brasserie, has excellent cuts of meat and focuses on farm fresh ingredients carefully paired with exquisite wines from their walk-in wine room, for the perfect dining out experience. Location: Village Market.
CITY LODGE HOTEL AT TWO RIVERS
Opened by South African hospitality group City Lodge, it has 171 beautifully designed sound-proof rooms that strike a good balance between comfort and style. Rooms range from standard, presidential and those adapted for guests with physical disabilities. While the bathrooms feature showers, selected rooms offer baths. Guests can enjoy their meals at the cafe for breakfast, lunch and a light dinner, as well as a sundowner bar service. The hotel also has a swimming pool, boardrooms and a well equipped fitness center. Location: Two Rivers Mall.
WILDEBEEST ECO CAMP
This well-run hotel is unexpected given its location in the Langata suburb encircling a small marsh-bordered lake. It caters predominantly to groups and younger travellers, but has attractive whitewashed rooms as well as glamping options in the deluxe safari tent, and a range of more budget options right down to a two-man tent and dorm rooms. Meals are taken on the large deck overlooking the swimming pool, and it’s an enticing spot for kids given the playground and mini zipline. Location: Mokoyeti Rd West, Langata.
KENYA COMFORT HOTEL
This is a two-star hotel with 91 rooms located at the junction of Muindi Mbingu and Monrovia Streets, overlooking the lovely Jeevanjee Gardens. The hotel offers en-suite compact budget, standard and superior rooms. At the restaurant, all meals are prepared from fresh ingredients and the menu largely features Kenyan cuisine. The group also has three-star suites, in Kilimani, just around State House. Enjoy an aerial view of Nairobi from the rooftop sun lounge or relax at the steam and sauna rooms. Personalized packages for conferences and more are available. Location: CBD.
The house can host up to 30 people. Rooms here range from single and double to six and eight person dorms, and these have shared washrooms. There is a communal living room and dining area, great for mingling with fellow backpackers. The outdoor restaurant serves freshly prepared food with an open fireplace for extra warmth on those cold Nairobi spells, best enjoyed with a drink from the bar. The staff is very friendly and the house is located in the serene neighbourhood of Kilimani, just about 2km from the CBD.
AFRICAN HERITAGE HOUSE
An architectural gem reminiscent of Timbuktu style mud buildings, the house is crammed with rare art pieces collected from all over the continent by Alan Donovan, who built it following the demise of the African Heritage gallery in town. Each of the four bedrooms is themed with its own eclectic style, from the beds with the trinket holders on the carved bed-posts to the rock-pool like bathroom. It’s also a fascinating place to simply visit for a tour of the weird and wonderful African art. Book ahead. Location: Mombasa Rd, Mlolongo
THE KING POST
This is a Swahili village smack in the middle of Nairobi. It features a unique architectural synthesis as interesting as the influences on the Swahili culture itself, with Omani, Portuguese, Indian, African and British flair. Right from the wooden intricately carved gate with large brass studs, narrow alleyways lead you to the tranquility of your apartment, and you might as well be in Zanzibar. Apartments range from studios to three bedrooms. A gym, restaurant, hair salon and fashion boutique are also within the premises. Location: Rhapta Rd, Westlands.
Here, style, entertainment and art converge. The decor is contemporary, colourful and chic with a refreshing sense of playfulness and exciting installations for art lovers. Offering world class cuisine from its array of bars and restaurants, stylish and spacious guest rooms, the award winning Devarana Spa and a striking red swimming pool, dusitD2 is the perfect urban retreat for both work and play. After closing down following the widely-covered attacks last year, the hotel reopens with a special accommodation package offering 20% off the Dusit Best Available Rate. Location: 14 Riverside Drive.
FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON NAIROBI AIRPORT
There is a distinct vertical garden which starts from the ground floor and winds all the way up to the hotel’s fifth floor. In any of the 172 guest rooms, there is a sense of thought in the design. If it’s something a little more indulgent that you want, a bathtub overlooking the National Park is just the thing in the Executive Suite. The rooftop restaurant has a pool, overlooks the JKIA runway on one side and the park on the other, and has a colourful mural by graffiti artist Bankslave. Location: Tower Avenue JKIA.
With the stunning views of the park, especially when the animals come to the waterhole, this alone make Ole Sereni one of-a-kind. Boasting modern technology and furnishings with an African-inspired décor, all rooms serve as a comfortable home away from home. Each of their four dining options capitalise on the unique location along the park, whether looking out over an infinity pool or from the fourth-floor at Eagle’s The Steakhouse. Here, you can enjoy fresh seafood flown in from Kenya’s coast or handpicked, aged steaks. Location: Mombasa Rd.
HILTON GARDEN INN
Start each morning with breakfast at the on-site restaurant or grab a quick snack at the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry. Unwind with evening room service. Spend the afternoon at the 20m heated rooftop infinity pool, or the 24 hour well-equipped fitness center. Choose from any of the 175 air-conditioned guest rooms which includes complimentary WiFi, a well-lit work area, mini-refrigerator and flatscreen TV with freeview channels. Unwind with a drink in the relaxed lounge bar before enjoying a meal in the Garden Grille. Location: Mombasa Rd.
VILLA ROSA KEMPINSKI
Offering the perfect fusion of European luxury and Kenyan hospitality, Villa Rosa Kempinski is a unique destination where guests can spend time relaxing or working. In addition to the 200 rooms and suites distributed throughout its ten floors, you will also find exquisite dining opportunities here. Their dining selection includes Cafe Villa Rosa, K Lounge which is the lobby lounge, Balcony Bar, Chinese Restaurant 88, Italian Restaurant LUCCA and a Levant -style lounge and restaurant called Tambourin. The hotel also has a grand ballroom and Kempinski The Spa. Location: Chiromo Rd.
PARK INN BY RADISSON
The 140 rooms here are designed for comfort, with a fantastic range of amenities to enhance your stay. Enjoy all-day dining at the in-house restaurant and terrace bar, or relax with friends at the rooftop lounge bar which offers amazing views of the Westlands neighbourhood. Keep up with your workout routine in the gym, or cool off in the swimming pool. For business, host your next conference, seminar, boardroom meeting or event in their convenient, on-site meeting rooms. There are five of those, ranging from 20 to 140 square meters. Location: Waiyaki Way.
SANKARA AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION
Spacious luxury rooms and suites at this luxury hotel are bathed in natural light. The contemporary interior design, array of art and in-room facilities provide the highest level of comfort. There are several restaurants such as Graze, a New York-style steakhouse offering aged beef, succulent seafood and indulgent desserts paired with some of the finest wines and whiskies. With more than 250 square metres of multi-functional event facilities, they offer one of the most exclusive and convenient venues for corporate gatherings in Nairobi. Location: Woodvale Grove, Westlands.
PRIDE INN RAPHTA
This quiet three-star hotel was just recently refurbished. The cottage-style rooms are lined along a courtyard, and are shaded by trees and greenery making for a rather serene setting. The regular in-room facilities such as a work surface, DSTV, WiFi, fridge, a tea station and more are available. A swimming pool and restaurant with a vast multi-cuisine menu are available. For business travelers, the brand is renowned for its conferencing facilities, and they have another location in the neighbourhood just next to Graffins college. Location: Raphta Rd, Westlands.
THE HERON PORTICO
Choose from a range of accommodation options such as the junior suites (which include a separate living area and a kitchenette) or standard and superior rooms. Great amenities and stunning interiors make this stylish and comfortable hotel an ideal choice. Choose from five fully equipped meeting and event halls for a wide array of gatherings like conferences, exhibitions, weddings and more. For foodies, there are four options for dining, and these offer patrons an array of international and local cuisine. Location: Jakaya Kikwete Rd.
This chic and stylish hotel is the ultimate stopover for mixing of business and leisure. Restaurants such as Kilele Nyama and Utamu are available and offer a range of cuisine (the former in particular has a must-try mixed-grill platter). If you are keen to grab some post-meeting drinks, Tusker Lite Sky Bar can get quite lively on the weekends, and is the perfect spot to watch the city light up at night. Accommodation ranges from double to twin, triple and family rooms. Five conference facilities are available. Location: Rhapta Rd, Westlands.