South of Mombasa, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a place to stay, whether you’re looking for privacy, budget or rustic charm. We’ve attempted to narrow it down to six places that we think offer that little something extra.
GOOD FOR …
ROMANCE: The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel, Diani
Imagine a beach hotel without the shriek of young children. If that sounds like music to your ears, the Maji might just be the place for you. With a strict ‘no under 12s’ policy, and the freedom to take your meals when and where you want them, this is a place that might particularly appeal to those seeking a romantic escape, or stressed parents looking for a real escape. The hotel’s 15 rooms are spread over a converted villa, surrounded by a moat-like pool. Superior garden-view rooms start from Ksh 16,685 pp full-board, although there’s one economy room available at Ksh 8,210 pp.
FAMILIES: Waterlovers, Diani Beach
Centered around the pool area in a fairly compact compound on the beach, this place gets consistently good feedback. It’s a popular choice for families, as besides its suites, it also offers the larger villa and penthouse that suits family-style living. It is a peaceful, tastefully-furnished hotel with good Italian food on offer, a superb pool, as well as a host of other freebies, such as iPads, suntan lotion and insect repellent. Resident rates start from Ksh 11,990 pp sharing, B&B, until Dec 16th. Rates go up to Ksh 13,198 pp next year.
TRANQUILLITY: Flamboyant, Diani Beach
Although technically beachfront, Flamboyant looks out onto a pool and landscaped gardens, giving it an air of elegance and peace that is absent from many other places on the coast. Considerable thought has gone into the fabric and furnishings, particularly in the common areas. The rooms, though, still lack that authentic Swahili feel but are due to undergo an upgrade before the year is out. The restaurant serves up good food, including eggs Benedict for breakfast, and the hotel is much more reasonably priced than many comparable small properties. Resident rates start from Ksh 11,000 for a double room, B&B.
FOODIES: Sands at Nomad, Diani Beach
The hotel is becoming increasingly known for its restaurant, which easily rivals the best of the south coast’s eateries, and attracts a loyal crowd in the evenings. Sands is located at the quieter southern end of the beach, meaning fewer beach boys, and the chance of having the beach almost to yourself. The hotel is set in lovely grounds, and has several gorgeous, spacious seafront cottages and rooms, and it is for these that the hotel justifiably has a popular following. Cheaper but not nearly so nice are the forest-view rooms in the main block. Resident rates start from Ksh 5,900 pp B&B; Beach cottages from 13,100 pp.
YOUR BUDGET: Kenyaways, Galu
Further down the coast at Galu is this rustic little 10-bedroom hotel (five bedrooms with sea views), catering to a more chilled, barefoot kind of crowd. With the excellent Lymingtons bistro on site, guests don’t have to travel for good food. Bedrooms are pretty simple, but nicely done, and there’s a good watersports outlet on site, offering kite surfing and other activities. Galu, a large sweep of beach, is quieter than Diani, with a lower likelihood of beach-boy annoyances. Rooms are very reasonably priced, even those with a sea view. Rates start from $43 pp sharing a double, B&B.
GROUPS: Samawati, Msambweni
Little beats taking a villa when you’re with friends. Samawati is a beautiful Lamu-style property on one of Kenya’s most southerly beaches, and a good base for exploring the slave caves of Shimoni, and Wasini island. This elegant home is fully open to the sea breezes, with all four bedrooms on the upper floor. Downstairs is a pool and elegantly furnished living area. Fishermen come to the house with the catch of the day for the chef to whip up. Msambweni may lack the white sands of Diani, but it’s an attractive beach, and much quieter than those further north. The house is let for Ksh 25,000 a night.
*Resident rates are based on low-season prices