LANDMARK SUITES IN WESTLANDS – ARGUABLY THE MOST AFFORDABLE SUITE ACCOMMODATION IN NAIROBI
(Posted 10th July 2018)
Frequent travelers, courtesy of the ever growing number of web platforms which allow to compare hotel tariffs and hotel facilities with the click of the mouse, have shown an increased savviness when it comes to extending the purchasing power of their money.
Those free to choose their hotels, and of course their airlines, have learned to take advantage of special deals, the doubling or tripling of miles earned, upgrade offers on certain departure dates, especially when able to use loyalty points to pay for it, and, as will be discussed here, to switch from a conventional hotel room to a property offering suites – and often not just for the same cost but for less.
Per diems of such savvy travelers can suddenly ‘last longer‘ and allow for little luxuries, quintessential for many frequent travelers to make up for the stress they are subjected to by airports around the world having to run the gauntlet of security checks.
What matters of course to make such available choices a reality, is – high on the list – the location of a property. It has to be conveniently located, restaurants nearby, auxiliary services provided too like transportation services and in today’s 24/7 economy functioning high speed complimentary internet access.
Nairobi is, as has often been the case in the past, the East African pioneer city for such all suite properties with Kampala, Kigali and Dar es Salaam lagging behind.
Some of these new breed of hotels emerged from the initial concept of serviced apartments for longer staying guests for whom a hotel room tends to become ever so slightly claustrophobic over time, lacking the space to really put one’s feet up after a long day’s work – and with suites in regular hotels often going for twice or thrice the price of a standard room, many a traveler’s budget does simply not allow for that.
Serviced apartments though often lack the added layer of services a hotel provides and quick to learn have owners began to turn their erstwhile investments into proper hotels with the ‘serviced apartment’ headline being discreetly pushed into the background – still available of course for expatriates on short service contracts of a couple of months, or even longer, but not wanting to get into the hassle of renting a house and then having to pay utilities, deal with maintenance issues and, perhaps most important, having a much longer commute into the city compared to a preferred location in one of the emerging secondary CBD hubs.
With several options to stay and check out such places on the cards, the decision to settle for the Landmark Suites was then largely informed by news that the former PR and Corporate Communications Manager of the Best Western Premier in Hurlingham and then the Four Points by Sheraton in Hurlingham, Ms. Azra Premji had left her former place of work to take up the position of Manager of the Landmark Suites.
Azra is a Jack(ie) of all trades and clearly a master of many, bringing her experience from her previous positions to make an immediate impact on the Landmark.
Going by the change of tunes by guests, narrating their experience on TripAdvisor since she arrived, and a Bookings.Com ranking of now 8.4, was it evident that she has taken the Landmark Suites from the initial serviced apartments concept to the status of a fully fledged hotel, all suites of course.
A value added ‘leftover’ from those days is a top of the range washing machine in every suite, integrated into the kitchen set up and of course is there an ironing board and a flat iron available in every room, tucked away in one of the wardrobes.
True, there is no room service around the clock but travelers opting for the Landmark need not miss this as they can always whip up a light meal with ingredients bought in the supermarkets near the hotel. Ready to eat meals and other purchases are kept fresh and cool in either fridge or freezer, which are part of the equipment found in the kitchen unit. A light meal or snack can be prepared or warmed on either of four induction hotplates or, even easier, in the microwave. The kitchen in the suite is fully equipped for that with glasses, crockery and cutlery included and a dining table in the living room of the suite allows to sit down rather than having to endure second best, which would be a TV dinner tray on one’s lap on the settee.
33 suites at the Landmark do in fact translate into 61 fully self contained bedrooms and for individual solo travelers are the one bedroom suites ideal while, when traveling with colleagues a shared living/dining room – several suites have two bedrooms and one has even three bedrooms – allows for the kind of end of day interaction, when the cold drinks come out of the fridge and the comfy sofa sets allow to spread out and strategize, discuss meeting results or simply watch a sports event together on the wide screen HD TV before retiring into one’s own four walls.
For those in need to do a little workout is a small gym available with a treadmill and two heavy duty exercise machines while a pool invites to swim a few rounds on a sunny day.
Meals at the Landmark can be taken poolside, weather permitting or at the Mumbai Grill, the Landmark’s inhouse restaurant. Here is also breakfast served, mostly a la carte though increasingly supported by a buffet set up when the house is full.
I was surprised by an excellent meal at the Mumbai Grill where I selected spiced chicken wings as a starter and then some absolutely tender and well balanced mutton cubes in a delicious gravy laden with herbs. Mutton Rogan Josh was the dish called and I will remember that for some time to come because I have not had such a well prepared mutton dish in an age or two.
Also worth to mention is Eataly, the more continental part of the restaurant where the menu is presently undergoing a complete overhaul to present guests with just a couple of favourite dishes, pasta included of course, giving a lunch or dining option beyond the Mumbai Grill’s menu choices.
(The lobby at the Landmark, already featuring a bar and easily converted into a fully fledged lobby cafe)
Azra did mention that the present gym will be relocated in due course closer to the pool and the space then converted into a lobby cafe where from morning till late cakes and snacks will be served to further enhance the F&B service of the hotel.
The Landmark Suites has a small boardroom for up to 8 participants in a meeting, available for inhouse guests but also for bookings from corporates and NGO’s in Nairobi. The location, in the very heart of Westlands, make the Landmark Suites a prime property and Azra, given a bit of time, will no doubt turn the hotel into the winner it can be.
All in all was my stay of some 36 hours very pleasant, made homely by the friendliness of the staff across the hotel, from gate guards to the reception to the housekeeping staff. I will certainly keep an eye on how this relative newcomer to the hotel scene in Nairobi is doing in the future. Having come from the 70’s into rank 32 of 245 hotels on TripAdvisor, they will no doubt climb higher still when more guests take the trouble to rate and rank them.
For my flight to Nairobi I used RwandAir, as I do for most of my regional and inter African travel these days, after the airline expanded their network and their flight frequencies to a point that traveling via Kigali to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and of course a growing number of West African destinations, is suddenly the option of choice. No congestion at Kigali International Airport, short connection times and less hassle than in some other regional airports simply do score high points with an increasing number of travelers.
In East Africa does RwandAir fly twice a day nonstop from Entebbe to Nairobi but also serves Juba, via Entebbe, Nairobi directly several times a day out of Kigali and of course Dar es Salaam and even Mombasa.