VISITING NAIROBI – ON BUSINESS OR LEISURE – MADE EASY
(Posted 18th December 2019)
With as many as three conveniently timed flights from Entebbe to Nairobi has the sting been removed from travel to the Kenyan capital. The red eye departure times around 4 a.m. by other airlines have been adjusted to more normal timings by Uganda Airlines, as their first daily flight departs at 6 a.m.
While one still has to be at the check in desk before 5 a.m. to make the flight, is it no longer required to leave Kampala soon after midnight to meet the check in deadlines and then end up sleeping through half of the day’s meetings in Nairobi.
This development has not been lost on travelers of course as the load factors on the Uganda Airlines flights have been growing steadily at the expense of others who, for their own convenience and scheduling have and continue to impose user unfriendly departure times on travelers from and to Entebbe.
The flights are operated with a fleet of newly acquired CRJ900 aircraft which offer a 1×2 configuration in business class and a 2×2 configuration in economy class.
Of course is breakfast served on the flight and one arrives at daylight in Nairobi, ready to go to work or otherwise begin a few days of leisure.
The crew happily welcomes the steadily growing number of passengers on board their flights and are not only very professional but also welcome their guests on board with that typical warm Ugandan smile, making one instantly feel at home.
Like demonstrated with the recent series of articles about travel with Uganda Airlines to Mombasa, is the airline keen to add further value for their passengers and travel packages to the airline’s key destinations are being worked on, which, when on the market, give travelers the option to not just book a flight but also a hotel package.
Until then can flights be booked via www.ugandairlines.com and of course is it equally possible to book hotel accommodation directly – including transfers from and to the airport in Nairobi – via www.prideinn.co.ke. Here are also the best rates visible by scrolling through the website menu.
Links to the recent series of articles about reaching the Kenya coast with nonstop flights from Entebbe:
PrideInn Hotels & Conferencing operate three hotels in Nairobi’s Westlands suburb, which in recent years has become a new business hub in its own right.
Located near such prime locations as the ABC Plaza – PrideInn Lantana Suites and PrideInn Raphta – and Sarit Centre – PrideInn Westlands – are all three hotels in the thick of things as they happen in Westlands. Restaurants, corporate offices and more are nearby, often within walking distance, and if one has to use a cab is UBER, Bolt and Little offering affordable rides. All it takes is to download their Apps on one’s smartphone and hey presto, one is in ‘business’ with them. UBER and Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, even offer Boda Boda services, well suited when one has to make it to an urgent meeting and the Nairobi traffic stands in the way of one’s cab, literally.
The largest of the three hotels, in terms of number of rooms, is the PrideInn Raphta with 100 rooms and three conference rooms.
(Typical room layout at the PrideInn Raphta)
This is followed by PrideInn Lantana Suites with 53 rooms in total of which 48 are suites, i.e. offer bedroom and a separate sitting room as well as a kitchenette. Lantana Suites too offers three conference rooms.
PrideInn Westlands got the least number of rooms with just 28 but the hotel is the group’s conference hub with 10 conference rooms and respective capacities from over 500 to the boardroom size of 20. These figures are with a classroom style setup while with a theatre style setting can the capacity of the largest room Pride Universe rise to a thousand.
It is also at the PrideInn Westlands that the hotel group has based their booking office for conferences in all the units across the country as well as the operations department which makes sure events are unfolding without any hiccups.
Shuttle busses are available for conference guests staying in any of the three hotels with capacities of 54, 28 and several 7 seater luxury vans which can also be used for airport transfers.
The PrideInn ‘Royal Kitchen‘ restaurant at their Westlands hotel has arguably the most extensive menu – in good part because of their location and the resulting walk in business – though at the other two hotels in Nairobi are the menus also reflecting a number of their Indian and Chinese dishes, besides the continental and local offerings. I enjoyed a late lunch there and could see how the waiters already prepared for the dinner setting, with different table cloths, reflecting quite a different ‘mood’ from the more casual lunch set up. Service was attentive and prompt without any long waits for the food.
I enjoyed Chicken Tikka, the Hot and Sour Chicken Noodle Soup, Spring Rolls, Spaghetti Carbonara, a Fillet Steak and more while staying at the Lantana Suites and the food quality was better than in some restaurants where I ate during past visits to Nairobi. The arrival of Gurpreet Singh Mehta, one of Kenya’s renowned chefs, at PrideInn as Group Director of Food & Beverage is already showing as the quality of food was convincing.
One added item also caught my eye and tickled my tastebuds, when I spotted a Pineapple and Mint juice, a very refreshing combination and I had two or three glasses every morning at breakfast. THAT is the kind of stuff which makes one remember a hotel and I certainly will!
(A typical room layout at PrideInn Lantana Suites and a view of the pool)
Of course will potential guests want to know about the rates of these hotels and PrideInn Lantana Suites, as this article goes to press, is on offer for 87 US Dollars when booking directly, and that is for a twin occupancy and included breakfast.
A room tonight at the PrideInn Westlands would go for 86 US Dollars, again for double occupancy and inclusive of breakfast while the PrideInn Raphta is on offer for 85 US Dollars, again for double occupancy and inclusive of breakfast.
These are no doubt excellent rates for three star hotels, given their location and their standards of food. Weekend rates can often be even better, as the cycle of business for the three hotels is high occupancy conference business from Monday to Friday while the weekends are open for leisure visitors who might want to get away from Kampala and spend time in Nairobi.
About visiting Nairobi on leisure … Kampaleans might wonder what to expect or even ask what there is to do.
For one is the Kenyan capital also the regional food and cuisine capital with the largest number of restaurants in any city in the entire region and the widest variety of ethnic cuisine to be found. From takeaway to fast food and from African cuisine across the Americas – Mexican and Brazilian come to mind – to menus across Europe and Asia, no taste bud will remain wanting. Even the proverbial Haute Cuisine is available in Nairobi presented with a silver service as one would come to expect at that level. Try the Mandhari at the Serena, The Chop House at the Radisson Blu Upper Hill or Nairobi’s top seafood restaurant, the Tamarind. Also recommended for a top level dining experience is the Sikia Fine Dining at the Crowne Plaza on Upper Hill as is the Lord Errol in Runda.
The city’s restaurants offer something for every pocket and taste and Kenya’s prime restaurant guide, EatOut, lists a staggering 2.384 eateries across the city and its environs. Listings are available in both alphabetical order but also in the order of popularity and even showing restaurants in locations nearby one’s hotel.
The site also gives readers that all important star rating of every restaurant – rankings generated from reviews of guests, in other words quite reliable.
Click on https://eatout.co.ke and make your choice, difficult as that may be given the sheer number of options.
There is, besides eating one’s way through the fancy tastes of America, Europe, Asia and beyond of course also the more conventional sightseeing. There are some unique places to be seen like the Giraffe Centre or the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, both near the national park. The Nairobi National Park is beckoning to discover rhinos and lions and much more. Walks are available in the protected Karua Forest and one can stroll through the Arboretum, an outdoor botanical garden where a wide range of birds can also be seen.
The National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi is no doubt the one with the widest range of exhibits in the region. During the racing season at the Ngong Race Course are races on every Sunday afternoon, Ngong being the only such facility in the entire Eastern African region.
Those interested in art exhibitions or theatre performances only need to check out Nairobi Now via https://nairobinow.wordpress.com and have the entire range of events for the coming days pop up on their smartphones or laptops.
And of course there is also golfing, and with over 6 highly ranked golf courses across the city and more in the environs, is Nairobi truly a location golfers would be very keen to explore. From the championship courses in Muthaiga and Karen to the Royal Golf Club and the Railway Golf Club right in the city and Windsor and Vet Lab a little further out are visitors spoilt for choice. Uganda Airlines is presently taking a golf bag as a second piece of checked luggage, leaving a traveler in economy still with 23 kgs while business class travelers enjoy a 32 kgs allowance per suitcase.
So, flying with Uganda Airlines to Nairobi, given the affordable fares and convenient departure and arrival times, is opening new options for travelers.
Happy Landings, Happy Holidays given Christmas and New Year is around the corner as this article is published and why not hop on one of their flights and explore Nairobi and perhaps celebrate New Year there instead of doing that ‘same old same old’ in Kampala
(www.Ugandairlines.com – Ready to take you places)