VISITS TO NAIROBI – LOOKING BEYOND JUST THE FLIGHTS
(Posted 15th January 2019)
The first two articles of this series have taken a close look at both the hospitality budget market segment but also the 5 star luxury segment, taking the PrideInn Hotels & Conferencing and the Villa Rosa Kempinski as examples.
The number of reads and positive comments show that both budget and luxury hotels have a strong market in the Kenyan capital and will no doubt grow from strength to strength in 2020.
But of course there is a lot more to discover and explore in Nairobi, for travelers flying with Uganda Airlines to Kenya and today we take a closer look at one international hotel group, which now already operates three hotels in Nairobi and which also covers different market segments – Radisson Hotels.
The first to open a few years ago was the Radisson Blu on Upper Hill, a prime location from where guests can easily reach the city centre, or any other venue for that matter.
With close to 300 rooms and extensive conferencing facilities, does the Radisson Blu Upper Hill fall into the five star bracket, offering their clients everything they seek at this level, from Nairobi’s best steakhouse – The ChopHouse – to the all day dining at The Larder to what is Nairobi’s best Executive Lounge. A cigar lounge is available for guests and an outdoor terrace, leading to the pool, invites on sunny days to enjoy a touch of fresh air. The Executive Lounge, located on the 8th floor and accessible for entitled guests, staying either in suites or else holding the top tier of Radisson’s loyalty card programme, is this facility truly an eye opener for other hotels and a superb value addition for guests.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – in a scaled down version of what is on offer at The Larder – is available free of charge for entitled guests as are drinks, snacks and canapes, all going along with a view across the skyline of Nairobi towards Wilson Airport, allowing to observe aircraft taking off and landing.
The Radisson Blu Upper Hill, now open almost 5 years, gives guests as complete a service variety as can expect and TripAdvisor reviews are overwhelmingly positive, generally a sign that this is a hotel worth staying at.
Second to open, three years ago, in the Westlands area of Nairobi, was the Park Inn by Radisson, meeting the demands of a more budget conscious market which however demands service excellence and attention to detail. The Park Inn no doubt is the hippest of the three Radisson Hotels in Nairobi, with bright colour schemes, innovative menus and yet not compromising on the standards guests expect.
An all day dining restaurant on the hotel’s ground floor is complemented by a rooftop bar and snack restaurant, giving not only a sweeping view across Westlands but also access to the swimming pool and the gym.
The rooms offer exacting standards, fast WiFi, very functional bathrooms, a great bed and a working station which is really all many business visitors to Nairobi need, besides being an internationally branded property. And with rates from as low as 100 US Dollars a night, which includes breakfast, does the Park Inn offer exceptional value for this kind of money.
The third Radisson Hotel, the Radisson Blu Arboretum Hotel & Residences, surprises with an intriguing architecture, where the two ‘wings’ of the hotel almost provide a cocoon for the pool, bar and restaurant area on the lower level – as seen from the reception and main entrance.
The hotel offers, besides ‘regular’ bedrooms, 60 one and two bedroom apartments for guests staying longer than a few days but not wanting to forego the service elements which go along with a branded international hotel. Instead of renting a house or an apartment, does this option appeal to a growing market segment and besides the quality of the rooms also provides a small kitchenette allows one to whip up a quick snack, though room service is only a phone call away.
Well sized and well equipped rooms, fast WiFi and a decent working station with enough sockets are just some of the elements which no doubt will make the Arboretum a winner, and though smaller than ‘big cousin’ Upper Hill still offers meeting facilities – all of course set in the rather quiet neighbourhood of the Arboretum Botanical Garden, to which the concierge is happy to arrange a visit to.
An all day dining restaurant, with outside terrace seating towards both pool and the garden, offers high quality buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also provides a la carte options.
Of course have I stayed in the three Radisson hotels in Nairobi, several times in fact apart from a first visit to the Arboretum property, but there too I intend to return to and enjoy their unique brand of Radisson hospitality for a second time.
All three hotels, in combination with Uganda Airlines flights, remove the need to look any further as flights, via www.ugandairlines.com and the chosen hotel can be booked online and paid for through secured credit card payments.
Whether visiting Nairobi on business or on leisure … Kampaleans who never traveled to the Kenyan capital or ever only spent a few days there 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. Besides the hotel restaurants at the Kempinski one might want to 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 and a Happy New Year as we start 2020 just as this article is published.
(www.Ugandairlines.com – Ready to take you places)