MAKING TRAVEL TO KENYA EASY – AFFORDABLE FLIGHTS COMBINED WITH GREAT HOTEL OFFERS
(Posted 01st February 2020)
The final article in this series takes a closer look at the Nairobi hotel market in general, after extensively covering the budget hotel segment, the top luxury hotel segment and the ‘middle of the road’ segment in parts 1, 2 and 3.
There are many options available for hotel stays in Nairobi, as the Kenyan capital is, hospitality wise, the most developed market in the entire Eastern African region. Previous articles in the series have already described in some detail what is available vis a vis budget accommodation offered by PrideInn Hotels & Conferencing, the top luxury bracket by the Villa Rosa Kempinski and what was called ‘middle of the road’ when looking at the three Radisson Hotels in Nairobi.
PrideInn Hotels’ offerings in fact expanded in Nairobi by one more hotel, also located in Westlands, after the group took on the 4 star Azure Hotel under management. https://www.azurehotelnairobi.com / https://www.prideinn.co.ke
Today www.ATCNews.org will widen the net and include such perennial traveler favourites like the Nairobi Serena Hotel, the Sarova Stanley and the Sarova Panafric, but also the Marriott Autograph Collection Sankara, among others.
The Hilton Garden Inn is on that list as much as the Hilton DoubleTree, formerly known as the Amber Hotel on upper Ngong Road.
Though undergoing ownership wrangles is the Jacaranda Hotel in Westlands also on the list, to a good part for their uniquely Kenyan hospitality and their superb breakfast spread.
A little out of town are the Sovereign Suites of Sun Africa Hotels in Limuru, an all suite property but more about that further down the article.
At the airport, inside the main perimeter, has the Four Points by Sheraton become the darling of travelers, besides also having a sister hotel at Hurlingham / Nairobi.
The Nairobi Serena has just before the festive season last year opened the remaining wing of the hotel which has undergone substantial refurbishments and is now once again a shining example of the highest standards of hotel keeping in Nairobi, both in regard of their room product but also when taking the quality of their food into account, offered at the H&S, the Mandhari Grill and the Cafe Maghreb.
A Club Lounge on the 7th floor is now also available, similar to the one at the Kampala Serena, accessible for entitled guests and loyalty card holders.
Set in a tropical garden and close to the CBD of Nairobi, has the Nairobi Serena for the past 45 years been a favourite for discerning travelers from across the world. https://www.serenahotels.com/serenanairobi/en/default.html
Sarova Hotels offers a choice of two hotels in Nairobi, the classic Sarova Stanley, previously known as The Stanley or The New Stanley and the history which goes along with being over 110 years old.
The Stanley is bang in the middle of the city, renowned for the Thorn Tree Cafe of which it is said that when one sits on a road side table, sooner or later the entire Nairobi will parade by. Food at the Thorn Tree, as well as in the Thai Chi and on the Pool Deck, is excellent at all three restaurants and can be unreservedly recommended. The hotel also offers a Club Lounge which adds value for guests staying on a regular basis and being granted access to it.
Sister hotel Panafric is slightly outside the city centre at the bottom of Ngong Road and has, like The Stanley, a loyal following. Ranked slightly below The Stanley does the Panafric however have attractive rates to offer for guests.
Those travelers seeking luxurious accommodation without breaking the bank, coupled with excellent food and a wide range of facilities, including a 7th floor Executive Lounge, may consider the Sankara in Westlands, now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
The hotel, now open for a decade, is officially ranked by TripAdvisor at Nairobi’s number 9 hotel, though regular guests will agree that the Sankara definitely deserves a major lift in these TA rankings.
Their main restaurants, Graze – a really very good steak house – and the Artisan, the hotel’s all day dining, draw in guests from across Nairobi, normally a sign of superior quality and the Champagne Bar on the rooftop terrace has made its mark as good a pre-dining venue as they come.
A permanent art exhibition on the second floor is only one of the many features for which guests keep coming back time and again
Hilton’s two more recent additions to the Nairobi hotel scene – and only those two can truly be recommended – are already well rated and ranked, both the Hilton Garden Inn near the international airport / opposite the SGR railway station and the DoubleTree by Hilton, formerly known as the Amber Hotel, which is located on upper Ngong Road.
Both hotels provide the level of comfort and service one comes to expect from a brand of a major global hotel chain and – each only has one restaurant – their food quality and service definitely ranks above average.
The two Hilton brands are well placed and accepted in the Nairobi market for attractive rates and their locations near the airport and just at the wider edge of the city centre of Nairobi.
Nairobi’s two Four Point by Sheraton, at the international airport and in Hurlingham, both are winners in their class and the Four Points at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was last year named as Africa’s best airport hotel.
Room comfort ticks all the right boxes here and the food, and service, comes with high recommendations. An all day dining – 24/7 on the ground floor by the name of ‘Marketplace‘ and a roof top restaurant serving a la carte meals both measure up to the expectations guests will have when hearing the name Sheraton. Here one can order an Egg Benedict without fear of disappointment and the seafood dishes on the rooftop ‘Tazama‘ restaurant are putting some restaurants at the coast to shame.
The Hurlingham based Four Points By Sheraton also ticks the right boxes for travelers keen to use a global brand and provides affordable comforts otherwise not easily found in the Nairobi market. A coffee shop adjoins the main ground floor restaurant ‘Pablo’s‘ where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in a buffet format – a la carte is available though – while the ‘Mezze on the Deck‘ gives diners a meal with a view across the skyline of Nairobi. Like with the sister hotel at the airport is the pool found on the rooftop, as is a bar and a gym.
Back to Westlands again and the Jacaranda Hotel, which offers genuine and classic Kenyan hospitality since the late 60’s when it was built. The hotel has kept its place as the only major hotel in Westlands with a real garden. Besides offering what is generally acknowledged as one of Nairobi’s best Spa’s does the hotel also operate ‘The Node‘, a popular a la carte restaurant and sports bar which day in day out is bustling with activities. Notably, and from experience, does the Jacaranda serve on of Nairobi’s best breakfast buffets, a major reason why guests keep coming back time and again.
And in closing the series must the gap for a boutique luxury hotel be closed.
The Sovereign Suites in Limuru, though a little outside the city itself, is set in the fresh air of the Limuru farmlands. Within easy reach to Gigiri and the UN Headquarters in Nairobi, but thanks to the new highway system across Nairobi also to the main city centre, are the Sovereign suites a true alternative for someone staying longer than just a day or two, seeking luxurious comfort and good food in a country club setting.
A heated pool, fully equipped gym and even a competition dimension pool table are complemented by a sauna, steam bath and massage room and with a relatively small number of suites available – 14 only – is service as personal as it gets. Several of the suites offer jacuzzi tubs in the bathrooms, great to relax after a day in the city and before going for dinner.
Nairobi, as said earlier on, is Eastern Africa’s hotel capital when it comes to branded international hotels but also the home grown variety which hold their own against the global competition, such as Serena, Sarova, Sun Africa and others. Options are many and this four piece article series only serves as a pointer to what is available, can be booked online alongside a Uganda Airlines ticket.
But, there is more …
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 Lord Errol in Runda as is the Graze at the Sankara.
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 always!
(www.Ugandairlines.com – Ready to take you places)