THE KENYA COMFORT EXPERIENCE
(Posted 30th January 2021 by ATCNews Contributing Editor Achola Rosario)
Old buildings have a charm that cannot be replicated or faked, because it comes with a story called Time. Within time, comes people’s experiences and imprints of their souls, and emotional reactions are forever embedded within those walls. The passage of time is not only in buildings but in the changes in the environment we live in, and that is why the owners of Kenya Comfort Suites in Milimani and Kenya Comfort Hotel on Monrovia Street in the Nairobi CBD, created a weekend tour for me that spanned both their hotels, around Nairobi National Park through the KWS Headquarters, the giraffe sanctuary, as well as a walking tour of the history of Nairobi CBD. These are not just touristy things to do, but are in fact a reminder for the average Kenyan as well to stop and take in what those who respect history and the environment have preserved for you.
In order to appreciate all that, one has to unwind first, especially after a particularly hectic mid-Jan week. Kenya Comfort Suites in Milimani lived up to its hashtag #dreaminncomfort, with large rooms, white cotton linen with bright yellow runners covering thick fluffy blankets, the kind you get at your grandma’s house. The wine selection is decent, I chose a Tall Horse Cabernet Sauvignon to sweeten my mood and pay respects to the giraffes I was going to meet the next day and settled in for a giggle with my new friend Eunice.
Chef Carol Nthenya reaffirmed my faith in Kenyan Chefs by being generous with garlic in the gorgeous double-decker chicken-mayo sandwich with fried onion, and with the large spaghetti Bolognese I failed to finish on day two. She even sneaked me in a couple of sausages on my Nairobi National Park packed breakfast. I think I have made another friend.
Saturday morning had me dosing in Surburbs’ Adventure’s Landcruiser, hoping to catch a quick kip before we got to the National Park. I thought I would get at least an hour’s rest, only to be woken up barely 10 min after departure from the hotel, when we arrived at the historic Kenya Wildlife Services Headquarters to be screened and sanitized. I thought surely we wouldn’t see any animals this close to the city, but lo and behold, we encountered a young lion about 15 min into our game drive, much to my amazement. He was my first lion sighting ever, sitting right on the side of the road, comfortably basking in his youthful manliness and preening for the cameras clicking away on top of the vans jostling for prime space. When he tired of the attention, he sauntered across the road to his companion, who up until then had been invisible in the scrubland. As we drove on looking for more of nature’s glory, we passed under the gigantic SGR railway bridge, the scale of which project could only be appreciated from down here. How they built it without completely infringing on the reserve and affecting the animals is a testament to the power of environmental lobbying.
In all the shiny new-fangled designs and the race to eco-friendliness, one forgets those structures built to last, that have endured decades of ups and downs and have housed and employed many over the course of their standing.
I first met the director of Kenya Comfort Group of hotels Mr. Chandresh Raithatha, a Kenyan hotelier encyclopedia, when he invited me for a lunch meeting of tour operators. They are launching an “Explore Nairobi” 3 nights 2 days package of Nairobi National park and the walking tour along the Nairobi CBD called “The City We Assume”, debunking myths that Nairobi is an unplanned city and revealing historical gems of information on buildings you walk past every day.
Kenya Comfort Hotel’s building itself is a hidden gem. I swear I have walked past it before without noticing it is a hotel, sitting where it is right next to Nairobi University bridge and facing Jivanjee Gardens, the launching point of our guided tour later. You look up as you stand at the corner and notice this imposing 1940s Art Nouveux style building soaring up 7 floors crowned with a conference suite and steam/spa facilities. But when you walk in, it feels like being wrapped in a blanket and given a hug. There is even a double swing set inside the lower restaurant so you can swing with your date. How quaint.
The windows in my room at Kenya Comfort Hotel CBD were made of cast iron and had a peculiar clasp that declared it an original from the 1950s and swing diagonally inwards and outwards, simultaneously giving you fresh air and protecting you from the elements. I have not seen such a design since I entered some long forgotten ministerial building. The lift is not that much younger either, slowly but deliberately transmitting you from floor to floor like Morse Code, rounded edges in white, pinprick spotlights the only update to its interior design. The engine is smooth and modern sounding so there should be no worries as to the likelihood of arrival to your floor. And when you arrive, there is a security door only accessed with an electronic key-card that lets you get to your rooms. Rooms though are opened with traditional locks and keys, two of them, which have to be turned simultaneously meaning nobody can pick your lock, but it also means that you have to drop what you are doing to open your door. The devil is in the detail and some small upgrades would be nice such as extra sockets for charging electronics and an extra waste bin with a plastic bag and a lid in the bathroom for female clients. It’s the little things…
With a variety of superior rooms, as well as comfortable standard doubles and singles with writers ‘desks and working televisions, as well as clean dorm-rooms that house up to 16 pax, this place is perfect for students, professors and lovers of history, who after spending the day soaking up knowledge and reminiscing on retro-design, can soak up the last of the rays on the rooftop Sun Lounge, a wooden-decked oasis surrounded by business district skyscrapers. And the Explore Nairobi tour ends with a ride in the Giant Eye at Two Rivers Mall, the largest Ferris wheel in East Africa, where all pretense at machismo and jaded cynicism end when you are suspended in a tiny glass capsule in the air, wondering how long the feeling of falling over the edge will last. You look down at the glorious aerial sunset and forget your fears, before settling back to earth in a riot of electric colors.
A standard single for the value rooms start from $50 for a single to $60 for a double and $80 for a quadruple at Kenya Comfort Hotel CBD.
Dorm rooms go for $25 a bed.
Breakfast or meals at $10 per person.
A standard double at Kenya Comfort Suites Milimani like the one profiled in the review starts from $80 up to a Suite (2pax) at $100.
A Superior Suite with a kitchen for 2 pax. goes for $110.
The Explore Nairobi Package goes for Kshs 19,500 pp sharing inclusive of transport and BB hotel stay. Exclusive of Entrance fee/personal items
To make a reservation call:
- Kezia: +254 722 608 865
To book a Surburbs Adventure Nairobi National Park tour:
- Lamech: +254 725 035 422
To book a Nairobi CBD walking tour with Chinku Tours:
- +254 725 375 776
To watch the full review on Episode 58 of The FOMO Travel show:
Learn your history. Stay Woke.