(Posted 24th November 2022)
My taxi parked on the side of the road in the dark night with his hazards on, waiting for a delivery of my week’s supplies.
We were on the main road of Watamu, slightly on theoutskirts of town, having finally touched down at Malindi airport an hour away at about 7pm.
Night comes fast here, and the shops close early, giving way to local discos with open
balconies. Our destination led us on the Italian side, where things were much quieter and
more walled in with discreet signs of opulence.
George my fixer was taking a long time coming in his tuk-tuk, and I was getting anxious of being late and offending my Kenyan- Lebanese hosts.
That is when I get a phone call, and a Kelly my hostess says: “Is that you I
see parked on the main road with hazards on?” I was shaken to the core; how does she
know, are there some hidden cameras in the dark night? My usual paranoia starts to get the
better of me. Aside from a small road where our location pin indicates we should turn, I see
no tale tell bright lights of a hotel.
Supplies secured 3 minutes later, we cautiously proceed along the turn off road and lo and
behold we come to two great towers standing side by side, lit from the bottom-up in
incandescent light that highlights the stair railing winding up its side with copper highlights,
setting the bougainvillea ribbon around it aglow in a warm red. Trojan horse gates swing
open and the askari politely asks to see my ID before confirming my arrival and letting me
I feel privileged to be on the guest list. Patrick my airport driver unhands my luggage and
takes his leave with promises to be there whenever I call. And up pops up this tiny woman
with a huge smile, who says they are waiting for me at dinner up in the first tower’s
penthouse suite, the home of Hob House properties owner Kelly Aburi and her friendly
She hoists my rather heavy suitcase on her head and I smothered my guilt
with the fact that I was equally lumbered with luggage and equipment. Round and up the
stairs we went until she pushed open a wooden door that was merely hinged for privacy
rather than security, and revealed a glass walled light white living room.
The glass wall facing the ocean was in-fact floor to ceiling vents that you would regulate to
catch the trade-winds just so, and were the main feature that created the uniqueness of
living in a penthouse tower. This is how Kelly spotted me in the night on the main road: You
can see people on the ground, but they can’t see you. Kelly said on good days, when the tide
is in and the mating season is on, you can even see whales from the bedroom window.
Strong white-washed Swahili furniture with white linen covers and accents of colour
cushions provided stable lounging material, because this was after all a room designed from
An amiable butler/5-star chef came out of the kitchen to welcome me, before Kelly
emerged from her tower-top boudoir to join me for dinner. It was just the two of us girls,
nattering away over Maharage Wa Nazi (coconut beans) and fluffy coconut rice, with fresh
fruit for dessert and cold refreshing water. I made a mental note to stash my unhealthy
supplies quickly in the back of the beach house fridge where they could not be easily seen. I
liked Kelly enough to want her to have a good impression of me for starters- which is odd
because I usually leave people to their own opinions.
I went to bed in the en-suite guest bedroom, which was smooth and round and white with a
mosquito net canopy for comfort. I let the window open for fresh air through the night and
was comforted by the ebb and flow of the tide. The mattress was a revelation, in the
tradition of the Hob House properties, and attention to detail here was just as strong as in
her other locations.
This is a testament to the ethos Kelly expounded upon when I first met
her, as I was covering Hob House Nairobi. She really takes personal space and individual
comfort seriously, which is why despite her own clean-living habits of vegetarianism and
tee-totalling, she fed us guests prawns until we could eat no more and quizzed us on the
benefits of the red wine we were quaffing. Her Swiss guests were so taken with the idea of
living in a fortress tower, that they toyed with the idea of making it a permanent holiday
In the morning I learned that there were 4 such towers, each one 3 floors with a 2-roomed
apartment on each floor, all glass facing the sea, with window vents that catch the ever-
changing winds. The verdant garden with winding paths to the camouflaged towers were
dotted with three pools, each individual in design, that guest from each of the penthouses
could choose where to bronze and refresh themselves in cycles. Some apartments are
available for rent, some even for sale, but getting in is not easy, this is a closely guarded
That is the price of luxury:
To rent the tower costs KShs 30,000 ($280) per night and comes with a chef, a maid and free wifi. To buy a
tower apartment costs anywhere between KShs 16m (Euro170,000) and KShs 45m (Euro400,000) depending
on the value addition and the willingness of the owner to sell the apartment.
To book a night call:
Sheila 0702 076969
To watch THE FOMO TRAVEL SHOW EP92:
Enjoy your day