I left a piece of my heart in Africa after our trip to South Africa last year…and visiting Kenya meant I left even more of it behind. You can’t help but feel an emotional connection with this place…a place so beautiful, where dreams come true and every expectation is met.The novel ‘Out of Africa’ is not only about a love affair between two people, but it’s about a love affair with a place…and like the famous Danish author of the novel, Karen Blixen, I fell in love with Kenya too. Our adventure began in the capital, with a night at Hemingways Nairobi, set on the foot of the Ngong Hills in the suburb of Karen, 40 minutes from the airport. A hotel modelled on the colonial era when Karen Blixen lived, it’s just like stepping back into the past and of course, the suburb is named after the author herself.Hemingways Nairobi is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and like the other properties in the collection, it’s totally unique. I was really surprised to learn that the hotel opened in 2013 as the beautiful place feels so historical.
The grandeur is evident as soon as you enter Hemingways, a place fittingly billed as the most luxurious hotel in Nairobi. A curved double staircase frames the foyer with its shiny tiles and beautiful stylish elements of African art. This light and bright lobby is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of Kenyan coffee or a cool glass of South African wine. Alternatively you can head upstairs to the bar, a sophisticated space serving old and new world wines and classic cocktails harking back to the hotel’s name sake, Ernest Hemingway.
Back downstairs the hotel’s main restaurant is The Brasserie, serving European classics made from the finest Kenyan ingredients. It’s the only restaurant in Kenya to feature a Josper oven so the steaks are some of the best in the city, particularly as they serve beef grain fed for 180 days and hung for 21. Sadly, as we only stayed at the hotel for a short while, we didn’t get to experience this fantastic restaurant in full but we loved the breakfast, which featured a small and perfectly prepared buffet as well as a range of à la carte options.
What I also loved about the hotel were the absolutely beautiful grounds, the lawns were magnificently manicured and perfectly maintained. An absolute pleasure to enjoy from the hotel’s beautiful terrace. A stunning water feature makes the perfect final touch and the animal heads adorning it are a reminder that you can do a safari right here in the city. The hotel and grounds are vast but there’s a buggy service to take guests to their room.We were so sad not to have time to use the beautiful pool, which would have been the perfect way to cool off after a thrilling but dusty safari. Fringed with greenery, flowers and elegant sun loungers, the area looked very inviting! Alternatively the hotel offers a range of spa treatments including the Kenya Coffee Scrub ritual for post-safari relaxation. Don’t you just love the hotel’s exterior too? Modelled on the plantation-style, you truly could be in Karen Blixen’s colonial Africa. Her original house, the centrepiece her famous farm, is nearby too and now features a museum inspired by her life story. Every single one of the 45 rooms at Hemingways is a suite and ours was named after Meryl Streep who played Karen Blixen in the Oscar-winning film Out of Africa, inspired by the original novel. The other suites in the hotel are named after other famous people and places; writers, explorers or actors all of whom are tied to Africa in some way. An elegant four-poster bed rose up to the high ceiling of the room and I loved the muted colours of the room. Shades of ecru and taupe create that safari-chic look whilst still being modern and stylish. I loved the huge sunrise over the savannah that dominated the wall behind the desk… But my favourite feature was this tan trunk with brass fittings that actually concealed a 40 inch flat screen television. I wish I could bought this much luggage myself, but I’d squeezed all my make up, shoes and swimwear into a tiny hold-all weighing 11kg! As we were flying in several light aircraft on this trip we had to pack really light.
What was really special about this room was the effort made to give the feeling of a vintage East African safari right in modern Nairobi. The spacious bathroom is made from hand-cut Italian marble and features the most beautiful large soaking bath and huge walk in wardrobe.And products custom-made for the hotel. Also at Hemingways, every room has butler service personalised to the needs of each individual guest. Super useful for all your concierge needs, in room dining, packing and unpacking and pretty much anything else you might need whilst staying at Hemingways. Each room has a terrace with sun loungers and an exquisite view of the beautiful lawn and the Ngong Hills beyond.What I truly loved the most about Hemingways Nairobi, as with other Small Luxury Hotels of the World, was the very special sense of place evoked by the interior and exterior design. I loved all the African safari details that were dotted around the hotel and the exquisite attention to detail. If you’re looking for a luxurious stopover in the city, Hemingways Nairobi is THE place to stay.
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254 20 2295013
I was kindly hosted by Hemingways Nairobi and Small Luxury Hotels of the World for one night on a complimentary basis.