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“A real Swahili experience.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Kijani Hotel Lamu

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Kijani Hotel Lamu
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   PO Box 266, Shela, Lamu Island 80500, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Shela
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
50 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“A real Swahili experience.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2013

Let me start by getting the one major downside over and done with. Lamu is hot and sweaty, and the traditional Swahili architecture of the Kijani doesn't cope very well with the heat and humidity. I only spent one night in the hotel, as I was moving into a rented house with friends the following day, but the heat was almost unbearable, and it was difficult to get any sleep at all. That aside, this is a very authentic introduction to Lamu island life. The rooms are large (on two levels), with a beautiful balcony overlooking the water and dhows. Traditional furniture, nicely art directed. Friendly staff. Reasonably priced. And handy to the rest of Shela town. I only had breakfast in the restaurant, which was just fine. Recommended, but perhaps you need to choose your time of year, I believe that March/April is about as hot as it gets.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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90 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
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  • French first
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English first
Malindi
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2013

As a resident of Malindi on the Kenya coast south of Lamu, my wife and I have just returned from Lamu having driven up with friends to spend Easter 2013. Road conditions deplorable and about time our Government did something about the existing pot-holed tarmac before it disintegrates completely. Best to fly in on a scheduled flight to the airport on the nearby island of Manda and get boat across. Lamu still recovering from trivial incident in late 2010 when tourism collapsed, but locals still cheerful, extremely helpful and security better than most towns in Africa or many other places worldwide. Where can one walk at night through narrow unlit lanes and feel completely safe. Kijani House in Shela, along from Lamu town, still lovely with enclosed garden premises on the sea front, two swimming pools, very comfortable rooms with balconies overlooking the sea dotted with sailing Dhows and dinghies. Lamu island still the magical town with an old charm, no vehicular traffic, (be careful of speeding donkeys in narrow streets !). After many visits to the island over forty years and two stays at Kijani, we thoroughly recommend a trip to soak up the atmosphere of this ancient location and, unless on a budget where many low cost "guest houses" are available, Kijani House is on a class of its own and highly recommended.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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brugge
Level Contributor
33 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2013

Having travelled a lot the last 20 years and trying to avoid big resorts, all inclusive places, overcrowded chain hotels etc... we are constantly trying to find small friendly hotels with a personal touch but still offering the same high level as one would expect in the top hotels. Well in Kijani hotel we just found what we were looking for : very clean, very welcoming, extra services or trips offered without pressure, a real home far away from our own home and management taking the time to be dicretely around without interfering. This is 'the place to be' for the individual Afrika traveller who has left his old rucksack home and , being a bit more mature, wishes to have the same experiences of the backpacker he was once before but now with the facilities of a 5 star hotel. No need to go to a more expensive hotel in Lamu or Shela, Kijani offers a lot of value for money. Will come here again or if not will sent friends and fellow treavellers without hesitation to this 'hotel de Charme'
Michel Ackaert and Valerie Dethoor, Bruges, Belgium

Room Tip: If available ask for room no 1 with the best view of fishermen, dhows and the Swahili people passing...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

We are two men from Boston who travel a lot. We loved the Kijani hotel. Our room no.11 was wonderful and large with a private balcony overlooking the sea. Room was very clear with beautiful Lamu style design. The hotel was not inexpensive but you get what you pay for is our experience.
You can find a room for fifty dollars with no view or pool or size but you won't get the ambience of the Kijani. A beautiful large breakfast that keeps one full till dinner. Quite a few little restaurants around or you can find someone to deliver home cooked African food to you. The mainstay in restaurants is fish and rice with salad. Get a mango smoothie at the Stop Over next door. We ate our dinners there mostly and met interesting travelers too.
We like comfort ,privacy, swimming pools, a kind staff and a private ambiance of African arab villas
There. It's not over crowded but more private feeling. Their boat picks you up at airport and drops you off when leaving. There is a boat from here into town once a day. You must visit the old town with all its charm and windy streets.Ancient heritage site. No cars here. Walking in sand and jumping on/off boats. One should be physically able to get around.
Back in Shela there are 7 miles of perfect empty beaches. There are two people selling fresh samosas and beverages along the beach. There is also a guard the Peponi hotel has walking up and down beach for ease of mind. You wouldn't know he's a guard . A tall slender man in a hat.
We love Lamu and a beautiful accommodation makes the vacation a place to remember and feels enchanted.

Room Tip: Choose a room with a balcony on the same floor as your bedroom. Even the rooms facing the gardens an...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Moscow, Russia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

The hotel is perfectly located on some distance from noisy Lamu in a picturesque small village of Shela at the edge of water. The friendly and hospitable staff, well thought-out conditions of the accommodation, the buried in flowers territory with two pools create feeling of safety and comfort. The tender breeze helps to forget about a heat. The wide choice of entertainments and the excursions including fishing and diving, fine breakfasts do accommodation in hotel fantastic for reasonable price. For those who doesn't want to have a rest from the outside world there is free WiFi.

Room Tip: Sea view rooms
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

My wife and I just returned from a fantastic 4 night stay at Kijani Hotel in Shela, just a short boat ride from Lamu. The room was authentically furnished in Swahili style, and made us feel like we were in a special place, not some generic hotel that could be anywhere. We were fortunate to have Room #1 with a balcony overlooking the water, where we saw the full moon rise. The staff is genuinely friendly and aim to please. We felt totally secure in Shela, and walking in the dark narrow streets at night is absolutely no problem, especially when compared to Nairobi, Mombassa and Kisumu. Shela is a magical little Swahili village which takes you back into time. Shela beach is beautiful, and we took the short walk there several times for a swim. The people in Shela are very friendly and not pushy at all. We highly recommend the Kijjani Hotel for your stay in the Lamu area. Also recommend hiring a dhow to go to Takwal ruins, followed by a sunset cruise. Enjoy, it's a very unique and special part of Africa.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Nairobi
Level Contributor
24 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

If you wish to enjoy Lamu, try Kijani Hotel. Although it is a bit pricey, I think it is worth it. My 3 friends and I stayed in a two bedroom - room, with beautiful real swahili decoration, balcony with sea view, and we were lucky enough to be there during full moon, so we had the moon lightening up our nights... There are two small pools, a restaurant, and a nice garden. You can have access to a delicious and I will judge, best restaurant in Lamu, which is the Stop Over. If you go there, you must try the Thermidor lobster, the seafood platter, and the other swahili dishes. You will be surprised by the cheap price, and the uncomprable flavor. Also, from the hotel there is a guy called Ahmed who can take you around Lamu town, Shela, and arrange you dhows to take you to sunset tours and eat seafood on the dhow.
The only inconvenience of Kijani hotel is lack of air conditioning, so if you have heart conditions you must not come to this hotel, because we had serious problems getting asleep... at least during December.
Lamu is very safe, in general terms. You must not rely very much on the bad fame created around the kidnapping of the French lady a year ago. This was a political plot that has affected severely Lamu. Talk to the people there and they will tell you what really happened... Go there and see on your own how beautiful this place is!

Room Tip: Choose room 11, with balcony with seaview!
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kijani Hotel Lamu

Address: PO Box 266, Shela, Lamu Island 80500, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island > Shela
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Shela
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Kijani Hotel Lamu 3.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the village of Shela, on the island of Lamu – just off the Kenya Coast – Kijani Hotel offers a unique accommodation with its 3,000 sq. metres of tropical garden. Located directly at the sea front with two fresh water swimming pools. Kijani Hotel Lamu has 10 rooms spread throughout the garden into three small separate traditional Swahili buildings which formerly were private homes. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kijani Hotel Lamu Lamu Island, Kenya - Shela

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