I've had the pleasure of spending a couple days at the Tribe - Village Market Hotel in Nairobi this week. Since my occupation requires around 120 hotel nights each year, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this recent addition to the Nairobi hotel scene. Not only is The Tribe a huge improvement over the dire hotel situation in Kenya's capital, but it rates as one of my favourites worldwide.
It's location in the Northwest suburbs of Nairobi was initially a concern to me when looking at the map. In reality it is not far at all, and a 15 minute drive to downtown, and 35 minutes to the Jomo Kenyatta Int'l Airport. It is literally steps away from the Village Market Mall which offers even better shopping than one finds downtown. It has a nice open-air food court where you can enjoy a tea or coffee or lunch after buying fresh fruit at Zucchini's farm market, catching a movie at the cinema or a game at the bowling alley.
I usually avoid eating at hotels, and prefer to venture into the various cities I visit for a meal. However, due to my late arrival, my colleagues and I had no choice (or energy) to go on teh road and we went downstairs for the dinner buffet, sitting outside poolside. It was a good decision, as the buffet was delicious. All the meats are cook to order, so really and truly its not a traditional buffet. The starches and vegetables were nice and hot, and the deserts (which I wasn't going to have, but couldn't resist) were supreme. All for a very decent price.
The first thing that you notice as you enter the lobby is the spaciousness and high quality African art everywhere you look. I later discovered that The Tribe boasts the second-largest private art collection in the world. This is both in public areas and in the rooms.
However, it is the smartly appointed rooms that will win you over! In addition to unique and beautiful art that's in your room, it has a perfect balance of modern designs, African feel, and a homely feeling. The rooms are ergonomic and the bed is very comfortable with a nice duvet and comfortable pillows. That, combined with a high thread count bedding resulted in myself sleeping right through breakfast the first morning!
My biggest pet peeve in hotels is usually the shower, and the only competition for The Tribe's shower is the shower at Hilton Sydney. It has what's often referred to as the 'rainfall showerhead'. With excellent water pressure a nice hot shower at the Tribe after a long trip is delightful.
My room had a view of the lush hill where the International School of East Africa is located, although I understand you can have different views depending where you are located. There's free Wi-Fi in the room, which is great. You can also borrow DVDs from their library to watch in your room.
On the 4th floor rooftop, there's a Shisha spot/ bar where you can enjoy the mild Nairobi nights on the rooftop and enjoy a drink or a shisha on the comfortable oversize couches.
One pleasant surprise, especially for those used to the surly service at the Intercontinental or the atrocious Regency Grand, the staff at the Tribe is exceptional. From the welcome at check in, restaurant and bar staff, and the efficient and quick checkout, the staff was friendly, helpful and efficient.
The only complaint I have with The Tribe, is that their fitness centre is not ready yet. You do get access to the gym at the Village Market for a nominal fee, but that was an axcuse for me not to excercise. Had the gym been ready, I would have certainly went.
However, I had a nice walk in the neighbourhood. The upstale area is very pleasant and safe for a stroll as many embassies as well as the UN mission is just around the corner.
I was informed that the equipment has arrived and is being installed. So I hope that it will be ready when I return to Nairobi in May. While I dreaded my business trips to Nairobi before because of the hotels, I'm actually looking forward to returning.