When looking for a hotel in Nairobi, we found that either you had to pay through the nose for a room at a large hotel, or opt for a cheaper guesthouse. We chose the latter, since we figured we wouldn’t be spending a great deal of time there (we were visiting Nairobi for a wedding and to see friends).
When we arrived, therefore, we didn’t expect a lavish room with all the trimmings and a spectacular view - which is just as well, since we were on the fifth floor (with no lift) with a window facing a brick wall. Not only that, but we were directly above the kitchen where they began cooking what smelled like Nyama Choma (barbequed goat) every morning – great, until you start smelling of it yourself. Being optimistic, we told each other we would just deal with it.
My nerves began to fray when I had a shower for the first time. It was a bath/shower with two taps, yet the hot tap just spun round continuously, producing no water. The cold tap worked, and I managed to have a shower under the powerless stream of water that tricked out of the head, which was unreassuringly taped to the water pipe with green insulation tape (the water is heated somehow as it passes through the head). We discovered that of the two taps in the wash basin, again, only the cold one was working. We informed reception about the situation and they said that somebody would have a look whilst we were out.
And did they? No. We got back to find nothing had changed. No note was left for us and not a peep was spoken from reception on our way in. As there are no phones in the room, we went back down to reception (remember, five flights of stairs each time) to tell them, again, about the problem. This time, we were accompanied back to our room by an austere housekeeper, who came to have a look. She raised her eyebrows and then stated simply and unapologetically that you don’t need both taps to work the shower – one will do. I asked how I would run a bath, and she said that I would have to run the shower into the bath to fill it! When I objected to this (well, we were paying full price for a room in which the basic amenities weren’t properly working), she then informed us that none of the rooms are supplied with hot water, hence the hot taps being defunct. Blooming marvellous. And we were foolish for even entertaining the thought that they would discount us for our stay – because it didn’t happen.
At this point, it was difficult to retain any positivity about the place. The rail of the mosquito net was bent and broken, creating large gaps in the net – there was really no point in using it. The extra blankets cupboard was (unsurprisingly) empty. The lock on the cupboard door showed obvious signs of being previously tampered with, and as there was no safe, it left few places to securely store anything. The working bath tap eventually gave up on us and fell off, mid shower! It just went from bad to worse. We were actually trying to laugh about it, to save ourselves from being overcome with frustration. Forget trying to quell your frazzled nerves with a beer – it’s a Christian run guesthouse, so they don't condone alcohol on the premises.
In a nut shell, it is shoddy, dilapidated and in desperate need of restoration. There was a lack of urgency in attending to problems and getting things fixed, so I can't imagine any restoration work will commence any time soon. The rooms and furniture are extremely dated. The lack of a lift makes it very tiring lugging heavy suitcases up and down.
For all the negative things I’ve mentioned, there were three things I felt were good. First was the breakfast, which included fruit, toast, cereals and cooked sausages, beans, eggs etc. The pancakes and omlettes, cooked to order, were delicious. Second, was the super speedy dry cleaning service. My partner had a couple of shirts cleaned, pressed and returned within a couple of hours, for a very good price! Last but not least, the staff. They worked hard at their jobs and were mostly extremely pleasant – bar the surly receptionist (but I suppose nobody likes a complainer, so I don’t take her dislike for us personally). I am just so sorry that they couldn’t work in a better place.
With all of this said, I can say that I categorically do not recommend this place. Do find somewhere else to stay in Nairobi.
Reasons for ratings (out of 5):
Cleanliness - 3. The place is generally clean and the staff work hard to maintain this. The rooms are tidied daily.
Location - 2. Although conveniently located next to the Yaya Centre, the Gracehouse is not very central it is difficult to go anywhere without a taxi or a driver.
Rooms - 1. Very poor furnishing and facilities.
Service - 2. Mostly pleasant, friendly staff, except when you have a problem with the room. Slow to respond to a problem / they don't take it seriously.
Value - 1. Although cheaper than the larger hotels, I don't agree that you get what you are paying for.
Sleep Quality - 1. Gaps in the mosquito net allowed a few mosquitoes to get in and caused a couple of sleepless nights. Also, traffic and a noisy school playground could be heard easily with the window open (and it was hot, with no fan or A/C, so we had to open the window for air).
- Also Known As:
- Gracehouse Hotel Nairobi