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“Very interesting place” 4 of 5 stars
Review of African Heritage House

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African Heritage House
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Mombasa Road | Box 17871, Nairobi 00100, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 157 Nairobi B&B and Inns
Kaydn215
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Very interesting place”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

We used African Heritage House as our base during our travels throughout East Africa - we stayed 4 nights over a 3 week period. Firstly in making arrangements i dealt directly with Alan (before he took his holidays) and he was very responsive and helpful. It is a very unique place and very interesting to see. As many have mentioned it is like a museum of African history - Alan's recall of all his collection is impressive. One of the main reasons to stay here is to get Alan to give you a tour (with your drink of choice in hand!) - but allow a few hours to really do it justice.

Alan's staff provide very good personal service with very good meals served in a variety of different spaces in the house depending on weather conditions. The house is located very handy to the airport and is very quiet being set well back from Mombasa Road.

The rooms are all pretty unique and interesting as well as spacious. Ours had an open air bathroom which was still pretty functional. Mosquitoes can be a problem so be prepared. The beds are a bit small being antique frames around the size of a modern double bed. Electricity may not be available overnight but this tends not to be a big deal i think. There is no aircon or fans but there is good natural ventilation mosquitoes not withstanding.

If you have one or two nights to spend in Nairobi and want a unique experience then this a great alternative to formulaic hotels.

Room Tip: I'm not sure if there are rooms with larger beds - best to ask Alan.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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41 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    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
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Arusha, Tanzania
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2012

First, the house itself is unbelievable. It has grand proportions and interesting architecture everywhere you turn. Alan has furnished and decorated the place with 40 years worth of collected art from across the continent. Though the term "museum" comes to mind, the house is absolutely comfortable and we never felt as though we couldn't sit on furniture, touch the sculptures, or examine the art.
Second, the setting was gorgeous. My mother took the amazing Lamu Suite. It has a small garden/greenhouse inside the bathroom! I took the upstairs room on the roof. From the ample balconies and terraces we looked out over the Nairobi National Park as we had morning tea and sundowners. Somehow, we were 15 minutes from downtown Nairobi, but in the middle of a huge open park. The house is a much more convenient journey to and from the airport than any "in-town" hotel and far more relaxing.
Third, Alan is the consummate host. No details are overlooked. His advice on logistics (travel times, places to see, etc) were spot on. Meals were ample and delicious whether taken on the terrace, by the fireplace, or in my room on the top floor. The tour of the house, which took us about 2 hours, was really interesting and far from a "canned" speech. Alan put us in touch with a fantastic driver, Gideon, who was, himself, a font of valuable information. Alan also directed us toward some excellent wholesalers of African textiles and crafts. We skipped uncertainty of searching out over-priced shops and the mayhem that is Nairobi shopping. The icing on the cake was the private concert Alan provided. A group of 20 or so guests were having a professional retreat for the day and we got to join them as Alan's long-time friend Ayub Ogada played and sang on the roof deck at sundown. It was picture and pitch perfect.
African Heritage House is the type of place you can stay if you are doing just a few days travel in and around Nairobi, or if you are looking for a base for an extended tour of the area. It was just perfect.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Padre Island, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2012

How does one describe an experience that is magical, for that is what it seemed like when I visited and stayed in African Heritage House. I had just returned to Nairobi from a week-long safari when a volcano in Iceland prevented me from returning to the USA. My local travel agent, Maggie Gachie-Maina of Double Eight Tours & Travel, located at the nearby Nairobi National Airport, shepherded me to African Heritage House for the best stay of my three weeks in Kenya. Beside the fact that Alan Donovan is the ideal host and an expert on African history, art and crafts, I believe he personally has one of the best collections representing all of Africa. Each room is a cultural immersion of the places and textures and patterns of African life, making your stay as much an experience of being IN Africa as it is about LIVING the african way. His substantial library and personal memoir, "My Journey Through African Heritage" provide invaluable information about the continent and all its treasurers. Alan's understanding and knowledgable advice about places, people and things throughout Africa is encyclopedic, making him the perfect host and resource for all your travel questions.

The stunning placement of the colorful, styleized adobe house exudes warmth with its multi-level verandahs and balconies all with views looking down across the open, pale green, expansive Athi Plain and Nairobi National Park. The site provides a profound sense of space and peace, even though the compound is located a short distance from downtown Nairobi. The aroma of morning coffee on the balcony with the energizing glow of sunrise is not to be missed, especially if herds of zebra or majestic giraffes slowly promenade across the horizon. Each room and private bath is an exquisite collection of architectural features, fanciful furniture and colorful textiles adding sensual pleasure to the gracious, unhurried environment. A light breeze wafts through the rooms carrying the sweet fragrance of acacia. Try relaxing in the aqua pool set about with lush tropical plantings interspersed with sculpture or seek the shade of the cabana. Both provide a welcome retreat to float and look at the cerulean sky or read and write in the shade of the cabana. It is an ideal environment to entertain friends over drinks and hors d'oeuvres while you watch another spectacular sunset take place.

African Heritage House is the best place to relax and rejuvenate, breathe the air and inhale the color all around you; sense the fragrance of life and let time stand still. Such a place will intuitively teach you the origins of man and reconnect you with the person you were born to be. How could you not want to be here in this beautiful place with this amazing host and rich cultural heritage? Book now because space is limited!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled solo
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sunnyvale, California
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2012

The prior reviews have really said it all, so let me just add my accolades to theirs. Frommers led me and my friend there. I only wished that I had known about it when our trip was in the planning stages. Based upon the Frommer review, we thought that we might spend an hour or so there....we ended up spending almost four hours including lunch and a little shopping for some of Alan's fabulous jewelry!

If/When I return to Nairobi, I would definitely book at least a night there, either on my way in or out of the country. The contrast between it and the Fairmont Norfolk, where we did stay, would have made two very nice experiences.

When we were there, we had the added fun experience of a meeting and shopping/bargaining with a visiting Congo textile trader/salesman who just happened to stop by while we were there.

So in summary, the airport location, the house and its design, Alan (knowledge and hospitality), the artifacts, the views, the food and the total experience are well worth the effort to include it in your Nairobi stay!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2012

Well, I had seen this place many years ago on photos in a book and always wanted to go and have a look at it.
Finally, in December 2010, my Mom and I drove there after a visit in Nairobi and ... The house was closed. Alan, the owner, was on vacation.
So, I still had to be patient until February 2012, then it finally worked out to at least have a drink there and dinner before going to the airport! Back in April 2012 we also stayed there overnight.
So, how can anyone describe such a beautiful place? It is magic, you feel Africa once you see the house and then enter it.
It is full with wonderful art from the whole continent and Alan Donovan, the owner, can tell you details about every little piece.
Actually meeting Alan is also a wonderful experience, an American who has spent so many years in Africa and then built this fantastic home. When you go there, ask Alan about his life, and you will be amazed, how he got to Africa, how he got into the Jewellery and Fashion business, how his house was featured in many magazines, like Archtectural Digest, etc.
Even better, buy his book like I did and a wonderfull necklace. He is a wonderful host and the hotel is perfectly located close to the Nairobi International Airport where you can spend some time to drink or even have dinner before flights depart.
It only takes 10 minutes to get there. But instead of sitting at the airport, you can enjoy a wonderful view while drinking your sundowner over the Nairobi National Park when the sun is about to set. Breath taking.
If you stay a few days in Nairobi, stay at Alan's place as we did and enjoy his hospitality. You will enjoy it as we did!

Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Nairobi
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2012

This house will take your breathe away... Alan's passion for the house and his willingness to host and make you feel at home is baffling. The sights from the balconies (yes, in plural) is to die for... the Mugumo tree...the sunken baths, the 'stone' swimming pool and even the railway line. I cannot describe this place enough. It is amazing!! The chef is diligent and will cook to your specifications. Truly a gem in Kenya. A story that deserves to be told over and over :-) I even had my 25th birthday celebrations here and Alan organized everything...even the cake!

Room Tip: Depends on your style...
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2012

The architecture, the decor and of course, the setting make African heritage house one of the most magical places for a getaway you could imagine. From the moment you pull up to the stunning house no matter what your eye falls on , you will be awestruck and delighted. Alan s collection of artefacts is stunning and his warm welcome make you just sit back, relax and enjoy your every moment in his enchanted home. Thanks, from Julia and hesham.

Room Tip: Every single room is as breathtaking as the next.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about African Heritage House

Address: Mombasa Road | Box 17871, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Nairobi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 157 B&Bs / Inns in Nairobi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The African Heritage House overlooking the Nairobi National Parkis described by the prestigious Architectural Digest as " a vision of usefulness informed by the African genius for decoration" Designed by American Alan Donovan, the house is a combination of architectural styles from across the continent. Tours of the house interior reveal the beauty of Africa's art and crafts. ... more   less 

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