The holiday Inn Nairobi does not sound terribly exotic or interesting, perhaps another of those bland, forgettable little inns where one spends the night in transit to someplace else.
However, the hotel is one of those truly rare gems: a place of considerable charm and worthy of a visit for its own sake. It is an old "heritage?" hotel of low buildings reminescent of an old colonial style hospital or extended guest house, set in lush and extensive gardens.
The gardens features massive, mature trees, carefully nurtured lawns, and beds of shrubs and colourful plants. Two swimming pools and brick walkways give the impression of a country estate, rather than an urban hotel.
The theme is carried on by the buildings themselves, with airy corridors, dark wood panelling, tiled floors, pastel walls, and those red-brick coloured tiles on the roofs and walkways. The layout, with open corridors linking buildings, reminds me of old colonial style schools and government buildings when land was still plentiful and cheap.
The rooms are nothing special, and have fans only, but they're modern and clean, and feature corniches, and parquet floors.
It's easy to forget that just outside this little haven is the noise and bustle of Nairobi city and that it's the 21st century, rather than colonial post-war Africa, when people in their woolen coats and discussed cricket scores over scones and tea.