The Sarova Stanley, Kenya’s oldest hotel, boasts great service, clean and modern rooms and friendly, accommodating staff. With the exception of a few hiccups, my stay was nearly perfect.
Like most Americans, I was a little reticent about traveling to Kenya (especially in the wake of the mall tragedy). Effective the moment I first came in contact with my escort and driver from the Stanley at the airport (who picked me up and drove me to the hotel), I knew that I was about to have my expectations hit out of the park.
I was kindly greeted by my contact who met me at the airport, who took me to their WiFi-equipped Mercedes Benz, offered me a cool towel and a bottle of water, turned up the music of my liking and told me a bit about the city and the hotel.
After arriving at the hotel, walking through the metal detector and having my belongings scanned (which is standard practice in Kenya), I checked in and was taken to my room. Wow! It was spacious and clean - everything I could have hoped for.
The bed was a bit firm for my personal tastes, but I got a good night’s sleep.
I ordered a bit of bubbly from Room Service -- who had to pause a bit and call me back to see if it was available before delivering it. I was brought the wrong item, but after 18 hours of traveling, it wasn’t a big deal and I looked forward to sipping my champagne and FaceTiming with my family. (Yes, WiFi is free -- a bit slow, but free).
The next morning, I met my friend for breakfast at their buffet. I was surprised that the staff interrupted our breakfast together to tell him that due to his check in dates, he wasn’t “eligible” for the breakfast and we had to pause our conversation until he resolved the hotel’s concern with two staff members. Still -- the buffet had a wide selection of Western and local items -- and it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.
After an afternoon of exploring the city, we had our only negative experience with the Sarova Stanley. Due to the hotel’s error in assigning rooms, my friend and I were placed in single rooms (instead of a double) for the second night. Rather than moving everyone, we asked to stay in our original single rooms -- as the hotel wasn’t booked and the error wasn’t made by us. Throughout the next hour or two, we had to have constant discussions (I was even called in my room!) to resolve the issue in a way that benefitted the hotel. I was told I couldn’t stay in my room because they needed it. Of course, when I offered to pay for the difference, the room magically became available and I was able to stay.
Amazing how, despite a great experience otherwise, one can feel slighted and done wrong based on one poor experience. Because of the hotel’s unprofessional handling (which, frankly, made it feel like we were doing something wrong), I personally have a bad taste in my mouth about the Sarova properties.
Overall - I think that the hotel handles common travel scenarios without complications extremely well. The only time that I think the hotel provided less than 5-star service was in dealing with exceptions. I would still recommend this to my friends and family and think that any traveller would have a comfortable stay. I hope that the hotel will educate its staff and management to more effectively deal with guests’ complications in a way that’s appropriate, doesn’t detract from their experience and is fair for all parties.
If you want to make your arrival easier, shell out the USD $40 for the ride from NBO airport.
I’m not generally a breakfast buffet type of person, but it’s totally worth checking out at least once -- it’s a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city, while you’re still close to the action!
Make sure to resolve any exceptions to travel (last-minute changes, special requests) before your arrival to minimize any headaches.
The suites are a bit pricey -- but are spacious and worth it, if you’re into that sort of thing.
WiFi is free, but a little slow.