I stayed in the Panafric for 4 nights in late August. Being a frequent visitor to Nairobi for business, I usually try and stay at the Fairview, but its often full, so the challenge is to find another acceptable hotel within my company's travel budget of $150 per night. This is not easy in Nairobi since most of the good business hotels are in the $200-$300 per night range. (the Fairview is a very pleasant enigma, probably why its always booked solid). So, the Panafric came up as an option - $140 per night, and in Upper Hill which is an acceptable distance from the city center where the majority of my meetings take place.
The Panafric is quite an unusual hotel. It seems like it was built in the 60s, (perhaps the 70s) and does not appear to have been renovated since. Access to the hotel is strictly guarded by a security check point, so at least it seemed to be safe from that point of view. The lobby is really small and old, and I must admit my first impression was a pretty negative one. I thought that I had fallen hard. Check in was a fairly painless procedure, and then I went up to my room. (A positive point - there is a security guard located on every floor.)
Now, the rooms are quite a good size - king size bed, separate armchair and coffee table. The floors are parquet, which I quite like, and in good condition. The furnishings are all fairly plain and old fashioned - they don't appear to ever have been changed - BUT, the weird thing is, though its all old furniture, and though there never seems to have been renovations, the room was in surprisingly good condition and very well kept and spotlessly clean. So in fact, the room was very comfortable. The bed was very comfortable as well and the bathroom was large and also spotlessly clean. I actually found the room grew on me and I felt extremely comfortable throughout my stay.
Location as I mentioned, is in Upper Hill, which is very close to downtown - a 5-10 minute cab ride depending on the traffic. I would not recommend to walk to town since the park that lies between the hotel and city center is rumored to be home to many petty thieves that could spring out of nowhere, snatch a bag and disappear very quickly. This was local advice. Upper Hill itself is quite an upmarket area and has the advantage of being quiet, green and a bit of a breath of fresh air compared with downtown. Only problem is you need a cab to get anywhere.
As many other reviewers have mentioned the Flame Tree restaurant in the Panafric is in fact outstanding. For a hotel restaurant it is very reasonably priced, and the food is really excellent. I had no hesitation eating there several times rather than venture out looking for other restaurants. Their breakfast (included) was also decent - omelets made to order, lots of tasty pastries, and plenty of variety overall.
Wireless internet was a bit expensive, but very reliable. I didn't use any other facilities, but I know there is a pool and a massage room. As far as I know there is no fitness room.
Overall, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Panafric. As long as you don't expect super luxury, and all you need is a comfortable room in a good location, its definitely worth consideration. Not a bad "budget" business hotel at all.