I desperately wanted to give this hotel a raving review. First, this is the first hotel with a “conscience” we have ever stayed in, as all profits fund the Kenya Red Cross Society's Humanitarian activities, and secondly, the Trip Advisor reviews have been very positive, so I was very much looking forward to our visit. However, in my opinion, there is much room for improvement.
This hotel had a “soft opening” on October 1, 2012, but has not yet had its “official” grand-opening. I booked through Expedia.com, with a rate of $225 per night for two, breakfast, and taxes) for a superior room. With a self-rating of 5-stars, I expected perfection or nearly.
We stayed at the Boma on three different nights in December 2012.
First, I would like to point out the Boma’s good points:
~ Architecturally, the Boma is an attractive hotel. I think the “boma” or rounded look gives it a unique perspective.
~ The public spaces are wide open. Light and air are plentiful. The flower arrangements throughout are very cheerful. The art work is tasteful and beautiful.
~ The rooms are spacious, well-thought out, and comfortable. The mattresses are comfortable, as are the pillows. The bed sheets could be of finer cotton (sheets are rough for a 5-star hotel), but they are immaculate and well-ironed.
~ The bathroom is modern and comfortable, with a rain shower overhead fixture, which honestly, it’s too big for the size of the shower stall.
~ The staff at the Reception, doormen, bellmen, etc. is very friendly.
~ The hotel is located not too far from the International Airport, which is a big plus.
~ The Johari restaurant is truly beautiful. We ate breakfast one day, and lunch on another day. The staff is extremely attentive and responsive. The Johari's food was very good, as well as presentation.
~ The gym is very nice! State-of-the art equipment.
~ We arranged for three Airport pick-ups and drop offs. Each time, the chauffeur was extremely friendly. On arrivals, the chauffeur was always outside with a name sign. On our last night, we also arranged for a taxi to take us shopping, and requested for the driver to wait for us. This was also a good experience.
~ The Business Center is user-friendly, and there is an attendant present. Internet use is free.
~ Free Wi-Fi in the rooms and public areas.
Now, sadly, here are some negative points.
* The hotel is already showing signs of wear. Each time we left we would point out things that needed to be repaired.
* A couple of examples: the bathroom sink was missing a stopper. Two of the lights were out, one being on the large bathroom mirror (making the bathroom darker than usual), one light out in the bedroom. Desks are showing wear and tear with a lot of scratches and dents. Some of repair items we pointed out should have been not missed by spot checks by Housekeeping (light out of order should be obvious).
* A/C not working properly: during our last stay, we noticed the room was unusually warm, so we reported it. Two techs showed up, but said the room had not been used, and to give the A/C unit the chance to get going. After 1.5 hours it was not cooling off, but we had to go out. As we were leaving the hotel, we requested to have it checked again. We don’t know if Maintenance came back to the room to check it out, but when we returned to the room around 10:00 pm, the room was still a bit warm (we had the thermostat set at 16◦C which should have been very cold). Even though the night was cool, we could not open the windows because there was a party below with very loud music. Needless to say, we had a very poor’s night sleep.
* Attention to detail. For example, during our last stay, the next morning we had to leave the hotel at 3:30 am. Upon check-in, the day before, we requested a small breakfast box for each person. As usual, the Receptionist, full of sweetness reassured us that indeed we would have waiting for us ( I saw her write it down on a notepad). The next day, there were no breakfast boxes when we checked out. We were offered to have them made, but we were already running late at 3:45 am, and so we declined.
* The second restaurant below, the Tembo Bistro is a more casual spot. The décor is smart and modern. We had a breakfast and a dinner, on different dates. The service here is not as attentive or detailed as the Johari restaurant upstairs. The staff is probably not as well trained as upstairs, and attention to detail is not their forté. The food quality is also not the same. One morning, the breakfast was not available in the Johari Restaurant and we were directed to the Tembo Bistro. We never got the toast we requested, even after asking for it to two different waiters, at different time intervals.
The presentation/content/choices of breakfast foods were not very palatable. I understand a Kenyan restaurant has to cater to the local taste, but for example, samosas, spicy curried vegetables is not something a Westeners enjoys for breakfast; there should be items pleasing to both groups. The croissants should be crispy on the outside, never soft and chewy.
Since the Johari restaurant was closed for a private function, the same quality and service offered upstairs should be present at the Tembo, no excuses. The supervisor at the Tembo made up excuses saying they were “doing the best they could”…
* Hotel transportation: twice (two different dates) we had to remind the chauffer to have the car’s air conditioner serviced, or at least report it to the proper group. Even though the climate is cool in Nairobi, the city is not one where one drives around with windows down, especially in the hotel’s neighborhood.
* The hotel’s location (neighborhood): I apologize for saying this, but the general surrounding neighborhood doesn’t feel too safe, especially at night. The Boma, does however, provide excellent security, starting at the front gate.
* Currently, the pool is non-functional. It was working during our first visit, but it has since been closed and drained due to some structural repairs.
* The Spa is still non-functional. We were taken to the Boma Inn, to use the sauna, but of course, the facility is not as nice as the Boma Hotel.
On two different occasions we had the opportunity to share our comments and concerns. One with the Tembo Bistro supervisor, and he expressed gratitude for our honesty. Another lady, her desk being in the lobby, also expressed concern when we discussed our experiences.
Unfortunately, during our last stay, the issue with the A/C, breakfast boxes, etc., I had to leave my comments on the survey, as it was too early in the morning to tell anyone.
This hotel is truly beautiful, but with a self-rating of 5-stars, the Boma Nairobi really needs to live up to that rating. Also, a 5-star hotel should never rely on guests to point out maintenance issues, etc.; the hotel's Maintenance team needs to pay close attention in this area. Daily room assessment by Housekeeping should eliminate the need to rely on guests’ feedback regarding repair issues.
The wait-staff could use a bit more training, paying attention to details.
As we return to Nairobi next March, I would like to give the Boma Nairobi one more chance. I hope by the, the Boma will be fully functional and living up to the 5-star rating.