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“Paradise!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mkoko House

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Mkoko House
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Ras Kitau, Lamu Island, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 28 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Chester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Paradise!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

Lovely house luscious gardens fantastic food , fabulous location what more could you want, Idi was an excellent chef, I wish we could have stayed longer. The lack of hot water was a tiny bit dissapointing, but everything else was paradise on earth !!!!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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31 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
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2013

I'm not exaggerating, but staying at Mkoko House on Manda Island felt like staying in paradise! We had this beautiful house all for ourselves including a private cook Idi, who prepared the most delicious meals. Every morning we had fresh pancakes with either cinnamon or lemon flavour with fresh mango, papaya, bananas, passion fruit, fresh orange juice and Kenyan coffee. For lunch and dinner we had something fresh from the sea with either coconut rice or potatoes and veg. Just amazing! But Idi was far more than our cook, he also helped us to organise some trips to Lamu as well as a dhow trip, which was a fantastic experience.
Manda island is beautiful with all the mangroves and some funny baobab trees. There are not many people on the island, so it felt like having our own beach. At the same time it only took a short boat ride to "escape" the peaceful island and visit Shella or Lamu. These two places are definitely worth checking out.
All in all the combination of Mkoko house, the landscape and the friendly people made our trip unforgettable and I'm absolutely sure it wasn't the last visit.

Room Tip: Mkoko room is the best one.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels, Belgium
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

When you arrive at Mkoko House on Manda island it is really like entering a safe haven from the world, from the moment you step off the boat onto the sandy beach across from the gorgeous Shela Village there is total calm.

There are many beautiful beaches and islands in the world, but there is something special about the mix of natural beauty, rich culture and the great people of this Lamu archipelago.

Somehow the week spent at Mkoko went by so quickly with trips to Lamu and Shela, a dhow trip to Manda Toto, boating through the mangroves to Takwa Ruins, drinks and dinner at Peponi and Franks, cinema/pizza night at Diamond's down the road, testing recipes with the amazing cook/housekeeper Idi and swimming on what seemed like a private swimming pool at high tide on Manda Beach.

There is plenty of space to relax and read or simply do nothing, but there is also choice if you want to keep busy and try all the things that the archipelago has to offer.

Am already missing spending the week in flip-flops and waking up to the sound of birds singing above the mangroves, if you are lucky you may even see a little monkey or two! The view from the house extends over the mangroves until you can see the sea and Lamu's bay from afar.

Idi's cooking is also hands down the best food in the area, breakfast in the garden or in the first floor dining area is a feast of fresh fruit - mangoes, papayas, passion fruit, oranges, bananas and whatever else you fancy. We had fresh fish in a myriad ways, octopus, Swahili food, clams with spaghetti and the delicious Swahili chai and cake every afternoon.

The house is eco-friendly, relying entirely on solar panels for electricity and a water tank which fills up during rainy season so you can take showers as normal. The house is built in traditional Swahili style with a big Makuti roof and decorated with furniture made by local artisans on every floor.

All in all, staying at Mkoko House was a wonderful experience and definitely one to repeat. Make sure you go to the first floor terrace at night to look at the stars, you won't be disappointed.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai (Bombay), India
2 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2012

Mkoko House is a gorgeous, airy house surrounded by a sea of green treetops, and the perfect getaway for those who make it across the channel from Shela. Idi, the house's caretaker, makes guests at Mkoko feel right at home and his food is, hands down, the BEST we had in one week in Lamu! Just have a brief conversation with Idi and Beka about the meals you'd like to have, and give Idi money to buy the ingredients.. Leave the rest to him and you'll be wishing his meals never ended!

We will never forget our stay in Mkoko and hope to come back one day very soon for more than just one night!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2012

Mkoko House is a fantastic place to stay! One of only 20 odd private residences on Manda island, it is well away from the hustle and bustle of the Old Town on Lamu and Shela. It offers 3 well appointed en suite bedrooms (Mkoko on the 1st floor is definitely the best) and a whole range of areas to sit and appreciate the peace and quiet. Idi, who manages the place for the owner, is on hand to cook for you and serves excellent Kenyan and European food.

Mkoko is 5 minutes walk from Manda beach which is beautiful and virtually deserted. There are a few bars and restaurants on the island and Shela and Lamu Old Town are both a short boat ride away.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2012

Mkoko House was everything that I could have wished for and more.

Being the only guest, I had the whole property to myself for 5 nights. By day, I relaxed on the beautiful Manda Beach or caught up on my reading underneath the shade of the trees, while by night I looked up at the stars. For those 5 days, life suddenly became so simple and relaxing. The only decision I had to make every day was whether to explore the left or right hand side of the beach.

Mkoko House is just a short walk from the beach, but this for me was a bonus. It meant that you were surrounded by very little apart from mangroves and the local wildlife. The family of 10 monkeys coming to say goodbye on the final day was a particular highlight.

The house itself has everything you need for a 'getting away from it all' experience. Comfy beds, lots of airy spaces to relax, and a great cook and housekeeper in the shape of Idi. You will never want for anything, never miss any of the mod cons that you'd previously thought were mandatory, and it was very hard for me to tear myself away from this idyllic lifestyle.

In short, it was pretty much perfect. Book now.

Room Tip: The Mkoko room seemed to be the best room from what I could see. The lounge on the top floor was...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Budapest, Hungary
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2011

It's difficult to write about Mkoko House avoiding childish excitement. The world is big, and there are so much to see, so much to visit... yet, after staying just 4 nights, an irresistible urge developed in us to visit the place again.

I could write about the Swahili culture, the bustling small Lamu Old Town nearby, the long stretches of flour like sand (which broke my old camera, btw), the dhows, etc
But Mkoko House is about not doing anything. Just laying on one of the many mats in one corner of the house's intriguing Swahili architecture. Listening to the breeze from the Ocean and to the silence. Watching the green carpet of mangrove forest in the background of Shela's sand dunes, or the white sails of the dhows heading to Takwa ruins, like dorsal fins of sharks in the green sea of mangrove.
Eating one of Iddi's, the caretaker's fabolous dishes..

It's admirable, so I have to highlight that even if the house has three double rooms, it's Nicholas' (the owners) policy not to book additional guests to the period of your stay. (eg. we were just for three alone in the house)

Even if I'm not a typical 5star hotel visitor, I was a bit afraid of an eco-lodge, as I'd never been to one before:
- Water: There's no freshwater on Manda. But they're collecting well enough rainwater in reservoirs to give you plenty to shower in. Its temperature is cool which is just about right close to the Equator.
- Power is generated by PV-panels, and stored in batteries, so we always had enough to have lights for dinner or after dinner games.
- Eating: As mentioned above Iddi can prepare you just about anything, you just need to pay him for the cost of the ingredients. He's a great cook, and a very friendly host.

All-in-all we felt Mkoko the ultimate relaxing paradise.

Having said that there are dangers threatening this paradise:
1) Another similar house has been just built next to Mkoko - if it's hosting a different kind of clientele, their noise can spoil Mkoko's serenity.
2) On a bigger scale, Somalia is not far Lamu archipelago. We didn't have any problem, insecurity, bad feeling about it, but I can just hope that despite the proximity, the area's isolation to this failed state remains like it used to be.
3) There are immense plans to build a huge commercial port on Manda, bigger than the one in Mombasa, with oil refinery, etc. for a total of 22B$. That will be the end of Lamu, as we know it. So I can only recommend to visit this paradise till it's not destroyed.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mkoko House

Address: Ras Kitau, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Beach
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 28 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Enjoy the beaches, the warm coastal hospitality, the delicious Swahili cuisine, and the peaceful and quiet surroundings of the house. Fully indulge in everything the Lamu archipelago has to offer and you will be sure to fall in love with this little gem. ... more   less 

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