You will probably think that either a) own the hotel, b) have been paid to write this, or c) am making it up but I can assure you that none of these apply. We have just had a fabulous short break at The Red Pepper House; probably the best short break we have ever had. Joseph and his team could not have done any more for us and their philosophy of putting the client first "it's your holiday so you decide what to wear, where to go and when to eat" is unique and sadly long forgotten by almost every hotel in the world. At the risk of spoiling the surprise it goes like this....You are met at the airstrip to be met by Joseph, (someone you assume is from reception/guest relations only to find out later he's the manager!) He sorts out your bags, hands you a bottle of ice cold water each (and my wife a wooden fan) and, together with a couple of the staff, accompanies you down a 150m sandy path to the jetty where you are helped into a powerboat and swept across the water to The Red Pepper House private jetty. You walk along the jetty, across a short section of private beach, to the steps of the hotel where the entire staff are lined up to meet you. You are given ice cold towels as you are introduced to each of them in turn and then you are shown to your bungalow (they are not rooms) where you walk in to the sound of Mozart's clarinet concerto in A major playing softly on the CD player on your terrace (with iPod dock and usb port).
There is no menu but Raphael, the chef, greets you each mealtime with a description of what he has prepared (about 90% suitable for fish eating vegetarians). He is an excellent chef, all he needs is a smaller hat! Now, get this, I am type 2 diabetic, no insulin, I just take tablets and avoid sugar where I can. Before we arrived I received an email asking for details of any dietary needs and I explained my problem. Normally what then happens is...nothing (esp on BA flights!) however each time there was a dish on the menu which you might have expected to contain sugar, Raphael explained that he had reduced or left out the sugar altogether. I have never had that in any restaurant in the world, ever.
Our butler, Peterson, was attentive to our every need and whatever we asked for appeared within minutes and was remembered for the future. He even apologised for the fact that it was the dry season so his choice of flowers to decorate our bed each night was limited!
The price is all inclusive which covers local wines, beer and soft drinks. The spirits are $4.80 for a shot of about 5 times a standard measure! A sundowner cruise is included on their dhow (not the powerboat) as is a walking tour of Lamu town (which is a great experience) followed by a boat ride along the coast and over to a beach on Manda Island where you are left for as long as you want. We had another sundowner on the end of the jetty and one evening meal in our bungalow. Our bungalow had the outside (round) bath shown in the brochure which was filled for us one day and chilled white wine served while we were in it. Our garden was lit with lamps and candles for the evening meal. There was direct access (via a gate) onto the private section of the beach where we had our own shelter, sunbeds and, just inside the gate, a shower.
The bedroom part was small and only had a bed and cabinets but there was a large wardrobe outside. The shower was spacious and there was plenty of hot water and the bathroom had 'his and hers' sinks.
The whole complex only takes 10 at most and usually (we were told) there are no more than two or three rooms occupied. It is basically a snake of interconnected bungalows joined by a huge, continuous thatched roof with curios and artefacts at every turn. One evening six of the staff put on a short 'show' of local Swahili song which was fascinating. There are optional excursions if you need them and they offer massages and other treatments. I had a back massage and it was amongst the best I have had, Faith certainly got the knots out of my lower back!
I suppose I should include some negative points to make it 'balanced' but to be honest I would be struggling to think of any and they would be nit picking in the extreme. On the subject of negatives and insects, take some serious insect repellent as, although the first two nights were OK due to the breeze, the second two saw the wind drop and there were far more mosquitoes about. Fortunately there is no malaria on Lamu! The break ended as it began (but in reverse!) with one extra feature - that I won't divulge, however.
It is billed as the "Swahili Experience" and that is what they deliver - not a holiday but an experience. It is rare that we would return to an area (simply because there are many wonderful places to explore) however we will return to Lamu, but only to repeat the experience of staying at The Red Pepper House. Go there - you will not be disappointed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Red Pepper House is *the* ideal hideaway where you can catch your breath, relax and immerse yourself in the local Swahili culture.The Red Pepper House on Lamu Island is a new, exquisite boutique beach hotel offering the utmost in indulgence and relaxation. Located a stone’s throw from the historical Lamu town, The Red Pepper House provides a combination of real African culture and laid-back beach life. Lamu Island, a world heritage site, is situated within an archipelago off the coast of Kenya. It is home to hundreds of years of Swahili culture that has been perfectly preserved thanks to the remote and unspoilt location of the area. The Red Pepper House nestles between a heavenly beach and an enchanting forest allowing guests to experience the magic of both worlds and lose themselves in the contrasting sounds of Africa. Designed by Spanish architect Urko Sanchez and built by local Swahili fundis (artisans). Comprising of only five beautiful and spacious Nyumbas, (the Swahili name for home), The Red Pepper House is perfectly integrated into its natural surroundings and covered by a Makuti thatched roof. Each Nyumba comes complete with a spacious and luxurious bedroom and bathroom area finished in the traditional Swahili manner. Guests have their very own personal butler who is on hand to bring refreshing cocktails and delicious food to the Nyumbas at any time of day. Activities at The Red Pepper House include trips into Lamu town to soak up the Swahili culture, visits to the ruins of the city of Takwa, sunset dhow boat trips, deep sea fishing, snorkelling and relaxing massages. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Red Pepper House Hotel Lamu Island