A coworker and I just returned from a quick jaunt to Lamu. Our trip was fantastic, in large part because of the exemplary service we received at Peponi. From check-in to check-out, Andrew, Carol, Bijamu, and Anderson took extremely good care of us. They handled for us matters of all sorts--small and large--and made us feel like invited guests instead of paying customers. They offered a kind of hospitality that is rare today, even among small hotels and B&Bs. Andrew, the manager, and Carol, the owner's wife, sat down with us on a number of occasions to check in our experience and to help us plan how to make the most of a (too brief) holiday. Bijamu was always available when we needed something and was never there when we didn't. For us, everything felt just right.
Other items of interest:
Food -- we were quite pleased with our meals, but after a few months in Nairobi, our perspectives might not match those of guests just arriving from Europe or the States. We took our lunches on the rooftop and our dinners on the veranda off the main dining room. The settings were stunning and we were kept cool by the steady Indian Ocean winds. Our favorite entrees were the Mediterranean grilled fish sandwich at lunch and the Swahili prawn curry (mchuzi) and the Thai preparation of Lamu crab at dinner.
Rooms -- We stayed in 16 and 16A and were happy with our accommodations. The rooms were built some time ago but are comfortable, appointed with modern furnishings, and are well maintained. If you've traveled a bit in eastern or southern Africa, you'll be delighted. If the Four Seasons, Peninsula, and Mandarin Oriental are your normal haunts, your expectations might not be fully met.
Location and activities -- Peponi gets an A+. If you turn right out of the hotel and walk for 500 feet, you have 14 km of undisturbed beach all to yourself. During a 2-hour Sunday morning walk on the beach, I saw no more than 7 or 8 people. The natural beauty of the water, the beach, and the dunes is extraordinary, and this was a real highlight for me. The staff at the hotel also arranged a sunset dhow cruise for us and trips into and out of Lamu town. They'll take you on a guided tour of Shela village and even recommend that you try the dining rooms at some of their competitors.
Before making this first trip to Lamu, I had been wooed by the photos and reviews of the Majlis, one of the newer properties across the channel. Although I still intend to give it a try, the superior service and personal attention we received last weekend probably mean I'll head back to Peponi first.