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“The Nicest Hotel in the World...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Peponi Hotel

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Peponi Hotel
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3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Box 24, Lamu Island, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 11 Hotels in Lamu Island
NYC
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“The Nicest Hotel in the World...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2014

The Peponi Hotel is the nicest hotel in the world! And I mean that sincerely! I have been to some of the best hotels and resorts around the globe - Caneel Bay in St. John, Amandari in Bali, the Four Seasons in several countries, and the Peponi is my absolute favorite. Everything about that place has a little - or a lot - of magic. The setting is impossibly scenic. The island of Lamu is an old (settled in the 15th century) Arab trading port where a blend of cultures over the centuries, namely Arab, African and Portuguese has resulted in a rich and lasting heritage of culture - beautiful stone buildings made of ancient coral, the famous carved wooden doors with brass moldings, and a tangle of narrow streets leading to exquisite views of the Old Stone Town. No vehicles allowed on the island - save one car and 2 ambulances, one of them for the ubiquitous donkeys, who roam the streets and beaches freely.

The Peponi is set down the island from Lamu town on Shela beach, a 12-km long expanse of pristine sand and sparkling turquoise water.. The hotel is perfectly situated a few steps above the beach so you catch the sea breezes and see all the action on the water - and there is SO MUCH action to see! The ancient Dhows - beautifully hand-carved fishing sailboats made out of local teak or mahogany - all come and moor in front of the hotel - either to pick up tourists for sunset sails or early morning fishing trips, or just to gather their own friends for lunch, where they set up little wooden BBQs right on their boats.

The rooms are all open, sea-facing, with beautiful local antique furniture - Lamu's specialty. It seems that every room has its own private veranda, or some place with a wonderful spot to lie down - a hammock, or a double-sized chaise longue, or a patio with tables and chairs. And each room is totally unique, with quite a lot of privacy, even though they are usually right next to another room. They might be on slightly different levels, or with different staircases all leading to a sense of individual privacy. And the grounds are utterly lovely - the pool has been cut out in between massive Baobob trees, so it is curved like a kidney bean, with various levels for sitting along the edge. Though I was also able to also do a few laps in it. Around the hotel, there are so many nooks and crannies to hide with a book - hanging beds tucked under trees, hammocks strung beneath private verandas, beautiful ancient bathrooms with carved walls and sunken tubs. Ancient pots line the walls. Tables and chairs where you can have meals, far far away from the restaurant or other hotel guests.

And the food - oh the food! Utterly amazing. Fresh fresh fresh. Fish pulled out of the water (sometimes in front of you!) that day - crisp and inventive salads, briny shellfish - and a co-mingling of local herbs and spices with classic favorites from abroad: I ate a crab hand roll almost every day, with crab from the mangroves across the bay tumbling out. Spiced Mango soup, fresh curries, calamari salad, and wonderful homemade ice creams and desserts. Frozen mango cheesecake with passion sauce? Wow. Still dreaming of that here at home. We tried food elsewhere on the island but regretted it - nothing was as good as the Peponi food. Even in Nairobi you can't find anything as good as the Peponi food.

This is also the safest I have ever felt in Africa (where we now live and travel extensively.) While we locked our passports and wallets in the room safe for peace of mind, we left all our phones, ipads, laptops out ALL DAY, even when we went into town for the morning or out on a boat. We let our 12 and 13 year old kids wander the streets on their own. And I am an overly-cautious mom elsewhere. I could finally totally relax there. I hadn't done that in a long time. UTTER RELAXATION.

And what magic! The first day we saw two turtles fighting right outside our room. The next day a HUGE leatherback turtle was tagged and released into the sea in front of the hotel. The next day I caught 2 big tunas in a sunrise fishing trip. The next day we saw a huge chameleon with a blue head and yellow body. We found 20 sanddollars along the beach. We raced dhows at sunset. The list goes on.

But above all, the most important aspect of a stay in the Peponi is the service. Carol the owner, Andrew the director, Mwanasee (the manager?), Rose (the head of housekeeping?), Emmanuel our housekeeper, the waiters, the grounds people - every single person is interested in your having the best stay possible. Every one is concerned about you - every wants to help you. (And not in an obsequious or annoying way.) From doting conversations about what kind of trips you'd like to take, to what kind of special meal you'd like to have (off the menu) to where you'd like to have your meal, to how to make your stay more pleasant in the smallest ways, everything is thought of and cared for. You could ask for almost anything there and someone would try to do it for you. I needed something (rather obscure) from town, they sent someone in to locate it and buy it for me. I felt like having a special meal - it was made and delivered to my room. And all this is not at exorbitant hidden costs. I don't think they even charged me, except for the item itself. This is not a hotel where they are trying to gauge you at every turn. This is a hotel where above all they want you to be happy.

The Peponi is a special place. I do think it is the nicest hotel experience our family has ever had. And we hope to be back - as soon as we can! But like any hotel, it may not be the right place for everyone. If you need AC, a perfect internet connection, 45-minute meals, and a sterilized and predictable resort experience, stay away. If you want beauty, peace, an authentic island and culturally rich experience, amazing food and wonderful service, plus a whole lot of magic, go to the Peponi! You will not be disappointed.

Room Tip: We loved 16 and 16A for our family - a mom, dad and teenage daughter who wanted her own room. Very...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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154 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    111
    26
    5
    6
    6
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26
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Nairobi, Kenya
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2014

Firstly, the food is amazing. There is a long menu, with everything from burgers and fries to delicate crap hand rolls and fresh oysters. The hosts, Carol and Andrew, are extremely kind, as well as the staff. The rooms were airy, with huge window to let the sea breeze come wafting in. Each had its own patio, with comfy chairs and hammocks to enjoy the view. There are many activities such as fishing, sunset boat rides, napping (an all-time favorite), swimming in the unimaginable pool with overhanging baobabs, walking along the beach, exploring the sand dunes, touring the town of lamu, and many many more. Even the trip here was magical, we were taken across the water on an beautiful wooden dow.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Top Contributor
277 reviews 277 reviews
60 hotel reviews
Reviews in 118 cities Reviews in 118 cities
157 helpful votes 157 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2014

Beautiful views from the room. We were in room #22 with a large patio complete with tables, chairs, and a hammock. The room was spacious, the staff were especially friendly and helpful and the food, especially the seafood, was absolutely delicious! We slept with the windows and doors open for a great breeze – and the ceiling fan above the mosquito-netted bed added to the comfort. We took the boat into Lamu Town one morning (it leaves at 9 and returns at noon), went snorkeling and had a lunch on a small beach another morning. This was a great place to end our visit to Kenya after two weeks viewing animals!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Weston, United States
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2014

I had need to get away by myself, and was treated like royalty during a week-long stay. Peponi arranges for its guests to be met at the airport, and transported by ancient dhow (a sailboat) to the hotel. While checking in, a drink materialized without being sought, and hostesses Carol and Andrew visited with me, as if I were a special friend of a friend. I had a king room overlooking the baobab tree-shaded pool. On the porch was another swinging bed, ideal for afternoon naps. It's not that Peponi is the fanciest, or most up-to-date hotel. It's that the attention to your well-being is looked after carefully. The staff acted as though they cared whether I was having a good time. And I did!
I took most of my meals at Peponi, because the food was so fresh, delicious, and inventive. Additionally, Carol arranged for me to dine with different guests on occasion, so I wouldn't feel alone. That is an extra special touch. I met wonderful, adventurous people from all over the world.
I took a few walking excursions about the island, and even arranged for a tailor to make me two dresses from some kikoi fabric I found in the hotel gift shop. The dresses were expertly made, quite inexpensive, and delivered overnight. I was cautioned not to wander down the beach toward the ocean by myself, and that a staff member should accompany me. There was a kidnapping at a different hotel in 2011 that ended in death. So, I was cautious. I travel extensively, and I do believe my experience at Peponi Hotel was in the top 5 of my life.

Room Tip: Facing the ocean, to the right of the dining room. I enjoyed being near the pool. I had a large cor...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Nairobi, Kenya
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2014

Nice view of the ocean, amongst the very few hotels in Lamu offering this and probably why it's popular. Had great food although left with the stomach flu, probably from the food handling. Great staff and the manager was friendly, thanks Carol. Rooms could do with an upgrade especially the bathroom could be much nicer. Very high bed from the ground, not sure why but well not so bad.

Other than the great view from the restaurant, everything else pretty standard...overall an Ok hotel.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2014

It was such a pleasant surprise when I arrived to a warm welcome of Andrew and he's team at Peponi hotel. The food menu is out of this world. The staff are so helpful and friendly and the ambiance is nothing like I've experienced before. I'm in love! They get a double thumbs up from me.

Room Tip: All rooms are sea facing
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Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
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Newport News, Virginia
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2014 via mobile

I stayed at Peponi in late January on my first visit to Lamu. Peponi provided a boat to meet us at the mainland airport on a traditional kind of boat (except this one had a motor). Each guest alighting at Peponi was greeted individually by one of the staff who seated us on the veranda overlooking the beach, set us up with a complimentary drink before checking us in. Definitely the best check-in process I've ever experienced!
We had a beach front room with a beautiful balcony overlooking the beach. The balcony was equipped with a table and two chairs as well as beautiful blue-covered mattress, covered with pillows suspended by chains from the ceiling.
While the room did not have airconditioning, the open windows and the high speed ceiling fans kept it very comfortable, with the breezes coming in off the water. The mosquito netting, while practical, also provided an exotic feel to the already classically appointed room.
We were only able to stay at Peponi one night and that's the only thing that was wrong with our stay.

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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 Peponi Hotel

Address: Box 24, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 11 Hotels in Lamu Island
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Peponi Hotel 3.5*
Also Known As:
Peponi Hotel Lamu

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