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“Amazing experience of a unique island” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Baytil Ajaib

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Baytil Ajaib
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Lamu Town, Lamu Island, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #4 of 11 Hotels in Lamu Island
Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
“Amazing experience of a unique island”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2014

Baytil Ajaib is by no means a normal hotel. It's a truly unique way to experience Lamu - taking in both the rich history of the island and its sometimes eccentric modern character.

The building itself is spectacular - an old Swahili mansion built by Arab traders set back in amongst the narrow, labyrinthine streets of old Lamu town. It has been restored over 9 years of painstaking reconstruction by the owners in order to be as authentic as possible. The experience of staying there is authentic indeed - and very luxurious. The mansion is built around an inner courtyard, with stairs curving upwards to a rooftop patio. The apartments (particularly the Hareem Suite where we stayed) are palatial and exquisitely furnished with antiques from all over the world. The rooftop is a wonderful place to watch the sun go down and have a drink before dinner, especially the "dhower" - a particularly strong local cocktail! Breakfast is excellent as well, with fresh fruit and our favorite: Wilson's special crepes.

Malik, the hotel's resident co-owner, treated us like family and gave us an insider's perspective on the island. He explained to us the history of the hotel, gave us a tour around town, introduced us to the many local and expat residents that he knows, and told us the stories and gossip about the eccentric international crowd that owns property in Lamu. Malik is so well known around town that dropping his name will get you a further discount on a souvenir, or dissuade the boatmen who occasionally pester tourists to use their services. We ended up eating many of our meals with Malik, and found his every recommendation with regard to what to do, where to go, what to eat, etc. to be excellent.

Baytil Ajaib is half boutique hotel and half historic museum. It is a place where you are treated to a luxurious Swahili lifestyle and introduced to a fascinating modern culture. Upon leaving we told Malik (as other guests before us have done) that he should double the hotel's nightly rates. As it is, Baytil Ajaib is vastly underpriced for the experience it delivers.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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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27 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Diani Beach, Kenya
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2014

I travelled to Lamu solo. My arrival was dramatic considering I used a bus to reach Mokowe (the mainland). Bus delays made me arrive 3 hrs before the 2014 new year jump off. My idea was to be in Lamu by 6 pm!
Nevertheless all that trouble was worth it.
I was met by Evanson (Maliks gracious staff at Baytil ajaib), a boat ride was quickly organized to take me to Lamu beach restaurant on Manda Island where Malik had reserved for a new years eve dinner sitting for me which was already in progress. It was glooorious!!!
Malik is enchanting and is the perfect host.
I stayed at the Garden cottage which was lovely with a spacious verandah with 2 day beds. It was sultan luxury.
For a 3 nights stay i had the chance to explore Lamu, the beautiful Manda island beach and mingling with both locals and foreigners at peponi hotel in shela. But of all the treasures that the Lamu archipelago can offer..none really matches the tranquility, grace and sultan royalty experienced once you enter the doors of Baytil-Ajaib. Photos will never do this 400 yr old house justice.
The kind of work put in to restore this monument is invaluable and one doesn't need to be an expert to see the attention to detail and the love that this old house has received from Malik and Norbert.
Staying at Baytil-Ajaib is an experience. The house throws you back 400 years ago. The decor, the high beds replicas of the bed of the king of kilwa, the day beds ....the lighting at night all make this place the only authentic place to stay in Lamu. A number of chic properties have come up, but they all make Baytil Ajaib stand out in the most remarkable way.
Like old wine, Baytil-Ajaib will only get more enchanting as it gets pitted against new architectural styles.
In the evenings I would sit with Malik up on the rooftop while sipping his favourite cocktail "dawa" and the life and positive energy radiating from him as he told the story of restoring Baytil to what it is now is quite inspirational. Lamu is blessed to have found a man who has fallen head over heels with the Swahili culture to the point where he is now gatekeeper of ancient swahili luxury.
The staff, Evanson and Morrison were quite attentive and I was spoilt.
Mine was a new years to remember and am currentlly planning a 2nd visit to the "House of wonders".
I recommend flights to Lamu as opposed to bus travel.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 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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Kigali, Rwanda
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2013

Imagine staying in a 400-year old restored Swahili home in the middle of a World Heritage site with the perfect host at a very reasonable price! I'm not really a beach person, so staying in the labyrith of Lamu City was perfect for me. My friend and I felt right at home, thanks to our wonderful host, Malik. It was an amazing experience and I would love to go back!

Room Tip: There are 4 rooms and any one of them would be an excellent choice.
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  • Stayed December 2013, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2013

Arriving to Baytil Ajaib on the island of Lamu after working in Kenya was truly magical and it slowly unfolded over the five days of our stay. Malik our host was the essence of hospitality and took care of our every plan, calling his boat man or wonderful staff to treat us with care. The house is lovingly restored with attention to every detail. I still lie in my bed in Canada in the morning and before opening my eyes spend time imagining that I am back in Lamu. Thank you Malik I truly hope I will get back there some day to have a glass of wine on the terrace.
Helen

Room Tip: All beautiful sleeping outdoors was the best
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  • Stayed November 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013

Malik (the owner of the hotel) gave us an unforgettable experience in Lamu. The hotel itself is a beautiful, restored Swahili house. The rooms are decorated immaculately with antique furniture and are exceptionally clean. And Malik is a great host who caters to every guest's needs and will even take you around town. If you want an very intimate, local experience I would highly recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed January 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.
Nairobi
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

Lamu island offers nice restaurants and beaches, but the real attraction is the history and culture of this World Heritage Site. My apartment was painstakingly restored, beautifully furnished and exceedingly comfortable. Malik is a wealth of information and great fun. I will be back.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santorini, Greece
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013 via mobile

We stayed at this hotel for 3 nights and enjoyed to the maximum. Malik and Norbert are wonderful hosts. We had an amazing room with wonderful terrace. The food, service, breakfast and the company was great.

Thank you Malik for making our stay so lovely and memorable. You made our Lamu stay unforgettable.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

THE BEST PLACE TO STAY.

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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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Additional Information about Baytil Ajaib

Address: Lamu Town, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 11 Hotels in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 4

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