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“Shela Magic” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Stopover Guest House

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Stopover Guest House
Shela Harbour, Lamu Island, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #15 of 25 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Leiden
1 review
“Shela Magic”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2009

I guess 'globetrotter' has not actually trotted very much around our globe. Their 'misunderstandings' with Stopover AND Captain Beyonce could only be caused by their own inexperience or naivety or perhaps worse..... I saw one other traveller in Shela creating a fuss, and it was all down to her arrogance (ignorance?). Shela has to be the safest place in Africa. Your children can run freely around the village and you can be sure that nothing will happen. The people are the friendliest I have met anywhere. In fact after just over 2 weeks in November we have booked to return for New Year. Stopover was wonderful ans Baitil Aman a dream......

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled with family
    • 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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35 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
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English first
London
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2009

Stayed here with a friend recently and I have never before been so tempted to write an online review (good or bad). This place was amazing! Now, bear in mind we had been backpacking and camping for a week at this point so most places would have felt luxurious, but we were so happy with where we were staying.

We were greeted at the airport and given a free transfer by dhow to the hotel. Once we arrived, we were given a free welcome drink (fresh juice - note they don't sell alcohol here, Ramadam or not) and introductions by three members of staff, including the manager.

Our room was on the top floor, very large, with two double beds, both with large mosquito nets. It's ensuite (only thing to note, if such things bother you, was that there's no door on the bathroom, only a curtain but you can't see anything) and although the showers are cool (not as cold as some we have encountered whilst here) I wouldn't think you need a hot one here. The balcony was also large, with two sun loungers, a table and a large day-bed, perfect for when it gets a bit too hot in the sun. Sun stays on the balcony all morning and until about 3.30pm. Next door also has an area on the balcony, but it's so large we didn't mind (perhaps patio is a better decription?)

Throughout our stay, the staff were some of the friendliest and most attentive I have encountered - we wanted for nothing. Breakfast and lunch was served on our balcony (due to Ramadam, they do not serve food in the restaurant until the evening, but to be honest our balcony was so lovely we prefered it this way) and all of the food was delicious - we ate here every evening as well. The manager gave us some great advice on how to stay safe and seem genuinely concerned that we look after ourselves (agree that the beach boys get tiring, but if you follow his advice, and refuse to get into conversation, they soon get bored). The other staff were constantly on hand to do laundry, cleaning, fetch drinks etc. Each evening whilst we ate dinner, they prepared our room for the evening, bringing down the mosquito nets, turning on the fans and closing the blinds.

As mentioned by a previous reviewer, the hotel's tour guide is very friendly and helpful, but probably will try to get what he can out of you - we had to remind him on a couple of occassions that we were out of funds (not your usual guests, I imagine). Could do with a pool, but you are right on the beach and apparently some of the larger hotels do allow external visitors to use thier pools for a fee, but to be honest we didn't feel the need.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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New York
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2009

We contacted a small eco-travel company on Lamu and they booked Stopover ahead for us. The owner of the company, Gabriel, met us at the air strip, showed us to our room, and gave us a town tour. Everything went very smoothly!

We could have stayed at a private house and paid a bit less, although we wouldn't have been right on the water. Might do that next time.

One thing we do agree with -- the negotiating on Lamu can kill your vacation. It drove us crazy in the shops and when we tried to hop a boat from Lamu Town to Shela. Fortunately for us it was an annoyance rather than a vacation-killer. We'd go back to Lamu, which is a mysterious and amazing place, and try to get to the outer islands next time. But we'd probably call the same company again so we didn't have to bother with the hassles described in some of these other posts. It's www.lamutravel.com -- I think they bill themselves and nature plus culture, something like that.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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vancouver
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2009

Stop over guesthouse is a really nice place to stay. the people who work there are great. we had some miscommunication with the owners about how many rooms we wanted to take and the price. they did not greet us upon our arrival. we waited for 2 hours before deciding to go sightseeing. the owner then called us demanding to know where we were and to return immediately. upon doing so he verbally accosted us and charged us 8000 ksh to stay one night in one room.

we left the next morning feeling very uneasy. he had promised to give us 1000 ksh in return but never did.

it was agreed that the cost covered the pick up from the airport. a few days later the boat man from the Beyonce, followed us at night and told us we owed him money. we explained what we were told. the next day, he jumped in to another boat we were taking and forced the captain of the boat to start driving towards the ocean. my friend jumped out and swam to shore and found the owner of the stop over guest house. he agreed to take the 1000 he never gave back to us and give it to the boat man. so not only did he screw us over, but in order to get back at us, he scammed a boatman.

these guys are cut throat business men. i have never been more terrified in kenya.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2009

I stayed at Stopover for 4 nights in mid-September 2008 - during Ramadan. I had been in Nairobi for 6 weeks on business, and I needed a quiet get-away before leaving Kenya to come back to Canada. I contacted Lamu Properties in Nairobi. They eventually recommended Stopover in Shela to me, and I'm very glad they did. The price was good (=approx $60- 65 Cdn / night for Bed & Breadkfast). Like the Aussies who wrote an earlier review I stayed in a very large room on the top floor, which shares a large balcony with the other large room on that floor. I was on my own, so I didn't mind the company of my fellow guests. When Hamid first showed me to my room I nearly cried from the beauty of the place! The balcony afforded a great view of the Dhow harbour and the comings and goings on the water front of Shela. Hamid was a very gracious host indeed. My breakfasts were served in my room (it being Ramadan, Hamid asked that I not eat in the main floor restaurant during daylight hours.) Breakfasts were always good, and fresh. On a coupe of evenings I also ate dinner (after sun-down!) in the restaurant. Fresh fish bought from one of the many fishermen that Hamid knows. It was always delicious! And Hamid made very amiable company too during those meals!

Ramadan meant full prayers 5 times a day at the Mosque right next door. While atmospheric, the late evening prayer did keep me awake a couple of evenings. Swalli, a local guide, has an arrangement with Hamid to offer his services to guests. Swalli is a very pleasant, very knowledgeable local who's been guiding for 40 years. Great to use, but be a little careful. He will work the maximum out of guests (he booked 2 Dhows for 3 people going to the Takwa ruins, at exactly the same time on the same day - each to pay Ksh3000 for me alone, and 3500Ksh for the other two! I found out and then spoke to the other guests, and we were able to agree to all go on the same Dhow, and finally re-negotiated with Swalli for a group price on one Dhow!).

The beds (one in the room, and a day bed out on the balcony for mid-day snoozes!!) were comfortable and clean - pillows were small and not terribly comfortable. No hot water when I was there, but I didn't mind - the "cold" was only just so, which made the showers refreshing, but not chilling. (Hamid was in the process of getting a hot-water system put in, however, even though he said "Its so warm here, why would anyone want hot water? - but the tourists ask for it....")

No alcohol served at Stopover, but Peponi has a very nice lounge just about 3 minutes walk down the waterfront if you crave a "Sundowner" on an evening. The huge, and nearly deserted beach starts at Peponi, and goes on and on and on for many kilometers.

Over all, the location was great, the room and balcony were spectacular, the food was very good, and Hamid was a very good, and interesting host. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Shela, and would love to go back to Stopover with my wife sometime (if I ever get back to Africa).

Norman from Vancouver Canada

  • Liked — Location, and spectacular views from balconies, people serving, amiable host.
  • Disliked — Not a 5 Star, but I wasn't expecting it. Locals a bit pushy to do a tour, sell a Dhow trip. A bit nervous about the "beach boys", but didn't have any trouble
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Odessa, Ukraine
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2008

this is a lovely place to stay, right on the waterfront in Shela (just out of Lamu town, must nicer than staying in town). Hamid the owner ensures great, attentive and friendly service. The rooms are spacious, and we had a great balcony on the top floor where we ate breakfast and watched the dhows sail by. the food is good value and tasty (mostly local fare). only cold water, but i think that all of the guest houses are the same (we stayed in one other). Really recommend it for a good value place to stay in Lamu, which is pretty expensive overall.

  • Liked — great service
  • Disliked — cold showers
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 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.
glasgow
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2007

Me and my friend stayed in Shela, for 3 nights at the stopover guest house in December 2006.
The first thing to know about Shela is that the place is very popular with EXTREMELY well heeled westerners e.g. princess stephanie of monaco has a house there. Lots of the big, old arabic style houses have been renovated ( admittedly in a very sympathetic, traditonal way) by rich europeans who come to escape the cold winters. Also, the main resort in shela is Peponis, which is a 5 stars and definetley high end!
The upshot of all this is that the locals think that if you are a tourist in Shela, you must be absolutely LOADED. Now I'm not saying that compared to the avaerage Kenyan, that is a fair comparison, but we were backpacking around on a budget and we found it quite difficult to barter to a reasonable price in Shela.
It got a bit tiring having to constantly barter the price down from astonomical starting points.
But ANYWAY... the stopover is a really lovely place to stay- it's right on the beach, very clean and simple, with mozzie nets and an ensuite. we also had our own balcony. Breakfast is included and had a great range of options. I thknk i had banana pancakes every day! I can't remember how much we paid, and obviously the price in hugely negotiable. Gets more expenzive ++ around christmas.
If u are single female travellers in Lamu, the attention from beach boys becomes very VERY tiresome. We ended up being pretty irritable with them, and after three days of it we were glad to leave. Shela is very pretty and pictureque though, and worth a visit.

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Additional Information about Stopover Guest House

Address: Shela Harbour, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 25 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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Also Known As:
Stopover Guest House Hotel Lamu Island

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