First, the house itself is unbelievable. It has grand proportions and interesting architecture everywhere you turn. Alan has furnished and decorated the place with 40 years worth of collected art from across the continent. Though the term "museum" comes to mind, the house is absolutely comfortable and we never felt as though we couldn't sit on furniture, touch the sculptures, or examine the art.
Second, the setting was gorgeous. My mother took the amazing Lamu Suite. It has a small garden/greenhouse inside the bathroom! I took the upstairs room on the roof. From the ample balconies and terraces we looked out over the Nairobi National Park as we had morning tea and sundowners. Somehow, we were 15 minutes from downtown Nairobi, but in the middle of a huge open park. The house is a much more convenient journey to and from the airport than any "in-town" hotel and far more relaxing.
Third, Alan is the consummate host. No details are overlooked. His advice on logistics (travel times, places to see, etc) were spot on. Meals were ample and delicious whether taken on the terrace, by the fireplace, or in my room on the top floor. The tour of the house, which took us about 2 hours, was really interesting and far from a "canned" speech. Alan put us in touch with a fantastic driver, Gideon, who was, himself, a font of valuable information. Alan also directed us toward some excellent wholesalers of African textiles and crafts. We skipped uncertainty of searching out over-priced shops and the mayhem that is Nairobi shopping. The icing on the cake was the private concert Alan provided. A group of 20 or so guests were having a professional retreat for the day and we got to join them as Alan's long-time friend Ayub Ogada played and sang on the roof deck at sundown. It was picture and pitch perfect.
African Heritage House is the type of place you can stay if you are doing just a few days travel in and around Nairobi, or if you are looking for a base for an extended tour of the area. It was just perfect.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The African Heritage House overlooking the Nairobi National Parkis described by the prestigious Architectural Digest as " a vision of usefulness informed by the African genius for decoration" Designed by American Alan Donovan, the house is a combination of architectural styles from across the continent. Tours of the house interior reveal the beauty of Africa's art and crafts. ... more less