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Reviewed August 5, 2009

We utilised the Norfolk before and after commencement of our Kenyan/Tanzanian safari.
Check in for our first arrival went through without any drama's and it was a novelty receiving the warm washer and cool drink on arrival. However we were taken out to the verandah in the garden courtyard for our briefing on dusk and the area was rife with mosquito's.

We continued up to our rooms which comfortably accommodated 2 persons and would be of a 4 star standard. However, both our rooms were full of mosquitoes. I rang reception to have the room sprayed before dinner, which they organised, however when we returned from dinner there were even more mosquitoes in the room. Another phone call to housekeeping and they sent the gentleman to the room again. This time I stayed in the room whilst he sprayed and then realised why we had mosquitoes in the room. The staffs idea of spraying is totally different to us from the West. He gave the room 3 x 1 second squirts. The room needed a good burst of spray. Once the can was left with us, we alleviated the problem.

Breakfast was fine on the Verandah. Dinner choices on the verandah restaurant were ideally suited to families, however being an old-world colonial hotel, I was personally disappointed with menu choices. I don't like to eat what I cook at home every night, when I'm eating in a restaurant.

Our first visit we quite enjoyed. When we returned to the hotel, approximately nine days later, hotel checks in were appalling. Although the bookings had been placed with an agency 6 months prior, hotel reception managed to botch it up and it took over an hour to check in 9 people. When we got to our rooms we swapped the keys around so my brother got the triple room, my parents got the queen bed, and we got the two twins.

We organised dinner again on the restaurant on the verandah, as we thought we could get in and out quickly, travelling with 3 teenagers and a 10 yo. and a 4am departure the next morning. We'd had a big day of travelling, drinks, orders meals were extremely slow and plates remained uncleared.

Within hours, 6 out of 9 us ended up with varying extremes of gastro (from vomiting to being permanently attached to a toilet throughout the night). 6 of us had selected the same meal. This is not expected when booking a 5 star hotel and what is considered the best place to stay in Nairobi. In 4 weeks of travel, throughout 6 countries, this was the only place that this occurred.

When we arrived at our room for the second visit, on dusk, we were again given the same hotel room. The mosquito problem prevailed again, however on checking the window/sliding glass had not been closed and was open several cm's. Again we went through the spray routine.

The room did get very hot during the night, partly our fault as we hadn't utilised the air-conditioning. However, we required drinking water during the night and as you can't drink tap water and we had already utilised our 300ml water supply each, we selected a 500ml bottle of water out of the mini-bar at 3am as my daughters also did in their room.

When I've gone to check-out, I advised about the water and that we had to use water from the mini-bar as there wasn't sufficient water in the room.

I was told that I would have to pay for this. When I let the girl on reception know that I was not happy about this, I was advised I should have rung house keeping at 3am if I required more drinking water. As we waited for over an hour to have the room sprayed, we weren't about to do this in the middle of the night. Plus we were not well.

I'm not tight by any means, but object to paying 5 star prices in US $ for water when there should be sufficient in the room to clean teeth before bed and in the morning, and for a glass of water during the night, especially when one's not well.

The hotel really needs direction from management as it does have the potential to be quite an okay place to stay.

Also if using the hotel for safari commencement, once the airport hotel (I think Inter-Continental or western chain hotel) is complete at Kenyatta, I would consider. It took us 3 hours to drive from the airport to the Norfolk in peak hour traffic (normally a 30 minute drive) arriving in the evening. We didn't see any of Nairobi arriving at this time. The next morning we were collected at 8am, which was again peak hour and had to drive past the airport on our way to Amboseli. The same scenario when we returned from Tanzania. We had to be collected from the Norfolk at 4am to ensure we got to the airport in time for our flight. An airport hotel would have saved us probably 8-9 hours in travelling time.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank C0nstantlyOnTheG0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2009

It used to be a nice old hotel that was hard to get a room at. This time it was almost empty in the middle of tourist season....hmmmmmm. The rooms are nice (though expect housekeeping to wake you up early if you don't display the do not disturb sign). Be very watchful of your bill. We booked 4 rooms online at a "special rate" but when we tried to check out they tried to jack up the price, even though we had the confirmation numbers and booking receipts. Their first explanation was "well this is the rate that is in our computer"... then it became "well be put you in better rooms" (even though the hotel was virtually empty and we didn't ask for an upgrade). It took 45 minutes of "discussion" just to get checked out and get to the airport. Make sure you convert Shillings to Dollars at checkout, otherwise you may get a big surprise on your credit card bill! I expect many tourists get caught on this one.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank cielopictures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 27, 2009

I agree with Carpet9. We had not stayed at the Norfolk before but we had expected a grand old colonial hotel. What we found was a dreadful modern place devoid of any atmosphere. We could have been in a Holiday Inn. Moreover the restaurant was closed so we had to eat outside on a chilly night.
I would not stay there again.

Stayed: December 2008, traveled as a couple
Thank Chocolate74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2009

Having stayed at The Norfolk for Christmas, pre-safari, 20 years ago, we were much looking forward to a return visit. On that occasion it had been a memorable stay.
This time we spent one night at the end of a holiday before returning home, and I shall not be in a hurry to return. The wonderful Colonial atmosphere has completly gone, the only momento being the marvellous pictures still in some of the corridors. The hotel now just feels "corporate".

Our room was small, dark and dingy and looked onto a building site with work still in progress late in the evening. We had no turn down service of beds. There was only one restaurant open and we had an ordinary dinner with not a lot of choice.

As we had an early start the next morning, I asked for a 5.30am alarm call and had ordered breakfast from room service. The alarm call came at 5 am and when breakfast arrived the order which was for 2 , was only for one person.

Overall I have no wish to return to The Norfolk, added to which the traffic in Nairobi is so bad, that it is far from ideal as an overnight stop before a flight.

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Carpet9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2008

Booked two nights at the Norfolk through our US travel agent to give us a little down time prior to joining friends for a house party/safari. We had ordered the hotel vehicle to meet us. Expensive at I think $35 per person, but preferable to sorting out a good taxi driver late at night. We were a litle irritated that our driver had to wait for a second couple arriving on the same flight from Heathrow. Since we had only hand baggage, we avoided the long immigration lines, but then were not able to get going.

We were glad we were in a decent van (complete with iced water and damp towels) as there is major road construction in Nairobi and we had a very long drive to the hotel via a big detour.

Very welcoming arrival and easy check-in. We wanted a room where my husband could smoke outside, so we had a ground floor room with a mini-terrace in the wing of the hotel closest to the public areas. Room a reasonable size and obviously had not been part of the recent renovations. A little tired and old fashioned looking, but very comfortable. Desk, table, armchair, big old television with various satellite channels (BBC, CNN, KBC etc.) Plenty of closet space and an in-room safe.

Bathroom was not large, but adequate. Shower was over the bath, which had a blue plastic shower curtain - not very classy! Bottled water provided for teeth washing. Average quality towels and toiletries and (my pet peeve) a wall mounted hair dryer. There was a free standing one in the desk, so I am sure this will be changed soon.

Sunday morning breakfast was on a terrace inside the hotel, while meals are all usually served in the verandah restaurant at the front of the hotel. Good selection of breakfast items, although some of the hot food had been sitting in the chafing dishes for a while. Service very attentive and pleasant.

We needed to buy some things at the local supermarket, so the hotel provided us with a car and driver for I think just $10, and he guided us through a big shopping centre that was within walking distance if you wanted to brave the traffic.

We had been to Nairobi before, so did not do any sightseeing, but the hotel would provide comprehensive tourist information and assistance. There was a very well equipped gym, with an attendant who could assist with the machines. We didn't use the swimming pool, but it was of a reasonable size and looked very pleasant.

We had one lunch and dinner at the Norfolk and were quite happy with both. Good selection of dishes to suit most palates, and extremely well presented. Again, the service was of a high standard, with just the right level of friendliness.

We had booked a hotel car/van to take us to Wilson Airport for 9:00, but Nairobi traffic is awful, and the bell captain (very helpful) got us a taxi that was with a company contracted with the hotel. It still took over 45 minutes - mostly standing still - to get to Wilson, instead of the 20 minutes in off peak time.

If you are looking for a Paris, London or New York type Fairmont, you will be disappointed in the Norfolk, but it is a comfortable, welcoming hotel which I would not hesitate to stay in again.

  • Stayed: October 2008
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3  Thank marleydog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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