When you deserve a perfectly self-indulgent experience after a business meeting scripted by Sartre, or a safari trip organized by an anti-colonialist seeking indirect revenge for our ancestors' collective wrongdoings, stop in at the Exchange Bar. At first, I felt like had walked on stage to a recreation of an Edwardian period gentleman's club; and frankly, I checked myself to see if I was properly dressed. But as soon as we were welcomed by a genuinely smiling hostess (Beatrice) and settled into comfortable leather wingback chairs, we realized that this place was made to welcome and refresh weary travellers without judgement.
I have spent several afternoons sipping Coke Light or Tusker, simply drinking in the coziness and recharging my soul's batteries. The acoustics of the bar are designed to allow either quiet meditation or private conversations. You feel as though you have been transported back to the time when the Nairobi Stock Exchange conducted civil trade over gin and tonics (quite good top shelf selections) and a cigar (fortunately, although they have cigars on display, they don't allow smoking.
An after-dinner drink following a meal at the Thai Chi (also great) or nearby Andy's (or dare I say, even the Hilton down the way) was delightful, as there was a quiet piano player providing jazz lullabies to accompany our Drambuie and Talisker (each to one's own).
Forget the hurry, let the clocks on the wall displaying multiple time zones remind you that you're ahead of time somewhere. Watch the row of palm frond fans swish back and forth lazily. And know you are in good hands, welcome to stay as long as you like, and that you will be greeted when you return like a friend.
I wish more hotel bars were like this. Thank you, Ravi (or was it Razi - I was too busy relaxing to pay attention) for keeping a watchful eye on a great staff, having the bar well stocked, and, well, just Directing one of the longest running feel-good plays in East Africa.
And please.. restock the Port supply with some 10 year old ruby for my friend, Tom...stored at a proper temperature, of course.
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