My wife and I stayed in Kitengela for 35 days while doing humanitarian work in the area, starting Jan 15, 2014. Initially we stayed at the nearby Sandalwood Hotel for 20 days but found that property to be unbearable, looked for better accommodations, and moved into Grays Oak for our remaining nights. The contrast between the two hotels could not be greater; Grays Oak almost felt like living at home, except with a wait staff.
In comparison, you might want to read my review of the Sandalwood Hotel in Athi River (1-star--on a good day). Interestingly, the two hotels offer the very same prices, with the Grays Oak winning, hands-down.
The rooms are cool and comfortable. Since most rooms are on the second and third floors, one can leave the windows open during the day to catch the cooling breezes without giving up security. Also, we chose a room on the shady side of the building which further cooled the room. They feature shiny white tile floors in the rooms and halls which are kept sparkling clean. Our room had a wonderful rectangular mosquito net mounted to the ceiling on roller slides, giving an elegant look when drawn. Beds are soft and comfortable and the rooms are quiet enough to hear the local frogs, who "serenaded" us to sleep most nights.
Food & Service. The food was delicious and well prepared. My favorite items were the Chicken Curry dinner (KSH 650) and beef samosas appetizers (3 for KSH150)--always served warm, with freshly cut lemons on the side. Food sometimes took too long to arrive, but this delay grew much shorter after we mentioned it to the General Manager. She was so competent, it seemed as if she had worked at a Marriot or Hilton Hotel for most of her career--VERY skilled.
Perhaps most impressively, their response to the few problems that arose was spectacular. For example, the swimming pool went out of order for two days. I told the desk clerk how very much I wanted to swim, but could not. Since Grays Oak, has as their first priority making every customer happy, each employee is not only expected to do what is right, but also empowered to make it happen, immediately, without having to get approvals.
When I complained about the pool, the day manager immediately offered to drive me to a nearby hotel to use their pool. I was immediately assigned a driver to take me there and back, paid my swimming fee, and paid the driver. I was in the other hotel's water in less than 10 minutes.
In my opinion, Grays’ service is on a level comparable to that of a Hilton, Marriot, or other fine hotel, even beating the 5-star Nairobi Regency. Grays Oak was really that good to us. I have written a review of Regency as well, they really biffed it, but worst of all, did not give a damn, so we moved out after one night, soon finding Grays Oak, where we stayed for the rest of our visit.
Security: There is a 10-foot concrete wall surrounding the property topped by an electric fence. The entrance to the parking lot has a gate that is used by many embassies, with two or more guards scrutinizing visitors. They also check under the cars and in their luggage carrying compartments.
Grays Oak Hotel is clean, safe, cool, well-managed, responsive to issues, and costs 1/3 what the Nairobi Regency does. Grays’ main downside is they seem to be a very well-kept secret. With just a little more marketing, they would have no vacancies at all.
My family used to own a hotel, so I expect a lot when I travel, and this place is simply great. Best of all, they are a real bargain when you consider all they deliver for how little they charge. Book them before the word gets out. Check out the pictures below. Notice how clean this property is.
For the record, I have no business interest in Grays Oak whatever, or in any other hotel. I write to benefit my fellow travelers.
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