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“Absolute bliss”
Review of Mkoko House

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Mkoko House
Ranked #9 of 34 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Reviewed March 25, 2012

Mkoko House was everything that I could have wished for and more.

Being the only guest, I had the whole property to myself for 5 nights. By day, I relaxed on the beautiful Manda Beach or caught up on my reading underneath the shade of the trees, while by night I looked up at the stars. For those 5 days, life suddenly became so simple and relaxing. The only decision I had to make every day was whether to explore the left or right hand side of the beach.

Mkoko House is just a short walk from the beach, but this for me was a bonus. It meant that you were surrounded by very little apart from mangroves and the local wildlife. The family of 10 monkeys coming to say goodbye on the final day was a particular highlight.

The house itself has everything you need for a 'getting away from it all' experience. Comfy beds, lots of airy spaces to relax, and a great cook and housekeeper in the shape of Idi. You will never want for anything, never miss any of the mod cons that you'd previously thought were mandatory, and it was very hard for me to tear myself away from this idyllic lifestyle.

In short, it was pretty much perfect. Book now.

Room Tip: The Mkoko room seemed to be the best room from what I could see. The lounge on the top floor was...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank pcuk1979
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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16 - 22 of 38 reviews

Reviewed October 2, 2011

It's difficult to write about Mkoko House avoiding childish excitement. The world is big, and there are so much to see, so much to visit... yet, after staying just 4 nights, an irresistible urge developed in us to visit the place again.

I could write about the Swahili culture, the bustling small Lamu Old Town nearby, the long stretches of flour like sand (which broke my old camera, btw), the dhows, etc
But Mkoko House is about not doing anything. Just laying on one of the many mats in one corner of the house's intriguing Swahili architecture. Listening to the breeze from the Ocean and to the silence. Watching the green carpet of mangrove forest in the background of Shela's sand dunes, or the white sails of the dhows heading to Takwa ruins, like dorsal fins of sharks in the green sea of mangrove.
Eating one of Iddi's, the caretaker's fabolous dishes..

It's admirable, so I have to highlight that even if the house has three double rooms, it's Nicholas' (the owners) policy not to book additional guests to the period of your stay. (eg. we were just for three alone in the house)

Even if I'm not a typical 5star hotel visitor, I was a bit afraid of an eco-lodge, as I'd never been to one before:
- Water: There's no freshwater on Manda. But they're collecting well enough rainwater in reservoirs to give you plenty to shower in. Its temperature is cool which is just about right close to the Equator.
- Power is generated by PV-panels, and stored in batteries, so we always had enough to have lights for dinner or after dinner games.
- Eating: As mentioned above Iddi can prepare you just about anything, you just need to pay him for the cost of the ingredients. He's a great cook, and a very friendly host.

All-in-all we felt Mkoko the ultimate relaxing paradise.

Having said that there are dangers threatening this paradise:
1) Another similar house has been just built next to Mkoko - if it's hosting a different kind of clientele, their noise can spoil Mkoko's serenity.
2) On a bigger scale, Somalia is not far Lamu archipelago. We didn't have any problem, insecurity, bad feeling about it, but I can just hope that despite the proximity, the area's isolation to this failed state remains like it used to be.
3) There are immense plans to build a huge commercial port on Manda, bigger than the one in Mombasa, with oil refinery, etc. for a total of 22B$. That will be the end of Lamu, as we know it. So I can only recommend to visit this paradise till it's not destroyed.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank bgorboi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2011

When we arrived at Mkoko House we had had a busy two weeks on Safari and elsewhere on the Swahili coast. Our plan was simply to chill out and relax for five days before returning home. We were not disappointed. We knew this was somewhere special when we waded ashore from the dhow onto the white sandy beach. The ten minute trek with our luggage was a bit of an effort but well worth it when we got there. I had booked the B&B expecting a room in a very nice house but we went one better with the whole place to ourselves - apart from Idi that is, who cooked our meals and kept the place spotless. This is this is the sort of place you go if you like lying in a hammock reading a book, swimming in the sea and walking on the beach. no beach sellers to hassle you, no shops, one bar close by and lots of birds in the trees. The only thing we had to think about was suggestions for dinner when Idi went across to Shela to buy provisions.

There are things to do - A walk or dhow trip to the Takwa ruins is a must as is a day in Lamu town. You travel everywhere by dhow. Idi would book one on his mobile although we could probably have picked one up on the beach. The cost of hiring Dhows does have to be factored into the cost of staying on the island (a few hundred ksh per trip for the boat depending on where you are going) but you can always try haggling it down a bit. There wasnot much to do in the evening - a trip to the local bar is about it but that's not what this place is about. There is plenty of buzz in Lamu town where most travellers stay and some upmarket hotels dotted around the archipeligo.

This was our first trip to Kenya and I was in two minds whether to stay in Mkoko house on Manda or in Lamu town. We were both in no doubt I made the right choice. If we had booked Mkoko House for the beginning or even the second week of our holiday, we might have been kicking our heels a bit with so much still to see and do but we could not have ended our stay in Kenya in a better place.

Room Tip: Just ask when you book - the main bedroom is the Mkoko room. You will probably have the house to you...
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  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank sharps19ud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 19, 2011

Mkoko house is a little gem of a place. i stayed here with my girlfriend and her parents, and it was just lovely from start to finish. Idi is fantastic - so helpful, sweet and kind, and he cooks some incredible food. I would particularly recommend his vegetable curry and his fresh crab dish.

The house is set back a bit off the beach, about a five minute walk, but the third floor reading area makes up for all of that. With a hammock, lounge couch and another swinging bed, that location will be in my memory forever. So relaxing, and the best place to read and lay back ever. I spent most of my time up there, and eventually decided to sleep up there as well. The breeze always comes through the area, and you can see the ocean and all across the mangroves on the island. All in all, a truly fantastic place, and Idi and hte manager were always happy to help arrange trips to Shela and Lamu. I highly recommend the restaurant at the Pepponi hotel too - easily some of the best food I have had in Kenya.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank africaforlife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2011

Mkoko House is one of the most serene and quiet places in one of the most beautiful spots on earth - which means it doesn't really really get any better than that! Over the years, the plants have grown, Idi has become a pretty proficient cook and the place runs like clockwork. Truly perfect for nature and peace loving guests!!

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled solo
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1  Thank verotraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2011

We wanted a really relaxing break somewhere lovely after a couple of weeks on the road around Kenya. Mkoko House turned out to be the perfect choice! Really peaceful, in a secluded location and a warm welcome. We were well looked after by Idi, who is also a wonderful cook! The whole stay was made so easy for us and was worth every shilling - a lovely place.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Morro_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2011

This is a lovely lovely guesthouse. A real sense of space and culture within the guesthouse itself- with a marvellous in-house cook and helper- Idi. We stayed for 2 days and it could have been all week, gladly.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Jameshannay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mkoko House

Address: Ras Kitau, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Beach
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 34 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range: $71 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Enjoy the beaches, the warm coastal hospitality, the delicious Swahili cuisine, and the peaceful and quiet surroundings of the house. Fully indulge in everything the Lamu archipelago has to offer and you will be sure to fall in love with this little gem. ... more   less 

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