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“Very quiet and peaceful” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Fatuma's Tower

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Fatuma's Tower
Ranked #4 of 36 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Ottawa, ON Canada
Level Contributor
84 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Very quiet and peaceful”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 14, 2012

We spent a couple of nights here, including New Year's Eve. We found it surprisingly quiet, considering that Peponi's hotel had a party raving until 0500 hours that morning.

The property is well kept, and Gillie's, the proprietor, was most welcoming.

Breakfast is included in the daily tariff, and we found ourselves eating the best mangoes we have ever had. Food for lunch and dinner is arranged with the cook and paid for in advance. He then goes off to the market and buys whatever is fresh. Two of us had seafood for dinner two nights and it was wonderful. One of our party is a vegetarian and his meals were pretty bland. I don't think the cook knows anything else other than pasta and cheese to serve to a vegetarian.

Service was excellent, with a plenitude of staff always around. They don't hover, which was nice, but someone was always available when needed.

Very quiet. Even tho' it was New Year's Eve. The music from Peponi's quieted down after the call to prayer at 0500 hrs.

The rooms are great. I slept on the outdoors terrace and it was wonderful.

We had arranged for all carriage to/from the airport to be included in our price, so it was a surprise to find that we had to pay the porters to carry our luggage from the airport to the boat, and then from the boat to the guest house.

Also the toilet in our room did not flush properly. But I guess that is normal in Africa.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank 2Fiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 27, 2011

Having just returned from 10 days in Lamu, the first thing to point out is this: It is as beautiful and peaceful as ever, I did not feel unsafe for a moment (and I travelled there alone), tourism there has been utterly destroyed by the media and the people need our support! What happned there in recent months is tragic but sadly representative of the world we live in. If each time we read about an unfortunate event, we refused to visit its locality, we'd almost certainly remain confined to our houses forevermore. So in the spirit of adventure read on:

Fatuma's Tower is positioned in Shela, a 5 minute walk from the waterfront but hidden away in the village. It is simply one of the most private, peaceful places I've visited... Sheltered in a very pretty garden setting away from the activity of the village and beach but only a few footsteps away. It has been lovingly restored and the rooms are comfortable, quiet, authentically designed. You'll wake each morning to the sound of the call to prayer, birdsong, and monkeys playing in the trees... The staff are wonderful and cannot do enough to make you feel welcome and looked after. Oh, and David's cooking was the best I personally experienced in Shela.

To manage expectations please note: This is a guesthouse and runs as such. It is simple but very comfortable, quiet, private and pretty... A place to retreat, read a book, sit in the garden or on one of the terraces. It is not about conventional luxury, mod cons, air conditioned rooms or swimming pool settings. But for its lovely location, charming owner Gillies, wonderful team, feeling of being safe and private, good value for money... Fatuma's Tower has won my vote for life and I am already planning my next visit.

Oh, one other thing to note (I can't remember if it's on the website), carry some small notes in Kenyan Shillings. You'll need 100 Shillings to pay the guy who carries your bags to the boat from the airport landing strip... same again from the dock up to Fatuma's Tower.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ML0151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paris
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 22, 2011

After two weeks traveling in East Africa, we arrived in Lamu (actually Shela), hoping for a deserved break in a charming place. Fatuma's Tower was our choice, because we liked the website. But actually this place has been far better than what we had expected.

Fatuma's tower is located in a large and enchanting garden, where it is built and decorated with lot of taste. The staff is great, and Gillies really tries to make you feel home, giving you also a lot of tips on what can be done on the island. The place is very quiet, and rooms have either lounges where you can rest, or terraces where you can sunbathe and read peacefully.

For lunch and dinner, staff can prepare delicious Swahili meals (the best we had in Lamu), that you enjoy in the tropical garden, under a huge acacia tree.

So whether you are tired of the East African dirt roads, need a relaxing break during the long winter months, or just want to discover an incredible house in a fabulous village, Fatuma's Tower is the place to go.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank lorenznuti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 11, 2011

The moment you go into the property you know you have chosen a different and very special place.

The staff is very friendly and will help you with anything you need: laundry, organizing a day trip in a dhow (don't miss it!), getting a boat or a donkey to get to Lamu (it is just next to Shela), etc, etc, etc.

You have the possibility to have lunch or dinner in the beautiful garden; just let them know what you'd like to eat (recommendation: choose the catch of the day) and they will prepare it for you. You will be charged for the ingredients, that's it!. We had an amazing crab and coconut rice.

Breakfast is served in the garden as well.

When planning the trip we were not sure if we should stay in Lamu or Shela; we were really happy we chose Shela. It is much more calm than Lamu and it is only a 10 minute boat ride to Lamu.

If available, ask for the Acacia room. It's a little more expensive but it is worth it. You have a private roof top terrace with a hammock and sun chairs to relax, have an evening beer or passion fruit juice and see the stars at night (just beautiful!).

Don't forget to send your flight details to Gilles so he can arrange your pick up in Lamu's airport (which is actually situated in Mandala island).

Please have a fresh tuna grilled in a dhow for us!

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Deviajecitos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 5, 2010

We had a lovely trip, Lamu and Shella Village in particular are fantastic. Gillies is an eccentric and slightly baffled host, and you won't always get what you ask for, but the hotel and grounds are lovely and his staff are a fantastic bunch, really lovely people. As long as you go out there with the expectation that this is definitely barefoot luxury you'll have a lovely stay. And note the hotel is about 10 mins walk to beach. Make sure you go down to the beach at night for the phosphorescent swimming, its beautiful!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank PeaceLillyLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
20 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2010

Fatuma's Tower is a fantastic place, and great fun -- a huge restored Swahili house set in a tropical garden, tucked away in the beautiful village of Shela. Extremely quiet and atmospheric, quite beautiful, and an easy 5-minute stroll through the town down to the harbor and the incredible Lamu beach. (Or even better, just climb over the sand dunes behind the hotel and go directly to the beach.)

We stayed for a week in the "top apartment" which was two bedrooms, two full baths, a private balcony with two couches, another private balcony at roof level, and yet another private balcony attached to one of the rooms. (Yes --- that's THREE balconies just for us.)

So if you're looking for a quiet getaway, it's pretty hard to beat. Spacious, open, and a great great deal. We got all that space for less than half of what we would have paid for just one little room at Shela's fancier and more famous hotel. Daily laundry service was so inexpensive it was practically free. Dinners ran about $10 a night per person and were quite nicely done -- you tell them what you want in the morning, and they make it up for you that night.

The owner is a likable Englishman named Gillies who gives daily yoga classes in his studio there, and will fill you in on crop circles, extra-terrestrials, the Mayan prediction, and other new age-y subjects, as well as personally arranging boat trips, camel rides and anything else you need.

Highly recommended. It's very relaxed there, though, and the service is very friendly but rather disorganized, so if you need military precision when on vacation you might find it too casual.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank taptaptaptap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 10, 2009

Cannot believe this hotel isn't on Trip Advisor yet and I feel a little traitorous for spilling the beans to the rest of the world but share and share alike as they say. I was put onto Fatuma's Tower by a friend of a friend Jake da Motta who runs www.lamuretreats.com. He is connected with a number of different hotels on the island and is an excellent port of call if you're considering Lamu.

We finally settled on Fatuma's Tower at €100 per night for their Acacia appartment, top of the tower with our own outside chillout area complete with hammocks under the thatch, overlooking the rooftops of Shela and out to sea. What an amazing set up, you could dine in or out and aside from another couple we were the only ones there. it is an oasis of calm within its own grounds with the sand dunes behind, beautifully laid out and wonderfully furnished. Service with a smile and enough space to laze around or advice on how to fill your days (if you wanted it).

I honestly can't fault it, the plunge pool although far from olympian, is all you need and if you're lucky enough to be there with only a few others, you've got the run of the place to yourselves. We ate like kings (when we ate in) some of the best fish I've ever had.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank NaunyD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fatuma's Tower

Property: Fatuma's Tower
Address: Shela Beach | PO Box 323 Lamu, Lamu Island 80500, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 36 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Carefully restored and modified in 1998 the historic Tower has five double bedrooms and a large yoga hall. Included behind the same compound wall is the Sand Castle with it's ground floor family apartment of three double rooms. In the surrounding gardens, the Garden Cottage has two double rooms both with bathrooms. The ten double rooms are all furnished with local antiques and fabrics in a simple yet elegant style to recreate the atmosphere of a fine Swahili house. No two rooms are the same and the cool, airy spaces retain an informal feel while several shaded balconies provide comfortable areas for avoiding too much sun and generally enjoying the peace and fresh air. The peaceful gardens have been recently " enlivened" by the refreshing sound of a fountain splashing over coral rocks into a small plunge pool. All rooms have solar powered hot water, fans and mosquito nets. ... more   less 
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