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“A magical place” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Fatuma's Tower

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Fatuma's Tower
Ranked #5 of 36 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
28 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“A magical place”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 16, 2013

What a gem of place, beautiful gardens, wonderful design, great staff and the owner Gillies couldn't be more helpful and charming. The food is 5 star and very healthy. I would certainly recommend this place for friends, family, couples or individuals. A wonderful place to relax, unwind and take a break from this ever increasing fast paced world we live in. If only we could live there!

Room Tip: Choose one of the rooms higher up, great views and a much needed breeze when it is super hot.
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Cococurley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    42
    5
    2
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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
Redondo Beach, California
Level Contributor
39 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 3, 2012

Approx 5-7 min walk from beach through Shela residences. Very peaceful property surrounded by trees with views of Shela rooftops. Can enjoy your own space and/or get to know other guests. Owner and guide are very chill/friendly, offered suggestions for activities but not pushy. Chef makes great meals--you can give your preferences or leave it up to him. Bfast included, lunch/dinner/beer/wine at extra cost. Take extra cash for tips for guide, chef, cleaner, and flower girls (they leave the female guests jasmine flowers for 100Kes each). Suggestions: walk to Lamu town (lunch at Whispers Cafe or Lamu House Hotel); drinks/meal at Peponi Hotel; sunset sail or dow trip

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank J H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 1, 2012

We spent only Two nights in this fantastic place, but we are planning to ho back soon. Very nice and relaxing atmosphere Very confortable rooms and great food. Fiammetta and gillis tank you for inventing this magic place!

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 5 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?
1 Thank Uberta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2012

My husband and I stayed in Lamu in late November 2011, just after the kidnappings. As you can imagine, there was tension and fear in the air, and consequently very few tourists in Lamu. Despite this, our stay at Fatuma’s Tower was most definitely the highlight of our trip to Kenya.

Gillies’ assistant warmly greeted us at the airport and guided us to Fatuma’s Tower. From the moment we walked through the doorway and onto the grounds, we felt like we stepped into a peaceful oasis. The grounds are surrounded by beautifully cared for gardens, with flowers diffusing tropical scents all around. The guest house itself is the restored home of a Swahili noblewoman. The place is oozing with character defined by Swahili doors, architecture, and décor.

We stayed in the rooftop suite. The room was inviting, comfortable, and clean. We spent a lot of time on our connected balcony taking naps, reading, and enjoying the sun. By far one of the best aspects of Fatuma’s Tower is its staff. They were extremely friendly and helpful, providing us with directions, advice about activities and places to visit, and anything else we needed. The food at Fatuma’s Tower was also amazing. We had traditional Swahili fish and seafood dishes every day; we even got to meet with the fisherman and request what fish we wanted to eat! It was most definitely some of the best food we’ve ever had.

One of the most unique aspects of Fatuma’s Tower, which everyone who goes there should take advantage of, is the yoga classes. My husband and I took a one hour class every day. Gillies is a great teacher, as he has been practising yoga for over twenty years. The classes make you feel both relaxed and invigorated. We enjoyed the classes so much that we have continued practising yoga at home.

While at Fatuma’s Tower, we felt safe, comfortable, and welcomed. As the British travel advisor has been lifted with respect to Lamu, it should be safer now and ready for tourist to visit Lamu in the numbers the island is accustomed to. When you go to Fatuma’s Tower you will experience tranquility and you’ll feel like you’re in another world. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Updated travel advisory - http://www.eturbonews.com/29108/lamu-travel-advisory-changed-substantially

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank hmooners7779
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
25 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 9, 2012

We stayed at Fatuma's tower in March with our two kids aged 11 and 14. All of Lamu is very quiet and the locals suffering from the lack of tourists. However "hungry" the locals were, we did not feel it as Swahili culture is so positive. Fatuma's tower is at the back of Shella village nestled up against dunes. We had great rooms in the tower which came with various outdoor sitting spaces, covered and open with views across town. The host, Gillies is charming and laid back, very interesting and well-liked. Everywhere we went, when we were asked where we were staying, we would say "Fatuma's tower" and people would respond "Oh, Gillies"- as though we had the name wrong. We normally stay at Peponi, but it had been fully booked at Xmas when our original trip had been planned, so we thought we would try here. When the crisis hit Lamu in the fall, we cancelled our trip, but very quickly picked it up and re-booked for the soonest holiday time we had. Peponi had rooms available then, but we felt an obligation to Gillies who had offered us his last rooms for the Xmas holiday trip when we had initially booked. So we had Peponi to compare this to. The prices compared that for one night at Peponi b andb, you can take five nights in Gillies. That is the trade off with not having the sea at your door. The sea, the channel is very relaxing to look at, and be near. Perhaps it is a bit safer, these days to be set back from the sea. The nice thing I preferred at Gillies was the architecture and furniture. The tower is in an original Lamu house, and these houses are very interesting, great spaces. Staying at Gillies, I learned that their are 4 mosques calling to prayer. At Peponi's, I only ever heard one. It is a beautiful call and the reason I would never stay on Manda. The food was excellent at Gillies. The staff were also amazing and you can ask them for all trips and excursions. We went fishing on a very comfortable dhow and did a sunset cruise, in addition to a Lamu town excursion. It is a bit of a hike to and from the beach, but still relaxing.
It is always complicated travelling with children and I like to have a lot of privacy, so that my kids can feel themselves, and get their sillies out. The rooms we had were perfect for this, and I suspect the cottage would be too, and others, but perhaps if the house were full, it would be a little more inhibiting.
Mosquitos are everywhere and a bit of repellent is needed. They use coils here which my husband who is sensitive to scent had trouble with. I would definitely chose this place again.Lamu was our first stop after 40 hours of travelling and a 9 hour time difference, so we were exhausted and off, but came away cured.
Lamu is a lovely place that we go to again and again, and people should go now before this terrible port destroys this far away place, magical and special.

Room Tip: Tower rooms lovely, nice to be higher up for a bit of breeze.
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Gladystacos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2012

I had such a blissful experience across the channel on Manda, that it was initially quite hard to get used to the Shela village experience, but Fatuma's Tower certainly made the transition easy to overcome.

Set in beautiful gardens surrounded by wildlife, the place is a haven of relaxation within easy reach of all the activities that the Lamu Archipelago has to offer. Gillies and his staff are all great, serving up some great meals (crab was my favourite) and providing the sort of service that I love - always attentive, but never overbearing.

Ceiling fans were a surprising but welcome addition to what I was expecting, and I loved getting lost in the streets of Shela, where there seemed to be something surprising around every corner.

Thoroughly recommended

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank pcuk1979
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tallinn, Estonia
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 21, 2012

My wife and spend 9 completely splindid days at Fatuma's Tower feeling absolutely safe. The obduction of a French woman some months ago by Somali pirates has left the island of Lamu almost empty of tourists and although this facilitates some obvious advantages for those who actually go there, the locals are suffering badly from this. A shame really as you couldn't imagine a more peaceful place than Lamu and especially the village of Shela.

Fatuma's Tower is owned and managed by Gillies and his wife Fiammetta who restored the place from zero to a warmly welcoming place filled with lovely details and authentically decorated rooms. The buildings of the guesthouse are located in an exotic well kept garden where we took all meals. The staff there is without comparison the friendliest people we ever met, the harmony we felt at Fatuma's Tower was much due to this fact.

The food cooked and served at Fatuma's Tower is a chapter of it's own. After having tried a couple of places in the village - including the much hyped Peponi - we decided to take all meals inhouse. The simpleness of composition and combination of ingredients brought out the full flavour of fresh, first class products representing all the richness of the ocean. All our compliments to the chef!

I'm sure there are plenty of other nice places on Lamu and in Shela, but we will without any doubt choose Fatuma's Tower next time we go to Lamu.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MKJ77
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 #5 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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