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“lovely house, very poor service”
Review of Subira House

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Subira House
Ranked #4 of 32 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“lovely house, very poor service”
Reviewed August 25, 2011

We visited for 3 nights - booking 2 separate rooms - during August when the owners were away and unfortunately we were quite disappointed with the service. The manager on duty, Julius, didn't say 2 words to us when meeting us at the airport. We followed him to the guest house and were shown our rooms, but didn't receive any orientation to the house, the bathrooms and drop toilets, or the area. Captain J sold us on a boat trip but we felt badly that perhaps the actual boat captain that he booked us with didn't receive enough of what we paid for this trip - which was quite a lot (we feel we were overcharged and you would do better to negotiate directly with boat captains). Our rooms and the separate bathrooms were not cleaned at all during our stay. The rooms were dusty and things I put on the shelves picked up dirt. The towels in the bathroom were the kind that are used for cleaning floors and mine were dirty - pieces of hair (not mine) and dirt came off on me when I used them after a shower. We were given new towels after 2 days only after asking. We couldn't find anyone on duty, particularly in the evening. One evening the door bell rang at 9:00pm for 30 minutes and no one answered it. As our days went by at Subira house, I felt that Captain J treated us with increasing animosity - resenting our presence. It seems the staff would rather hang out and chat with themselves than serve guests. They were chatting quite loudly one morning, which was distributing at the early hour. I'm not sure if service is better when the managers are there, and I'm also not sure how often they are there. Although the house is lovely and the price is reasonable, I would say it is best not to take your chances with this guest house.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
6 Thank Nairobi_Life
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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66 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Amsterdam, Nederland
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2011

We staid here for a few days while travelling through Kenya. Lamu is nice, but not the cardemom filled, laid back hippy retreat many guide books make it out to be. It is a very charming town, and a not to be missed spot on your trip, but you'll find yoursels hassled by locals, and stepping itno donkey poo on more than one occasion. Subira House is a lovely tranquil retreat in it all. When we were there the owners, who have a reputation of being the most wonderful people, were away on leave, but the staff present was very friendly. We did have to pay a bit more than expected for a welcome tour of Lamu (which we thought was free) but waking up to breakfast served on your private terrace, overlooking the fort and the sea was amazing. As was the dinner we had there, served in the garden. A cold beer on the terrace or in one of the communal area's after a day exploring Lamu, or sailing through Mangrove forests, or walking to Shela, is a real treat. The decor in the communal area's is stunning too. It looks and feels like a proper resort or at least a really nice boutique hotel. You get a LOT more than what you pay for. Their toilets, traditional choos (no water, just ash), are something to get used to, as was the fact that the bathroom was outside in our case (we staid in the top room, a private studio). But you will get used to it. And you'll even end up finding it charming and in fact, it seems very hygienic too! I can very much recommend staying in Subira House! Be however prepared for some of the lesser things Lamu comes with. It'll make you appreciate the many many splendid things a lot more.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank kume27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed July 3, 2011

A beautiful house in the middle of Lamu. Owners were on holiday though and we had the impression we were being misguided by the host Captain Jelano. His hospitality reaches when you pay him or his friends in town. Other staff is extremely helpfull and kind though.
Keep in mind that this guest house does not use water for the toilets. You somewhat sit outside and do your necessity and when done use ashes instead of water to flush.

  • Stayed June 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Heildave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Subira House, responded to this review, July 21, 2011
Lamu’s drainage system is already a problem.
There is no proper drainage system. Grey water is channelled in open sewers running downwards to the sea. (Worked very well before. At present much package material invaded the island and This is now causing blockage and a big problem. )
The human solid and liquid waste is by tradition let into dug out pit latrines. Traditional swahili toilets.These are emptied by digging out after many years and have then become good soil. Unfortunately today many new house owners install water closets using Lamu’s dear drinking water on top of these pits. Without drainage pipes and unaware of the dangers of contaminating the wells!!!)
Lamu’s water table is low. The wells in Shela water catchment is not enough for the growing population.
Many of Lamu’s deep wells both public and private ones have now been contaminated by the rich amount of coli bacterias that are washed down in the water closets just beside the wells.
Our toilets are traditional water free “long drops” and we have installed two Eco-San Separett type on our TOP TOP floors for separating the human waste (like God intended). This is then recycled. Using urine and humus derived from ecological toilets is a source of nutrients used for growing trees on our shamba.
We wish to spread our knowledge to more people and we hope to have understanding for our work.
With our guide Jelani, will have to deal with the problem when back in Lamu, the only thing we can do is say we are very sorry!
Christina Aarts
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halmstad, Sweden
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed May 14, 2011

We are a small family with one 1 year old son. We stayed for 6 nights in this superplace. The topfloor was perfect and worth the extra cost. It was really nice for our son to be able to run around. We could also have all our meals at our terass and food was the best! A fantastic service and location in the middle of Lamu old town. We would really recommend this to our friends and anyone who wants to experience Lamu old town. There was no problem going to the beach with a boat.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank nicku189889
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Subira House, responded to this review, May 18, 2011
We are so pleased to know that our way of managing Subira House is making you feel comfortable and happy! Welcome back!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed April 14, 2011

I enjoyed my stay at the Subira House. The house itself is serene and picture-perfect, and the location can't be beat. You must have dinner at the house at least once; it is an experience not to be missed. The food, the atomsphere and the wonderful company of Christina and Paul make it a truly unforgettable experience. I only regret that my stay was too short.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank varinewu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gothenburg, Sweden
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed February 10, 2011

A wonderful mix of hotel and private family house, of african and arabic culture with a nice scandinavian touch. A friendly oasis in the middle of the old Lamu Town.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank isabellakarin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 28, 2011

I travel for my work so I get to see a lot of places to stay; Subira House is on the top of my list. After long working days as a journalist, I need a place where you can totally relax and have a good night sleep. Above all, I like places to stay that feel homely. Places that you feel are decorated and cared for with love. The eco-friendly Subira House feels so homely thanks to hosts Christina and Paul and their staff. Thanks to the nice corners outside where you can lie down in the pillows with a book while you hear the city around you. Thanks to the delicious healthy diner with fresh fish. Longing to go back already; next time for a holiday....

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ellesinjozi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Subira House

Property: Subira House
Address: Behind Lamu Fort | P.O. Box 341, Lamu Island 80500, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 32 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The charming and comfortable seven-bedroom historic 200 years old home has two beautiful gardens and plenty of cool terraces to relax and enjoy the tropical breeze as you accustom yourself to Lamu's gentle pace. Right in the middle of Old Lamu Town.Meals on request.Wine licence.Subira House,a 200-year-old coral stone house was built by the governor under the Sultan of Zanzibar now carefully preserved by its Swedish/Dutch owners. ... more   less 
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