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“Eco friendly charm”
Review of Subira House

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Subira House
Ranked #6 of 34 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Eco friendly charm”
Reviewed December 6, 2013

Stayed here on a business trip and loved it. Stayed in one of the top rooms. Very nice and big. The house is very charming. One needs to get used to the bucket eco friendly toilet which is outside your room. No doors in bathrooom/toilet. Owners very warm and friendly. They have nice organic food and they do a lot of work within Lamu to preserve the environment and to promote clean spaces.
Please note that the morning prayers will jolt you from dreamland.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled on business
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Helpful?
Thank Savannah_Rain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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67 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
Shanzu, Kenya
Level 6 Contributor
55 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2013

Overall I enjoyed the stay for my partner's birthday.
House is beautiful, well laid out and airy. The gardens and plants are a joy. We stayed in the "top top room" which I would recommend - lots of airy relaxtion areas outside the bedroom and wonderful views.
The first two nights there were us and another couple there and on the last night only us so the place was very quiet.
Service was good and unobtrusive. The price was okay for the quality.
The place is ideally situated right in the middle of town just behind the Square and the Old Fort and just 2 mins from the Sea front.
We had breakfast there everyday which was very good. We never had an evening meal there as we like to eat out and try different places.

On the downside Capt. Jelani - the resident "guide" only seemed interested in trying to sell us anything (boat trips, certain Restaurants and Walking Tours) where he could earn money. Coming from the Kenyan Coast he reminded me of an ageing Beachboy. He tried too hard and was too obvious.
Another downside is the fact that there are several mosques very close by and you are awoken at 5.30 am every morning with the call to prayer being played very loudly over a loudspeaker. I didn't take them up on the offer.
The other downside (some would argue it is a plus) was the use of Ash Toilets. I am all for Ecology but it has to be carefully weighed up against the Hygene aspect. In my humble view I found them unhygenic and would prefer the flush type.
The owners were away in Sweden so I never had a chance to debate this point with them.
Overall the stay was very enjoyable - would I stay there again - YES

Room Tip: Go for a "top top room"
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank westwoodboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2013

I stayed at Subira for three nights over my birthday in August at the end of a period living in Nairobi, such a beautiful house. Very beautifully renovated with an obvious regard for the environment and cultural history. Two highlights of my stay, returning from a beach day ( Manda beach ) to find happy birthday spelt out in petals on my bed. Plus the food.
I ate the 3 course dinner 2/3 nights, well a strong 10/10, so much food - beautifully cooked. Really the best meals I've had in my 9 weeks in East Africa.

Room Tip: Huge beds, the Eco loo takes a bit of getting used to.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Angie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 8, 2013

I stayed on my own in Subira House for five nights and it was just wonderful; it couldn't have been a more pleasant environment. The place is so beautiful and relaxing, and in an excellent central location. I never felt lonely as the owners and staff were so friendly, as well as the other guests! The breakfast was delicious and I sorely missed it once I left. The three course evening meal was also incredible, best tuna I have ever eaten! What really attracted me to Subira House was its eco-friendly credentials, and I learnt so much about how to live more sustainably. Really wish their compost toilets would be installed elsewhere in the world. The only advice I would give is bring earplugs as the morning prayer and sounds of the street can be quite loud! Thank you Christina and Paul.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Charlie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed April 7, 2013

Had a wonderful 2 night stay here very recently and from the minute you walk in the place is fantastic. It is what Lamu is all about, classic Swahili style with all furnishings in the classic Swahili style with many features that remind you of where you are all the time. I stayed in the Top Top Room which is great, large room, large open relaxing area with a big seating area with a sea view and a great place to unwind and catch the breeze. Food is very good, I had lunch with the staff on my arrival so treated to some delicious Ugali! Breakfast is very good and the whole place makes you feel very relaxed. This is a great place to stay to get a feel for Lamu and its history. Christina the owner really made me feel welcome and nothing was too much trouble. I would recommend this place to anyone visiting Lamu for the first time, the only place to stay.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Sir_Mitul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, OR
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 27, 2013

We can only repeat the glowing descriptions of Subira House in previous posts. Our experience of this unique setting comes from having spent 8 weeks there, residing in the ground floor apartment available for people - such as ourselves - who require long-term accommodations. Subira House has the advantage of being centrally located in Lamu, right behind the Old Fort, which fronts on the main square, Mkunguni, and the new jetty. From the top of Subira House, you can see Manda Island and the Lamu Channel, and enjoy the beautiful sunrises.

We have nothing but praise for the proprietors, Paul and Christina Aarts, and their friendly, competent staff. One special feature of Subira House is its comfortable lounge areas accessible only to residents, and therefore quiet and private. The Aarts were very helpful in arranging explorations of the Lamu Archipelago that further enhanced our exposure to Swahili culture. We especially appreciated the substantial and nutritious breakfasts served every morning on the veranda.

An insider tip: Subira House features the Karkadeh Restaurant, which is open in the evening by reservation only. The Aarts ran a Slow Food restaurant in Sweden for many years, so their Lamu menu features delicious organically-grown local food from their garden and nearby farms. If you don’t stay at Subira House, you owe it to yourself to make reservations for the best restaurant in Lamu!

There is only one place we would consider staying, should we return to Lamu, and that is Subira House!

Room Tip: For long term - a month or more - the first floor apartment. For shorter stays, the top-top rooms ca...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Rich G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton, Delaware
Level 6 Contributor
131 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed January 29, 2013

This is our second stay at Subira House, having spent 2 weeks here last January, we decided to try a month. Lamu is magical and Subira House is the icing on the cake! Christina and Paul have continued to improve this beautiful structure. We are staying in the other Top-Top room which has a lovely lounge and courtyard and captures the wonderful breezes off the water. From here, we can see the sailboats moving by or look down in the alleyway and see the constant foot traffic of locals and their children, men playing a board game into the night and hear the call to prayer and the many voices singing. The perfume garden is much further along this year and the flowers and fragrances are amazing. Christina and Paul are a font of knowledge on local customs and activities and often include their guests in trips to other islands, special meals, a session of yoga or a dinner with a local Iman. The staff here is terrific. Everyone tries to please. Any problem is sorted out quickly. In addition, the Karkadeh restaurant which is part of Subira is far and away the best restaurant on the island. Michael, the chef, is a genius with local food introducing us to unimagineable flavors. Kennedy has become very proficient in his serving position (and in anything he is asked to do). Each meal seems better than the last. So, like love, Subira House is even lovelier the second time around!

Room Tip: If you can afford the little extra, choose one of the Top-Top rooms. The view and breezes are worth...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Carolyn F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
crilamu, Manager at Subira House, responded to this review, February 1, 2013
All of us are very very happy to read these words! and is so wonderful to have you back here again with us! Soon we will experience the Maulidi Ceremonies, so much is happening here in Lamu Old Town.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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 #6 of 34 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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