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“Abysmal”

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Shela Bahari Guest House
Ranked #13 of 32 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Abysmal”
Reviewed September 24, 2010

We were moved from our room twice. The 1st room appeared to be without power, but who knows? The electrical wiring was so haphazard as to seem potentially deadly. Mosquito netting had visible holes. The bedding and tablecloth had visible stains. No water provided at a hotel catering to guests who *can't* drink the water. Windows dirty, cracked. Bathroom door wouldn't stay closed. Toilet seat was broken! No lights on in the common areas after dark. The entrance lock was nearly unworkable. Our room was not cleaned at any point over three nights.

In short, abysmal. I've stayed in many a flophouse. It would have been acceptable if it were cheap. It's not.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Rich075
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 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 (6)
Date | Rating
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  • Any
English first
UK
Level Contributor
13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed September 13, 2010

We stayed two nights at this Guest House and its a basic, no frills place but you can experience Shela village life from here. Its away from the hustle and bustle of Lamu and its a place where you can just relax and take it easy. You can take a boat ride into Lamu, which takes about 15 minutes, although be aware that it does cost you and if you are gong back and forth it can work out quite expensive. I'm sure its cheaper to take one of the local boats that the locals use, rather than hiring your personal one. Having said that, this is useful if you are not sure of your return time to Shela etc - the Captain is usually only a "text away". It is also possible to walk into Lamu but not recommended in the evening!

I would recommend Shela for the location, the friendly staff who were always on hand for advice, information etc, and the chance to sample Shela village life. It's not as equipped as Peponi, which is 3 minutes away and handy for a bottle of Tusker ! but if you want to experience local life and have fantastic views from your balcony - Shela Bahara is the place to stay!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Karza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
64 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2010

I traveled to Lamu with 2 girlfriends for a get-away. We booked at the Shela Bahari b/c it was inexpensive. It was definitely not what i expected after the rave reviews on this website. If you go to Lamu, definitely stay in Shela and take a boat into Lamu. Shela is quiet and much less chaotic. When we arrived, we were so pleased by the water location of this hotel. And at night it's nice to sit on that shared balcony and look out over the water. And it's a close walk to the gorgeous beach. However, just be prepared. I honestly don't know what people are talking about. The place is ok, but hardly an oasis hotel. And I'm not a hotel snob. The owner/manager Toufiq is nice and helpful. Based on reviews, we asked for the top floor, which we were promised, but then when we arrived, he'd given it to someone else. And though we stayed for a week, when those guests left, he put someone else in the spot. We had a "triple" room on the main floor (the one with the balcony)...aka a tiny room maybe 10ft by 10 ft with 2 twin beds. It was really hot all the time, difficult to sleep. And the 2 rooms in the front by the balcony are just as hot. Our toilet was broken the 1st 2 nights, which was a one time thing, but very difficult. We just tried to go to the beach and stay out of the hotel as much as possible. And there is construction going on all night next door b/c someone is buiding a new home next door, so we were constantly being heckled by the workers. It felt kind of scary and unsafe. And it was really loud b/c they worked into the night b/c of the daytime heat. Both sides of the place were flanked with construction. Again, it was fine. Overall I was disappointed. I think the other reviews are a bit misleading, or they all got this top floor area that is supposedly amazing. But if you don't get that area, it's a bit of a letdown.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank nld99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barnsley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
76 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed May 31, 2010

Located overlooking the sea and next to Shella Beach this was a great find. We stayed there 3 nights. Ask for one of the room at the front overlooking the sea. The rooms are basic , but most are in Kenya unless you pay European prices. It was under renovation when we were there but that did not affect things.

The owner was really friendly and and just easy going. We met fellow british couples and that made our stay better aswell.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TulipCP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san francisco ca
Level Contributor
2 reviews
Reviewed March 24, 2010

Shela Bahari is the insider's place to stay in Shela. Shela village is the quieter alternative to Lamu Town, and it's where the great, unspoiled beach is. We booked Shela Bahari guesthouse through a small online company called nature + culture (www.lamutravel.com) got a great rate and couldn't have been happier -- the hotel owner, Taufiq, is a great guy, and everything went smoothly. Gabriel, the owner of nature + culture, picked us up at the air strip, showed us around, and checked in on us now and then, making sure we were happy. Personal service but we felt no pressure -- there are lots of expensive places to stay in Shela, but Bahari is where people from Nairobi stay when they want a holiday -- it overlooks the sea and it's moderately priced, but still has atmosphere. Good restaurant. We thought it was a great choice.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank africatraveler2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 19, 2010

My boyfriend and I stayed here for five nights and loved every second of it. This B&B is affordable, friendly, and located right on the water. We were lucky enough to stay in the top floor suite our first night...it's very romantic (so romantic that we actually got engaged up there!). The other nights we stayed in a room on the second floor, which we still loved—we still had a balcony right on the water—but it wasn't quite as luxurious or private as the top floor. The bedroom and bathroom were both great (and we had plenty of hot water). Brian's service was absolutely top-notch...I can't say enough about him as a high quality server.

The two major downsides were 1) our bed's mosquito net wasn't long enough, which wasn't a problem because of the ceiling fan....until the power went out for an entire night and we got eaten alive; and 2) Abdul, the assistant manager, was very pushy. DON'T let him pressure you into a walking tour of Lamu—save your money and do it yourself (you'll learn the same amount)—and don't let him arrange your water taxis. He sets you up with his friends at non-negotiable prices, and you'll do better on your own.

Oh....and the juices were to die for! Breakfast was also excellent. Very delicious pancakes.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ljcurren
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2009

My wife and I stayed in the top-floor room for four nights, and it was truly amazing. Our own private balcony with cool breezes off the water, meals served at our own table up there, right over the water. I don't know what they charge for the downstairs rooms but, whatever the difference, it is worth the extra to get the upstairs room (about $80 per night for the two of us, including a great breakfast). I am not sure we would stay in the downstairs rooms - the top floor is in it's own league. It is way better to stay in Shela rather than Lamu Town, as you are so close to the long beach. Meals at Shela Bahari were great - the grilled kingfish was incredible. You are also about 50 meters from the Peponi Hotel where you can get sundowners and amazing lunches (seared ahi paninis for about $8). You will have tons of people trying to sell you dhow rides. What we did was we walked into Lamu town for some shopping, then had a dhow pick us up in town for a sunset cruise, and had it drop us on the beach past the hotel so that we could take a sunset walk before heading back to the hotel for dinner. We can't wait to get back there!

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank markjordahl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shela Bahari Guest House

Property: Shela Bahari Guest House
Address: Box 59, Lamu Island, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 32 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Number of rooms: 5
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Also Known As:
Shela Bahari Guest House Hotel Lamu Island

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