Having visited Mombasa several times before and stayed in the well-known hotels including Southern Palms and Diani Reef, I was apprehensive to visit a brand new hotel in a country that can be so hit and miss with standards. However, Swahili Beach is a breath-taking addition to the coast, and I had a very special two weeks there, which I certainly plan to repeat.
The architecture and landscaping of the hotel are simply stunning. The pool has got to be up there with the best in the world, and the established gardens and cascading pools down to the private, raised beach area create a truly gorgeous environment. The buildings have a Morrocan/Eastern influence and are large, spacious and thoughtfully laid out. My only criticism here is that the hotel isn’t well set up for disabled or very elderly people – there are no handrails and the route down to the beach bar is steep. It’s slightly more accommodating for children, although it’s still not ideal. The lighting at night is beautiful but low key, and so again, best for people who are physically fit and on the ball.
The rooms are spacious, clean, and have an exotic layout that fits with the style of the rest of the hotel. The bathrooms in particular are very cool with an eco-wetroom vibe, solar heated water (always nice and hot), an LED-lit rainshower and unusual bath. Compared to other hotels in the area, the bathrooms at Swahili are truly up to standard and were kept immaculately clean and fresh. The rooms are turned down every night, the bedding is clean, soft, fresh and new, and the beds are comfortable. There’s a romantic feel to the room with mosquito nets and a fan above the bed, and there are double doors out to the patio or balcony. There’s a flat screen TV with some decent channels, although a BBC/Sky News type channel would be nice. The rooms still need some finishing touches, such as full length mirrors, some more towel hooks, and other minor things. Some 5 star elements that are missing include room service, slippers, a stocked minibar (although this is done on request) and perhaps an iPod dock or similar.
While we were there only the beach bar and main restaurant were open, but the Indian restaurant was set to open any day. At the beach bar the food is excellent, truly European standard, and reasonably priced. You must try a dawa cocktail, amazing, and the wood fired pizzas are delicious. The food in the main hall is also good at both breakfast and dinner with freshly cooked options at live stations – and again, it surpasses the competition in the area. There’s no evening entertainment in the way that other hotels in Diani do it, but there was some live music which provided a nice background. Once a week, a bit of local entertainment (Masai, acrobats, or similar) wouldn’t go amiss.
The spa is not open yet, but they have set up a makeshift spa in two of the rooms while the real spa is completed. The treatments are as good (and the facial was better than) treatments I have had in some of the leading spas of the world (Gleneagles, Marbella Club, Al Qasr) and once the actual spa facilities open they should really boost this hotel.
The staff on the whole were helpful and friendly (Albert at the beach bar, Fridah at the pool bar, Michael in the restaurant) and are trying their best to get to know the hotel while also providing a good service. Any requests made were attended to straight away, and there was a personal touch in that staff remembered us and did things such as pre-prepare our beds by the pool each day in our preferred spots. Reception staff were a bit slow and sometimes seemed a little overwhelmed, but we had no major problems. The clientele at Swahili is civilised and sophisticated. The hotel at the moment is quiet, but in a way that is a nice thing, and there’s a growing buzz around it with people visiting for the day or for short trips. The hotel’s owner and his family were there too and again made a point of making us feel welcome and checking that we were enjoying our stay.
Of course there are teething problems, and the hotel isn’t fully open, but I had as good a stay (and in some ways a better stay) as I’ve had in any other 5 star resort around the world.
This hotel has so much potential to be a true 5 star resort and a destination for those who want an amazing holiday that matches the leading resorts in Europe, Dubai etc. It’s early days and the hard work going into making it work is evident. It’s definitely the top choice already on the Diani strip and I hope that this might make the other hotels along there take notice and make improvements of their own. I will certainly be staying at Swahili Beach on my next trip to Kenya
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Swahili Beach is much more than meets the eye. Culture and history provide its very soul. From the architecture and the aromas to the music, it teases the senses. Drawing you in. ... more less
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