Karen County Lodges, Nairobi. The Kenya you wanted to see, but didn’t.
My first trip to Nairobi was interesting. I had heard a great deal about Africa and imagined a hotel room with wide open space and lush green background. The trip was work related so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment when I had to settle for a heated pool, a gym, a view of the CBD district and stealing a brilliant morning safari.
A few months later when the time came to do something in Karen, I was sure I didn’t want to go back to my main street Nairobi hotel. This time it was work, a partners meeting and a writing holiday sandwiched in a weekend between two client meetings with a last minute long weekend declared by the government of Kenya to celebrate their 50th independance day.
So the search was on for something with a bit more space than a hotel room, a bit more character than a hospitality chain and a lush green landscape to disappear within. When in doubt trust in tripadvisor and out came Karen County Lodges, the number one alternate place to stay outside of Nairobi if you are looking for an alternative experience.
The lodges are a collection of 6 studio styled cottages laid out in a villa setting. Part of a much bigger cheese farm run by Rob and Georgina, it has all the warmth and hospitality of a British bed and breakfast and the class and style of a world class five star chain. When you add the soft spoken accent of your Kenyan hosts, the tradition of local hospitality and the natural enclosure of the lodges, you would understand why as a writer, the lodges make such a great choice for a writing holiday.
Nothing that you would read on trip advisor, on this blog, or on the Karen County Lodges own website will prepare you for the experience, so I will just have to show you.
I arrived on a dark and cloudy night just after the Nairobi sky had finished a long and extended watering trip. While I loved everything I saw about my place for residence for the next one week, the real pick me up was an unexpected surprise.
A fully stocked, lit and warm fire place. Not those fake, cheesy, feel good plastic imitations but a real honest to God one with a chimney, pokers, screen, mat and the works.
What I didn’t know but found not the next morning that there was a complimentary firewood service that ran during daylight hours. All you had to do was to call in for a delivery and someone would drop right by and fill in your firewood bin. Light it too, if the fire had gone out while you were not looking.
The lodges are laid out in front of a small lake and are part of an enclosed compound with 24 hour security (that you wouldn’t notice). Each villa is laid out as a large studio, comes with a small kitchen and pantry and a humoungous bathroom. They are very comfortable and functional.
Enough of words, let just do the pictures.