The Barnleys Guest House

Kitale, Kenya

If you can look beyond the gruff exterior of your host, you’ll find this a little gem of a place. It’s not grand, but what it lacks in polish is amply compensated by the owner’s wealth of knowledge about the area.


A double room in the house costs Ksh 6,000, or Ksh 3,000 for a double tent. All meals extra, ranging from Ksh 600 for a continental breakfast up to Ksh 1,800 for a full dinner. 


For those looking for something less grand and a bit more homely, Barnleys is it. Fireside chats with Richard and his mother are a definite highlight, and you’ll find your host an invaluable guide to the region.


If you’re a sensitive soul, you might find your host a little stern. Ditto if your children throw treasured family toys out of the window for the dog to catch. And don’t come here expecting gourmet food – it’s homely, it’s gravy, it’s British.

Style & Character

This is a quirky little place, where you’re very much staying in somebody’s family home. The sitting room is a throwback to the 1970s, with its chintzy furniture and sunken sofas. Meals are taken together with Richard. But try not to get him started on the subject of Ebola. 


This family home is situated on a farmstead, about an hour north of Kitale. It has two main rooms in the house, looking out onto a large lawn. Virtually on the doorstep is the Mt Elgon National Park, with caves and hiking, and Saiwa swamp, best visited at daybreak when it’s wreathed in mist and easiest to spot the Sitatunga antelope. There’s also some of Kenya’s best hiking in the nearby Cherengani hills.

Service & Facilities

There’s no real front of house staff to speak of, so service is not particularly applicable here. If you need something, ask Richard, and he might oblige. That said, it all runs smoothly enough.  


In the house itself, there are two rooms available – a twin and a larger room that can fit a couple of extra beds for kids. The small bathroom, stacked with copies of The Week, is along the corridor. They’re decorated in a colourful, farmhouse style. The guest house also offers furnished tents in the garden.

Food & Drink

It’s all about adjusting expectations. We loved the food, others might hate it. It’s good homely stuff, the kind you use a slice of bread to mop up the gravy. There’s usually just enough.  

Family Friendly? 

It’s not exactly family unfriendly, but unruly kids are perhaps frowned upon. That said, they have plenty of garden to roam.

Value for Money?

It’s a very affordable guest house, and by far the most appealing hotel in the area.

Reviewed by Catrina Stewart. Stayed February 2017.

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