We suggest some of our favourite properties in Lamu to consider on your next trip to the island.
Photography: Brian Siambi and Respective Properties
A Parisian couple fell in love with Lamu in the late 90s and bought this exceptionally charming house which was then converted into a private holiday home. The almost triangular pool is set in a lush green garden dotted with vibrant bougainvillea flowers. Renovations have since been made to make the house very child-friendly with guarded staircases, balconies and a wood-fenced pool. It can accommodate up to 16 guests in eight characterful double/ twin rooms spread across several floors, with numerous stylish lounging areas. Their kitchen makes the best shortbread cake in the area.
MNARANI HOUSE, SHELA
‘Mnarani’ means ‘near the minaret’ in Swahili and this house stands next to Shela’s historic Friday Mosque, around 75 metres from the beach. It was renovated in 2014, one of the new additions being a lovely courtyard pool. Expect walls of intricate zidaka niches, decorative plaster friezes and traditional painted hardwood roof beams. On the ground floor is the kitchen and bar area while the first and second floors have the four ensuite double bedrooms. Rooms are beautifully decorated and furnished in traditional style, including original antique Swahili doors and windows brought from Pate Island.
MAMA DAKTARI HOUSE
This is where the ‘Flying Doctor’ Anne Spoerry resided from the late 1960s in between her medical expeditions.The house has two suites and is connected to Betty’s Suite (double room, set on the rooftop, with an impressive private infinity pool) and Garden House (recently renovated, has two ensuite double rooms and has front row sea views). It’s master bedroom is the highest point of the property with an outstanding view of the channel. The property also hosts Kiwandani House which has a pool that guests to Mama Daktari may have access to.
THE BEACH HOUSE
This magnificent private home sits in a commanding position above Shela beach and offers wonderful ocean views making for the perfect retreat for 12-14 guests. On the first floor, raised up above beach level, is a stunning infinity pool – it has a bar area and low comfortable baraza seating and sunbeds. Up the first flight of stairs is a large dining and living room. Another door leads onto the wooden deck above the pool – a perfect dining area – and to two double bedrooms with their own private sea-view terraces.
Built in 2007, Msafini is owned and run by a local family who have been living in Lamu for several generations. The limestone, five-storey structure combines modern architecture and traditional Swahili design for an authentic yet comfortable stay. Mango Rooftop Restaurant boasts views of the entire village, the sand dunes, Manda Island and the sea. Enjoy made-to-order breakfasts, lunch or dinner on top of possibly the tallest building in Shela. The rooftop is breezy and serene, and the food is delicious. The hotel can easily take groups and conferences.
On the edge of Lamu town, this stylish hotel offers quiet seclusion away from the fray. The entrance opens up into a charming open courtyard, several swimming pools and petal-bedecked seating. Some rooms overlook the seafront, giving a quite different perspective on a Lamu sunrise. All the rooms are different, each with its own character and a private terrace.The restaurant overlooks the sea and serves international cuisine. The apartment building is minutes away through the narrow streets of town. There are nine apartments with magnificent views, suited with all the comforts of a modern facility.