Lamu Kenya is a fascinating fishing village island with fancy hotels and restaurants, which is rich in history as a former trading station. If you are after the Swahili life and adventure, this place is undoubtedly a great insight into the culture. However, if you are the type after white sandy beaches or still pretty beaches at all – Lamu isn’t the place for you. Off the coastline, you can get better beaches on tiny islands. Nonetheless, the whole Kenyan coastline is surpassed by Zanzibar and the beaches and islands of Tanzania for a pleasant Indian Ocean experience.
Subira House, Lamu town
The place Tucked away in a little side alley of Lamu town is Subira House, the creation of Paul and Christina Aarts.
The hotel gives well-appointed and comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and also a small garden. If not here for staying, stop by for a feast in the courtyard under the stars. Food is carefully cooked here with the freshest elements from its own garden.
Lamu House Hotel, Lamu Town
On the blade of Lamu town, this chic hotel offers quiet seclusion away from the fray. The hotel entrance opens up into a charming open courtyard, small pool, and petal-bedecked seating.
Some rooms overlook the seafront, giving an entirely different perspective on a Lamu sunrise. This hotel has its own beach club for customers on Manda Bay.
A long-standing favorite for an international crowd, the Peponi Hotel is the place to stay in Shela.
It boasts of a spacious honeymoon suite above the main eatery, a pool transformed into a lovely dining area at night, and an elegant restaurant serving up lobster, crab, and everything in between there.
Diamond Beach Village, Manda Bay
Simply Take a taxi boat over to Diamond Beach, a more pleasant restaurant and hotel over on Manda Bay. Fridays are pizza night, and film and the weekly event attracts a big crowd of Lamu residents and visitors alike.
The bartenders here serve up some of the best cocktails available on the archipelago.
If money is no object, you can try taking a dhow for an evening for something completely different, Chefs whip up a tasty fare in the open-air gallery, while visitors sleep out on the deck under the stars.
Forodhani House, Shela
Photos scarcely do this house justice. Its corner positioning – the place it stands on the spot of the old watchtower – indicates that guests can enjoy 270-degree views out towards Manda, and down towards Lamu town from its expansive dining terrace.
A more delightful spot for a sundowner is hard to imagine (and a sunrise, too, if there were such a thing). There are separate, more intimate seating areas, also, for when your fellow guests get too much — price from $500.
Betty’s Suite, Shela
It can be very tricky finding a small house in Lamu. Sometimes all you want is a sentimental bolthole without compromising on views and luxury, and Betty’s Suite certainly offers all that.
The double bedroom cracks out onto its own outdoor seating area finished with private infinity pool. Especially appealing is the bathtub that is overlooking the sea. Now there’s a view. Sleeps 2. From $250 per night.
Kilamawingu House, Shela
Place Designed by an Italian architect for the Peugeot family; this is a fantastic house that is facing out over the Manda channel. Especially lovely is the corner master bedroom, with windows overlooking out on two sides, catching the facing breezes.
The use of Indian textiles and large doses of colour reminds you of this someone’s private house, giving it a more intimate feel than many spots on the island. Sleeps 10. From 400 euros per night.
Beach House, Shela
This private residency is one of Lamu’s most stylish properties. The hotel benefits from being right on the beach, and in a past era was the position for some of Lamu’s more renowned parties.
The roomy bedrooms with their own verandahs have unrivaled views over the channel towards Manda Bay, and visitors can climb to the gazebo on a high spot behind the house to catch the sunset.
The pool area is extremely inviting that you might never consider the need to step out the front door onto the beach. Sleeps 12-14. From $1,200.
Andavelo House, Lamu town
This spacious villa at the heart of Lamu Town is an escape in the most real sense of the word. When the town simply becomes too much, take sanctuary in this stylish oasis with its own courtyard plunge pool.
The house is filled with impressive Lamu antiques, bureaux and high-standing beds. You can Climb to the rooftop for views over Lamu town and harbor. Sleeps 12. Suites are available from $100, whole house from $300.
Pepo House, Kizingoni
Locates about a 15-minute boat ride from Lamu Town is the golden beach of Kizingoni, and possibly the last thing you’d expect is to find on this more deserted part of Lamu is a large private villa.
Pepo, a word meaning “wind” in Swahili, is a tall, modern villa created to catch the cooling sea breezes, and discharges Lamu-style comfort with its roomy bedrooms and outdoor dining areas.
It has its own large swimming pool, and the beach is just a few minutes walk away. The residence has its own boat for tours, giving guests the freedom to act on their whim. Sleeps 12.
Ks40,000 for the whole house. kizingonibeach.com