The best hotels in Kenya

One of the best hotels in Kenya, The Majlis Hotel, on an island off Kenya’s north coast, was never intended to be a resort. Set on the beachfront on Manda Island in the Lamu Archipelago, the original villa was completed in 2005 as a retreat for an Italian couple, Nanni and Elena, their three sons and their families, as an idyllic escape from the European winter.

Two more villas were built on the property to accommodate the growing number of friends coming to stay, and from there it became a logical decision to open the compound as a resort for all to enjoy. In October 2009, the 25­ room beach hotel was opened for business in Kenya.

The Majlis still does not identify itself as a hotel, however, and aspires to offer visitors the comfort and intimacy of a private residence. Its name, Majlis, is a nod to Lamu’s earlier history as an Omani protectorate. In Arabic, the word means “a place of sitting” or a place where guests are entertained.

Viewed from the bay, the bleached coral buildings of beach resort in Kenya blend seamlessly with its surroundings. Its interiors, jointly executed by Nanni and interior designer Armando Tanzini, reflect Swahili and Italian culture.

Equidistant from all of the villas stands a breezy restaurant which offers Swahili, Italian, Japanese and international cuisine. Built in traditional Swahili style, its steeply pitched roof is covered with more than 1 million palm­leaf “tiles” and accommodates a rooftop bar.

The hotel’s two pools – the Majlis and Villa Kusi pools – are shaded by acacia and palm trees and both have views over the picturesque Ras Kitau Bay, and across to the village of Shela on Lamu Island.

With a range of activities on offer such as deep-sea, reef and river fishing, sailing in a Mozambique style dhow, beach and bush safaris, snorkeling and kayaking, there’s no risk of being bored at the beach hotel in Kenya. And to keep your conscience clear, the Majlis was built with entirely locally sourced materials and has a new hybrid energy system – meaning it has substantially