Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi

17 Aug 2015 by Jenny Southan

BACKGROUND

The five-star, new-build Kempinski opened in 2013. It is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city.

The German brand has nine other properties in Africa – a sister retreat in Kenya’s Masai Mara, plus one in Chad, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Seychelles, Djibouti, Rwanda and three in Egypt.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Painted pale pink, the Kempinski Villa Rosa sits just off Chiromo Road on a hill, with high-level security at the entrance. Guards sweep under vehicles with bomb detectors, and sometimes have dogs and ask to search the cars that come through. Guests then have to go through airport-style metal detectors before entering the building, putting bags through and X-ray machine.

Inside, the lobby is a world apart from the rest of Nairobi. It’s clean, polished and marble clad, with a central coffee lounge, a fountain and a verdant garden at the back. Staff are highly professional and welcoming, rushing to help with bags and offer scented towels to wipe your hands at check-in.

I immediately felt peaceful and relaxed after the stress of getting there (the traffic can be terrible), and was impressed by the level of service throughout my stay. The interior design is modern European.

WHERE IS IT?

On a good day, outside of rush hour, you can drive to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta airport in 50 minutes – but I was told by my driver it had taken him four hours on occasion.

The hotel is located in Westlands in the commercial centre of the city. It’s advisable not to walk anywhere – the Kempinski’s hotel cars are recommended over taxis.

ROOM FACILITIES

Starting from 30 sqm, all bedrooms come with free wifi, universal power sockets, media hubs, tea and coffee-making facilities (Nespresso machines in suites), bottles of complimentary mineral water, robes and slippers, minibars, workdesks, safes, iron/ironing boards and flatscreen TVs. Room service is 24 hours.

Bathrooms come with separate baths and walk-in showers, and Kempinski own-brand bathing products, although suites have upgraded Blaise Mautin toiletries. All suites – and some Executive rooms – have balconies.

Interiors throughout are neutral but plush, with comfortable armchairs, king-size beds and thick carpet, while bathrooms are decked out in cream marble and white porcelain. In the evening there is turndown service.

Higher category rooms are bigger, while Executive rooms upwards also get private, express check in, late check-out (4pm), free breakfast, secretarial services, happy hour drinks and 50 per cent off airport transfers.

Suites start from 65 sqm, with the four-room presidential suite on the top (tenth) floor said to be one of the most luxurious in Africa. (President Obama was rumoured to have stayed here recently.)

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

With the average length of stay at the hotel just two nights, many people will find it more convenient to eat at the Kempinski rather that seeking out local eateries

Located in a separate F&B building to the main part of the hotel, 88 serves Pan-Asian cuisine, with a sushi station and a mix of Thai, Cantonese and Filipino fare. At night there are live DJ sets. I had some pasta arrabiata one evening at casual Lucca – service was a little slow and the lighting a bit bright but the food was tasty.

I had hoped to try Tambourin, which is a rooftop Mediterranean-Middle Eastern establishment, but this hadn’t opened when I visited in July. Seating up to 128 people, it is expected to open this autumn for dinner-only.

There is a lounge and patisserie in the lobby for coffee and snacks, as well as the Balcony for drinks and live music, and Aquos pool bar. In the morning, a lavish buffet breakfast is laid out in 136-seat Café Villa Rosa.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The Kempinski is an excellent choice for event organisers, with a range of elegant venues for banquets, board meetings and receptions all on level two.

With its bold blue and yellow carpet, the ballroom can host 500 delegates theatre-style. It can also be divided into seven smaller spaces.

The two Opus rooms can seat between 30 and 60 people each, and have natural light. They can also be sub-divided to create four rooms in total. There are two outdoor foyers for barbecues or smoking.

A 24-hour business centre has three PCs, a printer, scanner and fax.

On the same level is a cigar lounge for 12 people – you need to be dressed formally. There is a selection of Cuban, Central and South American smokes, as well as a menu of spirits to go alongside.

LEISURE FACILITIES

On the first floor is a gym (open 6am-10pm) with two rooms (one for weights and one for cardio), and a tranquil spa (open 9am-9pm). I had a very therapeutic Swedish massage one evening that really sorted out the aches in my neck and back.

There are also saunas, whirpool baths and steam rooms, while outside is a 11.3-metre-long swimming pool with loungers for sun bathing. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough for me to try it.

VERDICT

An excellent five-star business hotel that won’t falter in catering to your needs. Smokers will be pleased to discover the cigar lounge.


FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 200 rooms across nine categories (Superior, Deluxe, Balcony, Executive and Executive Balcony rooms, and Business, Premier, Two-Bed Premier and Presidential suites).
  • HIGHLIGHTS The top-class service, the comfortable rooms with free wifi, and the spa and pool, which were a welcome touch.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September in a Superior room started from US$300.
  • CONTACT Villa Rosa Kempinski, Chiromo Road; tel +254 20 360 3000; kempinski.com


Jenny Southan
 

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