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words and photos by Terembe Cherono

Lamu stays at the top of many travel wishlists. It’s no wonder that it is – the small quaint island draws in visitors both near and far with its idyllic charm.  I first went to Lamu in 2019 and stayed at the gorgeous Andavelo House in Old Town Lamu. For my second visit, a birthday trip in 2021, I had the pleasure of staying at The Majlis Resort on Manda Bay. Here’s a review of my experience at the hotel.

Booking and Rates

The trip was booked via their website and the process was easy and efficient. I was travelling with a loved one and we stayed in one of the sea-facing deluxe rooms. We paid approximately Kshs 170,000 for three nights for two people on a half board stay. The rates vary depending on the type of room you pick, among other factors.

Flights

I took a morning Fly540 flight from JKIA to Manda Airport and it was good. Paid about Kshs 25,000 for a return ticket.

Arrival

After we arrived at Manda Airport, we got a speedboat transfer to the hotel which took about 10 minutes. It’s worth mentioning – if you’ve never been to Lamu, note that getting to Old Town, Shela or Manda Bay requires going on a boat. The ocean is often choppy but it’s a fun ride.

Settings

Although accommodation in Lamu tends to be beautiful, Majlis is quite exceptional. From the bar area to the rooms, everything is intricately designed and well curated. The beach and vegetation are a dream!

Food & Drink

Eating on vacation is supposed to be a real treat but unfortunately the food at Majlis was mediocre, at best. I enjoyed one or two meals (like the crab and tuna carpaccio pictured below) but the food was generally meh. I didn’t have any memorable drinks. The menu needs some serious work!

Activities

There were a number of activities offered by the hotel. On the first day, I had an incredible hot stone massage – honestly one of the best massages I’ve ever had! On the second day, we took a sunset dhow ride, as you do in Lamu (always a magical experience). And on the third day, I went kayaking which was super fun and comes as a complimentary activity. Activities aside, there are a few cabanas around the hotel perfect for lounging, sunbathing or reading.

Service

The service was decent – the staff were helpful and responsive.

Overall Recommendation

In a nutshell, I had a good time and would possibly go back. It did feel quite busy, although I was there over Jamhuri Day weekend. My preference is to have a more intimate vacation experience and because Majlis’ is a resort, you tend to see a lot of people. I’d go back during the low season. It’d also be great for families as there’s lots of space and a full buffet which would be helpful if you have kids.

Miscellaneous

Love carrying games for a bit of fun! Got these uno cards from Game Nights 254.

Views from the bathroom! Excellent natural light.

This is an essential for the coast – cools you down and provides instant relief from hot weather. It’s the thermal water from La Roche Posay, available from GoodLife Pharmacy and MyDawa.

It’s giving mermaid.

Loved the ice cream from Gelamu. I think this was a hazelnut flavour?

This dress from The Cut was perfect for a sunset cruise.

I always carry soap in case I need to wash my hands and there’s no soap available.

The perfect holiday companion – the Hermes Oran sandals.

I loved this hot pink one-piece from Shells Attic – very NSFW at the back lol.

Other Places You Can Stay…

Although Majlis is highly recommended, there are many other fantastic places to stay. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Andavelo House approximately $75 a night (pro – private and intimate, con – stairs access so not very accessible)
  • Peponi House approximately $200 a night (pro – excellent food, con – small beach on Shela Island)
  • Forodhani House $700 for a house that hosts up to 12 people (pro – large space overlooking the ocean, con – everyone goes there)

Have you been to Lamu? Any tips or recommendations? Please share below!

Terembe Cherono is a creator, curator and digital strategist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For the last 10 years, Terembe has used her social media platforms (particularly Instagram and YouTube), to share lifestyle content using extremely compelling storytelling formats. In the last two years, she has developed a highly popular technique for Instagram Stories known as a ‘Daily Recap’ used by numerous content creators globally. She has supported several influencers and small businesses to leverage social media for brand building and sales.

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