“Convince me,” I challenged Jackie Munini, “I have a consultant colleague coming to Nairobi for a short assignment, and he has most of his meetings in Upper Hill – convince me that I should suggest that he stays here and not in a hotel in town.”
“Here” was the Collingham Gardens Residence and Club in Karen. Ms Munini is the club’s sales and marketing manager.
“Easy,” she said. “This place is so serene. You are away from the noise and hassles of the town. It is safe and with the southern bypass opening up, it is not such a problem getting in and out of town.”
Serene, the club certainly is. It is tucked away in Maasai West Road, which is off Maasai Lane, which is off Bogani Road. You can approach Bogani Road two ways: from Langata Road via the Langata South Road or, better perhaps, from the Ngong Road via Karen Road. The Club has five modern villas in a row, overlooking the lawn and flowering shrubs of the garden. Each villa has four guest rooms: one single, two doubles and one suite.
I went for a look round and a chat with Jackie. It really is a well set-up place. We started with lunch out on the lawn, by a rock garden with a fountain, and under the shade of a canvas gazebo.
I didn’t do justice to the enticing menu; I had just a beef sandwich with a glass of wine.
But I hope to go back for an intensive sampling of the offerings: starting with a French onion soup, say, on to pork chops with peach and citrus chutney, and finish with a crêpe in Grand Marnier liqueur.
As it was, after a simple beef sandwich, I was still fit enough to walk up and down the stairs of all five of the villas. Which was the right thing to do, because each villa, almost identical with the others in construction, has its own interior style.
Each has its ground and first floor lounges; each has its balcony overlooking the garden. But each has a different repro set of plush Victorian furnishings.
NOTHING REPRO ABOUT AMENITIES
But there is nothing repro about the amenities and facilities: the flat screen TVs, wireless Internet, en-suite bathrooms and well-stocked mini bars.
Also within the chain of villas there is the fine dining restaurant, conference rooms, gym and spa. Jackie told me Collingham Gardens is already very popular for meetings and workshops.
I can well understand that because the conference facilities are smartly elegant: the Calliandra Room that holds up to 50 participants, the Casaurina Room for 12, and the Camphor Room for 8. The lounges and gazebos are ideal for small group “break-out” sessions.
The full day conference package costs Sh4,500 per person.
The place is also popular for weddings and there were two last weekend. While the bridal party was busy being photographed in the garden I took a peep into a suite being prepared for one of the couples – with rose petals being scattered on the king size bed and in the jacuzzi.
The “honeymoon package” costs Sh45,000. It includes one night’s accommodation in one of the top floor luxury suites, with breakfast served on the balcony; a fruit basket and a bouquet of flowers in the room; sparkling wine – and a late check-out at 6p.m.!
Since I have mentioned prices, let me tell you about the room rates – and these are per room and not per person. The suites are $399 (Sh34,000) per night; the de-luxe double rooms are $249 (Sh21,000) and the single rooms are $120 (Sh10,000).
But these are the rack rates – and they are certainly negotiable.
Also, if you become a member of the “C-Club” (for which the joining fee is Sh50,000 and the annual renewal is Sh30,000) you get a 15 per cent discount on costs of food and drinks, 30 per cent discount on accommodation and free use of the swimming pool, gym and private lounges.
The swimming pool is at the end of the garden, conveniently located next to the Cuban Belly Bar and, most important, it is heated. (It can get quite chilly in the late afternoons at Karen.)
The gym is small but equipped with the latest in equipment for those masochists who are into torturing themselves.
I would prefer the more relaxing pleasures of the massage room in the spa. At weekends all visitors – whether members or not – can get a free head and neck massage.
Yes, I will tell that consultant with his meetings in Upper Hill that staying at Collingham Gardens in Karen might well be worth the daily drives into and out of town.
And if you would like to know more, the website is www.collinghamgardens.co.ke