Hemingway meets Karen


The long driveway leads to a sunny, imposing entrance hall. Alastair Addison, Hemingways’ CEO states, “We made it grand so that when our guests get here they immediately get the sense that they have arrived at a very impressive place that meets, and even exceeds their high standards.” Still, classy as it is, Hemingways Nairobi is designed to be relaxing, not intimidating.

The pastel green exterior juxtaposed with white is inspired by the plantation style of architecture. The entire complex is reminiscent of the antebellum homes in southern United States. This combines a homely and welcoming atmosphere with an air of refinement and exclusivity where no expense has been spared.

Italian marble

Indeed the entrance hall itself is extraordinary. Fine Italian marble graces the floor and the vast double-sided staircase was created by a specialist flown in from South Africa. The open-plan lobby leads out into the garden and the rooms. From the entrance the luxurious view and cool breeze are enticing. We were greeted by the head butler, who informed us that this resort places a lot of emphasis on personalised butler service for every guest.

The library is to the right of the foyer — it is a large, relaxing, space. Massive handsome bookshelves from Indonesia are here combined with designer furniture by Andrew Martin of London. The upstairs area is carpeted to create a different feeling, with deep leather armchairs in the bar and pale elegant chairs in the dining restaurant.

Downstairs, the brasserie makes for a fun, almost whimsical space where you can relax and enjoy a different menu.

Its décor was inspired by Hollywood and is very similar in appearance to “The Masters” golf clubhouse.

It is bright and cheerful with furniture from Indonesia and the UK, along with eclectic bespoke pieces like a majestic chandelier from the Czech republic, Persian rugs, and arty fans from America. The yellow walls contrast beautifully with the bright bamboo floors and high ceilings.

On the wall are quotes from famous African leaders like Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, and Julius Nyerere. A life-size replica of the Academy Award Oscar trophy stands in the spotlight surrounded by posters of famous movies filmed in Kenya.

Each of the suites is named after a historical figure who has made an impact on the world, and who is connected to Kenya. Lord Errol, Beryl Markham, Leakey, Daphne Sheldrick, Meryl Streep, and Robert Redford are but a few examples. This is quite fitting for an establishment situated in Karen — a suburb named after famous Danish author Karen Blixen.

The rooms all boast stunning views of the Ngong Hills and its surrounding forest. Whimsical details throughout the hotel include the plasma screen televisions that automatically retract into a safari trunk at the touch of a button as well as African “gargoyles”— bronze busts of the Big Five of the jungle, whose mouths form part of the artistic water fountains.

Indeed, Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway was a great bon viveur who visited Kenya on a number of occasions and “ate life with a big spoon”. The inspiration to name this establishment after him reflects his legacy of a fun, action-packed way of life surrounded by luxury and adventure.




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