Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi welcomed a boutique hotel in the spring—complete with a spa and Michelin-starred chef. The plantation-style Hemingways features 45 rooms, each with a private balcony overlooking the Ngong Hills. The new hotel joins two other Hemingways hotels in Kenya: one in Ol Seki Mara and one in Watamu.
A dedicated butler is assigned to each guest, tasked with learning tea and pillow preferences, and ensuring the room is always freshened. Rooms are lavishly decorated with plantation-style furnishings (think white gauzy curtains with a four-poster bed), plus mahogany woods, porthole-style mirrors, and black-and-white framed historical photos. Bathrooms feature luxuries such as hand-cut Italian marble, a double vanity, and walk-in wardrobe. Plugging in is easy thanks to complimentary WiFi.
At the fine-dining restaurant, Michelin-starred chef Barry Tonks—inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s molecular-gastronomy techniques along with a love for sourcing local foods, from fish to artisan cheese—bakes pastries, relying on skills he acquired at London’s Flourish Craft Bakery. His culinary resume also includes stints at Michelin-starred eateries in England: Chapter One (Kent), Putney Bridge (London), The Landmark (London), McClements Restaurant (London) and the Threadneedles Hotel (London). Fish are flown in daily from Watamu, including wahoo and Lamu spiny lobster. For a more intimate experience, the chef’s table can be booked for a private six-course dinner paired with wines. Guests can view the chef working in the kitchen via live camera.
Meals at the brasserie range from locally sourced steaks prepared in Kenya’s only Josper oven to vegetable-based entrees (the produce grown on Kenyan farms). Desserts like ile flottante are decidedly decadent. For afternoon tea, between 3 pm and 5 pm daily, flutes of Champagne are poured as the perfect pairing for opera cake, finger sandwiches, macaroons, and fruit tartlets.
Alongside the spa—where treatments like customized facials and massages (such as a pressure-point foot massage) are on offer—is a full salon for impromptu manicures, pedicures, and hair styling.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Hemingways hotel