7 Best Hotels in Lamu, Kenya

Fatuma's Tower

$ | Lamu, 80500, Kenya

Set against the dunes in Shela village, Fatuma's Tower is a beautiful, cool, calm escape. The magical homestead was built in the late 1990s on crumbling ruins, and looks like it's been there for centuries. Bougainvillea clamber up the concrete walls, and a giant tortilis acacia watches over the back garden, where healthy, fresh-cooked meals are served in its shade. The rooms are large and airy and furnished with Swahili antiques and local textiles and have solar-powered hot water. A big draw for staying at Fatuma's Tower is its yoga space where very accessible classes are available every afternoon.

Pros

  • There's a cook who can do your food shopping and preparation of all meals
  • It's extremely peaceful and there's total serenity beyond the sound of motorboat engines
  • Refreshing plunge pool in the garden

Cons

  • Mosquitoes can occasionally be a nuisance
  • It's about a 10-minute walk through Shela to the beach
  • No air-conditioning but there are fans
Lamu, 80500, Kenya
0716-572--370
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

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Kijani Hotel

$ | Lamu, 80500, Kenya

Located right on the waterfront in Shela, Kijani Hotel offers rooms in three converted Arab merchant houses grouped around a pretty central garden (kijani is Swahili for green) with swimming pool. They are furnished with antiques sourced in Lamu and Zanzibar, including high Swahili beds with colorful kikoi bedspreads, woven mats, and charming shutters over the windows. Although the rooms don't have any amenities, there's a tranquil, relaxed air to the place; all rooms have a safe, and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant is one of the best in Shela for seafood and pasta, and they serve excellent cocktails too; try the molten lava cake for dessert. Excellent breakfasts are included. The hotel can arrange dhow trips on the Shaba Dhow complete with meals prepared aboard, and tours of Lamu town.

Pros

  • Rooms look out onto the waterfront
  • Has its own dhow for cruises, with meals aboard
  • One of the few places that has a bar

Cons

  • Can get hot at night
  • Must preorder lunch and dinner
  • Need to be appropriately dressed in Shela village on the way to and from the beach
Lamu, 80500, Kenya
0780-001--741
hotel Details
11 rooms
Rate Includes: Closed May and June, Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

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Lamu House

$ | Waterfront, Lamu, 80500, Kenya

The rooms in this boutique hotel, located next to the Donkey Sanctuary on Lamu's waterfront, are all different, but each one is superbly decorated in traditional Swahili style and has a separate dressing room and a terrace looking out either onto the water or the town. The communal areas in the inside courtyard of the hotel are comfortable and tranquil, and there is one large pool and a plunge pool for cooling off. Don't miss the gift shop attached to the hotel, which sells gorgeous soft kikois, sandals, bags, and kaftans. The hotel's restaurant, Moonrise, is open to nonguests and is one of the best in town. You can order fish of the day steamed in a banana leaf or pan-fried with a tamarind sauce, or lobster, tuna, sailfish, pasta, chicken curry, or a good vegetarian dal. The hotel offers mid- to long-term rentals on high-end apartments in Lamu.

Pros

  • Each room has a fridge
  • There are free boats to shuttle you to Shela Beach
  • Breakfast is available all day

Cons

  • It can be noisy as it's in the center of town
  • Some staircases are narrow and steep
  • Rooms downstairs are a little dark
Waterfront, Lamu, 80500, Kenya
0792-469–577
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

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Manda Bay

$$$$ | Manda Island, Lamu, Kenya

At high tide, you can dive right off your verandah into the ocean; at low tide, a lovely strand of beach appears in front of your room. The natural rhythms of sun and sea often guide your activities at this secluded resort on Manda Island. If the breezes are strong, you may choose an afternoon of kitesurfing. If the evening light is particularly sharp, perhaps you'll take a short boat ride to witness thousands of iridescent-red, carmine bee-eater birds glowing in the trees like ornaments. Schedule a private game drive and stand under a giant baobab tree, explore the Takwa ruins, and see abundant wildlife. Or simply lie in your hammock and listen to the gentle surf, then stroll to the waterfront lounge for cocktails. Eleven of the sixteen large bandas (cottages) are on the beach, and each has elegant coastal-style wood furnishings and enormous bathrooms with double sinks and grand showers. There are multiple recreational options from dhow safaris to waterskiing, but most of all, Manda Bay is a place to enjoy relaxed, barefoot luxury.

Pros

  • Truly a private island getaway
  • Boutique-hotel amenities with laid-back feel
  • Fantastic for both honeymooners and families

Cons

  • Music from the bar can be heard in cottages near the main area
  • It's a little out of the way hence farther to get to from Shela and Lamu Town
  • Wi-Fi limited in the rooms
Manda Island, Lamu, Kenya
0716-579–999-reservations
hotel Details
22 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, Closed in May

Quick Facts

Peponi Hotel

$$ | Waterfront, Lamu, Kenya Fodor's Choice

Peponi is well-known for its beachfront location in Shela, lovely accommodations, and superb food. Opened in 1967 and still run by the founding Korschen family, there's an atmosphere of total laid-back charm. Anything goes here, but don't be fooled, the hotel is impeccably run by the matriarch Carol Korschen, who organizes everything from your water sports to your day excursions. You'll sleep in a sea-facing room with polished honey-color mud floors, whitewashed ceilings with beams of old black wood, a massive four-poster bed, and kelim rugs. On your sea-facing verandah, get comfortable on lie-out chairs and watch the boats bobbing out to sea. The food is legendary, and the restaurant is one of the most popular in Lamu—try the giant prawns in butter sauce or a traditional Swahili-style meal around a big brass platter on the floor.

Pros

  • Only hotel guests get seating on the outside balcony at dinner
  • You can sleep with the sea-facing windows and doors open (guards are on duty all night)
  • Well-stocked gift shop sells items by local designers

Cons

  • Drinks are not included in the full-board option
  • The beach disappears at high tide
  • Beach boys can be a nuisance
Waterfront, Lamu, Kenya
0722-203–082
hotel Details
29 rooms
Rate Includes: Closed May and June, Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

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The Majlis

$$ | Ras Kitau Bay, Lamu, 80500, Kenya Fodor's Choice
The Majlis, Lamu
The Majlis

The rooms in this spectacular hotel are in three villas, and as each has a sitting room with white couches, antique Swahili furniture, and African paintings and sculptures, you'll feel as though you're staying in an ultra-stylish private beach house. Two of the villas have swimming pools in front, and all look out onto the beach. Rooms are large with spacious en suite bathrooms, and the Royal Suite has magnificent views and antiques. The whole property suggests a designer with a gifted eye for detail. The food is excellent, with a focus on seafood, and because the owner is Italian, there's always a pasta course. Nonguests can book for lunch or dinner, and it's worth making the short trip here from Shela just to immerse yourself in the surroundings.

Pros

  • Popular restaurant, open to non-guests
  • An excellent beach
  • Beautiful interiors and architecture, perfect for photos

Cons

  • Trips to Lamu aren't included
  • Alcohol isn't included in the full-board option
  • Not all rooms face the ocean
Ras Kitau Bay, Lamu, 80500, Kenya
0773-777--066
hotel Details
38 rooms
Rate Includes: All-Inclusive

Quick Facts

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The Red Pepper House

$$ | Lamu, 80500, Kenya

Guests here are practically doted on from the moment they cross the threshold of this architecturally stunning beachfront property. Your personal valet escorts you to your exclusive nyumba (house). These superb accommodations are simply some of the most integrative spaces imaginable, uniting open-air splendor and private luxury under one makuti (thatched) roof. The living area, adorned with the same artisanal Swahili furniture that's found throughout the property, spreads to a verandah overlooking a private beach garden and enclosed outdoor shower. Relax island-style and stroll your personal grounds wearing your complimentary kikoy wrap. Schedule your meals whenever and wherever—poolside, on the beach, on a dhow—you like, and you'll dine on some of the freshest seafood on the island. Fishing boats returning with their daily catch are intercepted by Red Pepper staff before they even reach the market.

Pros

  • Flexible scheduling of meals and activities
  • Impeccable personalized service
  • Extensive outdoor and indoor space in each room

Cons

  • Gift shop is small
  • No children under five
  • There are nicer beaches in the area, but the staff is willing to take you to the best spots at any time
Lamu, 80500, Kenya
0721-230–521
hotel Details
9 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

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