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“Excellent place to stay in an excellent place to visit.”
Review of Subira House

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Subira House
Ranked #4 of 32 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Excellent place to stay in an excellent place to visit.”
Reviewed 11 October 2011

Stayed in Subira in September 2011 and it was brilliant. Beautiful house and rooms, very well appointed and designed; great location, just off the main square back from the shore; lovely balconies and areas for relaxing; and excellent breakfasts and dinners. A lovely, calm and relaxing place to stay; I would strongly recommend it.

  • Stayed September 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Andrew786
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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66 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Kazan
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 October 2011

This hotel is totally different from any hotel I have stayed in, and for many reasons... Maybe because of its charming atmosphere, or beautiful decoration, or eco-friendly facilities, its excellent restaurant, or maybe it is because the hosts Christina and Paul really care about the place they live in. They care about every little detail in this place, they have put a lot of effort into making it a great Home.

The level of eco-awareness with which the hosts organise everything is amazing - they recycle, grow organic fruits and vegetables, use bio-degradable products, and they even participate in projects of a major scale - town or even country. This deserves a lot of respect and admiration, and I wish Christina and Paul a lot of luck and success with their plans!

Christina knows a lot of people in town, so if you need a massage, a pedicure, or need to call a doctor - she will help you. Also, they run a little restaurant, and we had dinner there almost every evening - it was so delicious and affordable! Every dinner included a hearty vegetable soup (different each time), the main course (mostly fish with several side dishes!!!) and a dessert. Highly reccommended!

The bed is very comfortable and has a mosquito net. The toilets were described in several posts below, and Christina and Paul explain why they chose this system and give you a lot of information on how the infrastructures of the town work. I absolutely support all their ideas and I think what they do is fantastic.

Overall, we had an amazing stay and will be back!!!

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Noskis12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
crilamu, Owner at Subira House, responded to this review, 7 October 2011
It is a very inspiring feedback to hear how you felt while here!
Lamu is a very very fantastic place to live in. And to show to our visitors. For sure there are not many more old settlements like this where guests are so warmly welcome! Let's hope it can be well preserved and looked after!
Christina, owner of Subira House since 1990
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nairobi
Level Contributor
37 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2011

This hotel has a superb ambiance. It is so tranquil except when the pre-wedding celebrations start up in the fort next door! The rooms are spacious,airy and comfortable, but you do need a fan, particularly during the summer months. The service is excellent as are the breakfasts and dinners. And the hostess, a Swedish lady by the name of Christina Aarts, is a mine of information. She can tell you all about Lamu that you need to know.

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank DrDuncanBerry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newcastle
Level Contributor
233 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 127 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 August 2011

At first we were a little put off by the dirty streets of the town, the waterless toilet, the outside bathroom and the constant noise of the surrounding area. But by the end of our 4 night stay we had fallen in love with our guesthouse and had even started to appreciate the charm of the town itself. The owners were away but the staff were all friendly and efficient. They made us feel like family.
Breakfasts were a treat with a different freshly squeezed juice each morning.
The 3 course dinners served in the courtyard were delicious and well priced. Free internet.

Room Tip: Ask for one of the top rooms. They are more expensive but you get your own private area.
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Oldandnew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2011

We visited for 3 nights - booking 2 separate rooms - during August when the owners were away and unfortunately we were quite disappointed with the service. The manager on duty, Julius, didn't say 2 words to us when meeting us at the airport. We followed him to the guest house and were shown our rooms, but didn't receive any orientation to the house, the bathrooms and drop toilets, or the area. Captain J sold us on a boat trip but we felt badly that perhaps the actual boat captain that he booked us with didn't receive enough of what we paid for this trip - which was quite a lot (we feel we were overcharged and you would do better to negotiate directly with boat captains). Our rooms and the separate bathrooms were not cleaned at all during our stay. The rooms were dusty and things I put on the shelves picked up dirt. The towels in the bathroom were the kind that are used for cleaning floors and mine were dirty - pieces of hair (not mine) and dirt came off on me when I used them after a shower. We were given new towels after 2 days only after asking. We couldn't find anyone on duty, particularly in the evening. One evening the door bell rang at 9:00pm for 30 minutes and no one answered it. As our days went by at Subira house, I felt that Captain J treated us with increasing animosity - resenting our presence. It seems the staff would rather hang out and chat with themselves than serve guests. They were chatting quite loudly one morning, which was distributing at the early hour. I'm not sure if service is better when the managers are there, and I'm also not sure how often they are there. Although the house is lovely and the price is reasonable, I would say it is best not to take your chances with this guest house.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank Nairobi_Life
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amsterdam, Nederland
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 August 2011

We staid here for a few days while travelling through Kenya. Lamu is nice, but not the cardemom filled, laid back hippy retreat many guide books make it out to be. It is a very charming town, and a not to be missed spot on your trip, but you'll find yoursels hassled by locals, and stepping itno donkey poo on more than one occasion. Subira House is a lovely tranquil retreat in it all. When we were there the owners, who have a reputation of being the most wonderful people, were away on leave, but the staff present was very friendly. We did have to pay a bit more than expected for a welcome tour of Lamu (which we thought was free) but waking up to breakfast served on your private terrace, overlooking the fort and the sea was amazing. As was the dinner we had there, served in the garden. A cold beer on the terrace or in one of the communal area's after a day exploring Lamu, or sailing through Mangrove forests, or walking to Shela, is a real treat. The decor in the communal area's is stunning too. It looks and feels like a proper resort or at least a really nice boutique hotel. You get a LOT more than what you pay for. Their toilets, traditional choos (no water, just ash), are something to get used to, as was the fact that the bathroom was outside in our case (we staid in the top room, a private studio). But you will get used to it. And you'll even end up finding it charming and in fact, it seems very hygienic too! I can very much recommend staying in Subira House! Be however prepared for some of the lesser things Lamu comes with. It'll make you appreciate the many many splendid things a lot more.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
1 Thank kume27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2011

A beautiful house in the middle of Lamu. Owners were on holiday though and we had the impression we were being misguided by the host Captain Jelano. His hospitality reaches when you pay him or his friends in town. Other staff is extremely helpfull and kind though.
Keep in mind that this guest house does not use water for the toilets. You somewhat sit outside and do your necessity and when done use ashes instead of water to flush.

  • Stayed June 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Heildave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, Owner at Subira House, responded to this review, 21 July 2011
Lamu’s drainage system is already a problem.
There is no proper drainage system. Grey water is channelled in open sewers running downwards to the sea. (Worked very well before. At present much package material invaded the island and This is now causing blockage and a big problem. )
The human solid and liquid waste is by tradition let into dug out pit latrines. Traditional swahili toilets.These are emptied by digging out after many years and have then become good soil. Unfortunately today many new house owners install water closets using Lamu’s dear drinking water on top of these pits. Without drainage pipes and unaware of the dangers of contaminating the wells!!!)
Lamu’s water table is low. The wells in Shela water catchment is not enough for the growing population.
Many of Lamu’s deep wells both public and private ones have now been contaminated by the rich amount of coli bacterias that are washed down in the water closets just beside the wells.
Our toilets are traditional water free “long drops” and we have installed two Eco-San Separett type on our TOP TOP floors for separating the human waste (like God intended). This is then recycled. Using urine and humus derived from ecological toilets is a source of nutrients used for growing trees on our shamba.
We wish to spread our knowledge to more people and we hope to have understanding for our work.
With our guide Jelani, will have to deal with the problem when back in Lamu, the only thing we can do is say we are very sorry!
Christina Aarts
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Subira House

Property: Subira House
Address: Behind Lamu Fort | P.O. Box 341, Lamu Island 80500, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 32 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The charming and comfortable seven-bedroom historic 200 years old home has two beautiful gardens and plenty of cool terraces to relax and enjoy the tropical breeze as you accustom yourself to Lamu's gentle pace. Right in the middle of Old Lamu Town.Meals on request.Wine licence.Subira House,a 200-year-old coral stone house was built by the governor under the Sultan of Zanzibar now carefully preserved by its Swedish/Dutch owners. ... more   less 
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