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“Wonderful, but...”
Review of Peponi Hotel

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Peponi Hotel
Ranked #1 of 10 Hotels in Lamu Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 7 February 2009

There is much that is excellent about the Peponi hotel. So let's run through that before we look at what is not so great.

First of all, the Peponi is an institution on Lamu - THE place to stay and dine. Even if you choose to stay elsewhere, chances are that you'll end up at the Peponi if you tend towards high-end holidays. To be sure, it is not a luxury hotel - the rooms, facilities, etc are no more than 3 stars by European standards. But the hotel has character and patina and that makes up for much of it - it is an exclusive place. The restaurant is very solid and stylish - don't expect Michelin-level service and cooking, but everything is very fresh and well prepared and at 20 EUR for a main course it is nicely priced. The hotel offers a bunch of organized trips, not for groups, but for you alone. Deep-sea fishing, coral reef, etc - nicely done.

Now the Peponi is a family-run business - and family and business don't always go together. Other reviewers have pointed out the odd couple who own the place - and I would second that. The place is run by a stern woman, who has dollar signs in her eyes - she's struggling to give the place the hip and relaxed atmosphere the hotel claims for itself. They can be pushy when it comes to sales. (White) management is seen bossing around and berating (black) staff here and there - unprofessional and unpleasant. The owners are supported by a soft-spoken young Englishman, who repeatedly complained about his staff to us - unnecessary and unpleasant. Peponi economics is also interesting - they pay their staff 2-3 EUR a day, and employ around 100 people. Their payrol is thus about 250 EUR a day and that's the price of just one double room. The place must be hugely profitable and you wonder how much they do for their employees in terms of perks. It's sad then too see them charging 40 shilling (40 Eurocent) extra if you want your sandwich toasted - this fight for every penny pervades the place. Another guest advised us to tip staff directly, since it was uncertain the tip box would reach the staff.

If you stay for just a few days you'll notice very little of these distractions. For a longer holiday, be prepared to be drawn into some of these shortcoming.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank hereandthere9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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219 - 225 of 259 reviews

Reviewed 18 January 2009

Some of the recent reviews are a bit harsh! Peponi is on the expensive side but there are lots of wealthy visitors and limited other options at this level so they are able to command a high price.

Rooms are large, reasonably stylish and comfortable. It is worth paying extra for a superior room overlooking the ocean as these come with a large private balcony area with giant hammock. The swimming pool is a decent size.

The beach starts outside Peponi and stretches for many empty miles along the coast. It is not ideal that there are a lot of boats anchored immediately outside peponi but then it is only a couple of seconds walk further along the beach to more open space. On the downside, it was quite windy in January, particularly in the afternoons and swirling sand made it unpleasant to sit out (a good time to retreat to your balcony at Peponi). Also, it is quite a distance to the nearest coral reef and this really needs to be done as a day trip which is reasonably expensive at c. £90 for a day's snorkellng.

The bar at Peponi is the best (only?) place in Shela for a sundowner. Prices are not bad and the old pal cocktail is worth a try (plenty of vodka!). There is a private verandah for residents use which is a plus as the main verandah can get quite crowded.

The restaurant serves good food but it is quite expensive. Given recent movements in exchange rates the all inclusive price is spectacularly bad value at an additional €100 per night extra but with a daily limit of 4000 shilling per person (€80 equivalent). It is also nice to eat in some of the other local restaurants some of which serve excellent food and are much cheaper. In Shela, just a couple of minutes walk from Peponi, we can highly recommend Ali Samosa and Baitil Aman for excellent food.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank catsabroad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 January 2009

While the decor is faded and the grounds are a bit chaotic for the price, the views are spectacular and the service great. We had a superior room right on the ocean which is worth the extra. The ocean is literally right outside the window. The food, however, was only mediocre and v. expensive, a stark contrast to some of the basic restaurants in Lamu town with some of the best seafood anywhere at rock bottom prices.

Stayed: January 2009
3  Thank canadiantabby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 January 2009

My friends and I went here for New Years Eve dinner. One of the owners of the hotel was berating her staff in front of the guest, while her husband was staggering around, so drunk he could barely stand. After dinner the drunk owner of the hotel came up behind my sister in law and tried to kiss her while she tried to push him away. When we complained to his wife, she started screaming at us, saying the most out of control things, like "go back to America where you belong," and "i hope you have a horrible new year." A very odd reaction when learning that your husband tried to molest one of your guests. We later asked a few local people about the hotel, and we heard from each one that they abuse their employees and the many locals refuse to work for them. Really not somewhere you want to give your business. There are plenty of lovely places to stay and eat other than this one.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
12  Thank enicole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 December 2008

We stayed elsewhere in Lamu, but went to Peponi for lunch to see what the fuss was about.

Service was very friendly. There was a mistake in our bill, and they corrected it promptly.

The architecture has a lot of character, so it would definitely photograph well. However, you can tell it has not been maintained well, nor is it very clean. For example, to wash your hands in the bathroom by the pool, you were supposed to use a dirty pool of old water filled with tadpoles and moss. We used bottled water instead.

The beach is pretty dirty as well, so there are no sunbathers. You can hang out by their small pool and sunbathe within the outdoor areas of the hotel.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank edwin177
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 September 2008

We came to Peponis after an amazing safari experience so Peponis had a lot to live up to - and it did so in style. The staff and owners cannot do enough for you and everyone and everything was geared up to make our stay as easy and enjoyable as possible. We had a fabulous room overlooking the bay (didn't notice any obvious building construction so not sure what the comment on one review was about) with a double swing hammock on the terrace (where we spent most of our afternoons!).

The food is fantastic - all freshly cooked and there is something for everyone whether you're a meat, fish or veggie lover.

Pool is secluded and when we went, very quiet so we had it virtually to ourselves.

We went on a couple of trips out organised by the hotel - one was on our own private speedboat out snorkelling on the reef and then lunch on a deserted island.

We were on our honeymoon and despise big, anonymous hotels - for us, Peponis was just perfect. For our last night, we had a candlelit dinner on our own terrace, and it was the perfect end to a perfect holiday.

  • Stayed: October 2007, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank HolBol2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2008

Well we flew to Lamu on a private plane from Malindi to revisit the Island after a few years and visit peponis for lunch (prebooked)
On arrival we were not allowed to sit on the veranda (residents only), and were left waiting for over an hour before our dissapointing first course and another hour for our main course!

The view across the bay was spoiled with the massive building programme in operation.
I feel we were treated as 2nd class citizens (because we were not staying in the hotel) never mind we had paid a fortune to get there! The "Hoo Ray Henry's" monopolised the bar and were loud and embarrassing.
Service was slow and apathetic and we will never go back.

  • Stayed: October 2007, travelled with friends
    • Value
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7  Thank Carlyj68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Peponi Hotel

Address: | Shela Beach, Lamu Island, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 Hotels in Lamu Island
Hotel Class:4 star — Peponi Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Also Known As:
Peponi Hotel Lamu

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