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“Must-do in Lamu”

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Banana House & Wellness Centre
Ranked #2 of 32 Lamu Island B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Amsterdam
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Must-do in Lamu”
Reviewed 6 July 2012

We would go back in a blink if we could. The Banana House is the perfect place to relax and enjoy Lamu to the fullest. We stayed for 5 nights in the tastfully decorated Penthouse, an open plan space with one bedroom ensuite, large verandah style living and dining with a swingbed and two balconies with built-in cushioned daybeds in colourful kikoi designs. Do watch out for the mozzies when they come out before sundown so bring plenty of deet.
The food at the Banana House is simple but very tasty as the cook knows how to use spices like cumin, anise seeds and ginger. The first night we had mouthwatering Kingfish fillet with coconut rice, mixed vegetables and a salad. Also a must are the prawns with garlic sauce and the crab. Try also their fishcakes and samosas. For a change, one night we opted for the Swahili dinner: a sumptuous three course meal for less than 20 euro showcasing the best that Lamu has to offer. All proceeds go back to the village women that cook the meal. It is the Banana House way that the local people also benefit from the Banana House.
Activities wise we would recommend the dhow fishing and sailing trip. Nothing beats eating your own freshly caught fish straight from the barbeque and if you're lucky, you might be able to see baby turtles hatching like we did. The privilege of watching 110 baby green turtles dashing for the Indian Ocean is just too precious. For the complete "Robinson Crusoe experience" go for a walk in the unspoilt dunes. We walked for nearly two hours without meeting another soul and felt completely free. Back in civilisation, Mercy, the beauty therapist, gave us an expert deep tissue massage and she gave us some tips on where to get the best Lamu buys. Don't miss out on one of Ali Lamu's hand bags made out of recycled dhow sails for a truly unique souvenir that you won't regret buying, just like staying at the Banana House.

Room Tip: Stay in the Penthouse for complete relaxation and privacy!
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank JL_CI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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152 reviews from our community

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English first
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
56 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 July 2012

The hostess, Monica, is very welcoming and she and the House staff are so very committed to making this trip wonderful.

I felt safe, comfortable, and well-fed! Although I was a white-woman-traveling alone, I met wonderful people there, we had a nice Swahili dinner and went to the beach. Maybe it was because it was low season, but I didn't experience any harassment on the beach as others have mentioned. Not once. Bring sunscreen and an efficient insect repellant as well as sleeved tops for everywhere but the beach.

  • Stayed July 2012
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Helpful?
Thank CharlaineL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Peterborough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
102 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2012

Had a lovely long weekend in the banana house penthouse over the easter break. The place was beautiful, with 2 large double bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms and an enormous living area with dining table and hammock style beds. The rooms are rented on a B&B basis, which they bring to your room in the morning, but you can also order food for the evening, making it very easy to just not move from the penthouse at all. Food is great, although it would have been nice to have had a bit of variety – we had salad, rice and veg every night, with a different grilled fish. Maybe we just didn’t know what to ask for – I guess that is the down side of not having a menu. Breakfast was good, with great fruit and pancakes – just slightly spoilt by what is quite possibly the worst juice on the island. For a good juice that actually tastes of fruit, try the stop over restaurant that is just a few minutes away on the beach. Not sure of the system for eating for guests staying in rooms without the space we had in the penthouse – there is no restaurant so assume there is a place where people can go to eat if they do decide to order dinner. Food was good value for money – thank goodness, as we never knew the price of anything until the bill arrived!
Not sure whether the living space of the penthouse was considered not so private, as we often would walk out of the bedrooms to see someone laying a table, or sweeping, and one early morning, my friend swears someone entered her room...possibly to try and chase out a cat, we don’t know, but the ‘open door’ policy was a bit off-putting at times.
Construction was ongoing which made it a bit noisy during the day – not a problem during the evening, but they did tend to start early morning so take ear plugs. The showers were hot, with plentiful water.
Banana house is a few minutes away from the beach but you will need to walk 10-15 minutes along the beach before you can get to a spot where you can swim.
Penthouse had some cute bats in the roof, but also some not so cute mosquitoes...even though our rooms were sprayed and we slept under a net, the mozzies got to us – possibly due to the holes in the nets or maybe they were not insecticide treated...whatever the reason, we both got bitten to bits.
The massage lady that comes by is very good, so would thoroughly recommend her. Did a couple of yoga classes which were very nice although it was a shock as we checked out to be charged 1500 KS for them – we had wrongly assume the yoga was part of the package so being presented with a rather high bill for the 2 classes (an hour each) was unexpected.
Would have been nice to have had a written list of activities available –with prices- rather than having Saddi the entertainment guy come and sit with us the day we arrived and try to plan out our weekend ahead. I’m sure that wasn’t his intention, and he did soon get the message we didn’t appreciate his hard sell. We were told we should take a guide for 1600 if we went to lamu town else we would be hassled and I can assure you, we had no problems at all. The town is small so a guide really is not necessary.
Overall, the place is very relaxing and the people are all very friendly – you won’t get hassled by beach boys the way you do in Mombassa and if you do get lost in the windy little alleys, there is always someone there to show you the right direction. A very relaxing and charming place, but not sure how i would feel if i had not been in the penthouse though.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank KAWJuba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BananaMonika, Owner at Banana House & Wellness Centre, responded to this review, 25 April 2012
Dear Guest
Thank you for writing such a great and useful review. We are happy to hear that you find Banana House a perfect place to chill. Banana House is a place where you can rent a room, a floor or a whole house, depending on what you prefer. If you want privacy the penthouse is the best, if you don’t mind sharing your dining table and sitting area and meet other people you can stay in our normal rooms. Each floor has lots of space for relaxing and enjoying the breeze.
It is our main aim, to make our guests happy and relaxed.
We therefore take your comments very seriously and have discussed the issues with our staff and management. We are pleased to hear that you love our food and that it is very good price/quality. Banana House is known for its excellent food and it is a pity that you only had fish. We have made a recommendation list of different types of food, as we serve a large variety of seafood, but also excellent vegetarian dishes, Swahili food, Indian style and children food. We informed our cooks to propose the possibilities to our guests. It surprises us that the juice was not good, as we only use fresh fruits and very little sugar. We will offer different types of juice so that each guest can choose its preference. It will please you to hear that we have started a refresher training for our room stewards and our activity manager on how to serve guests, how to be present but not to overwhelming, how to respect privacy and how to ask the right questions. In our activity file, which is on every floor, we will add a pricelist of activities incl. yoga and massage.
Our neighbours are building a house which causes some noise in the day from 8-3pm, however they build with local manpower so no huge machinery is going on. Luckily the building is nearly finished (july 2012).
Banana House & Wellness Centre is our own house and we want our guests to feel at home. We do listen to people’s opinions as we can only learn from each other.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mexico City, Mexico
Level Contributor
61 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 February 2012

Only two days and I completely fell in love with this place! Visiting Lamu is a total experience, but staying in a place like Banana House, makes the experience an unforgettable one! The beautiful decoration of the place, the seclusion of its rooms, the intimacy it projects, and the tranquility you can feel there allowed us to enjoy Lamu to the most! The staff is extremely friendly, the service is excellent, custom made meals served in the terrace, with no one else but the view as a witness. You can relax outside your room in the confortable hammock-like beds, the pillows, and the delicious swimming pool. For less than 20 dollars we had a delicious dinner with fresh fish, coconut rice, and fresh squeezed juice. Another plus is the fact that the hotel arranges transport from the airport in boat to the hotel for free, and it gives you a guide who can show you around. The owner of the property is also a yoga teacher, and there are yoga lessons twice a day at the same place. The hotel is also available for rent as yoga retreat. Try it!

Room Tip: Rooms at the main terrace, upper floor are really cool because you get the terrace living room pract...
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Ingrid B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
zeist
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 15 February 2012

Stayed for over a week at Banana house, Lamu in Februar 2012, together with a friend. This place is so special. We felt so much welcome and more than good taken care of by Monica and her staff. It is built in attractive Swahili style, with open spaces and veranda's where you can launch and relax. The whole atmosphere is tropical and quiet and provides many possibilities to relax and gain new energy. The spa treatments (foot reflexology!), yoga classes and fantastic meals (Lamu's best food if you like healthy, tastefull meals prepared with lots of attention) contribute to well being. What makes it special is that everything is done with respect to local culture. The view (not from the beach but a little higher from a top) is amazing, with sunrising and sunset, dhows and the sea. It is really a beautiful never-to-forget experience to visit Banana House at Lamu! It is the kind of place that you surely want to visit again when leaving.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank carolien08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
17 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 January 2012

We really enjoyed our time at the Banana House, the atmosphere, the food, and the service were all great. It was just what we needed to wind down after a 10 day safari. We had great custom made meals served to us on our terrance.

We did however have one terrible experience with a staff member, although I don't want to berate the hotel for the actions of one individual. Long story short, we were staying in the penthouse (top floor) and had packed our bags on the final day before we were to check out. The boat wasn't leaving for a bit so we left our bags in the room. We decided to go for a stroll while waiting to leave Lamu, and my wife went back up to the room to grab something from our bag before leaving. That's when she caught the guy who had given us the best service for 4 days with his hands deep in our bag (he'd unzipped it and was full in).

She startled him, and he jumped back and began pretending to clean the room (leaving the bag unzipped), my wife checked the bag, and after I waited nearly 15 mins I went up to see what was taking so long. It was apparenlty some sort of strange stand-off for some time because as soon as I entered the terrace he wizzed by me down the stairs. My wife explained what had happened and I was furious. However, being on our honeymoon we decided to "let it go" and avoid shattering our mood any further.

Awkwardly the guy even carried our bag to the boat (still being super nice), I just shot him a dirty look and said "no tip".

So, barring that, amazing time, but it just left me so dissappointed, especially as we'd been tipping this guy well our whole stay and he seem so genuinely nice.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank medsj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
bcnalex
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 18 January 2012

Just returned from a fabulous week at Banana House in Shela Village on Lamu Island. Given all the travel warnings for this part of Kenya (Somali pirates etc), I had no idea what to expect. It all went very smoothly. We were greeted at the small Lamu airport and within minutes were taken by boat across the Lamu Chanel, skimming past mangrove forests, the sandy beaches and large houses of Manda Island, past Lamu Town onto Shela Village. Banana House is a five minute bare foot walk from the water front and slightly further from the beginning of the very beautiful, clean, un spoilt and empty 12 km beach. The house is built in the traditional Swahili style. Tall ceilings, arched windows, locally sourced furniture, chill out areas, hammocks etc. We stayed in the penthouse which was perfect. Simple yet very comfortable. Private. Open views to the sea. Gentle sea breezes. Like most places in Africa outside the big cities, you sleep under mosquito netting. Yes there are bugs, geckos, etc. The hotel operates as bed and breakfast. Every morning we had our breakfast delivered to our room by Salim who would arrange our table with care and decorate it with fresh flowers from the garden. Other meals could be arranged upon request. Delicious fresh fish, prawns, crab. Monika, the owner, was very friendly and helpful. Many activities to choose from, sunset sailing trips, snorkellng, water skiing. Shela is truly a special place, beautiful and magical. We were very pleased with staying in the penthouse at Banana House.

Room Tip: The penthouse was amazing
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank bcnalex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Banana House & Wellness Centre

Property: Banana House & Wellness Centre
Address: Plot 318, Lamu Island, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Lamu Island
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 32 B&Bs / Inns in Lamu Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Banana House & Wellness Centre is small and cozy, yet spacious enough to let you enjoy its rarity. Retreat to Banana House, a very cool, elegant private guesthouse and the wellness centre offering yoga, retreats and massages. It has great views on the sea, the dunes and the village. The house is simply and tastefully furnished in Swahili style, with many different sitting areas, daybeds and hammocks. You will feel the love that Monika and Banana have put into the house to give it a homely and welcoming atmosphere. ... more   less 
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