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“What's the fuss about Kenya?”

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Royal Reserve Safari and Beach Club
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Kikambala
Upton Grey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“What's the fuss about Kenya?”
Reviewed 10 March 2014

Although a lurching 3 Kms off the main road north of Mombasa this idyllic resort is not to be missed when looking for an African holiday. Clean, comfortable and well furnished apartments, two swimming pools, access to the uncrowded beach behind the reef (and not bothered by vendors) this surely cannot be bettered for a holiday in the sun. On-site restaurants offer a good choice (but not always available--this IS Africa) and excellent other eateries nearby. Sensible security day and night but not once did we feel threatened. The smiling faces politely wishing us "Jambo" made staying there a pleasure.

Room Tip: Ask for the Beach side of the road within sight and sound of the waves.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Terry H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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161 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (36)
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English first
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
143 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 February 2014

Like most of the hotels along the sea north of Mombasa, this one is in decline from prior days of glory. But having stayed there for 4 nights, I found it grew on me. The place is really on a secluded beach (beautiful, but non-swim-able as are all the beaches in this area). With about 47 units and about 20% occupancy, there are few other tourists there. You can literally have a private dining experience by the sea (as my wife and I did). The ocean in this area really begins at a coral reef which is about 1/2 mile from the shore. When the tide comes in, the water touches the shore washing up a lot of ocean debris. When the tide goes out, you can walk about the shallow beach out 1/2 mile viewing interesting sea life and coral. From the old fashioned grandfather clock keys to the dome of the swim-up bar badly in need of paint, to the sinks with drains that pull out to the old fashioned TV to the internet that does not work, the place could use a remodel. Unfortunately with so many hotels in this area closing, the Indian management has no incentive to spend money. You are welcomed graciously nevertheless and the personal attention is very high, with staff from the surrounding poor villages who remember your name. When I dropped something on the way back from the beach, someone must have noticed, because about 1/2 hour later there was a knock on my door with someone returning the item to me.

A word about the beach boys. No, not the rock band. The hotel has a tourist agency, but if you go to the beach you will be nearly bombarded by the "beach boys," a group of locals who have banded together in an association (they say approved by the government) to offer cut-rate excursions. You can still bargain further as most things are marked up 300%. We found it nice to help the local economy. Our experience is you can trust these guys. They rotate who takes the lead in convincing tourists to use their services, but we found Joseph, Banga, Wenslus and Charles to be very helpful.

The beach boys are on the beach side of the hotel. When we checked in we were assigned a room across the road from the beach where the restaurant, pool and reception are located. It wasn't until later that we found out for a small charge we could have "upgraded" to the beach side. The side we were on is identical the the beach side, but on the beach side you have the view of the ocean and the sound of the surf. We also found it about 5 degrees cooler due to the sea breezes. But the rooms are air conditioned on either side.

Bottom line: remember you are in a third world county so don't expect the same standards as in America. For example, the power would go out frequently and there would be a delay in total darkness until the hotel generator kicked in. But if you are looking for seclusion with a high level of service in a secure spot in the bush, I'd recommend it.

Room Tip: See my comment about upgrading your room.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Michael W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 2014

August 2013 - This was the second time we had stayed at The Royal. Yes it could do with a lick of paint, but in all this is a lovely hotel. The staff are friendly and make you feel really welcome.
The size of the hotel is just right, taking our kids with us (aged 6, 8 &9) we felt really comfortable with them wandering round the complex as its nicely compact, you could see them at all times.

The only downside for us was a lack of variety on the menu in the restaurant. We travelled out of season so we kind of expected some things to be off the menu but there were more things off than there were on it, and for the kids who wanted to try lots of different things found this a bit of a pain.

The pool is great, with staff getting the residents involved in water aerobics, volleyball and other games. There is also a gym on site, which again could do with updating but lets be honest, when you're in Eastern Africa you kind of expect that not everything will be shiny and new. If you want to see a proper Kenyan gym head into the village behind the hotel, the locals are so resourceful and ingenious, creating a little gym from tin cans full of cement, pulleys in old trees, its amazing.

One word of advice - Do not be afraid of dealing with the young lads on the beach, they are their to earn a living, just like the people in the hotel. They are very honourable young men and women and no matter what the hotel tell you, these people will not rip you off. I booked a safari for 6 people and a boat trip for 2 with the beach boys and was rewarded handsomely for doing so. The safari to Tsavo, was outstanding, seeing a pride of lions hunting down a family of zebras was the main highlight and the boat trip was supposed to hold roughly 20 people, however when we arrived there was only my wife and myself booked in, both these things I believe were payback for having faith in the locals and helping the local community.

Don't forget, take some old football shirts with you to give to the local boys, they love them. You can also use them to trade for goods. I was quite fortunate, many of my friends donated lots of shirts for me to take, in all about 20 shirts. The beach boys loved it.

In all, another wonderful trip to Kenya and The Royal Reserve.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Wsstones
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
126 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2014 via mobile

A nice colonial style hotel in need of refurbishment 3 star at present .Comfortable apartments with all basic facilities .nice pool .Average restaurant decent bar snacks .its biggest down fall is its location with only two other nearby hotels and restaurants which means taxi or organized tour to visit mombassa attractions !supermarkets etc ?beach boys a nuisance but harmless .

Stayed August 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Luckyjpq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Espoo, Finland
Level Contributor
56 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 January 2014

We spent 5 days at this resort with little children and overall were quite happy with the resort.

The seafood restaurant was unfortunately closed, so we only had the main restaurant. There was also so few people they didnät bother with the buffet, sot the menu came familiar quite quickly. The food was good, though, and the pricing what You would expect.

Some of the general maintenance things were somewhat lacking, but overall things worked.

The mini market on site was quite poorly stocked and somewhat expensive, which was a bit unfortunate as the closest roadside stalls were some distance away and closest supermarket quite far.

Staff and service was friendly and warm, we were happy with the program they had on site. The pools were in good condition and taken care of. Kids club was OK, some of the things there were broken but that didn't seem to bother our kids. Especially the staff at Kids club was very friendly and made the children feel comfortable.

On the ocean beach there are some beach boys, but that goes for all the places on the coast.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Melanooma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coleford, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviewed 19 December 2013

We stayed at the Royal Reserve in October 2013 and loved it. October is a good time to go in terms of weather with plenty of sun, not much rain and not yet the high heat of full summer. We were involved in some work with a local school and it made a perfect base for both this and a holiday. In fact we struck up some interesting conversations and made good links with other charity workers staying at the Royal Reserve - so, handy for networking, as it turned out!

There were two sets of people who made the visit for us. Firstly, the staff at the hotel. They were wonderfully friendly and helpful and we couldn't have asked for better from cleaners and waiters, porters and reception, bar staff and security.

Secondly, Moses, Gerald, DJ, Isaac and Aziz at Kikambala Tours and Safaris (mwanabakari@yahoo.com). They are independent of the Royal Reserve and you can find them at their street-side office outside the Royal Reserve perimeter. It's just possible that the hotel might advise against making links with "beach boys", but, without their friendship, our stay at Royal Reserve would have been lovely but limiting. Honest and always willing, with their help we were able to get out and go places we probably wouldn't have had the nerve to have gone on our own - meeting people, getting to our school in nearby Maridadi village, learning about the area's marine biology and its history, getting to the shops and the beach and buying Alex's beautifully hand-crafted souvenirs, travelling to Haller Park and Bamburi beach.

When you add in the excellent (and reasonably priced) restaurant, the free entertainment, the bars, pool, the stunning location and the ease of access from Mombasa airport and to the Tsavo East and West game reserves, the Royal Reserve offered us all that we needed and wanted. Thanks - Steve and Kim

Room Tip: Try and get a room above ground floor with a pool view
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank StephenPLF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bristol
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 November 2013

This was my second trip to Kikambala in 2 years, again based at the Royal Reserve. This time I was with my son and two friends for part holiday, part working with a local nursery/primary school. We found the hotel to be an excellent base for our purposes - it's reasonably priced, clean and comfortable, the staff very friendly and efficient as always, and the food was really good (much better than last time). It was just the place to cool off and relax after working and chat to other charity workers and holidaymakers.

The hotel was also the most convenient one for us because it was within walking distance of the school and almost next door to the office of our friends Gerald, DJ, Moses and Isaac - the beach boys I had met the last time and kept in touch with. We relied on them for pretty well everything and they were brilliant: organising trips and transport to different places - supermarkets, shopping trips, football matches, holiday excursions; walking us to and from school, carting textbooks and other school stuff. They cooked for us in the village and took us dancing at the village pub. (Wow! How often would you get the chance to do that?) Thanks to them we had absolutely no problem or hassle the whole time we were there doing all the different things we were doing. Asante sana, boys.

So no complaints about the Royal Reserve - we will be staying there next time we are in Kikambala.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Carol M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Royal Reserve Safari and Beach Club

Property: Royal Reserve Safari and Beach Club
Address: kanamai rd, Kikambala, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Kikambala
Amenities:
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Kikambala
Number of rooms: 46
Also Known As:
Royal Reserve Safari And Beach Club Hotel Kikambala
Royal Reserve Safari And Beach Club Kenya/Kikambala

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