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“World class, must-visit hotel”

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Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Nanyuki Town
Certificate of Excellence
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“World class, must-visit hotel”
Reviewed 18 November 2009

Twenty years ago, I visited the Mt. Kenya Safari Club for the first time. Then, it was a gracious, historic hotel founded in 1959 by film star William Holden. Set in a magnificent setting with glorious views of Mt. Kenya, the hotel enjoyed a fabled history populated by movie stars, royalty, and African explorers. Now, following a thorough renovation by the Canadian Fairmont chain, the property has become a world class five star resort which retains the history and African luxury that first made it famous. If you are traveling to Kenya, don't miss a chance to visit for a night or a week.

My wife and I live in Kenya and decided to head to the Mt. Kenya Safari Club for an anniversary getaway. We booked a regular "Fairmont Room," packed the car, and headed north from Nairobi for the 3 hour drive. The highway is excellent all the way to Nanyuki, but the last 5 miles from the main road to the hotel is under construction and quite bumpy.

As we pulled through the gate, the guard took our name and directed us to drive to the main building to check in. He must have radioed ahead, because as we pulled up to the main building a porter was waiting in a golf cart, and motioned for us to follow him in our car...and led us to the private two bedroom cottage that we had been unexpectedly been upgraded to!

The entire property has been renovated over the past two years to world class five star standards. Our cottage had a lovely living room with European furnishings, fine linen curtains, a hand carved chess board on a marble coffee table, and a huge stone and wood fireplace. A plasma screen TV with satellite channels, a marble wet bar, and stylish recessed lighting rounded out the room. From the stone paved front porch we had a glorious view of Mt. Kenya's peak.

The bedroom featured a four post bed with a pillow top mattress and soft linens, while the bathroom was tiled in marble and had a monsoon shower and deep soaking tub. Two bathrobes and slippers were set out for our use.

The main building of the hotel is laid out along a mixed open air / elegant lodge design. Cozy nooks abound, and there is plenty of quiet seating in the bar and lounge areas. A small business center is available to guests without charge, and for kids there is a sitting area with a free PlayStation 3 and a small selection of games. Some of the wildlife busts shot by Holden hang on the walls, alongside numerous vintage photographs of Holden and other famous guests of the hotel. Contrary to other reviews, we felt that Fairmont has done a good job of upgrading the hotel to modern standards while maintaining its historic character.

Surrounding the main building are rambling grounds covering more than 100 acres; the cottages are spread in a semicircle facing Mt. Kenya. Down from the main lodge is a freeform pool (currently being renovated until the first week of December), several ponds, a small chapel and a hedge maze. The water and seed spread by the hotel draw spectacular bird life--photographic opportunities abound. Further on is a 9 hole golf course, which is not as carefully groomed as the main lawn. We don't play golf but did wander through the course when looking for birds.

As the hotel is rather isolated, most guests stay on a full board meal plan. Meals are served in a dining room that is integrated into the main club building - vaulted ceilings and dark wood beams are the signature elements. Breakfast and lunch are ample buffets with a chef's station that serves rotating specialties. Dinner is a four course, candlelit affair. There are four choices for the appetizer--with such options as blue cheese souffle or smoked trout--then soup, six main course selections, dessert, tea and coffee. The food was not michelin star quality, but all of the dishes were well presented and quite good. No concerns about food handling--we ate salads and everything else without any trouble.

In the late afternoon the hotel serves high tea in the bar overlooking the lawn, where teak tables and chairs are spread. After dark, lanterns are set out and traditional dancers perform before dinner.

While the Club is somewhat, it is located in a beautiful location on the slopes of Mt. Kenya and offers a wide range of activities. My wife went horseback riding twice with a guide up the slopes of Mt. Kenya, and on the second ride raced two albino zebra across a high alpine meadow. The guides will match horses to the experience of the rider--as an experienced rider, the guides had no problem with my wife riding at a full gallop once the release form had been signed! They were much more careful with two beginning riders who joined on the first day.

As mentioned previously, there is a 9 hole golf course, and the hotel sets out clubs for guests use each morning. Mountain biking, bird walks, and mountain hikes are also available. There is an art gallery on the grounds, and an animal orphanage which is associated with the William Holden Wildlife Foundation. A small salon and spa offers the usual services.

Throughout our stay, the staff were wonderfully welcoming and attentive to every request. Each evening, a porter arrived to light a fire in our fireplace, turn down our beds and place hot water bottles under the comforter. On two occasions (one breakfast, one dinner), we chose to dine in our rooms which was accommodated for a small delivery charge (about $8). On the second night, the manager surprised us with an anniversary cake following dinner.

The only small issues I can think of regarding the hotel are that the road from the highway is in bad shape (though being repaired) and the pool is closed for renovations until the first week of December. Other than that, we could find no faults with the hotel, the staff, or the overall experience. We regretted having to leave the peaceful calm of the hotel grounds for the bustle of Nairobi, but look forward to returning to the Mt. Kenya Safari Club again soon.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank gohoward
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
52 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2009

The hotel is plush and gorgeous...the service was wonderful too...it is by far the best hotel we stayed at...it does not have the cultural touch but the views are great...we went to their animal orphanage as well - though a bit overpriced...it was lovely because we got to feed a lot of the animals...all in all...an extremely expensive but beautiful hotel..

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank 4evertravelbug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 August 2009

(First of all, I signed up for Trip Advisor so that I could write this review...that's how bad this place is- please be forewarned). Mt. Kenya Safari Club is set on beautiful grounds with gorgeous views of Mt. Kenya. Rooms are great, views are wonderful, well manicured grounds, nice pool- over all wonderful setting. BUT, none of this matters when you do not have the service to support it.

The service I received while there was the most unprofessional service I have ever witnessed. I have spent a lot of time in Kenya and was so disapointed to encounter this experience. The concierge was a joke and claimed "I don't know much about the mountain" when I asked his advice about day hikes on Mt. Kenya. Reminder: the hotel is at the base of Africa's 2nd tallest mountain- one of the hotel's drawing points! Many more conceirge examples I won't bore you with. The supposed naturalist on site, did not exist, nor was the spa operating (my mom stayed here years ago and told me it was wonderful and that she received the best facial ever- so I was really looking forward to that). Only one of three supposed restaurants were open and it was not of good quality. I was served cold, hard rolls and treated as if I was car part in an assembly line. To makes matters worse, I was over charged for my meals by someone with a terrible attitude (my welcome letter stated that my room rate included full board but when I checked out the conceirge said the letter was a mistake). Ummm....

Please don't waste your time driving there, or your money. There are numerous WONDERFUL other places to stay nearby. I hope the hotel recovers itself b/c it truly is beautiful, but it's beauty is only skin deep as they say! Not sure what happened here; it's a shame. Better to check out Aberdares or Laikipia.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank KJMSAtlanta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
29 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2009

We arrived as part of a 'grown up back packing trip' for one night to the Mount Kenya Safari Club - certianly not good if you are a gap year-er. The welcome was friendly the hotel stunning and the views of Mount Kenya were stunning. It was so lovely that we were only due to stay one night and ended up staying two. The food was superb, all four courses at every meal, the service was great all the staff were friendly - they moved heaven and earth so we could stay another night. The wildlife is worth our long trip up here, and dawn - wow. If you stay here be prepared for a very early start as the sunrises over Mount Kenya they are inspiring and truly awe-some.

My problem with the Mount Kenya Safari Club is since its take over by Fairmont its a bit predictable. The old style colonial glamour of the place had gone, the building hadn't change but it just felt like a american chain hotel. A very nice chain, but still there was nothing there that screamed YOU ARE IN A CHAMPAGNE SET HOTEL! I did however love that we were members of the club whilst we were residents. Maybe i'm just not used to this kind of travel.

There were treatments avaliable and a pool with great views, golf, tennis, dogs to take for a run, curious monkeys and birds, and lots of trips to take. The honeymooners here were treated to allsorts of little extras that I thought were a nice touch.

If you have the budget then stay here, it is very good. They have a sister hotel in Niarobi called the Norfolk.

When i head back to Kenya I will travel all the way from Nairobi to stay here again.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank LondonNisha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kortenberg
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 December 2008

Back after 20 years and what a disapointment. The setting is still one of the best in Africa, but they refurbished the hotel (which was badly needed, indeed) into the same standard rooms you can find in any five star hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Quebec or London. Ugly no-style copies of pseudo French Louis what-so-ever furniture. Open fire with fake MDF-mantlepiece, lampshades Made in China, common pictures of flowers, sad colours on the wall, and sad colours for the orient curtains etc, etc. The only authenticity was the old wooden parquetfloor that they seemed to have restored. What a pity, what a missed opportunity to decorate the rooms in the old nostalgic style of the first settlers with African handicraft decoration. Who was in charge of the decoraton? I saw some Egyptian men taking care. Please fire them for you next refurbishment, they have no feeling at all with the country.
Concerning the rates: why are Kenyan hotels and lodges so ridiculously expensive. Because they have to import everything? But so do we all in Europe. Food is avaliable on their markets and personnel doesn't cost anything in comparison to personnel in European hotels. They charge you michelinstar prices for a meal of good old English boiled carrots, boiled brocoli and peas as canonballs, cooked meat, and a starter of two saladleaves, a half tomato, a quarter of an avocado and mayo from a bottle. The crêpes suzettes were cold and returned to the micro wave and came back as leather;
No televison in the room and no wi fi, as they were still considering what they should charge you.
And they know what to charge you in Kenya...they have fivestar London and Paris prices, and give you twostar Blackpool quality. No wonder only five rooms were occupied during my stay, (which was the case during my whole trip in Kenya).
They should learn in Kenya that worldwide competition is a fact in tourism. It is not emough to have some elephants and rhinos, or some nostalgia stories on Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, or now and then a hype of Out of Africa, to maintain rates that are really exaggerated, especially in those times of financial crisis.

Kenya wants to promote the country as a hidden secret golfdestination: but please not with this golfcourse at Mount Kenya. This is not a golfcourse, just a piece of bush and grass with some flags planted wherever you wants them. Not even a badly maintained pitch and put, Five young Nato military men were sharing one golfbag, one ball and one caddy, and trying to aim the balls at the people ahead of them, probably thinking they were still shooting their bullets..

  • Liked — the setting
  • Disliked — the lost african charm
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank erps kwerps
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
san jose,ca
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2008

The hotel grounds are pretty but the rooms are very lodgey! They were remodeling some of their rooms: the suites but that was it. The hotel needs a major upgrade. The food staff just can't wait for you to eat and leave. I'm not sure wgere you should stay in the area but rethink unless you like that lodgey experience.

  • Liked — grounds
  • Disliked — rooms
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank michelleshirani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WESTWALESUNITEDKINGDOM
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 June 2008

I stayed at the Mount Kenya Safari Club December 2006. As part of a long Safari trip. It was like going back in time to the old Colonial days, when the British built splendid retreats in Africa, in luxuriouse surroundings. The Mount Kenya Safari Club is just that. Set in beautiful landscape gardens at the foot of Mount Kenya. with a long list of the rich and famouse as past members. This Lodge offers first class comfort and superb cuisine.Relaxation and a wealth of activities, to include swimming, horse riding Golf, amongst others. There is also an animal orphanage which is worth seeing,The area surrounding this lodge is offers a huge range of excursions which you can see and do in a day, all very close by, You have to go into the National Park for the wild life and Sweetwaters Game Sanctury less than an hour away is well worth a visit, you can visit the Tame Black Rhino who is a must see. You can feed him when he comes back from the bush late after noon and stand next to him and stroke him ( not for the faint hearted ).This lodge is a very good stop over point, if you are doing a lot of travelling, Very comfortable relaxing and in a superb setting.The staff will go out of their way to spoil you.The rooms are very good, we had one of the cottages in the grounds and it was comfortable clean private and had an open fire, The main part of the Lodge is quite lavish with a lovely dining room and comfortable lounge. with huge sofas. All the staff are so pleasant and helpful and I would recommend this lodge for a night or two its a great place to unwind in the middle of a hectic Safari.

  • Liked — clean comfortable in a beautiful setting
  • Disliked — liked every thing about it
  • Stayed December 2006, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BRIDGETKOTCHIE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club

Property: Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club
Address: | Mount Kenya, Nanyuki Town, Nanyuki Municipality 10400, Kenya
Phone Number:
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Laikipia County > Nanyuki Municipality > Nanyuki Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Nanyuki Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:5 star — Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club 5*
Number of rooms: 120
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With magnificent views of majestic Mount Kenya, the Fairmont Safari Club's 120 luxuriously appointed guest rooms, set in over 100 acres of landscaped gardens, offer a unique blend of comfort, relaxation and adventure. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club Hotel Nanyuki
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Hotel
Mount Safari Club Kenya
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club Nanyuki Town

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