Just returned from Papillon Reef Hotel, its absolutely great for a nice chill out beach holiday in the most beautiful garden setting with stunning pool, friendliest staff and losts of romantic, beautifully created outdoor spaces.
There are so many reviews on this hotel, and I read most of them before I went, so expectations were high! And I have to add quickly that all the reviews were spot on! But I am well travelled and have not done a "package" holiday for some time and had to remind myself of this. So for others like me, please remember that this hotel is not a boutique hotel (and also does not advertised itself as one) it is a lovely, gracious four star old lady, around 25 years old (according to one of the older waiters we chatted to), and very well kept. The beautiful garden reflects the care of its upkeeping and big mature trees and especially two huge baobabs create the most luscious environment. No need for umbrellas for the sun loungers, just chose your shade tree with sea view anywhere around the pool- plenty for all.
What really impressed me was the variety of choices on offer as to seating for meals. Each meal time offered a choice of indoor or outdoor seating (with smoking and non smoking areas)and my favourite was under the trees at breakfast and the stunning "balcony" venue for dinner in the evening. On special evenings the little magpie came down the centre tree to feed from your hand, a real treat for the kids. The food was good, not gourmet, but very enjoyable and the pride with which it was presented made it very special. Again, it is some time since I chose an "all inclusive" as opposed to "a la carte" on holiday and it is important to judge fairly in this regard. I came back quite a few kilo's heavier - I think that says it all?
The accommodation itself is in blocks (see picture), some facing the garden, others the sea. We stayed in a garden room, slightly dated, but spacious with lovely balcony and ensuite bathroom with shower. There was a good hairdryer and a modern digital safe, big enough to house a laptop computer. We were however surprised to find that we had to pay extra (150shilling per day) for the use of the safe. seemed strange as the safe was in the room (as opposed to some hotels in Asia where you also pay for this, but then the safe is at a room in reception). I took a small travel kettle with me and will recommend this if you like to make your own coffee in the room. The plug in the room is the standard 3 pin British plug. The sea facing rooms have an extra bar fridge and TV and is in a block adjacent to the beach. Some of these rooms (seafront)overlook part of the pool as well as the beach and to my mind would be the premier choice as the hotel grounds are so beautiful.
The pool really is lovely, I dont think that could have been from 25 years ago. And you can see the sea from all angles around it so no need to go an book a spot early in the morning!
I did not realise that drinks all day long were also included - thought it was only with meals. can recommend the Tusker beer and they also serve a mean gin and tonic- served in a plastic cup what what the hell! The house wine was drinkable, I preferred the white, and there were imported wines available at extra cost. We took some good wines with us and there was no objection to us enjoying this with our meals (no corkage fee was charged).
The staff is great, if at times overeager to assist, your plate is barely empty before it gets whipped away. They also take great care in all the hotel belongings, making sure you dont sit on the chair cushions in a wet costume and are very reluctant to bring you a lounger cushion (they are wonderfully thick and soft) if they think its going to rain. Apparently the cushions get mouldy if left wet. Also dont try to go to the beach with a beach towel from the hotel - the security guard will chase after you! So bring your own if you plan to tan on the beach or swim in the sea.
Evening entertainment started at 9.30, a bit late for the kids, but the ones I attended was very enjoyable. Short, sweet and varied. Nightly disco thereafter, next to the pool was also fun.
Even though the hotel is closing at the end of this week, for a renovation period, it did not compromise on any of the services offered. Unlike many other hotels in the area, it still had lots of guests and a full program going.
We used Southern Safaris based in Mombasa as booking and transfer agents and they were fantastic, even rushing someone to the airport with our forgotten cell phone and handing it to us in the departure hall as we were boarding for our flight!
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- Also Known As:
- Papillon Lagoon Reef Diani
- Papillon Lagoon Reef Hotel Diani