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“Fantastic”

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Papillon Lagoon Reef
Ranked #13 of 29 Hotels in Diani Beach
Certificate of Excellence
england
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Fantastic”
Reviewed 2 September 2009

How does one begin?
The begining I guess. I was a little worried at first about travelling to Kenya alone( treat for my 50th) but i didnt have to worry one little bit. After a fantastic 4 day safari with Madukha safaris (thnx charles ur a star) I was wondering how the Papilion would match up to my expectations.
The start was not good as I was given a room away from the main area and being a lone traveller I was a little upset to say the least. The room was simply basic with a bed and silly shower. However once i had spoken with the managment and told them of my expectations i was told i could upgreade to a ocean view room for around 150USD. Trust me when I say that these are the rooms you want. TV,Mini bar(stocked daily with beer and pop. Huge bed and the most wonderful sight to wake up to every morning The Beach.
Once settled I was happy. Food lovely, staff wonderful especailly Bosco and George.Drinks and entertainment also good.
Now onto the beach. Please dont believe everything you read about the Beach boys. I met 2 wonderful guys who loked after me evertime they saw me and they really only want to improve their English. I even ventured down the beachmost afternoons to a wonderful plac called The kim4love well worth a visit to see how Kenyans enjoy themselves and makes a lovely change from the sun loungers at Hotel. Overall i would say that The Papillion was a great choice and had a ball.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled solo
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Helpful?
3 Thank scattylass
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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England
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2009

We spent a week at the Papillon Lagoon Reef after a week on Safari. After a difficult journey down to Mombasa (due to the Kenyan Airways strike!) we had a very warm welcome from the duty manager and were ushered into the restaurant for our evening meal straight away. The only downside to the welcome was that our luggage that we had left in Mombasa while we were on Safari had gone 'missing'. Porters carried the little luggage we had to our rooms but do be aware that tips are expected!

We stayed in one of the Garden Rooms. It was very clean and the view was lovely despite not being able to see the ocean. Fresh towels were provided daily. Little extra touches such as flowers on the bed and having the air conditioning put on for us so we came back to a cool room were lovely. I had been worried about the beds as some reviews mentioned how soft the mattresses were but ours was firm and very comfortable. It also seemed larger than a normal double bed and a mosquito net was provided in the room. Possibly the only downside regarding the room was that a certain times there was no hot water (usually around 6pm) when it felt like everyone in the hotel was taking a shower. At other times of the day though there was plenty so I would recommend you make sure you miss the 6pm shower rush! Hairdryer was provided in the bathroom.

The location of the hotel was about an hour south of Mombasa using the ferry crossing. Set right on the beach front the views from the beach bar and pool area are like paradise, spoilt only slightly by the beach boys. We only went onto the beach once in the day and were trailed the entire time by one beach boy named Ali. Although friendly and non threatening they are slightly annoying. Even when you are sitting in the hotel grounds they call over the wall to ask you to buy things.

Food served was of a very good standard and always plenty of it. Breakfast served from 7.30-10, lunch 12.30-2.30, afternoon tea 4-5 and evening meal 7.30-10pm. The all inclusive status lets you get free local drinks from the bar when open - this includes water from a bottle if you have it by the cup but not if you want an actual bottle to take out for the day. No snacks at the bars, you have to go to the restaurant at the set times to get food or buy it from the shop. Possibly the only draw back was that only one bar was open at a time, which started to get a little repetitive, so during the day you had to go to the pool bar and then at night you had to go to the beach bar where the evening entertainment was on. (drinks also available in the restaurants when eating!)

Swimming pool was nice and clean, although rather cold. At regular times during the day the animations team organised beach volleyball / waterpolo sessions and there was also table tennis and pool for people over 16. Although I don't have children I didn't really see any organised entertainment for children under 16 so this may not be a very good hotel if you want a kids club or anything like that.

Although I did not use them myself the hotel does have a hairdressers, doctors surgery, massage facilities etc.

The monkeys can be quite problematic and are kept under control by the security guards but you are advised not to take food out of the restaurants as they will steal it and can become quite agressive.

About 10 minutes drive away is the Ali Barbours Cave Restaurant. I would really recommend this as it is a gorgeous environment with delicious food and gives you a chance to 'escape' the hotel compound for a night or two. Be warned that you do need to book in advance though as it gets very busy but the hotel reception will do this for you and then the transport is free. In the day there are also several shopping centres nearby to go to, as well as the local village.

When talking to other people about their hotels the Papillon certainly sounds like one of the best on Diani Beach. Perhaps the only draw back and one that is not limited to this hotel is that you are restricted to where you can go out of the hotel grounds at night for your own safety. Overall a friendly and relaxed environment with gorgeous scenary and the worlds oldest Baobab tree in its grounds!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Sydnee080808
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bath
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 August 2009

We really found paradise at this hotel. we stayed in a garden view room and it was fantasic. The staff, the food, the room, the pool - all amazing and really couldn't fault them. The beach boys are slightly annoying but just be freindly and firm when you say no and they are fine - if you walk for about 10 minutes along the beach it gets really quiet any way. One thing we would say - take the time to learn the basic proper swahili - Jambo is tourist swahili. Hu jambo is acurate swahili. I know its not much but it makes a huge difference. Habari Yako is Proper Swahili slang for how are you! Enjoy - this place is gorgeous. Ps - barter for everything in the markets - they will always double the price to start with.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank BathBella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hove
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 August 2009

All that I read about the Papillon Lagoon Reef hotel was true, I would rate it as a 4 star hotel as I believe it deserved more than its 3 star status.We stayed here after a safari at the Ashni Aruba Lodge. We felt immediately at home in this hotel with its beautiful setting with rooms that were clean and staff who were friendly, You need to make sure that you keep the door to your room closed or you may find yourselves sharing it with the resident monkeys who can also try to pinch your food when eating outside. I have never met such friendly staff but they rely heavily on tips.Our only crticism is that there is not much to do outside the hotel and the evening entertainment can become repetitive. The beach boys selling goods are a pain and the beach is not set up for lying on. There is hard sell going on here and I was asked to part with my flipflops in return for a wooden carving of a turtle!!!I didn't accept the offer!! Whatever price they give you when shopping, halve it first and then negotiate from there. If you have booked to go here I won't wish you luck as I know you 'll have a great time!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank safariHove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
devon england
Level 3 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 August 2009

We were not sure what to expect, but had read lots of reviews on TA, but nothing had really prepared us for what we found. Right from the day of our arrival, staff were fantastic, they simply could not do enough for us, they are really badly paid so do tip them well when you leave. particularly good waiters, Dickson and Duncan, who is on work experience and doesn't get paid a penny! Food was plentiful, varied and delicious, suitable for all pallets and ages. As much free drink as you want, as long as it comes in a glass!
bedrooms were very comfy and nicely furnished, our room had a large doluble bed and one single, and a very adequate mossie net, although we did not see ONE single mossie on the whole trip. my girls had an adjoininbg room with the same bed arrangement. Gardens were lovely and very well cared for. Monkeys were not a problem! Swimming pool was lovely and never that many people in it. hotel backs onto the beach, lovely white sand and blue sea looking out on the reef, which if you are strong swimmer is swimming distance, or lots of boats available to take you out there at low tide. (watch out for the sea urchins at low tide when you ar swimming, swimming shoes are a good idea). Beach boys were not in any way a problem, in fact i quite enjoyed chatting to them, they just like to walk down the beach with you, most of them just want to practice their english. Hotel entertainment was ok some of it was very good, like the acrobats, and some of it was questionable, the singers!!! but it was all good fun. remember to take some change down with you as they go round with a hat at the end of their performance, as they do not get paid by the hotel. Lots of outdoor sspsorts during the day, water polo, water arobics, beach volley ball, badminton, table tennis, pool.
Lovely eating areas, you have your lunch and breakfast down by the pool, and dinner up in the mmain building. Delicious breakfast, try the frreshly cooked pancakes!!
Only a couple of niggly negatives, although i would not really call them negatives, there is no internet access for guests, but there is an internet cafe in Diani Beach shopping centre. And my husband thought the coffee was not as good as it could be, seeing as they grow coffee in Kenya. Also if you go down to the shopping centre, take the bus (Matatu) only costs 20 KS, and the taxi costs 1,200 KS, but i am a bit of a one for a bargain, ALSO have posted a forum post about the fact that you can now buy Malarone in Kenya for £1.35 per tablet, wish i had know that before we travelled could have saved my self about £100.
Went on a 3 day safari with First African Dream Tours and Safaris, owned by Mike Musyoka, he was brilliant met me at the hotel gate on our first day, having answered all my e-mails whilst we were in UK, very good communicator, also very good and competative price, our driver was called Joseph, and he was fantastic, very patient and stopping and turning off the engine every time we wanted to take a photo, saw everything except Rhino!!
All in all a wonderful holiday, and would not hesitate to go back to the Papillon Lagoon Reef again.
took masses of photos so will try and put some on TA
anyone got any questions would be happy to answer them.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank alexarevel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, UK
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 August 2009

We've just come back from 2 weeks in Kenya, ending at Papillon which we booked at a very reasonable rate. I was with my brother, sister and her 3 teenagers aged 12-16. I used to live in Kenya, but it was the first time for the rest of the family. Everyone had a great time. Comfortable clean rooms, each with double and a single bed, mosi net, air con, fan. Very clean and excellent room stewards. We all loved the food- well cooked and good variety, plus excellent service again. Pool great and the kids loved the 'animation team who organised beach volleyball, water aerobics, water polo etc. Good range of ages took part from adult to young kids. Pool attendant very helpful setting out our sunbeds and very friendly/fun staff for the evening entertainment (which was OK but no more). Monkeys were a pain, so we liked the guards trying to get rid of them. Beach boys a pain too, but mostly friendly and you just say 'no' but be prepared to have a chat. We really did have a great time. Quiet, yet lots going on in the day if you wanted to take part. We would all go back again. Wonderful.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Oxford_UKRichard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 August 2009

Got a last minute deal to here and read all the reviews, it is important to remember it is 3* and for us we were genuinely happy with this expectation in mind.

We had a family room and this was perfectly good, generally clean, mossi nets OK, beds comfortable no issues. Similar level of room comfort to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas if that helps in anyway !, although no tea and coffee or bath. I believe that the smaller rooms with sea views are superior.

Pool and animation team great fun, normally being a very active family not prone to lazing around the pool and beach, kids were constantly well entertained in the pool or badminton or whatever.

As for the monkeys, constant entertainment for their morning and evening vists either around the pool or in the grounds, the family rooms are at the back of the hotel and every evening there were baboons ( up to maybe 20 ) wandering back and forth, evev doorstoping my wife as she was trying to close the door !. round the pool vervets most days and yes of course they are trying to get food and generally they are cute BUT of course if you tease them they are wild so the idea of them being chased off is a good one, but no maliciousness in the security guards. The monkeys are part of the experience treat them with respect and you will be enchanted.

Staff were great and very efficient, always postive and prompt responses to requests whether they be additional pillows, calling a doctor, or general service around the bars and restaurants and pool.

All the stories about the beach boys, well the point is be prepared to have a conversation with them and not get "excitable", treat it as part of the experience and you can enjoy the beach. Any pressure you bring about on yourself. Also check out the prices in the hotel shop before you haggle !.

First time ever on an all inclusive and kids loved this aspect, particularly the pool bar, food was only available for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and the evening and was generally good quality carvery style fare, good variety and satisfied as all. We are foodies and certainly it wasn't gourment but this holiday we didn;t come for the food.

One comment, bottled water not included ( although glasses of water were) and 300 per litre, you could buy 6 litres for 240 at the local tourist supermarket, this is a rip-off, I guess this is common practice, at least if you buy it from the supermarket there's a chance it goes to the local economy.

Of course we arranged a safari, having read this site, decided to use JT Safaris rather than a larger Pollman's, etc. price was good, great people and ideal to discuss what is good/bad indifferent with someone before commiting was very valuable enabling us to tailor what was suitable. Perfect trip out Ngulia and Ashnil, no complaints from the kids at all. Other benefit is JT is a short drive from the hotel - and we were given some excellent carvings as a memento. Thoroughly recommend that you look at the reviews and use this company to get good personal service.

We also took a trip out to Haller Park where you can hand feed giraffes, which for a 10 and a 9 year old they are not going to forget.

Great hotel base, perfectly comfortable, great staff and good hearty food and brilliant safaris. Oh don't forget the monkeys - not that you will when they come to drink your coke!

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank ptetard1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Papillon Lagoon Reef

Property: Papillon Lagoon Reef
Address: Diani Beach Road, Diani Beach, Ukunda, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Ukunda > Diani Beach
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#10 Romantic Hotel in Diani Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Papillon Lagoon Reef 3*
Number of rooms: 119
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Also Known As:
Papillon Lagoon Reef Diani
Papillon Lagoon Reef Hotel Diani

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