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“Fantastic Hotel” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Papillon Lagoon Reef

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Papillon Lagoon Reef
Ranked #13 of 30 Hotels in Diani Beach
Birmingham
Level Contributor
31 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Fantastic Hotel”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 September 2010

We stayed at the Papillion Lagoon Reef in August 2010 for 7 nights. The holiday was booked with Hayes and Jarvis. If you’re travelling form the UK the flight can be long and tedious with no direct flights to Mombasa. You fly into Nairobi and then a short hop (about 45 minutes) to Mombasa.

The transfers to the Papillion is about an hour, including a ferry trip. The ferry is an experience on its own with no real health and safety considerations, it’s a general free for all with coaches, lorries, cars and people on bikes and foot fighting to get on and off. The actual ferry’s are new. But don’t be put off by having to use the ferry.

The Papillion is fantastic, after 10 hours of travelling we were met by smiling faces and cold drinks. With little effort on our part, the staff booked us in and arranged for our baggage to be sent to our room.

We upgraded to a beach front view, I would advise to do this as its spectacular waking every morning to a view of white sands and blue sea on Dinai Beach. The rooms are simple and clean, the bathrooms are excellent with bath and shower. Upgrading including a fridge and air-conditioning. The air con in fairness was hit and miss and really didn’t cope with cooling the room so it could get a little warm at night.

All Inclusive – As usual, not exactly all-inclusive – Bottled water is extra, if you want bottled beer you have to pay for it. The other niggle was the safe, again the room safe had to be paid for as an extra. That said, it didn’t really matter.

Food – is excellent, the choice is a little limited with meat and 2 veg the staple menu along with soup/salad starter. Most nights they provided a pasta course or vegetarian option. The food relates well to a Toby Carvery type meal, all well cooked and fresh.

Breakfast was past excellent with pork sausage, bacon and eggs available. Cereal, eggs as you like them and continental breakfast option was also available.

The draft beer is good, akin to a light beer. The spirits are local and fire water would best describe them. Most of the wine comes out of a carton and is certainly an acquired taste. If you like a drink on holiday I might suggest you will might end using the local bars.

Papillion does provide a selection of cocktails too. Again an acquired taste.

All the staff are very helpful and friendly, the hotel is great and we didn’t have any need to complain about anything, we never heard and grumbles form anyone else. The hotel is made up of manly French and German holiday makers.

The pool is great, plenty of sunbeds. Again the pool guys are very helpful. We made a big thing about tipping about 100 shilings (about 80p) to everyone. This does have the desired affect with a little extra care taken over you.

Flights – We found Kenya Airways ok. They served great food, even breakfast on the short 45 minute hop from Mombasa to Nirobia on the flight back. The in flight entertainment was bad, not even working on the flight out. So the 8 hour flight is tedious. We also got badly bitten on the plane by insects.

We did the 1 night safari which is must if you go, fabulous experience. Mombasa is poor and is surrounded by slums. Walking outside the hotel presents little issue. If you turn left and walk about a mile down the road you will pass the monkey bridges and reach a local supermarket. No safety issues and you’re ok to walk around. All the locals are friendly, again we ended up giving our chocolate to the local kids along with a few shillings.

Beach Boys – A pain, just be nice with a firm ‘NO’ and they will leave you alone. They are nice guys just trying to earn a living.

Trips Out – I would advise booking any trips through the hotel reps, the roads are terrible with no road safety. Even our drivers booked by Hays and Jarvis were ‘crazy’. Over taking cars, buses and lorries with little thought to the passengers comfort.

Again, this went for out great guide on the one night safari too. Back breaking stuff.

You can get ripped off too. Our visit to the Masai Villiage (another must do) cost about £8.00 each. We did hear from a couple who paid $120 for four people.

Overall, great hotel – I would just book it.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank rcbishop14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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570 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (70)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 September 2010

I travelled alone and had a blast!! You can imagine solo female traveler on a beach full of so popular beach boys!
I was little bit worried at the beginning after reading some reviews here. But can strongly recommend be friend with some of the BB and the rest is gonna let you be. I made some 'bodyguards' and they happily took me to Mombasa for a day trip.
At the end of the day you realize they don't wanna rob you or harm you. I made some good deals and bought cute presents from them..
Papillon is fantastic - pool, activities, staff and mainly food! My gardenview room was clean due to daily housekeeping and extra spacious as I was there alone. And bathrooms are huge! The only problem are monkeys!! You can't leave the balcony door open as they immediately get in!!

Superb location - just few steps to the beach. Kenyans are friendly and don't be afraid to leave the resort for some evening entertainment out of Papillon. There are many tourists in local bars/clubs.
Security at the gate is more than helpfull to call a cab for you and make sure you are back ok and safe.
If you wanna do some exchange business on the beach I'd recommend to bring some extra shampoo/bodywash. Locals sometimes don't have the best facilities and wash themself in a river. They often ask for it and are able to give u a lot for that.
I'll definitely be back next year. Thanks to beautiful resort and welcoming people I had a spectacular vacation. Africa is beautiful.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MissSporty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Cruz, California
Level Contributor
37 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 September 2010

Stayed here on the last part of our trip in Kenya (safari was first) - wonderful hotel! The greeting when we arrived was friendly. The room was good size, plenty of room for 3 gals! The bathroom was good size, clean. The hotel grounds are very nice - big resort, big pool with bar in the pool! The dining rooms are beautiful - recommend sitting outside if you can. The location is fantastic - the beach is beautiful (though I don't recommend sitting/laying on the beach if you don't want someone to continuously come up to you to try to sell you some souvenir. The food was incredible - Friday is a BBQ and the grilled fish, meat, veggies - couldn't go wrong! The staff is very accommodating and friendly. This is a place to relax - no technology available (i.e., no internet, 1 TV in of the main rooms). Had a great time here!

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank leighmur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lincolnshire
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 September 2010

This hotel is typically Swahili style built amongst the Baobab trees. We had a cottage room at the front of the hotel which was very spacious with two bathrooms. The children's section could be closed off with a curtain.

The hotel grounds are clean and well kept with many interesting trees and shrubs which house many interesting creatures such as, monkeys, baboons, spiders, huge millipedes, bushbabies, weaver birds and fish. Whilst we were there Mohammed climbed a palm tree and picked a fresh coconut and opened it for us to drink and eat. The pool has a swim up bar and kept leaf free by Aloise and the team who were all really kind.

Samson, Peter, Evans, George and the other animation team coordinate daily activities such as beach football/volleyball, water valleyball/polo, boules, table tennis etc. They are a fantastic bunch and not at all pushy.

The food is excellent. There is a great range of hot food and salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner with afternoon tea at 4pm. BBQ on Fridays. The monkeys can be a pest at meal times but we found them to be very entertaining and the children found feeding the bushbaby really enjoyable.

All the staff at this hotel are the kindest and friendliest I have ever met. Everyone takes the time to get to know you which makes it very personal. Alex, Duncan and Mohammed provided an especially excellent service and are lovely people.

The beach is beautiful as is the sea but it was quite rough whilst we was there. You do get approached by beach sellers but I found them all to be very friendly and as long as you are clear as to what you are prepared to buy and pay they are fine.

Overall this was a holiday of a lifetime.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank tropical99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Grimsby, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2010

We stayed at the Papillon Lagoon Reef Hotel in August for our honeymoon and had an amazing time. The hotel is set within lush tropical gardens which lead down to the pool area and the access to the beach. We stayed in one of the beach front rooms which I can really recommend as you have a wonderful view of the Indian Ocean each morning. The beach front rooms also have a free mini bar which is stocked up each day with more Tusker, coke, sprite etc and not that you would want to watch it when the weather is so nice but there is also a flat screen TV in the rooms with film and news channels.
The food in the hotel is very good with a wide selection. The Friday night BBQ was one of our favourites serving steak, king fish, chicken as well as a selection of vegetarian dishes. The BBQ normally takes place at the pool side restaurant rather than the main restaurant.
The staff are extremely polite and are always after talking to you to find out how your days gone. The waiter that served us a lot during our holiday was called Duncan and he couldn`t do enough for us, as soon as our glass was running low he would be straight across asking if we wanted a refill.
While in Kenya we went on a 4 day 3 night safari to Tsavo west, Saltlick and Amboseli with JT SAFARIS(JULIUS TACT SAFARIS). This experience was out of this world and the service we received was excellent, I would really recommend booking with this company. Please have a look at my separate review of JULIUS TACT SAFARIS.
The swimming pool at the Papillon Lagoon is very nice with its swim up bar (a first for me) but I do urge you to venture on to the beach and have a swim in the Ocean as the water is nice and warm. You will get a bit of hassle off the beach boys trying to sell you stuff, but be firm and they`ll soon get the idea.
There are plenty of things to look at in the hotel to, from monkeys and baboons to giant millipedes and squirrels. As the signs say round the hotel don`t feed the monkeys - As they are very unpredictable. Beware of your bags as well as we saw a monkey get into someone’s bag and escape up a tree with a pack of uno. After ripping it apart he realised it wasn`t food and discarded it to the floor.
All in all I could highly recommend this hotel, but with the gardens being set over a few levels there are quite a few steps which would be a problem for the less mobile.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ROB-ON-HOLS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Merseyside
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2010

Excellent holiday, in fact best ever. The hotel was very good due to the location on the beach, the rooms (we had interconnecting rooms) which have air-conditioning and a ceiling fan plus a safe that could be rented. Towels were provided for the room and also for use around the pool. You also recieved free shampoo etc.. The staff are very friendly as are the monkeys and baboons. As long as you don't do anything daft the monkeys are harmless. We used to feed two monkeys every evening on our balcony, though this is not encouraged by the hotel. The food is excellent in both choice, quantity and quality. My daughter is vegetarian and had no problems with the food.
We went on safari with Jamos Tours for 5 days staying in 4 different lodges. WORTH every penny. Gilbert, our guide was fantastic and stayed with us throughout. We had our own van. The lodges Voi, Ngalia Bands, Kibo and Ol Tukai (not sure of speling) were all very good for different reason. We went to Tsavo east and west and Amboseli. Amboseli was our favourite. We were a bit nervous booking the safari with an unknown firm and having to send cash via Western Union but there were no problems at all. Martin who owns the company, did everything he said he would and gave us a discounted price for the dolphin safari. We did not see dolphins but the mangrove swamp on Wasini Island was fantastic. I would use Jamos Tours again.
Ali Babour is also worth visiting. I've seen mixed reviews but I can only thing they went to another place.
Please take extra for the local people. Alpha, one of the hotel waiters arranged for us to visit a local school. I wish I had taken more pens and pencils. The beach boys can be either a nusance or part of the holiday, but barter hard. Best bit of avice,go on safari and have an open mind.
I'm not sure this is the cheapest way but we booked a standard two week holiday with Hayes and Jarvis and the safari seperat and it came to approx £7,000. Were we did get caught out was the price of malaria tablets etc... We had to get private prescriptions and then buy the tablets (malarone are £48 per prescription at Superdrug). We also got Yellow Fever jabs, another £50 per person. Don't use the Travel walk in centres. We got a lot of help from our own G.P but had to get the YF jabs fron another practice.
Hope this has been of help.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MrGMerseyside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bolton
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 August 2010

We have just returned from our honeymoon after spending the most amazing two weeks at the Papillon Lagoon reef in Kenya. We honestly havent got a bad word to say about this resort. The accomodation is beautiful, along with the grounds, its situated right on the beach also. Just be aware there arent any sun lonugers situated on the beach for you due to it being a public beach, but the wide aray of grounds both near and away from the pool make up for this. The staff at the hotel are the most friendly and kind people you will ever meet they just cant do enough for you and are extreamly greatfuly and curtious. The selection of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner is amazing, they cater for everyone, its buffet style, unless you book the Al a Carte. The alochol is all local and the beer is lovely....Tusker. Please also dont be afraid to go out of the grounds of the hotel as there are shops and restaurants that must be taken advantage of, just be aware that you may get harrassed by the locals to purchase items from their stalls, but no different from any other country you may have visited. We ate at the renound Ali barbars, its an amazing restaurant that serves great food at very reasonable prices, if you book a sitting with the reception you are colected and returned for free by the restaurant. We also booked a 4 day safari with our tour operator Thomas Cook on our welcome day this was the best trip of all, we saw 4 of the big 5 which was amazing, We also did the baloon ride at Amboseli wich cost $850 which included champagne breakfast in the bush and boy is it in the bush it was the best experience please if you can afford to do it, its well woth every penny. Popping through the clouds and seing Mount Kilamjaro it breath taking.
We were origionally booking our safari with a local person called JT Safaris but were put off by our rep. Please dont be put off as we were, as JT is an amazing safari operator and can cater for your personal individual needs and requirements, The lodges which you stay in are also breath taking and words cant describe how good they are, it will just blow your mind eating dinner with Elephants, hippos, wathogs and various other animals walking by as your eating breakfast and dinner.
We also did the Tamarin dow dinner cruise which was another memorable experience, a live band plays whilst you are served a five course dinner fresh all prepared in front of you. Unfortunatly we didnt attend Pilli pipper snorkling day as my husband was ill due to the anti viral tablets we were taking to prevent malaria, but we were informed by friends who attended the day that it was a beautiful experience. Salim our rep for Thomas cook was an asset to the holiday his knowledge and advise throughout the trip made it so much more enjoyable. This honeymoon has been the best experience ever and we are so greatful to all the staff at the Papillon and on the safari for making it that extra bit special.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank linziharrower
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, 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
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Papillon Lagoon Reef Diani
Papillon Lagoon Reef Hotel Diani

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