Diani Reef is a pretty hotel with excellent views over the sea. The decor really reminds you that you are in Kenya and the public areas are clean and well presented. The best thing about this hotel is its beach front location. The location of sunbeds and shades on the beach, under the palm trees is perfect. you can pay one of the lads to put your towels out for you every morning if you don't feel like getting up early. And, if you are a little put off by the beach boys trying to flog you stuff, don't worry - it's a private section of beach, with security guards. However, the beach boys are only doing their job and trying to earn a bit of cash for their families so please don't be put off by them - you can buy a reef walk (don't pay more than £10 each - should be more like £5), or visit a local village, and even buy a safari, as well as all the usual bracelets, keyrings and carvings. If you are worried about who to deal with, ask for Zula - he is a family friend now, we've known him for over 10 years and his dad is a wood carver.
The rooms are basic - but better than Southern Palms and Sun and Sand, and they have the same ratings. Our room (3035) smelt of damp but it wasn't overpowering. The tiling isn't great but it was always clean and we had fresh linen and towels every day. Half the hotel is currently closed for refurbishment, having just been bought by new owners so if you walk around that side (near the lovely adult only pool), it may look a bit shabby.
The food was Kenya standard - please remember that there are people starving round the corner, and that meat in kenya is usually a bit chewy. The curry is good, and there are lots of fresh cooking stations. Dinner is often moved around the hotel - and dinner on the beach was spectacular - with palm trees lit up and a lovely cool breeze. There is also a speciality Japanese restaurant but it is rather pricey. If you get fed up of the food in the hotel, there is a lovely Indian restaurant over the road, and an Italian restaurant called Leonardo's (about a mile up the road).
I know Kenya is near the equator but I wasn't prepared for how hot it was at night - there are no public air conditioned spaces in the hotel although private rooms obviously are. We've been twice in August and it was much cooler in the evenings - December, January and February are the hottest times to visit.
The staff are all lovely, but the bar often ran out of the drinks we like, and we were unable to exchange dinner for lunch or even a packed lunch (which we've been able to do at all the other hotels we've stayed at). It is worth noting that the staff have very little freedom to make decisions for fear of getting in trouble with the bosses. This might make things seem a bit disorganised. We were half board, and lunch was expensive - about £12 for a burger and chips. There is a beach bar to the left of the hotel, about ten minutes walk, and they make lovely pizza - a little cheaper and great sofas on the beach.
Please, please, if you go to Kenya, take some footy shirts or school uniforms, pens, paper, books - anything - to give to the less advantaged. We support a family in Mwakamba village, which is just about a mile away. If you ask around, there will be someone at the hotel who could direct you/ take you - or give something to the beach boys or staff (although this will have to be outside of work hours). Anything you take will be really welcomed.
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- Also Known As:
- Diani Reef Beach Resort And Spa
- Diani Reef Beach Hotel Ukunda
- Diani Reef Grand Ukunda