Where to stay for the ultimate Kenya experience
Luxury comes in many forms. On our Kenya safaris it’s all about wild luxury, with plush camps in the hottest wildlife-watching spots and unforgettable experiences like hot-air balloon rides and G&Ts out on the rolling plains at sunset. We’ve picked the most luxurious hotels, safari lodges and tented camps for the ultimate Kenya experience.
Best for luxury in the Maasai Mara
The 12 tents at Mara Bushtops are more like five-star hotel rooms under canvas. All have round-the-clock butler service and a huge deck where you can spot zebra and giraffe from your private hot tub. Mara Bushtops sits in its own private conservancy, so you can do all the things that aren’t possible inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve, like guided bush walks and night game drives to seek out big cats as they hunt. The camp even has an award-winning spa and there’s no better way to end a day out on the dusty open plains than soaking in the star pool, where the twinkling in-water lights – that draw out the Orion constellation – reflect the vast night sky.
Best for luxury in Tsavo
Finch Hattons is a super-luxe tented camp that takes inspiration from the golden age of 1920s’ safaris and adds a modern twist. Named after British adventurer, Denys Finch Hattons, the lodge was voted ‘Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp’ at the 2019 World Travel Awards. Chic touches in the tents include copper bathtubs, writing desks and in-room ‘maxi bars’ with home-made snacks. Outdoors, we love the observation deck for far-reaching views and the stargazing terrace for a cosy nightcap under the stars. Finch Hattons’ surroundings are lush and green, with views of Mount Kilimanjaro and springs that are home to hippo and crocodiles.
Best for luxury in Samburu
The intimate Elephant Bedroom Camp is named for a reason. Its surrounding doum palms attract elephants – they even wander through camp, so you might be asked to make way for a passing elephant at lunchtime. The 17 roomy tents are simple but stylish. All have views of the river and a private plunge pool that’s perfect for a dip after your morning safari. Elephant Bedroom Camp is in the lesser-visited Samburu National Reserve in the dry north of Kenya. Reached by a thrilling light aircraft flight from Nairobi, the reserve is known for its rare ‘special five’: the gerenuk, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, beisa oryx and reticulated giraffe.
Best for luxury in Mount Kenya & the Aberdares
A safari stay doesn’t always mean a lodge or tented camp; in Mount Kenya & the Aberdares our collection includes a five-star colonial club. The exclusive Fairmont Mount Kenya was once the retreat of a Hollywood movie star and, in its 1960s prime, invite-only members included A-list actors, authors and presidents. Today, there’s still a real country club vibe; take afternoon tea on the lawn, play golf on the nine-hole course that crosses the equator, and relax in the immaculate gardens backed by Mount Kenya. After searching for big cats and endangered rhino, return to your traditionally elegant room and laze by the roaring fireplace.
Best for a luxury pre-safari stay
Options in Nairobi aren’t limited to a large city centre resort or airport hotel. How about a beautiful plantation-style property with manicured lawns, a classic décor of dark wood and plush fabrics, and a sweeping double staircase? We see Nairobi as more than just a stopover and at Hemingways Nairobi you can start your safari in style with views over the Ngong Hills that inspired Hemingway’s work, Green Hills of Africa. There’s plenty to get involved with on the wildlife side, too, with visits to the Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nairobi Nursery.
Best for a luxury post-safari beach stay
Twin a five-star safari with a barefoot-luxury retreat on Kenya’s sugar-white sands. Kinondo Kwetu is a boutique hideaway that has the art of post-safari relaxation down to a tee. The hotel is cut off from the main stretch of Diani Beach thanks to a rocky cliff, meaning there are no beach boys or crowds to spoil the peace, and a stay here is all about personal service, attention to detail and a digital detox by the ocean.
This feature was published on 22 June 2018. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Siobhan O'Halleran.