Newest Review: ... paint from the walls they are so strong. All the meals except room service were also included, and the seafood restaurant wasn't included e... more
Hotels in Kenya
Member Name: funagogo
Hotels in Kenya
Advantages: Great hotel, next to the beach, helpful staff
Disadvantages: Heavy rain can cause powercuts !
I have just returned from a gorgeous holiday in Mombasa, Kenya staying at Whitesands beach hotel so as there isn't a specific category for this hotel I am putting it in the general Kenyan hotels category
Right before I go off on one and make you want to go on a holiday to Kenya I do have to warn you of some hidden costs, so I will do that before hand!
Before you can enter Kenya you need a visa. This costs £30 per person and can be gained at the airport or by printing off the form on the Kenyan Embassy website (www.kenyanembassy.co.uk) and sending it, along with payment and passport to Kenya High Commission, 45 Portland Place, London W1N 4AS. The visa will be printed in and posted back to you with in 5 days.
It is recommended before you go into Kenya you need Hepatitis A, Cholera, Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio vaccines. These are all available free from your doctor. You also need Yellow Fever vaccine which costs between £30 - £40 per person. This is a live vaccine that must be taken 10 days before arriving in the country and you will be given a vaccination certificate to prove it. Also you will need malaria tablets. These vary from about 25p per tablet to £2.50. Obviously the more you pay the more effective/ less side effects you should get. We went for malarone, which came in at £2.50 per tablet. You need to take it 2 days before arriving, every day you are there and 7 days afterwards. It is expensive but I had no side effects with it other than really mental dreams
The flight from Manchester to Mombasa took just under 9 hours.
Mombasa is 2 hours ahead of the UK
Kenyan Schilling. At present 100 schillings is worth about 75p.
Dec-Feb - Summer - About 40 degrees
March - June - Rainy season
July - Sep - Winter - About 25 degrees
October - December - Spring - About 30 degrees
Swahili, however everyone is taught English from the age of 4 and most hotel staff will also be fluent in French or German too.
Useful swahili phrases include:
Jambo - Hello
Anisi - Please
Asante - Thank you
Karibu - You're welcome
Hakunana Matata - No problem
Kwa Heri - Goodbye.
Kenya uses the same plugs as the UK, so you don't need to buy any adaptors.
Whitesands is the largest beach resort in Mombasa and can hold up to 1200 guests. It is 4* and is a 40 minute drive from Mombasa airport and is secluded away from the main road. It has quite a colonial feel to it as you pull up with a large white exterior and pillars. As soon as we pulled up the staff were there to unload our bags and we were welcomed with a fresh glass of orange juice as our rep checked us all in. As we were at the hotel by 9am we were too early to go to our rooms but we were provided with plenty of drinks and cool, menthol towels to be comfortable.
The reception area is air conditioned and has ponds flowing throughout it's open walls. There are also a lot of rooks flying around but if you don't feed them they will go away.
We were all inclusive, so whilst we were waiting we were taken upstairs to have this explained to us further. We were each given a wristband, so the staff knew not to charge us and went through what is included and not. Basically all your drinks are free between 10am and midnight (breakfast juices and tea and coffee are free too.) With the exception of some cocktails which are at most £3 and could strip paint from the walls they are so strong. All the meals except room service were also included, and the seafood restaurant wasn't included either (I will go into further detail below.) As part of the all inclusive package all activities and some water sports were free too.
The rooms were large and spacious with air conditioning to rival the arctic. Every night the cleaners would come round to make sure the beds wereready with the mosquito nets, and all the rooms had a balcony to go and sit on. I would probably advise against forking out for a sea view as there are only a few of these and they are right at the back of the hotel. If you go for a side room, you are closer to the pools and the sea and save a bit of money. They were generally clean although sometimes there was a bit of a whiff from the drains. Fresh water was provided to the room everyday and although I am sure the water was safe from the tap I always used bottled to brush my teeth.
The hotel has several places to eat and each one of them is excellent quality. On the first day the waitress apologised to us that we would have to wait 20 minutes for our meals as they were being made fresh, which I was more than happy with as I have waiting longer in England for something which has clearly been nuked in a microwave!
Pavillions - this is the main buffet area which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is 7.30 - 10, Lunch 12-2 and Dinner is 7-10. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, juice, tea and coffee, pastries, vegetables, fry-ups and every kind of egg possible (and if there isn't they will make you one.) Lunch was usually a themed salad, cold meat and dessert. The dinners however were exceptional. Every night (on a 2 week rolling rota) was a different theme eg Mediterranean, Indian, Kenyan, BBQ, Chinese, Italian, Mexican to name a few. The staff serving drinks would dress up in that theme and there would be soup and salads, a variety of veg, a section where you could watch it being cooked and choose what you wanted then some other accompanments such as rice. The desserts here were fantastic too. You got a range of about 10 cold puddings and 2 hot ones and a fresh fruit platter too. Suprisingly I thought the best night was the traditional Kenyan one which was absolutely delicious - (you will see a lot of Ugali, which is the Kenyan staple dish. It is maize flour boiled up in water into a dough. It took me a few days to work out what it was - I though it was potato.)
Minazzi restaurant - An Italian style pizza restaurant. It is open 24 hours but the pizzas are only served from 12-12. There are also a variety of steaks, burgers, pasta dishes and salads. Though I have to go for the pizza as my out and out favourite.
Lido - Lido is the fish restaurant which also doubled as a pool bar by day. During the day you raise a little flag and the waitresses will get you a drink, sandwich, pasta, burger or chocolate torte - I will miss you most of all! The food here was more of a gastro pub style and was well presented and fantastic. However at night the restaurant is a completely different story. It is open air so only open when it isn't rainy and the service was terrible and food ridiculously expensive. If you are all inclusive you get a 500 shilling discount per person, but a 2 course meal for 4 people still came to £60 with this! My meal, which was basically 4 jumbo prawns and some rice was £18 on its own. Rip off, especially when there was a free meal 200 metres away.
Also at 4pm it was tea time at Cocos Bar - which was where the events took place at night. This included waffles, pancakes, tea and coffee, sandwiches, chilli corn and cakes. All I tested for the purpose of this review - all were good!
All drinks, even if free need to be signed for so the hotel knows how much tax to pay, or something like that which means people will be shoving bits of paper in front of you a lot.
From 10am to 10pm there was something going on so you can chill by the pool or be doing some activity. I actually ended up soing so much sport I came back having lost weight! The activities are run by a group called the "Fun A's" who are local lads, with the 2 girls running the kids club all day. The day would start with a stretching class - which to me looked like yoga for the insane. I'm not sure it had any beneficially effects other than to make me laugh. This was followed by water aerobics which again, was not really exercise but a form of disco dancing and splashing in the water (If you do this tie up your swim wear tightly as there is a lot of jumping about!) This is usually followed by a beach walk, a beach football match or a game such as arm wrestling or a board game competition. After lunch when they provide cool menthol towels to people who look like they might burn there is water polo followed by a tea-time competition and then beach volleyball.
At night there was some kind of activity run by these guys such as Masai dancers, karaoke, drinking games, dinner dances and gymnastic displays. All followed by a disco. These guys could sell snow to the eskimos so you are going to need a solid excuse to get out of doing things. They don't get tips but I found an hour with my ipod every day and they were perfectly happy.
I shall put this as carefully as I can. IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE - DO NOT DRIVE IN KENYA! It is insane - a licence is only necessary if you are a taxi driver and I have never been so scared in my life. There are taxis available from the hotel who will stay with you until you have finished (they are dirt cheap so if you need one for a whole day it won't be a problem.) DO NOT under any circumstances get in a mutatou (a little minibus with yellow stripes on the side.) They don't stop and you have to jump off when you get to your destination. Overtaking can be done at any point, on either side of you, and lights aren't required at night. It is crazy!
The team of staff at the hotel was amazing. There were the grounds men who went round cutting down coconuts that looked ready to drop and weaving hats from palm tree leaves, they also did some gardening too and weilded Crocodile Dundee style machetes. These are lovely guys who will quite happily shimmy 20ft up a tree to get you a drink of coconut milk.
There are also the pool boys who clean out the pool and set up the loungers every day. If you are friendly to them they will reserve you the best ones! The hotel provides towels to your room but encourages you to use lounger towels which are available from the centre of the hotel for use in one of the 5 pools!
Waiters/ waitresses are the people you will probably deal with most. They work long weeks so will probably serve you most nights and will be quick to learn what you are drinking. It takes a while to get used to the fact that as soon as you have finished the plate is gone but otherwise the service is amazing. Sometimes you will wonder why they put a coaster out for the bottle of coke and the glass only to pour the bottle into the glass and take it away, but who am I to question a system that works? The standard tip is 100 shillings which is about 75p
There is a business centre where you can but 2 or 3 day old newspapers from Britain, and can use the internet. It cost 10schillings a minute. There is also a mini library facility here and 2 gift shops.
At reception they will cash travellers cheques, and about 100 metres out of the hotel is a Barclays bank with ATM.
There is also a spa which I never got round to using, but people said the massages were incredible.
This is a really lovely hotel and the staff would bend over backwards to help you. The food is amazing and despite it being their winter the weather was just right (in July.) The best piece of advice I got whils at the hotel was that the beer in the hotel scares of the mosquitos, so I drank beer every night and only got 1 bite - over 2 weeks!
If you want to go out of the hotel do not go at night as it isn't safe. There are loads of security guards on site though so if you want one to escort you to the ATM they will. You will also be pestered if you go along the beach by young lads trying to sell you keyrings. They will not take no for an answer, but have great local knowledge so if you want to walk into the sea at low tide they will explain all the sea life to you. There are massive sea urchins in pools along the beach so please be careful if you don't have shoes on.
I was told to take pens with me for the children as they can't go to school if they don't have a pen, however if you aren't planning on going out of the hotel there really isn't any point as you won't see any!
I would suggest if you know you definitely want to do safari then you should book it at home because they will only book the hotel for the nights you are in it. If you book it whilst you are there you will be paying for a hotel room you aren't using. You will need to check out of the room when on safari but they will look after your suitcases for you. This does mean you won't necessarily get the same room when you come back.
The hotel does hold a lot of weddings and is marketed as a honeymoon resort, but it caters for families, and young people too. Do remember to pack something smart for dinner though as they do have a dress code - no shorts or sports wear.
Culturally Mombasa is mainly Christian, however there is a large Muslim population. There is no concept of homosexuality over there, although it is common for men to hold other mens hands so don't be alarmed if this happens to you.
Beware of monkeys as they are around in the hotel and they are incredibly opportunist.
Also Kenya is the second highest country for Aids cases so if you are planning on having sex with someone you don't know take some condoms (I know that sounds patronising but as a young English woman you will be chatted up a lot by local boys - most of who are incredibly charming and handsome, and the women are stunning!)
Cost per night:
Around £140 for a standard double room
Summary: Kenya is a great holiday destination that the masses haven't discovered yet
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