To the curious traveller, the thought of staying in hotels with the same old styles can become a bore pretty quickly. Staying in a quirky hotel is a great way to spruce up your trip and soak up some of the best local experiences wherever you go. Whether you fancy the weird & wacky stays or the most unique and unusual hotels, there’s an overwhelming choice of quirky places to stay in Kenya.
1. The Treetops Lodge
Tucked inside the forests of Aberdare National Park, about 180 km from Nairobi, the Treetops lodge was established on 6th November 1932 by Eric Sherbrooke Walker. This world-renowned safari lodge was literally built into the top of the trees as a treehouse, offering guests a very close view of the wildlife completely safely.
This is where Princess Elizabeth received the news about the death of her father King George (IV) and just like that, a royal that climbed treetops as a princess descended as a Queen. Other notable guests include the 1st Baron Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, and Lord Mountbatten. The treetops lodge which is currently owned & operated by Aberdare Safari Hotels Ltd has recently been renovated but still retains its charm.
2. The Giraffe Manor
Set on a 12-acre piece of private land within the Langata Suburbs of Nairobi, Giraffe Manor is an absolute delight. This gorgeous manor house with gardens and a resident herd of endangered Rothschild giraffes was established in the 1930s and has maintained its glamour ever since. The Manor combines efforts with the Giraffe centre to serve as a home to a number of endangered Rothschild giraffes.
It also operates a breeding program to reintroduce breeding pairs back into the wild to create a future for the species. For most people, the possibility to feed giraffes right from your bedroom window or share your breakfast with a giraffe in the morning is a once in a lifetime experience.
3. Mahali Mzuri luxury camp
Situated in Motorogi Conservancy in the wider Masai Mara ecosystem, Mahali Mzuri is a 12-tented luxury safari camp and one of Sir Richard Branson’s super stylish collection of unique retreats and luxury hotels. The camp caters for a maximum of 24 guests at any one time. With the artistic and sophisticated spaceship-like designs, the opportunities for game viewing are infinite. You’ll have a front-row seat, not just to the Wildebeest migration, but also to the abundant game you can see all year round. Sit back, relax and have fun as the wildlife visits you.
4. Sarova Saltlick Game Lodge, Kenya
Sarova Saltlick Game Lodge is located at the heart of Taita Hills Wildlife sanctuary. The Hotel sits on a non-fenced sanctuary, therefore, allowing the wildlife to roam freely around the lodge. This includes upto 50 plus species of mammals, elephants, all big cats, buffaloes, and giraffes.
The property is built on raised stilts overlooking a couple of waterholes along the border of Tsavo West National park. Distinguished for being among the World’s Most Photographed Lodges, Sarova saltlick features 96 unique rooms, all elevated on stilts and built across two levels. The up-close and personal experience with the wildlife and the distinctive design is what makes this hotel unique.
5. Hippo point and Dodo’s Tower
Established in 1993, Hippo Point is a private wildlife conservancy sitting on an isthmus between Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidien. Within the conservancy is the Dodo’s tower – a nine-story pagoda-style tower containing five luxurious bedrooms, spiral staircases and a minaret meditation room within its Kenyan cypress-clad walls. Enjoy some magical views over Oloidien Bay and follow at the eagle-eye level the movements of the hippos, giraffe and zebra grazing at the foot of the Tower.
6. The Ark Hotel
Tucked into the thick verdant forests of Kenya’s Aberdare National park, overlooking the Yasabara saltlick waterhole is the quirky Noah’s ark-like lodge, the Ark hotel. The Ark hotel lodge was built in 1969. The Ark overlooks a floodlit waterhole and salt lick, which attracts a host of awesome wildlife. The Ark has four viewing decks with balconies and lounges to provide superb game viewing from the comfort of the lodge. The animals come to you! And this combined with the fact that it’s built as a modern-day Noah’s Ark is an experience you can miss.
7. The Watamu Treehouse
Perched high in the trees along Watamu’s white-sand beach, Watamu Treehouse situated on one of the most picturesque stretches of Watamu Beach right opposite the Coral Gardens of the Marine Park. The treehouse is listed by Harper’s Bazaar UK in the “The World’s Best Treehouse Hotels” list. The Treehouse consists of two striking towers, linked by stairs, bridges, and ramps. This unique architecture affords you a 360-degree panorama of the Indian Ocean coastline on one side and native forest on the other.
8. Island Camp Baringo
Famously described as a little piece of paradise, the Island Camp Baringo is the second oldest camp in Kenya after Governor’s camp. The camp sits on the Southern end of Ol Kokwe Island in Lake Baringo. A perfect stopover on your way to Northern Kenya, the Camp is breathtakingly gorgeous. The abundant wildlife of the region includes hippos, crocodiles, ostriches, giraffes, impalas and over 470 species of birds. It only takes 30 minutes to get there by the Camp’s own boat.
9. Loisaba wilderness star beds
Raised high on a rocky kopje, the Loisaba Star Beds affords you the rare opportunity to spend a night under the magical African canopy of stars. Picture your bed set in the expansive plains of Laikipia where elephants and gazelle graze, where you could catch a glimpse of the stealthy leopard hunting if you turned in your sleep.
Enjoy the sweeping views of Loisaba Conservancy, over an undulating valley. Loisaba’s trump card is the two sets of Star Beds. The first and original sets are located among a kopje of rocks in one of the eastern valleys overlooking the “Kiboko” waterhole. The second and newer set is located about 8 kilometers further south on the banks of the Ewaso N’giro River. All the beds have complete “four-poster” insect netting.
10. Rutundu log cabins
Set at the foothills of Mount Kenya, Rutundu log cabins are a rustic and ultra-private gem. The two cozy log cabins overlooking Lake Rutundu features open log fires and en-suite bathrooms and are perfect for an adventurous rough-luxe getaway. Quietly indulge in activities such as horse riding, bird watching, fishing, and nature walk at your own pace. If you’re looking to escape from the fast pace of modern life, unwind and experience nature at close range. Rutundu is surprisingly where the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in October 2010 during their vacation.
11. Nay Palad Bird Nest
Located at the heart of the award-winning Segera Retreat in Laikipia County, Nay Palad Bird Nest is perhaps the world’s smallest luxury resort. Enjoy the views of the plains teeming with wildlife by day and sleep deep within the wilderness and under the twinkling stars while perched in Africa’s first Nay Palad Bird Nest. Wake up to beautiful sounds of wild at play.
A sleepout experience could cost you about USD 1,150/night. However, the Nay Palad brand commits almost all of the Birds Nest proceeds to Zeitz Foundation for its land conservation and wildlife protection programs in Laikipia County.
12. The Floating House at Kilifi Boatyard
Situated in the Kilifi Creek and surrounded by other yachts, boats, and marine life, the floating house is one unique The floating house in Kilifi is literary a house on the water. A hidden little gem in its own right, where you can relax and enjoy the ambiance of the oceanfront on the creek. You can also choose to step out to the surroundings and connect with nature and the serenity: mangrove forest, rusting boats, and a refreshing walk.