Continuing Ayiba’s city guide to the coolest places to spend your time eating, shopping, and relaxing, here are some great places to check out whenever you are in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
WHERE TO EAT
With some of the best pastries in town, Artcaffe Coffee & Bakery has become an industry giant within a few years in Nairobi, and now dots all major malls in every suburb. Open from seven a.m. until midnight, it is also equipped with savory dishes ranging from pastas and salads to pizza. Its modern ambience and monochrome décor add a sense of sophistication to your dining experience, and its food promises that you will soon be back for more.
Wasp and Sprout in Lavington has recently come into the limelight for its Afro-hippy décor and the crafts on display. Sunday brunch is a thing of delight with a range of continental food that caters to its international clientele, but is a great place to relax and grab a bite to eat throughout the week. Diners can also wander around and select homeware from a variety of items (make sure to check out their cushions!).
Fans of specialty cheeses and rustic adventures are urged to try out Brown’s Cheese Farm, which is just a half-hour drive from Nairobi. Diners are treated to “Lunches at the Farm,” where they can try out a three-course meal made from all organic products. There are also mozzarella-making lessons for foodies and cheese connoisseurs willing to learn a new trade! Lunch is by appointment only and it is advised that guests visit in groups.
WHERE TO HANG
Mercury Lounge is a hip and upmarket bar and lounge, ideal to catch drinks over the weekend or after work. With great cocktails, the best music and overall feel, Mercury is the place to be whenever you are out and about at night in Nairobi.
A trip to Nairobi, the only city in the world with a national park within it, would be incomplete without any wildlife activities. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – Elephant Sanctuary offers refuge for elephants and black rhinos. In order to conserve these endangered species, orphans are rescued and rehabilitated. Guests to the sanctuary have the opportunity to see these animals up close and learn more about what they can do to protect the future for elephants and rhinos.
The Giraffe Center in Karen is a favorite of local and foreign tourists alike. Visitors get a chance to feed giraffes from the palms of their hands. Hanging with these gentle giants is a great way to connect with nature and of the wonders of the African continent. Ideal for children as well, there are also tortoises to feed and plenty of educational material on the behavior of giraffes and tortoises.
The Kenya International Conference Center is the best place in Nairobi to see the city’s skyline and to feel at the top of the world. Located right in the city’s center, those hoping for a bird’s eye view can easily access the building and climb to the helipad at the top of the building. Charges for foreigners are relatively low at Ksh. 400.
Karura Forest is a nature lover’s paradise located just a few minutes’ drive from the city centre and is a great place for picnics, jogging, cycling, and even dining for those who may get hungry (it has a restaurant inside it, The Rive Café). The serene environment is complemented by Lily Lake and a waterfall. The forest also holds significant historical value as it was where Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai fought for the preservation of the forest from land grabbers. For anyone looking to get away from the bustle (and madness!) of everyday life in Nairobi, Karura is a definite stop to catch one’s breath, reflect, and take in the sights.
The Alchemist in Nairobi is a bar that offers some of the best drinks, food, and music available. Located in Westlands, this outdoor party is a surefire way to kick off one’s weekend in the best way possible.
WHERE TO SHOP
The Maasai Market is the ideal place to get authentic Kenyan crafts, curios, jewelry, and even clothes. The market is located in a different place every day of the week to accommodate people from different neighborhoods and walks of life. Buyers are free to haggle and many walk away with great deals! The wares are of various varieties and help showcase the country’s culture.
Now known as Magik Grace, the brand has grown from a home business to an industry giant. The fashion house melds both European and African elements, using materials most people would never imagine to be used in fashion. Bringing the runway to the closets of Kenyan women, Grace is ideal for the woman who wants to stand out from the crowd.
Previously featured in Ayiba, Vivo Activewear is an active wear and fashion brand that offers quality women’s clothing. The new Wambui Kibe collection for Vivo is simply elegant and is the perfect solution for anyone looking to turn heads when out and about.
WHERE TO STAY
Hemingways Nairobi is one of the best places in Nairobi to indulge yourself in sumptuous meals and relax at the spa. Lucky guests are offered a butler who caters to all accommodation and dining needs. Furthermore, the hotel offers activities such as a tour of the city and golf.
If you are looking for accommodation better suited to luxury, the Fairmont Norfolk is definitely worth a visit. Built in 1904, the historic hotel offers a quiet and serene getaway right in the middle of the city centre. As a five star hotel, it has seen several dignitaries and therefore offers modern accommodation and conference facilities.
Dusit Hotel is yet another boutique hotel, but this time, with a Thai twist. It has several restaurants including Soi, Soko, and Soko Gourmet, not to mention the array of bars available. Boasting a spa and even a scarlet swimming pool, Dusit has become the place to be for any sophisticate in Nairobi.
Ole Sereni is a hotel in Nairobi that is adjacent to the city’s national game park. It is no wonder then that it boasts some of the best views of the wildlife that the city has to offer. Its convenient location, only a few minutes away from the international airport, has also made it a favorite among tourists who are in and out of the city, but still want to enjoy some of its culture and vibrancy.