The iconic Hemingways Watamu Hotel first opened in 1988. After an 18-month renovation, it re-opened last December. The 39 ocean-facing bedrooms have a clean, contemporary look brightened by floral cushions and kikoy bed runners.
The bathrooms are large, there is plenty of cupboard space, convenient amenities and good air conditioning.
On the residence side, the hotel has one, two and four-bedroom furnished apartments. The spacious living rooms, fully-equipped kitchens and large work desks make the apartments both a work space and holiday home.
Glass doors open to a long balcony with lounge furniture, where I spent little time because we were exploring the various attractions of Watamu.
It was nice to see that they have retained the original circular bar with fibreglass casts of huge sea fish that Watamu is known for.
During our stay there were families and couples, both local and foreigners. The sun beds are spread around the resort so you do not feel crowded in with everybody else.
The hotel has added three more pools, including a shallow one for children and the Botanical Pool that is shielded from the heavy Kuzi winds, which blow between June to September.
From arrival to departure, the staff were warm and welcoming. My favourite meals were the seafood ceviche, seasoned with coriander and lemon, and the Prawns Pili-pili in a spicy tomato and ginger sauce.
The breakfast pastries were wonderfully fresh. The Italian style black cherry and pistachio ice creams, made by a local gelato shop, were a perfect after-lunch snack.
We walked on the white beach without being bothered by beach boys, swam in the sea and explored the marine life in low tide. A full-body aromatherapy massage with crystal treatment was a relaxing end to a day of touring Watamu.
From the hotel, you can book ocean sporting activities or go on dolphin and whale watching excursions. One late afternoon, we sailed on a traditional dhow at the nearby Mida Creek which is a haven for wetland birds and sea turtles.
Refreshing cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres were served while watching the sun set over the creek.
LOCATION: Watamu, Kilifi County
ACCESS: Flight from Wilson Airport to Malindi. By road or train to Mombasa, then transfer by road to Watamu
CONTACTS: [email protected]; +254 ( 0 ) 20 2295 011/012/013/014/015