Arriving in East Africa after hours and hours in an airplane is made easier by booking the Sarova Stanley as your first hotel in Nairobi. The chain (which operates eight hotels in Kenya and the United Kingdom) has a kiosk in the middle of the arrivals area where you can stop to let them know you’re ready for their airport collection service to whisk you downtown in an air-conditioned van.
Courtesy of TripAdvisor
The hotel, established in 1902, has welcomed celebrities, dignitaries and just plain tourists for decades. The moment you pass through the century-old revolving doors, you enter another world: the hassle of the modern gives way to cool, almost stuffy, Victorian elegance. The woodwork is dark, the color scheme trending toward maroon and gold.
Then there’s the staff, which couldn’t be more gracious. Each day at 5 p.m., the Brand Ambassador gives a tour of the property, highlighting its history. Dominic (who was on duty when I was there) showed the historic photographs of famous guests — Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Lord Baden-Powell of Boy Scout fame — and told stories of the early years. He also cautioned me not to ring the bell in the hotel’s Exchange Bar (whosoever does that, buys a round for the house).
Courtesy of Sarova Stanley hotel
When I said that I wanted to spend the next day touring the Nairobi National Park and other local sites, Dominic put me in touch with a tour company vetted by The Sarova Stanley.
The hotel’s buffet breakfast is served in the Thorn Tree Room which houses the successor tree to the original. When the town was just a railroad workers’ camp, people posted messages on that first thorn tree — called the “original post office of Nairobi”. (Today’s messages read more like love notes to the hotel.)
There’s in-room Wi-Fi, a fully-equipped business center, a heated pool and a health club with gym, steam, sauna and massage facilities.