Hemingways Watamu, Kenya
A coastal institution since the 1960’s, Hemingways has been wooing guests with its inimitable charm and beautiful beachfront setting for over 30 years. Originally known as Seafarers, the hotel has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a local fisherman's establishment. It became 'Hemingways' in 1988, named after the famous author and explorer who was also a keen fisherman (the waters off Watamu offer some of the best deep sea fishing in Africa) and it very soon established itself as one of Kenya's most iconic beach hotels, renowned for its exceptional personal service and captivating ambience. Loyal followers have continued to return year after year and in December 2017, Hemingways embarked on an exciting new chapter in its endearing history. Following an extensive 18 month transformation, this grande dame of the coast re-opened its doors with a stunning new look. It completes the Hemingways boutique hotel trilogy which also includes sister properties Hemingways Nairobi and Hemingways Ol Seki Mara Camp. As post-safari chill-out spots go, Hemingways Watamu has raised the coastal bar to all new heights! Couples and families alike can enjoy a seamless transition from exhilarating safari to relaxing beach without leaving Kenya. Hemingways is easily accessible via a domestic flight on Air Kenya from Nairobi's Wilson airport to Malindi (on the coast) followed by a 20 - 30 minute road transfer. Weather-wise, Watamu tends to be at its best from December through until late April when you can expect temperatures in the high 20's with a nice coastal breeze. The sea is generally at its warmest in April too.
The re-invented Hemingways Watamu is a refreshingly stylish 39 room boutique hotel offering a combination of beautifully appointed ocean view rooms and luxe apartments with one, two and four bedrooms. Interiors are characterised by plantation shutters, colour schemes of sea and sand, touches of driftwood and an all-round laid-back modern coastal vibe. What has not changed however, is the famed Hemingways hospitality. Many of the wonderful and incredibly loyal Kenyan staff, who have been the backbone of the hotel over the years, will be ready to welcome both new and returning guests! The magic and history of the original Hemingways Watamu will also be re-captured in the illustrious but newly upgraded Hemingways Bar - home to many happy memories and many more to come!
All rooms and apartments are wonderfully spacious, inside and out, and all have private balconies with jaw-dropping views of the Indian Ocean and Watamu's endless white sandy beach (consistently voted one of Africa's top beaches). Honeymooners and romantic couples will be wowed by the 13 Deluxe Rooms with four poster beds on the top floor of the North Wing whilst the 26 Standard Rooms on the ground and first floors offer easy access to the beach and fabulous palm-tree-lined infinity swimming pool. The ultra-luxe one, two and four bedroom apartments, also with ocean views, are located in the South Wing and are ideal for friends and families. Guests staying in the Deluxe Rooms and Apartments will also benefit from a personalised butler service. Interconnecting rooms are available for families and a babysitting service is on offer too.
The alfresco brasserie-style Main Restaurant takes full advantage of the fresh local seafood. Signature dishes are set to include crispy lamu crab claws, bahari calamari and Hemingways' famous prawn masala while sushi and ceviche will be the order of the day at the poolside Rock Bar (which is open seasonally). Gede Café Bar is a more relaxed affair serving fresh pastries, paninis, pizzas and the best Gelato ice cream outside of Italy! It is also worth venturing out to Watamu's new wave of eclectic eateries, restaurants and beach bars which are putting Watamu and Malindi back on the map - and there's no need for a taxi, you can hitch a ride on one of Hemingways' electric tuk-tuks! The Crab Shack at nearby Mida Creek is a local favourite - it's a great sundowner spot too, tucked in amongst the mangroves!
Hemingways’ facilities include two large swimming pools, a tennis court and a Wellness Centre, housed in its own wing with four treatment rooms, a salon and a gym. Treatments are by Terres d'Afrique - an exceptional African skincare brand, grounded in one man's unique dedication to the traditional uses of African plants. For the more adventurous, the various watersports and activities include sunset cruises in a traditional dhow, snorkelling within the Watamu Marine Park, paddle boarding, kite surfing, deep sea fishing, PADI open water dive courses, cultural visits to the Gede ruins and shopping trips to Malindi town. For wildlife lovers, there's a chance to see dolphins and even humpback whales off the coast (usually from early June) as they make their annual migration north from Antartica - or visit the extraordinary Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (just 15 minutes away) to catch a glimpse of elephant herds at sunset. This is the largest, most intact coastal forest in East Africa and it is home to some of Kenya's rarest mammals as well as elephant, butterflies and saltwater mangroves. The offshore snorkelling and diving is said to be some of the best in East Africa and this coast is also an important breeding ground for green and hawksbill turtles.
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