‘Come this way’, said Terri, smiling, handing us a fresh, cool fruit juice. We had arrived at Msambweni Beach House – and that’s when we saw it – the doorway and steps that lead into one of the most spectacular pools I’ve ever seen.
If you ever get the chance to travel Kenya’s coast – do it. This beautiful part of the country has suffered a drop in tourism over the past few years. But do your research and choose your destination wisely and you are in for a treat, I promise. The beaches are spectacularly white. The ocean is that turquoise blue that doesn’t look real. And you’ll find some stunning properties, like Msambweni Beach House that offer the perfect place to relax.
Msambweni Beach House: A Chic Kenyan Retreat
This five star hotel is close to the southerly end of the coast, so it’s even less off the tourist track than the likes of Diani and Watamu, and it’s far more remote. We drove from Diani, but you can fly from Nairobi to Mombasa, then it’s a two hour drive (including a ferry crossing) from there. Another option is to fly to the Ukunda airstrip. This is just 60 minutes from Msambweni Beach House, so it’s a great place to fly into after your Kenyan safari.
We spent two nights at Msambweni and if I had to sum it up in three words I’d say, romantic, beautifully rustic and utterly relaxing. You can see why this is a popular retreat for special occasions and honeymoons.
Msambweni Beach House: Style
What I love most about Msambweni beach House is the Lamu inspired style. Lamu is a gorgeous island off Kenya’s northern coast and if I had it my way, I’d decorate my entire house like this! Think white-washed curved walls, ‘shabby chic’ woodwork and traditional lanterns. I’m not sure it would quite look the same in my London apartment, but it looks utterly beautiful in the bright African sunshine.
In the style ranks, this was one of two of my favourite hotels we’d visited on our trip so far. The Arabic-Swahili and Lamu style buildings made up of thatched roofs were also one of the reasons I totally fell in love with this part of Kenya. The rustic front doors and steps that lead you straight into the infinity pool make quite an impact when you arrive.
Msambweni Beach House: The Guest Rooms
We were staying in Master Room III which is one of three guest rooms you’ll find in the main building and is found by taking the white stairway from the main bar and lounge area. Inside, it’s white, white, white, which I just love, with muted furnishings and rustic touches such as the upcycled furniture and shell-adorned mirror.
The bed and many of the storage is moulded from the white-washed concrete you find across the rest of the hotel.
And when you draw the mosquito nets around the bed, it gives it a beautiful whimsical feel. I wasn’t sure the silk cushions fitted in with this rustic yet chic aesthetic, but overall, I adored the look and feel of this stunning room and the fresh hibiscus flowers were a lovely touch.
The bathroom is a spacious area with an absolutely huge bath tub and it’s filled with light that pours in from the beautiful stained glass windows. I particularly loved the glass bottles which store the shampoo and shower gel.
Elsewhere in the room you’ll find fitted wardrobes, a TV (which we didn’t watch) and a beautiful basket beach bag which you can use for carrying your beach towels down to the pool.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, Msambweni Beach House has an Ocean Suite which is a luxury tented suite on the side of the property. Or for something even more private, they have three spacious villas, each with their own pool.
What I liked about Master Room III however, was its long verandah along the whole length of the room. Blessed with a constant Indian Ocean breeze, a rustic dining table and splendid views over the pool, we were very happy with our pad. I loved walking out here in the morning and starting my day with a cup of tea and sounds of the ocean.
Relaxing at Msambweni Beach House
With a beach that stretches for four miles and that dreamy pool I’ve been filling my Instagram feed with, the objective here really is to relax! Morning and evenings are the best time to enjoy walks along the beautiful beach. Sadly, during our visit, there was a huge amount of seaweed which covered the sand and filled much of the water so we weren’t able to see this beach in the pristine state it’s usually in. (This is only temporary and once the tides change, this clears.)
This didn’t however, stop us enjoying this lovely beach. If you don’t mind being approached by the odd beach boy looking to make a sale, it’s perfectly fine to walk along here. Or if you’re looking for a bit more peace and quiet, relax poolside, or on the lovely elevated sand platform – where only hotel guests can go – overlooking the beach. If you totally want to zen out, I hear they offer spa treatments too.
Other things to do at Msambweni
While we used our two days to completely relax in Msambweni Beach House, the hotel staff can help you organise local village visits, mountain biking and watersports. I particularly liked how they invited local people into the hotel gardens to sell some of their wares, such as African carvings and traditional fabrics known as Kikoys and khangas.
As tourists can often find it a bit intimidating being sold to on the street, I thought this was a nice idea to offer a designated place for locals to make a living. I had a good chat with some of the local ladies, and this was where my own collection of beautiful kikoys and khangas began (I would go on to buy more in Mombasa and Zanzibar!)
Let me tell you about the food and dining at Msambweni Beach House in my next post. But for now, enjoy some more pictures of this little slice of paradise, including some more snaps of that amazing pool…