It’s said to be one of the hundred best hotels in the entire world as well as the best hotel in Kenya according to Holidaycheck. It’s recommended by Tripadvisor and various travel agencies. You’d be hard pressed to find any word of criticism directed at this hotel. So I will criticize it. But just a bit. It’s a very good hotel and all of the praise is well-deserved.
The resort consists of three hotels (Baobab, Maridadi, Kole Kole), though the first two ones are for poorer tourists. Kole Kole is the best of the bunch. I stayed there and can heartily recommend it.
The hotel guests stay in three-storey buildings. Straw-roof reception, no halls, chambers, lobbies, corridors, elevators. It’s very humble, but I experienced the same style in the Caribbean islands and in Thailand, so it’s not like I’m going to deduct points for a lack of golden door handles.
Resort rating: 4/6
Nearly perfect. Cloudy skies in the morning. Blue skies and a lot of sun from noon ‘till sunset. The temperature never falls under 75 degrees. It’s windy so I advise against booking rooms right by the beach. It’s not as dry as in Egypt and there’s no rain. I’ve never slept so well in my entire life.
Weather rating: 5/6
A return trip to the nearest city (Mombasa) costs 100 euros. There’s nothing around the hotel except for forests and a road you’d be afraid to walk on. A seclusion like this doesn’t have to be a disadvantage, especially if you’re looking for peace and quiet. Then again, who goes to look for peace and quiet at a gigantic, three-hotel resort?
Prepare for the fact that you won’t be able to purchase anything for the duration of your stay. The hotel shop sells nothing but cookies and caramels. Somebody told me there’s a shopping mall around 7 kilometers from the hotel, but I never went there. This was the longest candy-free period of my life.
Neighborhood rating: 1/6 (or 6/6, if you’re into that kinda stuff)
I stayed at the deluxe. There’s also the regular rooms and the suites. I do not recommend the regular rooms. They’re cupboards you can barely fit your suitcase in. Also, they’re situated the furthest from the sea and there’s no view. I also do not recommend the suites – looking out on the sea – because the palms block your view of the water and it’s so windy that I haven’t seen a single person out on the terrace for the two weeks I stayed there.
The deluxe makes a great first impression. Additional points for its spaciousness, roomy terrace and the comfortable bed.
Sadly, the room is full of tiny ants. They won’t hurt you or anything, but they’re not a pretty picture, either. Imagine going into your bathroom and seeing thousands of them marching across your wall.
The rooms are furnished with a small fridge, an average-looking television set, a blow dryer and an electric kettle. You will need a plug adapter, but it’s not a problem to get one from reception.
The air conditioning system is directed right at the bed, which is why you should keep it turned off. But there’s a fan and it works perfectly.
Room rating (deluxe): 4/6
they don’t extend their arms out for a tip
they’re pleasant, helpful, well-mannered; I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with such pleasant hotel staff members
it seemed excessive to me, but they have this weird rule here: if you have a “do not disturb” sign on your door and nobody’s seen you leave your room for 8 hours, the security will knock on your door to see if you’re alright
they’re kind of bad at cleaning rooms. The maids aren’t slackers or anything and actually do spend 20 minutes on cleaning the room, replacing your towels, swiping the dust, etc., but… The floor and the carpet were left dirty, the bottle caps and bottles weren’t thrown away. It might seem like nothing, but it was frustrating. The tips don’t seem to motivate them, either. I left 5 dollars on the first day, then I’d leave 3 dollars every three days
as you’d expect from a hotel of this price range, the staff is always at your service and they are glad to assist you with whatever you need
I was positively surprised by the man standing in front of the restaurant telling men in shorts they had to put on pants to be served. The ‘no pants, no service’ rule is sadly dying out all across the world
the hotel is clean.
Staff rating: 5/6
there’s not a lot of security guards around, but the ones that are here seem attentive
the security guards only guard the deluxe and suite rooms. What a statement.
when too many monkeys start gathering at one place, the guards shoot their slingshots at them
it’s common for tourists to forget to close their terrace and get robbed by monkeys. If it happens to you, security will walk around the hotel with a sign with your name on it so you can get your stuff back
if you go to the beach at night, the guard will watch you until you disappear from his field of vision
it was difficult to overcome the habit of hiding stuff in the safe. However, towards the end of my stay I managed to just leave my stuff lying around. They say nothing gets stolen in this hotel and I believe them.
Security rating: 6/6
I might be too harsh with my beach rating. After all, this is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on. Still, I have to deduct points for the following:
- No coral reefs.
- The tides leave a lot of seaweed lying around.
- A lot of bugs, crabs, ants. It’s impossible to sit down on the sand in the evening without having to worry about the next creature that’s going to bite you.
- This doesn’t seem like a natural beach. There’s the sand, the cliff and hotels right behind it.
- A lot of pestering salesmen. You can’t get your peace and quiet during the day. The only thing they react to is a firm ‘leave me alone.’ But not always.
Beach rating: 4/6
They take care of their guests. Each day is packed with fun activities. Volleyball, water volleyball, darts, archery, dancing, fitness, table tennis… you name it. The staff always encourages guests to join in on the fun. When there’s not enough people for a particular sport, they will join the teams and participate.
In the evenings, there are events in the amphitheater. They’re pretty cool and they don’t keep repeating the same stuff, but they are nothing to write home about, either. Just your regular hotel entertainment. Well, maybe of a higher standard than usual.
I’m deducting a point for the lack of beach and ocean activities. They could definitely do with kite and catamaran related activities.
You have to pay a fee to access the internet. The pricing system is sort of absurd. The 12 hour internet is cheaper when you pay for access on two devices. The receptionist had no idea how to explain it. The internet access lasts me for two days, sometimes three. The connection is not fast. A 1GB iPad game took about 7 hours to download.
Entertainment rating: 5/6
I spent a lot of time in the SPA. Everyday sauna sessions, massage sessions… The SPA workers deserve the highest possible grade. All of them are relaxed, happy and talkative women. I’m deducting a point for their massaging technique. Actually, it seemed more like rubbing than massaging. I always left relaxed and refreshed, but not the way I should have been.
The prices are great. Most of them cost less than 50 dollars.
SPA rating: 4/6
This rating was quite difficult to conduct. The chefs are very good. They grill some of the best meat I ever tasted in a hotel. They’ll make you the pasta of your dreams. Furthermore, they’re experts at preparing potatoes and they make them in different ways every day. You really can’t complain about the food itself.
What you can complain about, though, is the monotony. Same food, every day. It doesn’t matter that you have three restaurants to choose from because they all serve similar dishes.
The dessert selection is a huge shortcoming, too.
The food is safe, I think. I ate pretty much everything they had, save for the fresh vegetables and the salads. I avoided dishes with cream in them. I felt great throughout my stay. My hygiene habits were pristine – I kept washing my hands, took three showers a day and washed my teeth with bottled water. I didn’t drink any alcohol. All of the alcohol served as part of the all inclusive package were knock-offs of renowned brands. When it comes to drinking alcohol, I prefer the good stuff.
Catering rating: 4/6
WHAT MAKES THE KOLE KOLE BETTER THAN OTHER HOTELS?
Definitely the monkeys. They’re everywhere. No matter whether it’s a singular monkey or a pack of monkeys, they’re always exciting to see. These cute, nasty, lovely creatures! They never hurt anyone. I’ve grown so fond of them that, from now on, I’ll only stay at hotels which have animals as pets.
By the way, there’s no flying rodents in this hotel. In an area of high malaria risk, that’s something to cherish.
WHAT MAKES THE KOLE KOLE WORSE THAN OTHER HOTELS?
Nothing. This hotel doesn’t have a single thing that would disqualify it in my eyes.
However, there is one drawback of visiting Kenya and that is the necessity of taking Malarone. It’s an expensive prescription medicine which is absolutely crucial for staying malaria-free but which doesn’t have a 100% success rate. It’s got a few side effects, but none of them are bad for your health. I only experienced one of them. The nightmares. But I was quite fond of them, as they woke me up each morning at 6 a.m., so I could get a head start on the new day.
If the Baobab Beach Resort really is the absolute best hotel in the country, their hotel industry has some work to do. However, I do recommend it if you’re visiting these regions. It’s one of these hotels you just can’t go wrong with. You have to drop quite a bit of money to stay here but it’ll be money well spent. Things are in the right order here and everything is beautiful and pleasant. I can safely say that no hotel has ever relaxed as well as this one has. You’ll eat good food, stay in a beautiful room, swim in an ocean that’s warmer than the air temperature and you won’t have to worry about any hotel thieves. I cannot stress how important the fact is that there’s no mosquitoes flying around. This keeps the risk of contracting malaria at a minimal level, which is crucial especially if you’re traveling with your family. You will need to get vaccinated before you embark on your journey, but I’ll discuss that in a separate blog post.
I was hesitating whether or not I should give it the highest grade, because, in theory, it meets all of my expectations. But I decided the score has to reflect the various shortcomings of the hotel. The location and surrounding areas of the hotel are far from perfect. The hotel is comfortable, but there’s no real vibe to it. It was designed to look good but there’s no intricate philosophy or ideas behind it. It’s just a few nice buildings erected in random spots. You’ll leave this place with a lot of great memories but without a strong urge to return there.