The New Nairobi

by Nancy Heslin Contributor
February 15, 2023
The New Nairobi

After years of delivering VIP treatment to clients like Clinton and Obama, Villa Rosa Kempinski picks up award for luxury.

In November, Nairobi was named best travel destination in Africa at the World Travel Awards, Africa 2020.

Kenya’s largest city has come a long way since the days of Geoffrey Kent’s childhood. The luxury travel pioneer grew up on a farm 50 miles northwest of Nairobi. “It was surrounded by elephants and water buffaloes. When I’d ask my father where we were going next on holiday, he’d smile mischievously at me over his gin and tonic and say: ‘To a place where you can’t drink the water,’ ” Kent says.

“In those days travelers who came to Kenya were, for the most part, there to shoot animals. That’s when I came up with the slogan, ‘Shoot with a camera, not a gun.’ But the problem was, there was nowhere to stay.”

These days, accommodation is no longer an issue. The five-star Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi, Kenya, just picked up Africa's Leading Luxury Hotel 2020.

Opened in 2013, the hotel combines European flair with contemporary sophistication in the heart of Nairobi and is a market leader in Kenya’s hospitality. From the expansive and tastefully 200 decorated rooms and suites over ten floors, Villa Rosa Kempinski exceeds even the most discerning guest’s expectations for comfort, style and class, which has attracted some of the world’s biggest names including president Barack Obama, president Bill Clinton, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson.

“This hotel is true architectural masterpiece,” says general manager Roberto Simone, an Italian. “If you are looking for the perfect escape, a unique gateway to endless fun and good times while in Nairobi, Villa Rosa Kempinski is the place to create rich memories.”

The “House of Roses” is decorated in-house with a specially bred pink rose that matches the Villa Rosa façade. The rose symbolizes the grace and elegance, both of which are attributes of the Kempinski brand.

The hotel’s captivating collection of four top-end specialty restaurants serve endless dining options ranging from Arabic to Chinese and from Italian to Kenyan, leaving guests spoilt for choice. In addition to dining, the hotel boasts of state-of-the-art banqueting and conference facilities with a stunning pillarless grand ballroom that can accommodate 550 delegates.

When relaxation and pampering are on the agenda, Kempinski The Spa, which is managed by the world’s reputed Spa Management Company Resense, is a haven of comfort and tranquility that boasts nine treatment rooms and a fully equipped fitness center. 

“There is so much to do and see in Nairobi, it is the city that never sleeps,” says Mwingirwa Kithure, Director of Media, PR & Marketing Villa Rosa Kempinski. “The city has hundreds of old and new cool hangouts to spoil a partygoer.”

Nairobi is the only world capital with a full animal park within the city—imagine endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes—but it also offers exciting nightlife in swanky bars and world-class casinos.

The country is also a sampling of diverse culinary delights. One restaurant that has taken Nairobi by storm is Mawimbi Seafood Restaurant, ten minutes from Nairobi’s central Business District. Opened only a year ago, Mawimbi (meaning sea waves in Kiswahili) focuses on seafood and African cuisines, prepared exceptionally with Swahili, Asian, Latin-America flavors and worldwide techniques.

“The nocturnal scene,” adds Kithure, “is colorful for both the young and not so young, all looking for a piece of the city’s irresistible nightlife,” Kithure adds. “You have not conquered the world until you discover Kenya!


Nancy Heslin


Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She was  the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine from 2018 to 2022 . She covers UHNWIs , celebrities,  luxury travel, technology, and lifestyle.

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