Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Out of the Frying Pan

...and into the hotel from Hell.

Repairing the Land Rover had cost us KES 29,000 (about GBP 250) but we decided after our rather unpleasant adventure, we would find a nice hotel for one night in Nairobi, just to relax and wind down. Howard looked online and searched for hotels in the Milimani area. The two that came up first were the Kenya Comfort and the Kivi Milimani. Google reviews had the Kenya Comfort at zero stars and the first review said that it was basic and over-priced but the Kivi Milimani had 3.5 stars and the photo looked good, so he booked us all in there. The girl on the phone quoted a price in Shillings of 2,700 for the doubles and 2,000 for the single but as soon as she realised we were foreigners, she changed the price to USD 130 for the double rooms and USD 90 for Bink's single, bed and breakfast only. We wanted a nice hotel and the Google review and picture made the place seem good; we also wanted to get on the road to Nairobi quickly, so we just accepted.

The drive back to Nairobi went without hitch but we had some trouble finding the hotel. We recognised the name and knew we had seen the name somewhere near the Backpackers but the Google map had the address as “off Valley Road” and the marker pin indicated it was opposite the church on Valley Road but we went round and round in the heavy traffic and could not find it. Every person we asked knew of the place but could not accurately direct us towards it. After over an hour of searching, we finally found it – on Milimani Road, about ¼ mile from the Backpackers!

We climbed the stairs to the reception, which looked lovely and Locks suggested we might book a second night, so we all extended our stay to two days. The first sign that all was not as it seemed came when the lift started, with a shake, a shudder and a loud groan. Reaching our rooms we were gobsmacked to see the state of them. The doors looked like they had been jemmied as often as opened, with various broken locks and only one that worked. A large disclaimer on the back of the door pointed out that the hotel was not responsible if items were stolen from your room. The beds were so worn out and the mattresses so old that they had huge depressions in the middle, then we saw the bathrooms! Hot water was provided by an electric immersion heater that you had to switch on and wait half an hour before running the hot water. Our bathroom looked like the grouting had been done by a blind man with Parkinson's and it was utterly filthy. There was a broken tile on the side of a bath that had filthy brown smears that looked like somebody had recently taken a dump in it; the worn and cracked linoleum was peeling up off the floor. The room was not worth 130 cents let alone 130 dollars!

As we headed downstairs for the dinner we had to pay extra for, we all agreed we would cancel the extra day and try to get into the Backpackers instead. We were shown into a dingy room to be sat at a large function-style table with a table cloth so filthy and stained it can't have been washed for ages. Locks suggested that somebody had been using the table for amateur motorcycle maintenance! The “stuffed chicken and chips” was barely edible, with dried up chicken and chips that had been fried in very old, dirty fat. As we waited for dinner we ordered drinks. Bink's coffee took 45 minutes and two reminders to arrive.

Breakfast the following morning was basically awful. Most of the food was inedible, the croissants were rock hard and days old and the coffee was cold. We have run out of bad superlatives to describe this place! Before breakfast Howard and Karen ran along to speak to the Backpackers and they managed to fit us in for the rest of the week.

The staff of Kivi Milimani were all nice people but completely clueless about their jobs. Bink described the place as Fawlty Towers with a full staff of Manuels. We would definitely NOT recommend the Kivi Milimani Hotel to anyone.

Nairobi National Park

We have been visiting Kenya since 2006 but to our shame we have never visited Nairobi National Park before, so our extended stay in Nairobi offers an opportunity to right the wrong. We had a lovely day driving round the most amazing city park in the World, spotting Lion and White Rhinoceros and getting our first ever photos of the gorgeous little Purple Grenadier. We were both relieved to give Bink a good game drive after her horrendous introduction to Kenya.

The King of Beasts

White Rhinoceros against the backdrop of the Nairobi skyline
Female Purple Grenadier (thanks Steve!)

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  1. I don't suppose this will go down as one of your better Kenyan trips.
    Sorry to hear about your vehicle and accommodation problems. You are braver people than me!

    If you ever get fed up driving yourselves I have a friend who has his own safari minibus and is a top guide -I use him for my Kenyan trips and have got some superb wildlife sightings and some reasonable images as a result.

    I'm afraid your wee White-eye is a female Purple Grenadier.

    Keep safe!

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for your comments and thanks for the correction on the bird ID - I don't have my bird book with me ;-)

    It's been a great adventure even with all the hiccups and we certainly have plenty to talk about when we get home ;-)