I’ve been waiting for this book since February 1981 when I first walked down the steps at Jomo Kenyatta airport into a relationship with Kenya that has endured many twists and turns over 32 years, but still survives.
My first hotel in Nairobi was the Norfolk, one of the older versions. Then the Hilton and Intercontinental. Despite their décor and trimmings, these were and are essentially international hotels. With no disrespect, they might have been in Dubai or Dallas.
What sets Tamara Britten’s splendid book apart is that it has broken away from the well-trodden path of hotel guide to give us an authentic and personally researched tour of just about every place a curious tourist or citizen might wander into. This does not read like one of those best-selling series of guides which gets updated every couple of years but sticks faithfully to the same old tourist-trap clichés of the post-colonial tourist book. This is an honest labour of love, and the picture of the author suggests it was a fairly sweaty and bumpy labour too. It’s also very, very comprehensive. And she doesn’t stick to the sort of places a travel agent would suggest, although she covers every one of those as well. She goes everywhere, and sees everything.
She’s been to
- the Hotel California in Lokichogio (the dining room has an active cooking station and a pizza oven)
- the Jungle Green Bar and Grill at Meru’s Murera Gate (the thatched restaurant serves nyama choma grilled meats as well as grilled Nile perch and tilapia fresh from the fishpond)
- the Jehova Jire Hotel at Kitale (No smoking or alcohol is permitted. A shop on the ground floor sells Christian literature and wedding decorations. Wedding cakes can be made to order.)
When Ms Britten says the 100-odd rooms on four floors “can be reached down dark corridors”, anyone familiar with 21st century Kenya will know exactly what she means. This is a book that will suit both the traditional safari-seeking tourist with freewheeling designs as well as anyone who lives in the country or region or who comes to Kenya on a regular basis.
The book is divided into 15 geographical sections and in postcard-presentations covers more than 850 camps, lodges, hotels and resorts. There is some information about Kenya, its parks and conservancies and all the right maps.
It comes with an attractive green canvas cover too and costs the equivalent of 20 pounds sterling My only regret that it could have benefitted from a hard, rather than a soft cover, to make it last a bit longer. In my own case, it is going to get well used.
Published with the permission of the East African Wild Life Society – http://www.eawildlife.com