The Most Beautiful Boutique Hotels in Kenya

The pristine, luxurious pool area at Hemingways in the heart of Kenya's Watamu Marine National Park
The pristine, luxurious pool area at Hemingways in the heart of Kenya's Watamu Marine National Park | © Bill Gozansky / Alamy Stock Photo

From beachside beauties to luxury safari camps via bustling Nairobi, here are the top boutique hotels to look out for on your trip to Kenya, bookable with Culture Trip.

While most people love the prospect of travelling to an African country to experience the beauty of the wildlife and the beaches, they also want an element of luxury. Kenya has incredible boutique hotels that are an oasis of comfort and luxury to retreat to after tours, safaris and other adventures.

Elewana Elsa’s Kopje

Boutique Hotel
5/5 (4 Reviews)
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Courtesy of Elewana Elsa’s Kopje / Hotels.com

It’s no surprise that this is low-key luxe boutique lodge in Meru National Park is an eco-award-winner – it blends brilliantly into a kopje (hill) above the site of the camp where pioneer conservationist George Adamson and his wife Joy reintroduced the lioness Elsa into the wild, subject of the beloved book and Virginia McKenna-starring film Born Free, credited with saving the park. Today you can explore it in open game-drive vehicles, specifically designed for comfort and photography, or on guided walks to spot not just lions, but rare species like the aardwolf.

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Tribe Hotel

Hotel, Boutique Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of Tribe Hotel / Booking.com

Tribe celebrates the idea that differences are skin deep and there’s only one tribe that matters on the planet: humankind. The 135 suites, in quiet gardens on the outskirts of Nairobi, are filled with artworks, homemade wood and upcycled metal furniture and fabrics from across Africa, combined with modern tech, such as super-speedy internet. This is echoed in the adjoining Village Market, with waterfalls, vibey stalls and a weekly Maasai market, hosting 350 artists.

Palm Garden Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Map View

Watamu is a quiet village on one of Kenya’s loveliest beaches some 100km (60mi) north of Mombasa. This friendly little boutique hotel of nine suites in a palm garden makes a great base for snorkelling the turquoise waters of Turtle Bay, and discovering the forest wildlife of nearby Arabuko-Sokoke National Park and ruins of the medieval city of Gedi.

Elewana Afrochic Diani Beach

Boutique Hotel
4.7/5 (3 Reviews)
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Courtesy of Elewana Afrochic Diani Beach / Expedia

From accents of zebra print to striking carvings, this smart Elewana Collection stay showcases African style in 10 chic rooms – not that you’ll spend much time there, with the warm shallows and soft sands of Diani Beach at your feet. If you can steer yourself away from it, there’s an 18-hole championship golf course, spas and craft markets a short drive away, and camel rides, outings in glass-bottom boats and day trips to Shimba Hills Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary all within reach.

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Mahali Mzuri

Boutique Hotel
4.9/5 (9 Reviews)

Sir Richard Branson’s sensational 12-tent safari camp rests on a cliff above the Kenyan plains in a private conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem – home to the Big Five as well as dramatic annual game migrations. But exceptional guides also fill you in on the smaller dramas of the prolific bird and insect life and tell great fireside tales, too. No one’s to be outdone – the chefs create bush meals like you’ve never had before, using local produce and spices, with the finest champagne included…

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Finch Hattons

Boutique Hotel
5/5 (1 Reviews)
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Courtesy of Finch Hattons / Expedia

From the open-plan tents roofed in makuti palm fronds and viewing decks of this isolated award-winning safari camp in Tsavo West National Park, you look out over Mount Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu hills – vistas made famous in Karen Blixen’s book – and the resulting 1985 movie – Out of Africa. The views teem with wildlife, which you can see on daytime and nightly game drives and guided hikes, or simply from the deck and infinity pool, as resident hippos and crocs wallow in the springs below.

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African House Resort

Boutique Hotel
4.4/5 (28 Reviews)
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Courtesy of African House Resort / Booking.com

Just 3km (1.8mi) from Malindi’s airport – gateway to southern Kenya’s string of tropical beaches – and even closer to the centre of the pretty coastal town, African House is a five-minute stroll from a sensational white-sand strip and 10 minutes from Malindi Marine National Park. You’ll relish snorkelling here all the more, knowing this charming little hotel awaits you in a garden bright with bougainvillea. Afterwards, ask for a massage beside the pool before retiring to the net-swathed bed in your air-conditioned room.

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The Bedelle

Boutique Hotel
4.3/5 (3 Reviews)
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Courtesy of The Bedelle / Booking.com

The Bedelle is grand in many ways, and the décor and stately gardens make a statement from the minute you walk in. It is discreet enough for couples but still family friendly. The services are personalised, with luxury guaranteed at every turn, from the furnishings to the ambiance. The food is always masterfully made by the property’s Le Cordon Bleu chefs, who use the freshest ingredients. Each meal is accompanied by exceptional pairings with international wines and sherries or port to cap off the evening.

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The Charming Lonno Lodge

Boutique Hotel
4.7/5 (9 Reviews)
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Courtesy of The Charming Lonno Lodge Watamu / Booking.com

True to its name, the lodge is amazingly charming and inviting. Imagine spending your holiday in a luxurious room within a watchtower that guarantees exceptional views. You can enjoy a deluxe room with cosy furnishings and a lovely patio or you could opt for the top tower room, which has exclusive access to the roof terrace. Travellers will enjoy the sweet marriage between modern and traditional architectural concepts and furnishings. Alternatively, you can stay in the historical suites, which were built using old construction methods. You can get tours of Watamu and the ruins of Gede, visit the Arabuko Sokoke National Park or sail on a dhow, among other adventures.

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Maji Beach Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel / Booking.com

This is a water-themed property on Diani Beach on Kenya’s South Coast. The name Maji is Swahili for water. The nearby Indian Ocean beckons from the reserved beaches of the hotel and the swimming pool surrounds three sides of the property, giving the impression that it is springing out of the inviting water. There are 15 uniquely designed bedrooms, making it a haven for romantic getaways and honeymoons. The team is attentive and aims to ensure that you relax in your dream destination.

The Mawe Resort

Boutique Hotel
3.9/5 (15 Reviews)
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Courtesy of Mawe Resort Watamu Boutique Hotel / Expedia

This property is located inside a marine park, where you have the option of seeing dolphins and vibrant coral reefs as you enjoy incredible views from its lofty cliff-top perch. The hotel caters to families as well as adventure seekers, providing exciting activities like big-game fishing, deep-sea diving and relaxing snorkelling sessions in the corals. The resort’s striking décor features old sails and beautifully crafted wood furnishings to provide shade. The rooms have African-inspired themes and unique concepts that reflect its coastal setting. It is the ideal place to experience and enjoy the beachside hospitality Kenya is well known for.

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Palacina Residence and Suites

Boutique Hotel
4.5/5 (61 Reviews)
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Courtesy of Palacina The Residence & The Suites / Booking.com | Courtesy of Palacina The Residence & The Suites / Booking.com

Whether you have a long stay or a short visit to Nairobi, Palacina Residence and Suites has something for everyone. You will enjoy the premium suites as well as the luxurious serviced apartments that are operated like a full-service hotel. The surroundings are serene and the property serves up wonderful food with impeccable hospitality. It is a stone’s throw away from the city centre, but still far enough to ensure that you do not have to contend with the bustle of city activities. This is a family-owned property so you are in for detailed and personalised service and attention.

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  • Afrika Pearl and Spa

    Boutique Hotel
    4.3/5 (38 Reviews)
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    Courtesy of Afrika Pearl & Spa / Booking.com | Courtesy of Afrika Pearl & Spa / Booking.com

    From stunning views to perfect hospitality, there is nothing you will want for at Afrika Pearl and Spa. It is a great place for families with kids, because it has a kids club to occupy the little ones as you immerse yourself in the indoor or outdoor jacuzzi. From the outdoor jacuzzi, you’ll have spectacular views of the ocean and a relaxing outdoor ambiance. Fun activities such as quad biking on the beach or bicycle riding, as well as camel-bush tours and deep-sea diving, are available.

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    Water Lovers Beach Resort

    Boutique Hotel
    Map View
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    Courtesy of Waterlovers Beach Resort / Booking.com

    Although this property is described as quaint, there is a quiet magnificence about it. It is located along Diani Beach on the Mombasa South Coast and houses eight luxurious suites, a penthouse apartment and a self-contained luxury villa. Travellers looking for a serene, uncrowded environment on the oceanfront will have a wonderful time here. The turtle-shaped swimming pool makes for a great relaxation spot when you want to do nothing but soak up the sun. It is also a great place for couples, who will revel in its intimate and romantic atmosphere.

    Almanara Luxury Villas

    Boutique Hotel
    Map View

    The first thing you’ll notice at Almanara Luxury Villas is the beautiful, bendy palm trees swaying in the lush gardens. The property has six beautiful villas, including a Presidential Villa, and offers exceptional seven-star services. You will find bespoke furniture in all the villas, all of which have three bedrooms. The beach is pristine and picturesque, with views of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Dine at Sails, an architectural marvel on the property with sails covering the overhead beams, creating a superb ambiance for both romantic and family dinners. If you are looking for the lap of luxury, this is it.

    House of Waine

    Boutique Hotel
    5/5 (2 Reviews)
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    Courtesy of House of Waine / Booking.com

    House of Waine in Nairobi is the epitome of African elegance. With only 11 individually named luxury bedrooms sitting on a 2.5-acre piece of land, you will have privacy and serenity throughout your holiday. It is the perfect place to retreat to after visiting the nearby tourist hot spots, like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for a little baby elephant time; interaction with the giraffes at the giraffe centre and shopping for beautifully crafted beadwork from the nearby Kazuri Beads. Its location affords you undisturbed relaxation while also allowing you to be within reach of the city for a night out if you so wish.

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    DusitD2

    Boutique Hotel
    Map View
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    Courtesy of Dusit D2 Nairobi / Expedia

    The DusitD2 has taken Thai hospitality and mixed it with homegrown Kenyan hospitality to create an amazing experience for travelers. Situated just 20 minutes outside of the city it allows you to enjoy the calm and serenity of a suburb with the option of getting to the city’s social scene in a heartbeat. The décor is modern and warm and the award-winning spa provides you with an intimate and timeless ambiance for complete rejuvenation. The property features a striking red pool, which is the perfect retreat for residents and discerning visitors alike.

    Hemingways Watamu

    Boutique Hotel
    4.5/5 (18 Reviews)
    127713372
    Courtesy of Hemingways Watamu / Booking.com

    This five-star tropical paradise property is blessed with a pristine white beach and clear, inviting turquoise waters that provide an unforgettable holiday getaway. It is situated in the middle of the Watamu Marine National Park, and there are plenty of things to do, including golfing, kite surfing, safaris to the nearby Tsavo National Park and tours of the Gede ruins, an Arabic settlement from the 13th century. For those who want nothing more than lazy days, you can sunbathe in front of your room on a luxurious lawn or take a dip in their botanical pool.

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    Sankara Hotel

    Boutique Hotel
    4.5/5 (229 Reviews)
    192210538
    Courtesy of Sankara Nairobi / Booking.com

    The Sankara Hotel in Nairobi aims to provide visitors to the city with an authentically chic Nairobi experience. From the décor and the art to the hotel culture, everything is uniquely vibrant and urban, reflecting the character of the city. The property is home to six world-class bars, an exquisite rooftop pool and a heavenly spa. Sankara is synonymous with the upmarket social scene in Nairobi, while still maintaining exclusivity and impeccable service.

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    Glynis Horning contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on May 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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