Historical Hotels in Kenya: Where the Past Meets the Present

Kenya, a country with breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, and diverse cultures, boasts of a hospitality industry steeped in history. The historical hotels in Kenya stand as silent witnesses to the storied past—from before and during the colonial age. 

Join us as we uncover the captivating tales behind each establishment. From the colonial-era charm of Nairobi’s iconic landmarks and the wilderness to the coastal retreats that have beckoned travelers for generations. 

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a seasoned traveler, or simply curious about Kenya’s past, our exploration will ignite your imagination.

Join us as we unravel the mysteries and celebrate the enduring legacy of historical hotels in Kenya.

6 Historical Hotels in Kenya

1. Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi (1902)

Historical Hotels in Kenya: The Sarova Stanley Hotel 1950

The Sarova Stanley is one of the historical hotels in Kenya, dating back to 1902. The hotel was first named Victoria Hotel, and later Stanely Hotel in 1904, after an explorer known as Henry Morten Stanley. The original owner of this hotel was Mayence Bent, a UK businesswoman who worked as a dressmaker and also ran a post office.

Initially, the Stanley Hotel was a two-story building with 15 beds. However, in 1905, a fire destroyed everything on Victoria Street (now Tom Mboya Street). After the fire, Mayence moved her hotel to an unused building in the Railway.

In 1947, Mayence sold the hotel to Abraham Lazarus Block. In addition, in 1958, the hotel’s infrastructure was greatly torn and Abrahams’s Sons renovated and expanded the hotel. However, the Sarova Group of Companies bought the Stanley Hotel in 1978.

The Stanley Hotel was the first place to sell the first 10 bottles of Tusker beer, which were handmade and delivered to the hotel’s manager in 1922. In addition, the Nairobi Stock Exchange emerged from this hotel in the same year.

The hotel has historic accommodation rooms with modern amenities that make guests comfortable during their stay at this iconic hotel in Nairobi. As of 2024, the hotel has 210 hotels, all the way from beds in 1905. The hotel has grown in great milestones that have witnessed a lot in Kenya’s history.

The hotel has meeting and conference rooms which have hosted several meetings by world iconic leaders. For instance, the late Queen Elizabeth visited the hotel in 1952 on a world tour. In addition, famous others and film artists like Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway have also been to Stanely Hotel.

Having gotten the roots from Mayence, who brought fresh vegetables and fruits from her husband’s farm, the hotel has since been serving the most fresh meals. In addition, the Sarova Stanely has employed highly qualified chefs who make international and local cuisines.

You can visit this historical hotel in Kenya whether for business or leisure. From the hotel, you can enjoy a game drive to Nairobi National Park.

2. Fairmont The Norfolk, Nairobi (1904)

Fairmont The Norfolk is another one of the historical hotels in Kenya. The hotel first opened its doors on December 25, 1904. Most of its first settlers were the first African explorers who visited Masai Mara, the Kenyan Coast, and The Great Rift Valley. At this time, the hotel had 40 rooms.

The hotel is located on Harry Thuku Road in Nairobi. It’s close to the Kenya National Theatre and National Museum of Kenya, the Nairobi National Park, etc.

In 1909, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, stayed in this hotel shortly after his retirement as the US president.

In addition, the hotel has a rich history, including a Ford Roadster dating back to 1973. You can take a look at this vehicle and other historic pecks.

In 1913, the hotel added 30 more rooms, a veranda with a balcony, and an arched front entrance. Furthermore, in 1972, the hotel expanded to 170 rooms. The accommodation spaces include 17 luxury suites and 108 rooms.

On December 23rd, 1980, a guest placed a bomb in his room in the western wing of the hotel which exploded on the 31st, 3 hours into the New Year. However, the hotel rebuilt the western wing and it’s now complete.

The hotel has accommodation rooms ranging from Deluxe rooms, Deluxe courtyard, Fairmont room, and Deluxe veranda. The rooms feature kingsize or twin beds, bathroom facilities, a digital safe, a table and in-room business facilities, free WiFi, etc. Other amenities in the hotel include a swimming pool and spa services.

The hotel serves local and international cuisines, making your stay more comfortable regardless of where you originate. You can order special meals according to your preferences and you will get them.

3. The White Rhino Hotel, Nyeri (1910)

Historical hotels in Kenya: The White Rhino Hotel

The White Rhino Hotel is one of the historical hotels in Kenya, dating back in 1910. The hotel was founded by three Europeans—Sandy Herd, Lord Cranworth, and Berkely Cole. History says that the name orignated from a rhino that the white settlers shot in the place where the hotel is.

In 1965, an Asian business man bought the hotel. At the time of selling, it had only 27 rooms which were not self contained. The hotels main services at the time was lodging, bar and restaurant.

From its establishemsnt, Africans were didn’t have permission to enter the hotel, only the whites lodged there. However, that changed in 1975 when the first Africans started to enter the hotel. In addition to its history, the White Rhino was gazzeted in March 9th, 2001 as a National Heritage Site.

The hotel has penthouse suites, executive suites, deluxe rooms and superior rooms. All these rooms have mordern amenities that make your stay comforatble and fulfilling. The rooms have a colonial charm dating in the 20th century, making you rewind as you imagine the past.

See Also: Best Hotels in Rift Valley.

In addition, the hotel has meeting rooms where you con hold business meetings. In addition, there is abquate room and space where you can hold celebrations such as weddings, parties, etc. These amenities makes this hotel stand out in the mordern community.

Fuirthermore, the hotel has bars, restaurant, a coffe shop where you can take meals at your convenience. The chefs here have experience in making international and local meals upon request.

The hotel is situated in the greeny Nyeri town, where you can have amzing views of the town. In addition, the hotel is child-friendly, so you can travel with your children at your Kenyan safari.

4. Muthu Keekorok Lodge, Masai Mara (1962)

Muthu Keekorok Lodge, Masai Mara

Muthu Keekorok Lodge, located in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, is among the historical hotels in Kenya. The hotel was established in 1962 as the first lodge in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The main aim of building this lodge was to cater to tourists visiting the reserve to witness the annual wildebeest migration, one of the most spectacular wildlife events in the world.

As the first lodge in the Masai Mara, Keekorok pioneered in developing tourism in the region. In addition, its location in the heart of the reserve provided visitors with easy access to the diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes of the Mara.

Over the years, Muthu Keekorok Lodge has expanded and undergone several developments to enhance the guest experience while preserving its history. In addition, the lodge’s facilities grew to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the Masai Mara.

Muthu Keekorok Lodge has accomodation ranging from presidential suites, standard rooms, executive suites, and chalet rooms. The rooms and suites have kingsise of twin beds, a safe box, WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, iron box &board, a table and chair.

The hotel has one restaurant and three bars, searving delicious meals and variours drinks from across the globe respectively.

In recent years, Keekorok Lodge has undergone modernization and upgrades to meet its guests’ evolving needs and expectations. The lodge offers a range of amenities and services, including guided safari excursions to the park.

Muthu Keekorok Lodge stands as a testament to the enduring allure of the Masai Mara and the timeless appeal of historical hotels in Kenya.

5. Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort(1974)

Historical hotels in Kenya: Sarova Whitesands Mombasa

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa is a beacon of luxury and relaxation along the Kenyan coast. It is one of the historical hotels in Kenya, dating back to 1974. Since its opening, it has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a beachfront escape in Mombasa.

Sarova Whitesands boasts a prime location along Bamburi Beach, offering guests breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. In addition, its expansive grounds provide ample space for strolls, while the beachfront invites you to indulge in sun-soaked days.

Since 1974, the resort has undergone several expansions and renovations, continually enhancing its facilities and amenities to ensure a world-class experience for visitors. However, its rooms are beautifully decorated with 20th-century materials, not leaving history behind.

Accommodations at Sarova Whitesands range from spacious rooms and suites to luxurious villas, catering to travelers’ diverse needs and preferences. In addition, the resort has amenities such as 5 swimming pools, spa services, a fitness center, and water sports facilities.

Furthermore, the resort has restaurants serving international and local cuisines and bars offering refreshing drinks. You can enjoy whatever you want during your stay in this historic resort on the Kenyan Coast.

Read Also: Tips for Unforgetful Trip in Mombasa.

The resort has conference facilities that have witnessed business dealings since 1970, marking an irresistible history. 

In addition, the resort actively implements initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, supporting local communities, and contributing to the preservation of the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Kenyan coast.

6. Sunset Hotel, Kisumu (1977)

Sunset Hotel in Kisumu holds a cherished position within the hospitality landscape of Kisumu, Kenya. This hotel is one of the historical hotels in Kenya dating back to November 26th, 1977. The Sunset Hotel is strategically situated to capture breathtaking views of Lake Victoria.

The Sunset Hotel in Kisumu has 50 rooms, ranging from standard single, standard double, single deluxe, twin beds, triple beds, and single deluxe. The rooms have modern amenities such as WiFi, air conditioning, and a TV. In addition, the rooms have bathrooms and the necessary amenities. 

As one of the longstanding establishments in Kisumu, Sunset Hotel holds cultural and historical significance for both residents and visitors. It has witnessed the city’s evolution over the years, serving as a meeting place for locals and travelers to connect and unwind.

Read Also: Unveiling Kisumu’s Best Kept Secrets.

Beyond providing comfortable accommodations, Sunset Hotel Kisumu serves as a gateway to the region’s myriad attractions and activities. You can explore Kisumu’s vibrant markets, historic landmarks, and natural wonders, with the hotel as a convenient base for your adventures.

Historical Hotels in Kenya: Conclusion

Now you have known the most historical hotels in Kenya. Why don’t you embark on a journery and visit one of these historic hotels in Kenya. From the Sarova Stanely, Fairmont the Norfolk, The White Rhino, Muthu Keekorok, Sarova Whitesands, to the Sunset Hotel in Kisumu, there is something for everyone.

You can also check our guide on the historic hotels in Nairobi.

Historical Hotels in Kenya: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What makes these hotels historically significant?

These hotels have hosted notable guests, including celebrities, politicians, and royalty. They have also witnessed significant events in Kenya’s history, such as independence celebrations, business, and political meetings.

  1. Are these historical hotels still operational?

Yes, these historical hotels are still operational and welcome guests worldwide. However, they have undergone multiple renovations while maintaining their historical touch to stay relevant.

  1. What amenities do these historical hotels offer?

While maintaining their historical charm, these hotels have included modern amenities such as luxury accommodations, fine dining restaurants, spa facilities, swimming pools, and recreational activities.

  1. Can guests learn about the history of these hotels during their stay?

Many of these historical hotels in Kenya offer guided tours and displays showcasing their historical significance, including photographs and artifacts.

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