Where to stay on Lamu

History and culture, light and views, or something as simple as a five-minute walk to the beach.  We all have our definition of the perfect vacation. From backpacker guesthouses to luxury homes, we are the only website where you can book the full range of accommodations on Lamu, many not advertised anywhere else. We work with locals when possible, or with Europeans and Americans who have positive relationships with the community.  But most of all, we work with you, finding the right place for your taste.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Key:
Turtle Rankings

Accommodations rated by general price category:  1 Turtle (lowest) to 4 Turtles (highest)

Season
Low Season (LS) 1 Feb – 20 Dec; High Season (HS) 20 Dec – 1 Feb; prices higher in August.

All rates in U.S. dollars; exchange rates may vary.

 

Greenwell House - Shela Village

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Famed London makeup artist Mary Greenwell brought her intense
aesthetic sensibility to the task of designing her Shela house.
Tucked behind the Peponi Hotel, luxurious yet supremely comfortable, the house has an intimate feel that is unique on the island.  The view from the master bedroom is unparalleled.  We love the Ipod dock.  We love the outdoor shower even more.
  Number of bedrooms: 4, all en suite; sleeps 6 Breakfast included: yes
Hot water: yes
Features: Gorgeous design, Views, Garden, Superb Chef & Manager
Rate: $245 (LS) - $600 (HS) for 2; $50 for each additional person

Greenwell House

 

Papaya House - Shela Village

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With its enormous, jungle-like garden, and the monkeys that visit the top-floor bedroom in the mornings, Papaya House is unique in Shela – and the world. The house’s owner, Patrizia, brought an Italian sense of color and a pervasive aesthetic to traditional Swahili architecture. Because the house nestles against the dunes, you can head straight for the beach without seeing a soul in the morning. Yet the village is two minutes away. Wonderful staff, hammocks, great bookshelf. A distinctive home.   Number of bedrooms: 4
Hot water: yes, solar!
Breakfast: yes
Features: Stunning architecture, views, verandahs, wildlife.
Rates:200-500 Euros per night (approximately $280-$635 USD depending on exchange rate); discounts for couples, monthly rental available

Papaya House

 

Full Moon - Shela Village

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In tiny Shela village, world-renowned architect Bernard Spoerry and his daughter Chloe have renovated 5 classic Swahili houses with 11 bedrooms, and opened a restaurant and shops to create a built environment on the Shela waterfront. The experience of staying at Full Moon is both sensual and elevating. (Note: The family’s venture helps support the Anne Spoerry Sailing Doctors, founded in memory of Bernard’s aunt, the bush pilot and medical doctor Anne Spoerry, known in Kenya as Mama Daktari.)   Number of bedrooms: 11
Hot water: yes
Swimming pool: 2
Breakfast: Optional
Features: Beautiful design, impeccable taste, amazing views, pools, restaurant
Rates: $250 most times of year; group rates available

Full Moon

 

Fatuma’s Tower - Shela Village

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Fatuma’s Tower is like staying at the elegant yet perfectly comfortable home of friends who possess great taste in art and life.  A range of rooms, including a cottage; large groups easily accommodated. Fatuma’s Tower is the result of two decades of painstaking building and reconstruction by Gillies Turle, a former antiques dealer, and his wife Fiammetta.  The result is the mise en scene of a classic European film, yet the atmosphere is unstudied -- as if that perfect ruined column just fell there.   Number of bedrooms: 12; 1 cottage
Features: Large grounds, plunge pool, yoga classes, massage.  
Rates: (LS) $140 dbl (en suite); $100 sgl (en suite), $75 sgl (shared bath) /(HS) $200 dbl (en suite); add'l charges for children and extra beds
Self-catering option:  yes
Hot water: yes, solar!

 

Stopover and Bahari Guest Houses - Shela Village

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Wind, sand, and stars -- just add sea. Two guesthouses perch over the Indian Ocean as you enter Shela village.  Open the windows and you could easily imagine that you’re sleeping on a boat.  The Stopover and Shela Bahari guesthouses have slightly different vibes, but both are relaxing, with large, airy en suite rooms and perfect verandahs. Please keep in mind that rooms on the higher floors are more expensive.   Number of bedrooms: 5 (Bahari); 8 (Stopover)
Features: sea views, terraces; moderately priced, friendly restaurants
Hot water: no
Breakfast: yes
Rates:  (LS) $65-$80 dbl; $45 sgl / (HS) $85-$150 dbl; $70-$100 sgl

 

Sunset House - Shela Village

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State-of-the-art accommodations, Lamu-style.  Sunset House was built in traditional architectural style, but has a contemporary layout.  Three floors, each with separate apartment and roomy terrace.  Sunset House is near the dunes in Shela (and the soccer field, for those who want to watch games) but is only a ten-minute walk from the beach.  It’s charming and comfortable and immaculate, and feels more private than some of the places right on the water.  Great for families, groups, couples, singles --  and soccer fans.   Number of bedrooms: 5
Hot water: yes; solar! 
Breakfast: yes
Features: large terraces, outdoor kitchens, view of soccer field and dunes, 10 min from beach
Rates:  (LS) $80 top floor; $65 double; HOUSE $325; $45 sgl /(HS) $150 all rooms/ HOUSE $600

sunset House

 

Second House - Shela Village

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One memorable summer, Second House was our home.  Perfect for families, couples, or singles.  Private, spacious en suite bedroom on the 3rd floor opening out to large roof terrace with dining table, shaded double daybed, and sea view.  Two bedrooms, second bath and kitchen on lower floor.  Second House is a few blocks in from the sea, so you may have to ask directions the first time. The second time, you’re home!   Number of bedrooms: 3
Hot water: no
Breakfast: optional
Features: Roof terrace, kitchen with very nice dishware and espresso pot! 
Rates: single $45, double: $75, Whole house: $150-$300, depending on season.

Second House

 

Abdul's Attic - Shela Village

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Very romantic and a block from the beach, this top-floor apartment is the best budget accommodation on Lamu. Separate kitchen with dining table, large room with two Lamu-style beds under a thatched roof, and a verandah with a sweeping view of the Indian Ocean. You can’t do better for this price.   Number of bedrooms: 1
Hot water: no
Breakfast: self-created
Features: gorgeous view, thatched roof, full bath and kitchen 
Rates: $35 single, $45 double (LS); $80/$100 (HS); Monthly rates available

Abdul's Attic

 

Subira House - Lamu Town

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Our top pick for Lamu for both ambiance and price is this lovely historic house restored by a Swedish couple who fell in love with the region in the 1970s. Their restoration seamlessly dovetails modern comforts and design with traditional Lamu furnishings and architecture, along with an environmental ethic. Top floor rooms have lovely view of the Lamu Fort and the sea. Prices are reasonable, and the owners are easygoing yet highly professional. A great way to experience why Lamu deserved World Heritage site status!   Number of bedrooms:6; owner’s apt is sometimes available
Hot water: yes, solar
Breakfast: optional
Features: Historic architecture, lots of hangout space, top-floor views, great owners 
Rates: $45 /$55 per person (LS); $48/$60 per person (HS); rates vary according to room

Subira House

 

Mkoko House - Manda Island

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Sometimes we want to get away, even from Shela. With 360-degree views, wild beach, and total privacy, Mkoko House is a great escape. This newly constructed, rambling house has a clean, uncluttered aesthetic.The house is tasteful and comfortable with verandahs large enough to live on, and an attentive staff to provide fresh seafood meals. Ten minutes by boat from Shela. Hike over to the Takwa Ruins and wild Manda Beach, where sea turtles nest.   Number of bedrooms: 3
Hot water:no
Breakfast: yes
Features: Private, spacious, close to the open sea
Rates:40 Euros (single), 70 (Euros) double, 200 (Euros) whole house

 

Queen House - Lamu Town

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Unpretentious, fun and comfortable, Queen House is one of our favorite moderately priced places in Lamu Town.  An historic house restored in 2003, Queen House reflects the warmth of its Dutch owner.  A great roof terrace looks over the sea, which is only a block away. Close to all of Lamu town's restaurants and shops yet private, with outdoor beds.  Energetic staff who will cook and provide tours.   Number of bedrooms: 3
Hot water: no
Breakfast: yes
Features: excellent roof terrace, outdoor sleeping areas, convenient.
Rates: $75-$85; monthly rental available

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Stopover - Lamu Town

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Brand-new, built in Lamu’s traditional architectural style, Lamu Stopover is right on the waterfront, but far enough away from the busiest part of town to be peaceful, and very close to Coconut Beach. Rooms are large and pleasant, and prices reasonable. The views of the sea are as romantic as those you will find in more expensive hotels.

 

  Number of bedrooms:3
Hot water: no
Self-catering: yes
Features: huge roof terrace, views
Rates:  $40 single, $60 double

 

Munira Camp

Munira Camp

What is it about the Indian Ocean? Remote, with a hint of lawlessness, yet embracing. Munira Camp, run by adventurer Mike Kennedy, is built on a bluff over the sea on Kiwayu Island, inside a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The surrounding waters are home to whales, dugongs and dolphins, and the beach is wild and unpeopled. Staying in one of Mike’s ingeniously designed thatched bandas is one of the essential ways to experience the Indian Ocean, an experience you will carry in a quiet place inside yourself for a long, long time.   Number of bedrooms:6
Hot water:yes, solar
Features:one of the world’s great locations, excellent food, fishing, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, scuba, safaris to Boni and Dodori national reserves
Rates:$360 per person full board (non-residents); $315 per person full board (residents); children under 12 half price

We can book virtually any private house, hotel, or guest house on the island. Please don’t hesitate to ask.

Shela v. Lamu Town

The dilemma: staying in Lamu Town or Shela.  For people interested in cultural experience, Lamu: historic architecture, busy streets, hole in the wall restaurants, street vendors.  For people seeking calm, long walks on the beach, and sundowners at the Peponi hotel, Shela is where you should be looking.  The towns are a 30-40 minute walk or a 10-minute boat ride away from one another. 

A word about rates:  To understand prices on Lamu watch the classic film Pepe Le Moko, set in the Casbah.   Negotiating is a blood sport on Lamu.  Rates are seasonal but vary at whim.  Often we get better rates than you could find on your own.  But we do build in a profit margin (far less than companies in New York and London) and we earn it!  With us, you can pre-book accommodations found nowhere else on the Internet, and we match you with your ideal lodgings and activities. We are the only company geared toward mid-range accommodations on Lamu, along with top budget accommodations and exclusive listings for the most aesthetic luxury private rentals in Shela Village.

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