Kinondo Kwetu is a delightful beach lodge on Kenya’s coast.
Kinondo Kwetu: Our full report
Far to the south of Diani beach proper, Kinondo Kwetu ('Our Home at Kinondo' in Swahili) is a Swedish-owned, luxury boutique hotel, set among shady baobabs and palm trees, right on the beach.
African art, sumptuous fabrics and dark wood lend unusual flavours to this beautiful beach lodge, catering for a maximum of 38 guests. The 16, breeze-cooled rooms have bright and stylish interiors and, very unusually on the coast, no locks on their doors. Nor they do they appear to need locking: it's a measure of the respect with which the unionised staff at Kinondo Kwetu are treated that guests can treat this beach lodge as they would their own home.
Equally pleasant is the fact that the beach here doesn't suffer from the persistent beach boys who can do so much to make time on the sands a hassle further north on Diani Beach. Indeed, Kinondo Beach is largely deserted. It's worth knowing that the beach is also quite narrow and relatively steeply shelving, with the reef quite far out and the lagoon shallow at low tide.
The lodge has a sauna and includes most sports and non-motorized watersports in its rates, with use of the facilities at the PADI diving school and horse riding from the stables costing extra. Tennis with a tennis trainer, a yoga platform and yoga instructor are also available.
Plenty of local excursions can be organised, with the closest, a 20-minute walk or 5-minute drive away, being to Kaya Kinondo sacred forest, the first of the coastal Mijikenda group of people's ancestral groves or kaya to be opened to the public. Digo guides and interpreters are on hand to take you on 1-to-2 hour guided walking visits through the giant trees, watching forest birds, insects and other wildlife.
Our last stay at Kinondo Kwetu was in 2012. A full report on our visit will follow shortly.
Our ViewHaving stayed here a couple of times we think this is one of the very best small hotels on the coast. The blend of chic, Scandinavian design with rustic, tropical Kenyan warmth makes for an irresistible combination. The food is excellent, the service gently enveloping without being overbearing, and the hosts charming and genuine. There's plenty to do here if you get tired of doing nothing, but you need to be aware that there are no local services in the shape of restaurants or bars.
Ideal length of stay: 4 nights-plus
Directions: At the southern end of Diani Beach, where it's known as Kinondo Beach, past the end of the tarmac. The transfer from Diani Beach Airport takes about 20 minutes. If you're transferring to or from from Mombasa, the Likoni ferry crossing, linking Mombasa Island with the south coast mainland can sometimes add significantly to journey times, especially at rush hours. For Mombasa airport, allow two and a half hours.
Owner: Ida and Filip Trygg Andersson
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Kinondo Kwetu are a highlight. Maramalades and jams are home made and very little is shop bought. All sauces, pasta, bread and other requirements are made from scratch, often using the produce from a local, Norwegian-owned, organic farm.
Breakfast is a cold, continental buffet set up from 8:00am to 10:00am but timings are very flexible. Cooked breakfasts are made to order and include local eggs, bacon and sausages.
Lunch (usually from 1:30pm onwards but again flexible) and dinner are both of three courses. There's a set menu but likes, dislikes and most dietary requirements can be met with a little advance notice. Not surprisingly, the seafood is prolific here and very good.
Afternoon tea or coffee and snacks and cakes are served from 4:00pm by the big pool. Pre-dinner drinks are served from 7:30pm with 'bitings' (canapés).
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included, included soft drinks, beers, a good selection of house wines and standard spirits. Champagne and premium wines can be ordered at extra cost.
Beach holidays: Having stayed here a couple of times we think this is one of the very best small hotels on the coast and ideal for luxury holidays. You can make use of the facilities at the PADI diving school or just hang out on the often nearly deserted Kinondo Beach.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Kenya
Attitude towards children: With its owners spending much of their time on site, and having young children of their own, Kinondo Kwetu is very family-friendly. But it's big enough to absorb children without impacting on the peace of other guests, including honeymooners.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: Experienced, first-aid trained nannies (no professional qualifications) are available for baby-sitting or child-minding. Children's food is easy to organise.
Equipment: Baby cots, baby car seats, beach toys, children's life vests.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Young children and poor swimmers will need to be supervised near the large pool, which doesn't have a life guard and is very deep.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There's free wifi in the main houses and by the pool and a computer for guests to use in the office. The cellphone signal is also good here.
TV & radio: There's a TV in the staff canteen and guests are welcome to watch major sporting events.
Health & safety
Medical care: First aid and first-aid trained staff are available on site.
Security measures: Beach guards and security staff patrol the property day and night.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are dotted around the rooms and cottages and are regularly inspected. They also have fire hoses and perform regular drills.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There is a central safe for valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Extras can be settled on departure in cash Pounds, Euros, US dollars and Kenya Shillings. Visa, MasterCard and Amex are also accepted, all with a 5% surcharge.