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Diani Blue
Diani Blue
Diani Blue

Diani Blue: Our full report

Diani Blue, formerly Asha Cottage, is a small, owner-managed, guesthouse with just six rooms, all of which ...

... face onto the small, landscaped pool area. It concentrates on providing a very personal, low-key service to guests who actively want to avoid large resort hotels but still want to be in the heart of Diani Beach.

The plot isn't huge, so the rooms are quite close together. Rather than detracting from your privacy, however, this lends quite an intimate and cosy feel. The emphasis here is on a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, good value and the feeling that you are a guest in someone's home.

The access to Diani Blue is along a paved access road from the main Diani Beach road, and runs down a gentle hill towards the sea. Tropical gardens and a small footbridge across a stream lead to the property's main areas. From here you look straight out across the pool and beyond to the beach and ocean, though it's somewhat screened from people on the beach by vegetation and low palms.

The main building houses a simple reception lounge and veranda area, the covered dining terrace and a rather quaint, air-conditioned library and darts room, with a bar.

Outside, past the free-form pool, a small area walled off just above the beach, called 'The Edge', serves as the main outdoor dining and drinks terrace, shaded by low coconut palms and sunshades. Breakfast is often served around little tables tucked into various hideaways in the gardens.

Five of the rooms are positioned around the pool: two in the main house and three in the guest wing alongside the pool. These rooms are all of a similar standard, have both a pool view and a sea view (or at least a view in the direction of the sea), and feature pretty Swahili-style furniture and modern, glass-and-wood bathrooms. The sixth room, Alrhabah, is tucked at the back, slightly away from the pool. There's a safe and hairdryer in every room, plus filtered water and a cellphone for guests' use. Toiletries included in the bathrooms are sourced from a special eco-friendly line in Nairobi.

  • Room 1: Closest to the beach, and located in the guest wing, this is usually taken by repeat guests and honeymooners and can accommodate a third bed (a day bed is already in the room). It has a slightly private, sandy, 'patio' area.
  • Room 2: Right behind room 1, this has a king-sized bed and a single day bed.
  • Room 3: The final room in the 'guest wing' has two single beds plus an extra day bed in the room. The singles can be prepared as a king-sized bed with no discomfort. Rooms 2 and 3 are next to each other so work well for families.
  • Room 4: Set in the main house, on the veranda, it has a good through breeze. The spare single day bed is best used for a child – three adults is a bit tight – but this room works well for honeymooners too.
  • Room 4: This is the only proper twin room but as it is in the main house it is generally the last room to be booked, primarily because its door is across from the kitchen door.
  • Room 6: More towards the back of the house, and used as a family room, there is one king-sized bed and one day bed, but can also accommodate a second day bed. The room has wicker furniture rather than Swahili and a slightly smaller bathroom than the other rooms.
Most of the activities at Diani Blue are outsourced to local operators and other businesses – details of what can easily be offered are listed on cards in the bedrooms. Options include: dining out; diving (they use the excellent Diani Marine, a nearby dive base); kayaking; all-day dhow and snorkelling trips to Wasini Island and Kisite Marine Park (again, they use an excellent local operator, Pilli Pipa); and more adventurous watersports with H2O Extreme. For local snorkelling trips on the reef opposite, they use their own boat, masks and snorkels, and guests are guided by a fisherman, Rama. Captain Rama is usually happy to accompany guests into the sea, where he points out different species and essentially acts as a competent marine wildlife guide. There's a small charge for the snorkelling trips, which depart at various times depending on the tides.

The guesthouse also has a wellbeing centre, with a professional masseuse, where various treatments are on offer, including an aromatherapy full body massage (Ksh3,000 for one hour).

Diani Blue actively sponsors the local eye clinic, the Amadeus children's home and they have also created an educational trust for the 25 children of the staff. The trust is a merit-based scheme in which the child's report card percentages determine the size of the hotel's funding, so a student with a 75% grade will have 75% of their school fees covered. Finally, the lodge encourages guests to support the beach clean-up initiative and take a basket with them when heading out onto the beach.


Our view

With 26 staff – about two per guest – Diani Blue achieves high levels of personal attention, offset by relatively modest accommodation and meals. We really admire its work in the community, the investment in its staff, and its supply chain and environmental ethics. One of the most appealing and personable properties on Diani Beach, guests will feel most at home if they are solos or couples. However, its affordability, size and appeal to the local market mean that it needs to be booked well in advance.

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Country manager: Kenya

Geographics

Location
Kenya Coast, Kenya
Ideal length of stay
7 nights
Directions
There are scheduled flights to Diani Beach/Ukunda airport, which is seven minutes away by car. If you're transferring to or 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 hours.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Half Board
Food quality
Diani Blue tries to buy fresh produce such as seafood and salads locally. Although we weren’t able to try the food when we visited in 2019, on previous stays we thought the food was reasonably good, although not standout.

A continental breakfast – fruit, pastries (a different one every day – eg muffins), juices, toast and home-baked bread – is standard, and full cooked breakfasts are available at no extra cost. Breakfast is available from 7.30am until 9.30am.

Lunch is served 12.30pm-2.30pm and various salads are available as chef's specials, plus standard options such as burgers and pasta if you want something heartier.

The three-course dinner is a full menu at a fixed price, from about Ksh2,000 (US$24). There is always a seafood supplement of about Ksh1,000 (US$12) and they specialise in desserts such as pineapple pavlova. Friday is usually BBQ night. You can head to the restaurant for dinner 7.30pm-9.30pm.

A jug of filtered and purified drinking water is provided in each room in lieu of bottled water, in order to cut down on plastic bottles. This is made with a dehumidifier that provides 25 litres of drinking water a day.

Special interests

Beach holidays
One of Diani Blue's main natural attractions is its broad white beach frontage and often crystal-clear sea – great for beach holidays. You can relax on the beachfront terrace, have a drink or a meal, lie in the sun or take a snorkelling trip in the hotel’s boat.
See ideas for Beach holidays

Children

Attitude towards children
Ideally children should not be not under the age of 12 years, but there are no hard and fast rules.
Property’s age restrictions
None
Special activities & services
None
Equipment
None
Notes
Fine for older teenagers

Communications

Power supply notes
There is a back up generator for 24 hour power.
Communications
WiFi is available throughout the property.
TV & radio
No
Water supply
Mains
Water supply notes
The bathrooms are plumbed in. Water is supplied from the mains as well as transported in.

Sustainability

Diani Blue sustainability

Eyes for Africa – social initiatives

A shining beacon when it comes to social investment, Diani Blue supports Eyes for Africa, a British based charity devoted to preventing blindness in Africa. The main mission of the project is to reduce the socio-economic negative impact of avoidable blindness, thus improving the status of in neighbouring areas and to help in the rehabilitation and social inclusion of those irreversibly blind or severely visually impaired to realise their full potential. The clinic receives 20,000 patients and performs over 1,200 cataract operations each year.

However, the clinic is only the centre of a much bigger Community Based Programme (CBP) which is responsible for increasing awareness of eye health in local communities. The CBP help abolish preconceived considerations that prevent people from reaching care by training people in the community on primary eye care and referral. Eye screenings in remote villages with no transport infrastructure are performed regularly awareness and screening programmes were introduced in local schools, teaching basic eye health, testing the children’s sight and giving them the knowledge to go out to reach other people in the community who need our services.

Another magnificent dedication is shown by the Asha Cottage Educational Fund, which provides support to local parents by covering their children’s tuition fees and school costs. Diani Blue also supports The Diani Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, to help children have access to medical, occupational and physiotherapy treatments. Furthermore, all guests with leftover sun cream are encouraged to leave it at Diani Blue. This simple gesture would help save lives, as the sunscreen would be given to albino children which have a high risk of skin cancer.

See more great sustainability projects in Kenya

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
Diani Blue has a first aid kit but no in-house first aider. The excellent Diani Beach Hospital is a two-minute drive down the road. In a major emergency, the hospital would assist and flying doctors would come to Diani Beach airport, five minutes' drive away.
Dangerous animals
Low Risk
Security measures
Night security guards are stationed at the front by the road and at the back by the beach. During the day they have one by the beach only.

Diani Blue is linked to Euromax security and they have an emergency button.

Fire safety
Sand buckets are set around the property.

Activities

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Boat trip

    Boat trip

  • Scuba-diving

    Scuba-diving

  • Snorkelling

    Snorkelling

  • Watersports

    Watersports

Extras

Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Diani Blue offers a full laundry service at an additional cost, around US$1-3 per item.
Money
Depending on what they have available, currency can be exchanged, using the rate of the day off the internet. No cash-back on debit cards.
Accepted payment on location
Cash payments may be made in euros, pounds sterling, US dollars and Kenyan shillings. Prices are all in Kenyan shillings.
Visa, Mastercard and AMEX are accepted with no surcharge, but note that guests cannot pay for transfers or taxi services by card – as they are not Diani Blue’s services. No travellers' cheques.

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