Karen Gables: Our full report
Karen Gables is a characterful, Cape Dutch style boutique hotel, situated in the quiet Nairobi suburb of Karen.With expansive gardens and river frontage, this is a tranquil place to relax away from the hubbub of the city centre.
Just a 30-minute drive from both the international and domestic airport, Karen Gables is conveniently located for short stays in Nairobi. It was originally built as a private house and the owner still lives onsite, as a result it feels very homely and welcoming. This is the antithesis of many of the larger, international hotels in Nairobi.
Karen Gables has just seven rooms, four Standard Rooms (of which there is one single, one twin, and two doubles), two Suites and one Master Suite. All the rooms are beautifully furnished with wooden beds and wardrobes, and the majority have comfy seating and writing desks too. The main difference between the room types is the size; both junior suites are larger and have TVs, while the Master Suite also has a private lounge with its own fireplace. All rooms are en-suite, with a toilet, shower and a single wash basin, although a several of rooms have a bathtub too.
The communal areas at Karen Gables are quite expansive, spread across the main house and gardens. There are several cosy seating areas, from the main lounge with its high ceiling and wood burning fire, to the first floor TV lounge with selection of DVDs, or the shady veranda and pool bar. Inside there is a grand dining area with a beautiful wooden table capable of seating eight or more guests, while outside you can find a large solar heated swimming pool. We particularly liked the tiered gardens, which were full of mature trees and provided plenty of shady spots to relax with a good book.
Most people typically only spend a night in Nairobi, but with a bit more time you can easily get out and explore the city. Popular options include visiting Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe Centre, or possibly the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (must be pre-booked).
Small, high quality, owner run hotels are somewhat of a rarity in Nairobi, and Karen Gables fills this niche nicely. We love the home from home atmosphere and this a fantastic option for a night or two before or after your safari.
Country manager: Kenya
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- Spend one or two nights here to explore Nairobi at the start or end of your safari.
- Karen Gables is around a 30-60 minute drive from both the international and domestic airports.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- When we last stayed here we thought the food was very good; do not expect fine dining, but it was fresh, tasty and plentiful. Karen Gables is normally booked on a bed & breakfast or half board basis, with breakfast consisting of a selection of fruit, bread and cereals with hot items to order. Dinner is either two or three courses. We started with butternut soup, followed by roast chicken served with rice and seasonal vegetables, this was followed by raspberry ice cream with a warm chocolate brownie.
- Dining style
- Mixture of group dining and individual tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is possible on request
- Drinks included
- Drinks are extra cost, with soft drinks costing around $3, or a beer or glass or wine around $6.
- Attitude towards children
- Karen Gables accepts children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- There are no specific facilities for children, although there is a good sized pool and selection of DVDs in the first-floor lounge.
- Generally recommended for children
- Good for children of all ages, although we advise supervision around the swimming pool.
- Water supply
Health & safety
- Medical care
- Staff are first aid trained and there is a first aid kit onsite. For anything more serious it is only a short drive to a local hospital.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There is security in place 24 hours a day.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are dotted around the property
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is included in the price.
- There are electronic safes in all rooms
- Accepted payment on location
- Karen Gables accepts payments by cash or card. All major cards are accepted, with the exception of American Express.
Other lodges in Nairobi
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Four Points Nairobi Airport
The Four Points by Sheraton, set within the perimeter of Nairobi International Airport, is ideally located for a first or last night in Kenya.
The Emakoko is a luxurious, owner-managed safari lodge in a beautiful gorge on the edge of Nairobi National Park.
The Eka is an affordably priced business-class hotel in a relatively convenient location between Nairobi International Airport and Wilson Airport.
The Ole-Sereni is a modern, stylish hotel neighbouring Nairobi National Park and located 6km from Wilson domestic airport.
Crowne Plaza Nbi Apt
The Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport (formerly known as the Lazizi Premiere and now part of the InterContinental Hotels Group) is the oldest hotel at Nairobi International Airport.
Macushla House is a very pleasant, small, owner-managed bed and breakfast hotel in a leafy part of southwest Nairobi, very convenient for visiting the Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage.
Giraffe Manor is a unique, perennially popular lodge on the outskirts of Nairobi, offering up-close-and-personal encounters with the rare Rothschild giraffes that roam its extensive grounds.
Aero Club of East Africa
The Aero Club of East Africa is a private members' club in the grounds of Wilson Airport, Nairobi, offering offering comfortable rooms and a good restaurant, bar and swimming pool to non-members.
Hemingways Nairobi is a luxury country-house style hotel, with a spa and gym, in the wealthy suburb of Karen.
Nairobi Tented Camp
Nairobi Tented Camp is the only tented camp located inside Nairobi National Park, making it a great option for a true safari stay close to the city and airports.
The Norfolk Hotel
The Norfolk Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Nairobi and has a reputation for its colourful history dating back to 1904.
The Palacina is a complex of accommodation options in a quieter part of central Nairobi.
Hogmead is a stylish, luxury boutique hotel/homestay in a secluded part of Langata in south-west Nairobi, very close to Nairobi National Park and the elephant orphanage.
Sankara is a strikingly built hotel in the bustling central Nairobi suburb of Westlands, primarily used as a business stay, with very good dining and leisure facilities.
One Forty Eight is a very stylish boutique hotel in one of the leafiest corners of the southwest Nairobi suburb of Karen-Langata. The Giraffe Centre at Giraffe Manor is just a 10-minute walk away.
Acacia Camp is a rustic and affordable safari camp in a wildlife sanctuary a 30-minute drive towards Mombasa from Nairobi’s international airport.
Design-led, contemporary hotel in the Village Market area of Gigiri, a largely diplomatic and luxury residential suburb 10km north of Nairobi’s central business district.
The Stanley is a large, traditional hotel – the oldest in Nairobi – offering a range of facilities.