Where to Stay | Nairobi, Kenya

Tribe Hotel – Nairobi

While I learned so much about traditional East African cuisine and culture at my home stay in the Ngong Hills, you know I love (and need) my “me” time, too. After two weeks of singing, dancing and YouTube watching with my surrogate family, I was ready for a couple nights of solitude in an oversized bed without an unrequested 5 a.m. wake up call of, “Hey Angie, are you sleeping?!”

I only had two nights to spend in Nairobi proper, so I didn’t have much time to search holiday deals or sample a variety of hotels like I normally would. Since I had to make my short time count, I polled my new Kenyan friends about the best local accommodations. I wanted to find the perfect mix of comfort, authenticity and safety. (I say safety because my visit to Kenya coincided with terror group Al-Shabaab gearing up for a new round of attacks centered at the Kenya-Somalia border and in Nairobi itself. I needed to be sure I was somewhere with good security!)

When several of my friends recommended The Tribe Hotel, a boutique in Nairobi’s Diplomatic District, I decided to check it out for myself.

Welcome chocolates? I think I’m going to like it here.

I was immediately impressed with the property — and not just because there were no slithering visitors in the bathroom. Tribe puts a huge emphasis on art, design and detail, so around every corner you’ll find something interesting and beautiful to look at. It was a bit like sleeping in the African wing of the Museum of Natural History in NYC. That’s my kind of hotel.

Locally inspired art decorates the Tribe Hotel’s halls & walls 

My room at the Tribe Hotel

If you’re looking to spot some A-listers along with your Big 5, Tribe is the place to start.

Unfathomable as it may seem, I was not the most famous person to ever grace the halls of the Tribe Hotel. Previous celebrity guests have included the likes of Akon, Beyonce, Wyclef Jean, Reese Witherspoon and many foreign dignitaries… some of whom may or may not have fallen into the pool during cocktail hour. I’m not at liberty to disclose particulars, but may I suggest to anyone visiting a cool hotel: make friends with the staff  to get the inside scoop — even if it’s off the record.

Tribe is uniquely prepared to handle the rich and famous, possessing Nairobi’s only glamorous 1,000 sq. ft. Penthouse Suite and facilities to house an entourage as well. Yet somehow, it never feels pretentious.

Tribe’s pool area – the site of many a swanky shindig

Who doesn’t love a swim up bar?

Speaking of getting the inside scoop, I met a handful of fascinating people during my stay at Tribe who helped me to get an even deeper understanding of Kenyan culture and society. I was eating by myself at Jiko one night, as solo travelers often do, when a couple of guys my age invited me to join their dinner party. I’m so glad I did! We spent the rest of the night eating way too much beautiful food and chatting about every topic under the African sun, from funny stories of their interactions with various celebs and politicians to heartbreaking tales of Rwandan genocide and recent abductions that hit too close to home. After waking up at 5 that morning, going on safari for eight hours, facing death (more about that here) and finally making it to the hotel exhausted and shaken, I ended up staying out until 4 a.m. with my new friends, just absorbing their insights and enjoying their company.

Why it continues to surprise me, I have no idea, but I keep realizing that there’s no hotel room or experience that compares with meeting real people and making real connections.

The view from my room 

It wasn’t quite warm enough for me to hop in the pool, but I did soak up the sun on a deck chair one afternoon while digging into Out of Africa, Karen Blixen’s tale of her days on a coffee farm in the Ngong Hills.

Tribe’s pool area seems to heat up even more in the evenings, when chilled out cocktail parties and the occasional wild bash take place. Just don’t fall in!

Tribe’s roof lounge – the best place to socialize until the wee hours 

While the pool area was sophisticated and modern, the ambiance comfortable but hip and the service lovely, as usual, it’s the spa that sealed the deal for me. Tribe’s Kaya Spa made Condé Nast Traveler‘s 2011 Hot List for spas and I can confirm – it’s one of the best!

I had the basic 60 minute full body massage and for the first time ever, it felt like 2 hours instead of one. Am I the only person who settles in for a massage only to spend the entire time thinking about how much time is left?  I found myself wondering how a massage this good could last this long! I would’ve fist-pumped but I was just too relaxed.

It was in the top 3 massages I’ve had in my life, real talk.

Tribe ticked all the boxes for me: free WiFi and minibar, gorgeously prepared meals at the restaurant, impeccable service and an interesting hotel concept. Somehow it manages to be luxurious without feeling stuffy in the least. It’s classy, urban, modern and 100% Kenyan.

Tribe is a hotel you can learn from, not just a place to sleep at night.

I hope that one day, the Tribe Hotel will franchise. I could totally see a distinctive property like this in Atlanta or Miami.

Whether you’re in Nairobi for business or a stopover en route to the Masai Mara or points beyond, The Tribe Hotel really is a treat to visit. Next time I’m in Kenya, hopefully soon as I want to get back to the Compassion center with some donations, Tribe (and Kaya Spa!) will be my first stop.

Follow Tribe on Twitter: @TribeHotelKenya

Limuru Road
The Village Market, Gigiri
Nairobi, KENYA – 00621

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Thanks to Tribe for the complimentary stay. As always, all opinions on Angie Away are my own. 

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