“The Fairmont Norfolk, has historically been accepted as Nairobi’s ‘it’ spot.”
The Fairmont Norfolk Nairobi (click here) opened as the first luxury hotel in Kenya, on Christmas Day in 1904 during the British Colony settlement period. Steeped in history (which can be read here as it is extensive!). It is said that the city of Nairobi was built ‘around’ the Norfolk and that if there had not been the Norfolk Hotel, there might not have been the capital.
The Norfolk, has been widely excepted as Nairobi’s ‘it’ spot for the famous, wealthy, royalty, presidents and hollywood stars during and after the war. As all guests travelling by ship, then train (at the time) and plane (current day) to East Africa & its’ bordering nations would have to pit stop through Nairobi.
Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Sean Connery, Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, James Earl Jones, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, Prince Charles just to name a few, have all graced the halls of the Fairmont Norfolk.
The Norfolk Nairobi is approximately 30-40 minutes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (in peak hour this can me much more!). Centrally located in virtually the heart of the city, we are again told by both our local cab drivers that the city literally was built around the iconic hotel that is the Norfolk.
Note: Since the Fairmont has 3 properties in Kenya, if you intend to travel to all parts of the country and really explore , the Fairmont offers ‘The Fairmont Magical Safari’ which is a 7 day tour to all 3 Fairmont properties, each with it’s own flare and charm. It’s a great way to take all the guess work & research out of flight times, bookings and travel time.
As we had come from Heminways, our trip was about 30 minutes. Our driver pulled up to the heavily guarded entrance, we had to pass through two security checks, before entering the lobby.
There was a full check in and out of the taxi as we pulled up. Then as we collected our luggage we had to go through metal detectors and our bags were also checked. I wondered if this was the norm in Nairobi (and I think it is now after travelling around the city and to other hotels ) but going through the hotels history it became evident why the hotel has put such strict procedures in place. On New Years Eve 1980, The Norfolk was the target of a terrorist attack which killed 15 people, injured many more and devastated the building.
To say the least, the amount of security at the premises and the procedures in place make you feel very secure during your stay.
It was roughly around midday when we arrived, and our room was not yet ready for us, so we took a seat in the Cin Cin bar for some coffee.
There are 170 rooms at the Norfolk, we were in the right wing and in a deluxe verandah room. Our room was quite dark and not that big. The room looked out onto the courtyard and grassy areas but as we were on the ground floor I wouldn’t go as far to say it had its own ‘private’ terrace as you can see in the room from outside quite easily. So if you’re to say having a shower or getting changed you need to close the blinds.
The bathroom was small, yet practical for our overnight stay.
Food & Beverage
In total there are 5 bars & restaurants. We enjoyed three of these, starting at the Cin Cin Wine Bar (for coffee before our room was ready) this was the ‘it’ place that all the A List celebrities came to back in the day. The bar retains it early 1900’s glamour with floor to ceiling picture windows that look out to the garden. The bar has an extensive selection of whiskey and signature cocktails like the ‘Tempting Marilyn’. A gin based cocktail name after Marilyn Monroe (which is still the same cocktail she use to drink during her visits at The Norfolk Nairobi).
We ate Lunch at the Lord Delamere Terrace and then dinner TaTu.
Lunch was a buffet style option (plus al a carte) and was one of the best meals we had in Nairobi. There was a great selection on show and my favourite hands down was the seriously delicious Chicken Dhania (stay tuned for my recreation of this dish!)
Our dinner at Tatu was nice but what really made it memorable was our waiter Elijah. He was such a sweetheart and funny. Elijah went above and beyond to cater for my dietary requirements.
We both had good meals, The layout was very casual and relaxing. At the end of the room is the fully open kitchen and grill which made for good entertainment. While all the ‘farm to plate’ meals were organic and sustainable (BIG WIN).
Pool & Gym
Their is a heated outdoor pool and gym & seperate sauna and steam room for men and women.
- Good restaurants
- Central to city
- Rooms were quite basic, but practical
Drenched in history & character The Fairmont Norfolk is like none other in Nairobi. It was a good place for us to stop before heading off to our next stop at the Fairmont Mara in the Masai Mara region.
Fairmont The Norfolk Nairobi
Harry Thuku Rd, Nairobi,
+254 20 226 5000