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“Great place !”
Review of Kanani House

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Kanani House
Ranked #11 of 24 Watamu B&B and Inns
Reviewed 8 March 2014

We stayed 10 days at Kanani House from the 15 Feb 2014 and have nothing but praise for the place.
It was hot but a very brisk wind saved us from feeling that it was too hot.
We saw no unpleasant insects of any kind and have nothing but praise for the staff. The huts ( and yes, they are glorified huts so if you like to be locked in perhaps this is not for you ) were kept spotless and so was the pool.
Elvis the cook was an absolute treasure and kept accounts on everything we asked him to buy. We were there with our son and his wife who live in Nairobi and they thought it was the best place they had stayed in having been down to the coast at least 6 times.
Access to the beach is not easy so if you prefer beach to pool that could be a problem, on the other hand you are completely undisturbed.
Perhaps a slightly more solid door to the bathroom would be nice if you feel a bit shy at using the toilet with your partner in the room and a few more board games for the evenings.
A great place !

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank Lillebeth2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 - 6 of 31 reviews

Reviewed 5 January 2014

Kanani House sits on a beautiful coral cliff, boasting breathtaking views of turquoise seas dotted with fleets of dhows, bountiful birdlife and a cool ocean breeze. The house is at the northern point of the popular Watamu coastline, away from the hustle bustle of the village, Turtle Bay and noisy Italian resorts on Blue Bay.

There are three bedrooms cottages, all with ensuite bathrooms, elegantly styled with bamboo blinds, terrazzo bathrooms and large built-in large beds with kikoy bedspreads and sweeping nets.

The communal area is at the front of the house and we converted this into a bedroom using more blinds and turning the lamu beds into a large bed. This made for a less comfortable room and was shared during the day.

The kitchen is small and there is not enough storage space but this is more than made up for by the legendary Elvis and his team, who really did make our holiday and stay so much more special. First class service and so welcoming. Elvis had to deal with two professional chefs bossing him around and was a pleasure to work with, finding us the best local produce (including some awesome ruby snapper and mangrove crabs) as well as organising sodas, beers, daily supplies and generally attending to all our needs.

As for the pool - overlooking the ocean, salt water, half shaded - yeah it's a tough life!!

Thanks to Kanani! What a fab Christmas and New Year we had here. I will so be back for another visit!

Room Tip: Sleeping 8 is a bit of a squash! It could also benefit with another bathrooms for communal use and g...
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank sjr1975
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 October 2013

We stayed here in October and loved the place. We were the only guests and received great service from its staff. Elvis was very friendly and cooked us delicious food. You just need to think what kind of food you want or choose from menu, and he would cook it for you for the price of raw ingredients.

In August the sea is not that clean due to the plants, so the pool that overlooks the sea is a great way to enjoy your time.

This is not a conventional hotel, but rather an eco hotel, so expect to see ants and lizards everywhere. It did not disturb us at all. Looking at the previous review, I can confirm that I saw one cockroach in the kitchen, but it was the only one I saw in 3 days we stayed there.

One day we had a blackout for 1 hour in the evening and staff arranged us candles that made our dinner even more special.

The hotel is very well decorated and it has quite large territory just for 3 rooms. The top of the room is opened, so there is fresh air circulating all night long that I enjoy a lot.

The staff can arrange a massage, manicure service given by Gertrude. We would not recommend her service.

I would definately come back.

Room Tip: We stayed in the second (middle) room
  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Sergej V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sashakamen, Owner at Kanani House, responded to this reviewResponded 27 November 2013

Thanks so much for your lovely review! We're delighted that you enjoyed your stay. Kanani is, as you say an eco hotel and it's great to have it's unique qualities appreciated by our guests.

Do feel free to email me through the website about the experience you had with Gertrude, the manicurist - We don't want to recommend anyone who isn't up to scratch! I'd like to hear your feedback.

We appreciate your review and hope that you can visit Kanani another time soon!

kind regards,
Sasha

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Reviewed 24 October 2013

The thought of this place is lovely but the reality is so different - if you are looking to get away and be close to the nature, sleep pretty much in the open air that could be a the place for you. I must say I found sleeping in the open hut quite difficult because you can hear every noise outside and it can very disturbing knowing the hut is completely open and anything can get in. It is also unfortunate the net over the bed was not impragnated and one night all lights went off so I had to use the torch to go to the bathroom. When I looked at the net and the floor I was horrified - the coachroaches were all over it, that was the end of my stay there and I had to leave that very morning. Staff can cook but hygiene was very poor and I saw cockroaches on the cereal box... the staff would initially claim that cockroaches are only clearly visible in certain areas but they dont usually go to the rooms, I was revolted by the whole thing.
It is poorly run place, the owner lives in the UK and charges on par with expensive hotels in the area which i had a chance to visit but unfortunately she is not prepared to invest in the hygiene stardards or the staff training. (those were hishonest and on occassions they would claim very different prices just to make as much out of you as they can).

Was so happy to leave and would never go back.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank oksana g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sashakamen, Owner at Kanani House, responded to this reviewResponded 27 November 2013

While I'm very sorry that your stay at Kanani did not meet with your expectations, it does seem that what you wanted was a sterile hotel, not an eco lodge... As I've discussed with your partner on email after your stay, the insects you saw came into your room from outside because it was a rare rainy night and were all gone well before morning. This was in no way an 'infestation!' He agreed with this, but still insisted that you were entitled to a full refund on your entire stay.

I did originally say that I'd check with the staff and if the issues you said you experienced were verified, that I would issue a refund. However, having discussed it thoroughly with all my long term and trusted staff members, I was told that your first two nights were problem free, and all the other 'issues' were only mentioned by you after the night where you saw insects in your room. If was a nightly problem, as you claim, why did you not mention it to the staff on the other two mornings of your stay? Also it transpired that you and your partner were abusive to my staff, whom I value very highly and have always had glowing reviews. In light of this, I have decided that a refund on your stay is not appropriate. I've already had to refund our chef for the ingredients for your last day's meal, which he had bought on your orders and otherwise would have come out of his own pocket.

I did freely acknowledge that I misquoted the taxi fare, mistakenly giving you last year's price, so you were charged just under £4 more than you expected to pay for your taxi from the airport. I am happy to refund this and am waiting for your bank details so I can do so. The other instance you quote of being 'overcharged' is i believe in reference to how much you paid for ingredients for your meals. You complained that they cost more than the £30 pounds we charge for full board. This is true, but does not mean you were overcharged. You had ordered the fillet steak and chocolate brownies, the most expensive items on the menu, as well as your other two meals. I don't think you should be surprised that the cost of this can come to just over £30! We offer full board simply as a convenience to our guests, and certain meals do cost a bit more than £30, whereas others are a bit less, so it works out. In this particular case, it would have been cheaper for you had you chosen the full board option. I did explain all the above to you so under the circumstances, I think it is very unkind and unjustified to claim that our staff are 'dishonest'. They are deeply hurt by your accusations, so I wanted to take this opportunity to defend them.

In response to your claim that Kanani is badly managed, we have five members of experienced full time staff, including a dedicated manager at the property, which only has three bedrooms. Almost without exception, our other guests have been totally impressed with the level of service on offer. While Kanani is as expensive as local hotels, as you say, what you're paying for at Kanani is the unique experience of privacy on six acres of seafront property, as opposed to being one of many guests in an hotel.

It's really unfortunate that you and your partner have decided to retaliate against my decision not to refund you by posting separate negative reviews, so it appears as if several guests have had this experience at Kanani. In general, as you can see on our reviews, our guests love Kanani and have a wonderful stay. I hope that future guests will read our other reviews and not be too swayed by yours.

yours sincerely,
Sasha

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Reviewed 13 October 2013

This could have been a really excellent hotel, but unfortunately it is not properly looked after. On our second to last night, the weather changed to be a lot colder. Because of this, a lot of little creatures entered the room. We understood that the huts are open air, and that mosquitos, ants, etc could enter. However, we expected that adequate precautions would be taken, as this is not a cheap hotel. The staff told us the the mosquito net was impregnated. However, this was clearly not the case, as many mosquitos got inside the netting through holes in the net. Really the nets should be impregnated more often, and replaced if they have holes. The bedding was dirty, with what looked like blood stains from squatted mosquitos. In a malaria zone, this is not really acceptable. The owner says these were "rust" stains, but even so, at the price charged, these should be replaced when old.

More worryingly, the property appears to be infested with cockroaches. We saw several in the tent on this night. I can understand the presence of mosquitoes, ants, and other insects. However cockroaches will only be there due to poor hygiene. We reported these problems to the staff in the morning. They told us that they knew the property was infested with cockroaches, and that they came from around the septic tank. They said the property was sprayed twice a year to try to kill them off. I think part of the problem is that food is left out after dinner, in the bins and around the kitchen.

After this experience, we said we were going to leave rather than stay the last night. The staff and the estate manager told us that we would get a refund for the final night's stay, and were very apologetic.

We then emailed the owner with our concerns. She replied saying she would refund half the final night's stay. She denied the presence of cockroaches, saying the staff had misunderstood. She also said that, as it is an eco lodge, they do not spray it with the strong chemical that other hotels use. We replied to her saying we had seen the roaches ourselves (and even killed one). There was also a can of "doom" spray left in the room by the staff, which is the same chemical spray all the other hotels use! She neither replied to this email nor paid us any of the refunds promised. We subsequently chased her with a couple of emails, and got a reply from her email account that she was ill and would reply asap. After a further week we did not get a reply nor a refund. We stayed there in August, and it is clear that other people have stayed there since. So if she was able to arrange their stays, it cannot be true that she has been too ill to reply to our emails. This is really poor customer service, as well as being dishonest in not refunding as offered.

We waited until writing this to give Sasha a chance to reply to the emails, as she promised to do. However, as it has now been over a month, we really feel she has had enough time to reply. Given the lack of communication and broken promise on the refund, we have no option but to give this place one star.

Finally, be careful about the pries they quote for taxis etc. For example, we were quoted 8500 for a taxi from Mombasa. However, The Tamarind Hotel in Mombasa could do the taxi for 7000KES, and we found a private taxi man who would do it for 6000.

It is a shame that there are these issues. If the property was looked after, it would be a very beautiful place in idyllic surroundings. The food is cooked very well, so it is unfortunate about the hygiene issues.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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1  Thank David79986
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sashakamen, Owner at Kanani House, responded to this reviewResponded 27 November 2013

While I'm very sorry that your stay at Kanani did not meet with your expectations, it does seem that what you wanted was a sterile hotel, not an eco lodge... As I've discussed with you at length on email after your stay, the insects you saw came into your room from outside because it was a rare rainy night and were all gone well before morning. This was in no way an 'infestation!' Even though you agreed with this, you still insisted that you were entitled to a full refund on your stay.

I did originally say that I'd check with the staff and if the issues you said you experienced were verified, that I would issue a refund. I never 'promised a refund'. Having discussed it thoroughly with all my long term and trusted staff members, I was told that your first two nights were problem free, and all the other 'issues' were only mentioned by you after the night where you saw insects in your room. If was a nightly problem, as you claim, why did you not mention it to the staff on the other two mornings of your stay? The issue with food being 'left on the table' was a specific one, where our chef had to leave as soon as he had served dinner, so he informed you of the fact and asked you to let another member of staff know when you had finished your meal. You did not do so, and therefore the plates were not cleared promptly.

Most importantly, it transpired that you and your partner were verbally abusive to my staff, whom I value very highly and have always had glowing reviews. In light of all of the above, I decided that a refund on your stay is not appropriate.

I've already had to refund our chef for the ingredients for your last day's meal, which he had bought on your orders and otherwise would have come out of his own pocket.

I did email you with this information, despite being very ill, in response to your multiple emails, each with additional complaints, but you have not responded once I said that I would not, under these circumstances, issue a refund.

The main instance you quote of being 'overcharged' is i believe in reference to how much you paid for ingredients for your meals. You complained that they cost more than the £30 pounds we charge for full board. This is true, but does not mean you were overcharged. You had ordered the fillet steak and chocolate brownies, the most expensive items on the menu, as well as your other two meals. I don't think you should be surprised that the cost of this can come to just over £30! We offer full board simply as a convenience to our guests, and certain meals do cost a bit more than £30, whereas others are a bit less, so it works out. In this particular case, it would have been cheaper for you had you chosen the full board option.

I did freely acknowledge that I misquoted the taxi fare, mistakenly giving you last year's price, so you were charged just under £4 more than you expected to pay for your taxi from the airport. I am happy to refund this and am waiting for your bank details so I can do so. There are many cheaper taxi companies, this is true, but we prefer to recommend a trusted company which we know has good drivers and reliable, well maintained cars. All fare goes directly to the cab company, Kanani does not profit in any way.

I did explain all the above to you so under the circumstances, I think it is very unkind and unjustified to claim that our staff are 'dishonest'. They are deeply hurt by your accusations, so I wanted to take this opportunity to defend them.

It's really unfortunate that you and your partner have decided to retaliate against my decision not to refund you by posting separate negative reviews, so it appears as if several guests have had this experience at Kanani. In general, as you can see on our reviews, our guests love Kanani and have a wonderful stay. I hope that future guests will read our other reviews and not be too swayed by yours.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kanani House

Address: plot 399, Fire Road, Watamu, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Watamu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 24 B&Bs / Inns in Watamu
Price Range: RM378 - RM924 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kanani House is set on six acres on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. We have 3 double bedrooms, which can be rented individually, or the whole house can be rented on an exclusive basis. Kanani is fully staffed, with a great chef and two house stewards so our guests can relax completely.Kanani House was designed and built by an English couple with a passion for Kenya - we wanted to give guests a real taste of Africa at the coast. We have a strong environmental commitment, local and sustainable materials are used wherever possible and almost everything is handmade by local workers. We were inspired by the upcountry private safari lodges as well as the local architecture to build a house more like an African Village than a conventional western house. Each bedroom is a private cottage with en-suite bathroom set in the landscaped indigenous garden. The rooms are screened for privacy but open to the sea breezes. Kanani is a Robinson Crusoe experience - we have no landline, TV or computers, so you can get away from the stresses of modern life and unwind. Access to a small private beach is at low tide through our tunnel - hand carved through the fossilized coral rock, and securely gated, or you can walk or take a tuk tuk to the public beaches. If you're feeling less adventurous, you can just laze by our infinity pool overlooking the ocean. There are lots of great things to do in and near Watamu: snorkeling, diving, dolphin watching or sailing in the Watamu Marine Park; walks in the Arabuko Sokoke forest and the Gede Ruins, canoe trips, fishing, horse riding and windsurfing can all be arranged. We hope you can come and stay at Kanani House soon! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Kanani House Hotel Watamu

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