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Rustic Retreats

The "Glamping" Guide - Part 1

A comfortable two hour ride from Nairobi lies Lake Elementaita – Lake Naivasha’s baby cousin, and apparently only 1 meter deep throughout; a shocking “fact of the day” shared by my husband.

After spending Saturday night at Simba lodge in Naivasha – mediocre and overpriced, we couldn’t wait to get to the Lake Elementaita Serena Camp and managed to arrive just before lunch. Being a long weekend, the dining room was packed when we arrived and being Nairobians we knew at least two people there. There were a few large families who disrupted the peace and quiet of dining in the bush but a glass or two of wine later and it didn’t really matter so much.

The entrance of the lodge leads into a comfy bar and lounge area which then leads into the dining room. Like most Kenyan lodges the décor is quite colonial and rustic but you can see this one cost a lot more than the rest with the beautiful wooden flooring, the expensive-looking couches and the tasteful props. Walking in to the bar-lounge area takes you back in time and all you want to do is put on your cowboy hat, your safari boots, and drink a cold Tusker.

For us, the best part of the lodge was the room; a semi-tented, semi-concrete structure that housed the most comfortable bed I have slept in (outside my own). I loved that the bed had a fluffy duvet (which they didn’t tuck right inside the bed) and cloudy pillows that lulled us into the best sleep for 10 hours each night. We even cancelled a romantic bush breakfast on one of the mornings and opted for room service instead.

The food was, like the place, very English – very colonial. Meat, potatoes and vegetables with gravy was generally the theme of the main courses – all of it was very tasty but we tend to like English home-cooked food so we were quite happy. They tried to modernise the menu with an amuse-bouche to start off with and the one time we decided to try it they gave us the smallest fried chicken drumsticks we have ever seen. Not sure if that qualified as an amuse-bouche, but hey, when you’re in the bush it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s tasty!

I would say the only slight disappointment was the spa. They tease you with a beautiful spa menu in the room and when you go through it you really expect a stunning Thailand-type spa. But… it’s a small shed-like structure right next to the pool (not ideal when one of the big families is lounging by the pool playing a game of… something). There are two treatment rooms but only one therapist – odd for the long weekend, so my husband and I had to go one after the other. I opted for the signature massage, which was supposed to be a bit of Swedish, a bit of aromatherapy and a bit of Thai, but it all felt like a standard deep-tissue. This was fine with me but my husband wasn’t amused.

All in all, I have recommended this place to friends and family because it is a great way to spend a weekend out of Nairobi; it’s not too far, the food is good and if you want to get some time out and relax, it’s perfect. The pricing isn’t too bad either and if you’re up for something a bit more adventurous, go for one of their night game drives and organise a bush breakfast – unless you’re lazy like us, in which case I’d recommend taking the comfiest PJs and paying back all your sleep debt in their heavenly beds. Oh and I forgot to mention, they put 2 hot water bottles in the bed every night as it does get quite chilly – amazing!

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