Limuru Road, The Village Market, Gigiri
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HOT DEALS AND NEW HOTELS
ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN
Architecture: Mehraz Ehsani Architects
Interior Design: Les Harbottle
In Nairobi’s diplomatic district, home to the United Nations and other diplomatic institutions, a new kind of lifestyle hotel has emerged – fusing authentic African elements with meticulous service and the best elements of an urban, contemporary style. From every side you can see the building’s nonconformist angles jutting towards blue skies, with sand-colored blocks and stainless steel columns laid artfully in vertical rows. Closer up, there’s a low-level entrance leading straight inside, where the Tribe Hotel goes even further to separate itself from Kenya’s more traditional luxury hotels.
Right ahead is the soaring atrium, which shoots four floors up past curved, comfy armchairs and a series of sand-colored walls that convene at unexpected intervals. Granite, slate and marble help to temper the warm African tones, and right angles are almost nonexistent. More intriguing than any of that, though, is the fact that the entire building is like a treasure trove of tribal art. Carefully crafted gourds, figurines and artworks from all over Africa stare back from tables, walls and crannies around the hotel, providing unexpected moments of beauty and giving the hotel a distinctive, African voice. This distinct character can be felt throughout the hotel, from the rooftop bar to the Kaya Spa where low lighting and design inspired by Africa’s forests sets the mood in the five treatment rooms.
For Mehraz Ehsani, the Iranian architect behind the Tribe, the best part of the project was ‘…breaking away from the imposed restrictions of architecture. I wanted to create generous, unrestrained spaces which allow that sense of the extraordinary.’ This is seen clearly in the restaurant, where light from the expansive glass windows is given even more potency by the spindly chandeliers that hang from rectangular recesses in the ceiling. Working with Les Harbottle of design firm Plan One, Ehsani also managed to incorporate illuminated pendants and table lamps, throwing layers of light across the public spaces. No such effort was required at the outdoor pool, wrapped by gardens and waterfalls, where diners can eat on floating ‘islands’ warmed by the Kenyan sun. There’s even a granite table submerged in the heated pool, which those on business can use for alfresco meetings.
Ehsani’s 137 rooms and suites are as diverse as the artwork they contain, but from the 98 sq m deluxe units to the 335 sq m Presidential Wing – designed to host an entire entourage or delegation – some things remain constant. These include the dark wooden floors, the sultry, spice-colored décor and the bright-white bathtubs. Added luxury comes from the 300-thread-count bed sheets and Eartherapy amenities, supplied generously in every room.