Nairobi, the vibrant capital of Kenya, is an excellent pre-safari destination because it boasts convenient connections to many national parks and game reserves. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is a major transportation hub in Nairobi, making it a natural starting point for your safari adventure.
In this article, I aim to share my expertise and guide you through the best options for where to stay in Nairobi Kenya to make the most of your safari.
I had the privilege of spending several days in Nairobi before and after embarking on an unforgettable African Safari. While in Nairobi, I stayed in numerous hotels across different neighbourhoods.
My travels in Kenya allowed me to gain first-hand knowledge of the diverse accommodation options in Nairobi and understand the importance of choosing the right place to stay before a safari.
Additionally, as an ex-luxury travel agent, I assisted with clients’ travels and learnt about the best pre-safari stays in Nairobi based on their feedback.
One of the most significant challenges you may face is being unfamiliar with Nairobi and its offerings, resulting in uncertainty about where to stay before embarking on a safari.
With my knowledge and experience, I aim to help you discover the best Nairobi hotels.
Top 3 Hotels in Nairobi Kenya
Do not have time to read the whole article? Here are my top three picks for the top hotels in Nairobi as a pre or post-safari stay.
- Giraffe Manor: Once in a Lifetime Opportunity Seekers
- Hemingways Nairobi: Best for Luxury Lovers
- Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport: Best for Convenience and Quick Stopovers
Best Hotels in Nairobi
Kenya is a remarkable place to visit for a safari due to its diverse landscape and abundant wildlife.
Additionally, there is a range of fun activities to do in Nairobi, such as visiting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see orphaned elephants or going to Nairobi National Park to see as many of the Big 5 animals as possible.
It makes sense to spend a night or two before and after your safari in Nairobi to adjust to time zones, recharge from long travels, and prepare for your upcoming journeys.
This next section will separate the best Nairobi hotels into the luxurious options and the best Nairobi airport hotels because they satisfy different needs.
Best Luxury Hotels in Nairobi
There are numerous Nairobi luxury hotels available, but I have selected the clear top three. As mentioned previously, this ranking comes from my personal experience at the hotel and reviews from clients while working at the luxury travel agency.
Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi is often thought to be one of the best hotels in Nairobi; however, I am unfamiliar with this hotel, so I will not include it in my analysis.
Hemingways Nairobi is another popular choice for those looking for luxury accommodations in Nairobi before or after their safari. It is frequently seen as the best hotel in Nairobi.
While on my Kenyan safari, most people we met at our luxury lodges in Samburu and Masai Mara were going to stay at Hemingways Nairobi or had already stayed there. It is a popular choice for the upscale traveller, particularly with clients from the travel agency I used to work at.
This Nairobi hotel is in the Karen neighbourhood and offers stunning views of the Ngong Hills. It also offers easy access to Nairobi National Park and other attractions, such as Karen Blixen Museum and the Giraffe Centre – making the Karen neighbourhood one of the best areas to stay in Nairobi.
Hemingways Nairobi offers a tranquil retreat away from the city centre and features spacious rooms, an on-site spa, and a fine-dining restaurant.
Breakfast is included in your booking, even if you book Hemingways Nairobi through Booking.com.
The property is large and some rooms are far from the main lobby and dining areas. Additionally, there are numerous steps – so be sure to speak to the reservations team before booking your room at Hemingways Nairobi if you or anyone in your group has accessibility requirements.
Service is a priority for Hemingways, and you can expect small but impressive touches, such as turndown service and butler service. You may also be able to order room service through your driver during your late-night airport transfer so the food is ready upon arrival.
- Check-in: 1:00 PM
- Check-out: 10:00 AM
For those with evening departing flights, it is possible to book a day room or day pass at Hemingways Nairobi, meaning you can have lunch and spend the afternoon by the pool before an evening flight. A day-room costs 70% of the room rate and you must check out by 6:00 PM.
Subject to availability, you are also able to have a later check-out, or stay on the hotel property and leave your luggage in storage.
You can book a private transfer from the airport to Hemingways Nairobi by contacting the hotel. The one-way rates are as follows:
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – USD 95 per vehicle (max. 3 person)
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – USD 125 per vehicle (max. 5 person)
- Wilson Airport – USD 60 per vehicle (max. 3 person)
- Wilson Airport – USD 80 per vehicle (max. 5 person)
Without a doubt, Giraffe Manor is one of the best places to stay in Nairobi and arguably it is one of the best hotels in Kenya.
I stayed at Giraffe Manor in October 2022 and staying there was a dream come true.
Not only are the hotel grounds and rooms impeccable, but the service is also some of the most attentive you will have ever experienced, and the food is creative and tasty, and tailored to your dietary needs.
The special touches, such as small gifts and turn-down service are noteworthy. I love the complimentary luggage tag I received and have used it on my suitcase ever since.
Not to mention the opportunity to interact with the giraffes many times throughout your stay is the most unique concept in the world.
Make sure you pack some fancier clothes in addition to your safari clothes for Giraffe Manor because of all the photo opportunities.
However, a stay at Giraffe Manor comes with a price tag – expect to pay over USD 900 per person per night (not per room). But remember that this is an all-inclusive rate, with all meals and drinks included.
Plus, it is famously hard to get a room booked there, with most rooms booked at least 12 months in advance during the peak period (June to October and Christmas).
Another benefit to staying at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is that you have access to the Giraffe Centre for free and use of the pool and hot tub at the newly built on-site spa called The Retreat.
To book your stay at Giraffe Manor, you can check availability for your desired dates on their calendar. Then, you need to email the reservation team to confirm your stay.
Alternatively, a safari travel company can create a full itinerary with a stay at Giraffe Manor included and they will deal with the logistics.
- Check-in: approx. 12:45 PM
- Check-out: approx. 9:45 PM
Your driver (a local transfer to Giraffe Manor is included in your hotel rate) will coordinate timings to guarantee you arrive at the correct time.
We arrived at Giraffe Manor at 12:00 PM and we sat in the lounge area outside the main building with glasses of homemade lemonade while filling in our check-in forms. Once our rooms were ready, at about 12:30 PM, we were allowed to look around our rooms and then explore the property.
You cannot get a late check-out at Giraffe Manor because the hotel is small and frequently at full occupancy. You could book a day room at the Retreat to stay on the same property and use the spa facilities before an international flight.
Fairmont the Norfolk is a historic hotel in the central business district that provides a convenient location for those who want to explore downtown Nairobi.
The hotel is close to attractions such as the National Museum of Kenya (also known as Nairobi National Museum), which includes a Snake Park to meet reptiles.
There is a heated outdoor pool with a fitness centre and a spa at Fairmont the Norfolk if you want to relax or let off some steam before your onward journey from Nairobi.
All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning.
The property is securely gated and guests are required to put their luggage through luggage scanners upon arrival at the hotel. There are also sniffer dogs for vehicle searches.
- Check-in: 12:00 PM
- Check-out: 10:00 AM
Fairmont the Norfolk can arrange private transfers to and from both Nairobi airports (international and domestic) for USD 55 per way.
If you are looking to get a late check-out or stay in your room for longer ahead of an international flight, you can book a day room from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM at 75% of the daily rate.
Best Nairobi Airport Hotels
If you are travelling to Nairobi, Kenya and need to stay close to the airport, several hotels offer comfortable accommodations and convenient access to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Whether arriving late at night or departing early in the morning, staying at an airport hotel in Nairobi can help reduce your travel stress and make the trip more enjoyable.
If you are looking for the best hotels in Nairobi pre or post-safari, consider the following airport hotels.
The top Nairobi airport hotels are:
Other airport hotels to consider include Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport and Ole Sereni Hotel; however, these are not rated as highly as other hotels in Nairobi, Kenya near the airport. Therefore, I did not include them in this section of my article on the best hotels near Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
Want to know the best hotel near Nairobi airport without reading the rest of the article?
The answer is Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport.
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport vs Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport
The team who arranged my safari recommended that we book the Crowne Plaza as our Nairobi airport hotel. However, while working at the travel agency, we often sent our clients to the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport.
Therefore, I was eager to discover the best hotels near Nairobi airport. So, I decided to stay at Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport at the beginning of my stay and Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport at the end of my safari.
When picking your accommodation, it is worth it to look for Nairobi airport hotels with shuttle services offered.
Both Nairobi airport hotels offer similar transportation options to and from the airport. There are complimentary shuttles that frequently transport hotel guests between the airport and the hotel.
The hotel staff will take your arrival flight details so they know roughly what time you require a pick-up.
When you arrive at JKIA airport, you can locate the hotel’s representative who will be waiting outside the hotel. They will call for the shuttle bus to come and collect you.
- Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport is approximately an 8-minute drive from Nairobi International Airport.
- Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport is approximately a 7-minute drive from Nairobi International Airport.
Therefore, the time difference is marginal for the hotel’s proximity to the airport, and the hotels offer similar benefits in terms of location.
Please note the airport hotels are within the airport’s secure area.
If you leave the hotel to go on an excursion, when you return to the secure area, you must exit your vehicle and go through security scanners. Your driver will keep your belongings safe and drive through to the other side to pick you up.
Accommodation and Facilities
Overall, I liked the decoration and style better at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport because it felt more modern.
However, the entry-level rooms were larger at Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport. Plus, the twin rooms at Crowne Plaza had two double beds rather than two single beds like at the Four Points.
One of the most important factors to be considered the best pre/post-safari hotel in Nairobi is the ability to rest.
Most people start their safari with a long flight and a time zone change and need to quickly recharge their batteries. Or travellers are looking to catch up on sleep after numerous early starts throughout their safari.
My sleep quality was worse at Crowne Plaza Hotel because the hotel was noisy at night.
People were checking in and checking out all night, which meant the loud doors to the elevators were banging. Plus, housekeeping was cleaning the rooms all night and we could hear them talking and wheeling the carts around.
I had no noise complaints at Four Points Nairobi Hotel. I assume people were coming and going just as much as the Crowne Plaza, but the rooms appeared to have better sound insulation.
Both hotels had rooftop swimming pools with a similar number of sun beds around the pool. Additionally, the two hotels had a similar view of Nairobi National Park in the distance.
Nonetheless, Four Points had a larger rooftop area with more space for dining, so in my opinion, it had the better rooftop. But they both serve as excellent options for hotels with swimming pools in Nairobi.
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Hotel had one of the most impressive breakfast buffets I have ever seen. It had everything you could ever imagine for breakfast, such as eggs, omelettes and pancakes prepared in front of you, fresh fruit, and an array of delicious pastries.
You have the option to eat breakfast inside or outside on the patio, which is a nice touch.
I also loved that our warm drinks came with a cocoa dusting in the shape of an aeroplane.
Breakfast is served from 6:30 AM at Four Points.
Crowne Plaza offers a decent breakfast buffet each morning with a selection of fruit juices, teas, and coffees included. Additionally, there is a variety of food to choose from, including hot food such as bacon, baked beans, and scrambled eggs.
Breakfast is served from 6:00 AM, which means you may be able to grab a quick breakfast before you head off for an excursion.
Otherwise, you can speak to the cafeteria the day before and they will prepare a breakfast bag to take away, including fruit, juice, tea or coffee, and some other snacks.
Lunch and Dinner
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport has an incredible rooftop restaurant, called Tazama Rooftop Restaurant, where you can eat lunch and dinner.
The food was exceptional, although we ate too many complimentary snacks and ordered too many portions of fries. Tazama Rooftop Restaurant also serves delicious cocktails.
It is also possible to eat lunch and dinner at the Marketplace buffet restaurant at Four Points, although we did not do this during our trip, given time constraints.
At Crowne Plaza, lunch and dinner can be ordered at the pool bar, from the lobby bar and coffee shop, or from the main restaurant.
The main restaurant at Crowne Plaza offers a buffet selection, whereas the lobby and pool bars and coffee shop offer an a la carte menu with items such as spaghetti bolognese, pizzas, and Caesar salads.
Upon arrival at the gates of Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport, you will be greeted by a security guard who will do a vehicle search (inside and underneath) before granting you entry to the hotel grounds.
Once at the hotel entrance, you will be required to put all bags through an airport-style scanner and walk through a body scanner.
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport was also gated and served by a security guard. A sniffer dog checked the vehicle upon entry, and then luggage screening and body scans were done.
I felt completely safe on both properties due to all the security measures.
Learn what type of luggage to bring and tips for keeping your luggage safe in this Kenya packing list article.
Pricing and Value for Money
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport has a slightly higher price point than the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Four Points also has smaller room sizes for entry-level rooms. However, the price difference is marginal.
How to Choose Where to Stay in Nairobi Kenya?
Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best hotel for your stay in Nairobi before you start your safari.
- Proximity to Key Attractions
- Safety and Security
- Transportation Options
- Hotel Amenities
Proximity to Key Attractions
One of the primary considerations when selecting a hotel is its proximity to the main attractions you plan to visit.
If you only have a short time to spend in Nairobi and have some activities in mind, opt for a hotel near these attractions. As a result, you will spend less time travelling between locations.
When picking your accommodation, you may want to be near the best things to do in Nairobi and other key locations, such as:
- JKIA Airport (international)
- Wilson Airport (domestic)
- Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
- Giraffe Centre
- Nairobi National Park
- Karen Blixen Museum
For example, Hemingways Nairobi is close to the Karen Blixen Museum, and Giraffe Manor is next to the Giraffe Centre.
However, if you do not have time to visit these attractions, booking an airport hotel is more convenient.
Safety and Security
When selecting your hotel in Nairobi, ensure it is in a safe location, preferably with security measures enforced. Most hotels will be securely gated and operated by a security team 24/7.
The hotel may have additional security measures such as sniffer dogs or devices to look underneath the vehicle.
Consider the transportation options from the two Nairobi airports to your chosen hotel. Some hotels include a free shuttle service, whereas others have a driver who can pick you up (often for an additional cost).
However, if you are booking your trip with a safari company, they will take care of all ground transportation arrangements.
When picking between hotels in Nairobi, assess what you will be using your hotel for and ensure the amenities and characteristics match this expectation.
You may be looking for a hotel for some relaxation, in that case, Hemingways Nairobi offers a quiet sanctuary to escape the hustle and bustle.
If air conditioning is a deal-breaker, ensure your hotel has AC units in the bedrooms. Air conditioning is not a given amenity in Kenya.
Other features to evaluate include swimming pools, gyms, spas, free WiFi, and on-site restaurants.
Summary of Best Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya near Airport
Do you still need help deciding which hotel near Nairobi airport is best?
The below table outlines the main similarities and differences between Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport and Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport.
|Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport||Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport|
|Location||8-minute drive from Nairobi International Airport||7-minute drive from Nairobi International Airport|
|Accommodation||Larger entry-level rooms – twin rooms featuring two double beds||Modern decoration and style but smaller rooms|
|Sleep Quality||Noisy at night due to constant check-ins, check-outs, and housekeeping||Better sound insulation, no noise complaints|
|Rooftop Facilities||Nice rooftop pool with small dining area and some sunbeds||Larger rooftop area with more space for dining|
|Food||Decent breakfast buffet with hot food options, fruit juices, teas, and coffees||Impressive breakfast buffet with extensive options, including made-to-order items|
|Security||Main restaurant with buffet selection, a la carte options at lobby bar, pool bar, and coffee shop||Rooftop restaurant with exceptional food, a la carte and buffet options at the Marketplace restaurant|
|Pricing||Vehicle and bag searches, airport-style scanners, body scans at the entrance||Vehicle checks, luggage screening, and body scans at the entrance|
Considering these factors, the choice between the two hotels depends on individual preferences and priorities. If sleep quality, rooftop space, and breakfast variety are important, Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport may be the preferred option despite the slightly higher price.
However, if larger rooms and value for money are priorities, Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport could be the better choice.
Overall, I preferred Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport and believe that is the best Nairobi airport hotel.
FAQ – Best Pre/Post Safari Hotel Nairobi
Where to Stay in Nairobi for 1 Night?
If you are staying in Nairobi for one night before your onward travels, it makes sense to be as near to your outward travel as possible. For example, near JKIA Airport or Wilson Airport.
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport is a great option to be near the international airport. Whereas, Fairmont the Norfolk is the closest to the domestic airport, although there is typically a lot of traffic near Wilson Airport.
Otherwise, you can pick a luxurious hotel like Giraffe Manor or Hemingways Nairobi to be pampered during your short stay.
Where to Stay in Nairobi as a Tourist?
Hemingways Nairobi is an excellent hotel for tourists because of its convenient location around 20 minutes from many attractions, such as Nairobi National Park, Karen Blixen Museum, Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, and the Giraffe Centre.
Where are the Safest Places to Stay in Nairobi?
Several neighbourhoods are known to be safer than others due to lower crime rates, such as Karen. However, all 5-star hotels in Nairobi have strict safety precautions with gated properties, security guards, and luggage scanners.
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Nairobi?
According to my research and experiences, the best hotels in Nairobi are Giraffe Manor, Hemingways Nairobi and Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport – particularly, if you are booking a hotel for a pre or post-safari in Kenya.