Peponi, Lamu: The Lowdown

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Some hotels have their own legend, and Peponi is definitely one of them. You may never have heard of it, and to be honest, we like to keep it that way. That’s why it still feels like arriving at the end of the world- the sort of place where you could easily be sitting next to a fisherman or a rock star at the bar, and you probably wouldn’t know the difference.  

What’s Peponi really like?

It’s a ramshackle cluster of low, white buildings based on the original guesthouse from the 60’s.  Today Peponi is rather larger, with 28 rooms, but the same laid-back, utterly relaxed feel. Décor has a Swahili feel with pale whitewashed walls, carved wooden furniture and the odd pop of bright fabric.

Standard rooms are the simplest and smallest (our reviewer found them definitely unfussy but perfectly comfortable, with their own little verandah looking out towards the water).  Superior Rooms are larger, also, we thought, a little more prettily decorated, and well worth the extra cost for the space, both inside and out. They also tend to have the best location in the hotel. Lastly, Peponi has a couple of apartments where two superior rooms share a living and dining area.

The main bar of Peponi is legendary- visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the fun here and in the restaurant, and many guests are very long standing- some have been visiting for decades and have become personal friends of the family over the years.  Food is good, with plenty of seafood and a mix of Asian and African influences, and the atmosphere, especially at weekends and over Christmas and New Year, is often buzzing. We think it’d be fair to say that this is a hotel with a strong personality, but it’s one we loved, and we were utterly seduced by its simple, bohemian glamour.

What can I do at Peponi? 

Peponi is in Shela village, a short journey south of Lamu Town, but we’d definitely recommend taking the boat up to explore at least one day, as it’s absolutely charming. Our other favourite thing to do here is to take a dhow out in the late afternoon, and gently potter along as the sun sets, listening the splashing and creaking of the sails. There are some beautiful walks along the long, golden beach, backed by little more than sand dunes, and gorgeous birdlife.

Peponi can also help you arrange numerous activities- windsurfing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, kitesurfing and kayaking. Deep sea fishing (running roughly November till April) can also be pretty spectacular in this part of the world.

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