Hotel check: Djibouti Palace Kempinski

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Background

Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, with hotels in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The group has seven African properties, spread across Egypt, Kenya, Chad, Djibouti and the Seychelles.

Where Is It?

The hotel is perched on the peninsula with sparkling water wrapping around the entire property. It is barely 10 kilometres from the international airport and enjoys extraordinary water and port views. Airport transfers are available.

Rooms

The warm colours and Arabic design influences are similar to those in the public areas. Crowning the room are king or double beds topped with duvets and a stack of thick pillows worthy of a sultan. Rooms overlook the sea or the gardens, although the latter also enjoy distant water views. Flat-screen cable TVs face the beds, and work desks feature free wireless and wired high-speed Internet. Small closets house laptop-sized safes and mini-bars. Complimentary bottled water is also standard in all accommodations. Bathrooms are luxurious with gold lantern lighting, marble vanities stocked with Espa toiletries, robes, and slippers. Rainfall showerheads wash away the heat and sand, while deep-soaking tubs are great for relaxing. Most are positioned well to enjoy views of the sea from the tub.

Restaurants & Bars

Considering that locals make this their go-to spot for dining and recreational entertainment, the plethora of restaurants here is exciting. Tentazioni is the Italian eatery with air-conditioned dining room and outdoor terrace seating, offering homemade pasta, brick-oven pizza, local seafood, and classic veal dishes. If buffet fare is the order of the day, three meals are served at Lake Assal. Live cooking stations and a rotating, themed menu make each dining experience a surprise. The space runs the length of the one of the hotel’s main buildings, increasing the odds of scoring a window seat. Cafe Arta is a coffee shop serving sweet pastries and a new afternoon tea menu. At dusk, live piano music lures guests into Gran Barra for a cocktail watching the sunset. Once the mood livens up, guests can head to Sky Lounge for a shisha puff or more cocktails from its sixth floor perch. Those with a hankering for something local consider Bankoualeh to be the perfect antidote, with Yemeni-style dishes served in an outdoor setting at the water’s edge. Diners select their fish from the fresh market display and deliver them to the chef, who then places them in the cavernous clay oven and dashes them with regional spices. During the day, the swim-up bar never has a shortage of customers. Light snacks, healthy smoothies, and fresh juice are on offer in Vitamine Bar, which is adjacent to the spa.

Meeting & Conference Facilities

The largest ballroom (seating 1,500) and meeting rooms are found here, which is why it hosts all of the top functions for visiting diplomats and corporate events. Each of the event rooms are named after local places, including surrounding islands and mountains. Free wireless Internet is available for guests throughout the common areas, including by the pool. A full business centre comes with printing and translation capabilities.

Leisure

Two infinity-edge swimming pools are available to guests, one of which is open to locals who purchase membership to use the pool, tennis courts, health club, or spa. All have plush lounge chairs, umbrellas and terrycloth towels. A second pool is reserved just for guests, and is quieter and ideal for contemplating the changing tides and the activity of the port in the distance. The spa features an authentic hammam experience with colourful tiles and massages on the marble slab. More traditional massage and beauty treatments are available as well, in addition to an exceptionally equipped gym.

Verdict

There is no question that this is the top address in town. It has strong security thanks to the number of expats and diplomats that stay and play here. With its traditional palace architecture and a service staff dedicated to perfection, this is a comfortable and surprisingly affordable resort hotel.

Ramsey Qubein

Fact File
Contact

Address: Ilot du Heron, Djibouti City

Tel: +253 21 325555

Email: reservations.djibouti@kempinski.com
Web: www.kempinski.com