BACKGROUND: The 156-room 5-star Sankara Nairobi opened in 2010 and is aimed largely at the business traveller market. It stands on a modest-sized plot that was formerly part of the grounds of the neighbouring Jacaranda Hotel.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is in Westlands, barely 100 metres from one of Nairobi’s busiest roundabouts, just off the arterial Uhuru Highway/Wayaki Way that runs through the city. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is 20 kilometres away, but the trip can take anything between 20 minutes and two hours, depending on the notorious Nairobi traffic.
ROOM FACILITIES: Sankara know how to do business travel rooms, with attention given to the smallest detail, such as the remote placed on a small stand below the TV – a result of guest feedback. With a simple entrance, there’s a built-in luggage stand before you enter a room that has a king-size bed as its centrepiece. On the opposite wall is a flat-screen TV with DVD player below it, adjacent to a tea/coffee stand with nicely-sized coffee mugs and a plunger – great to enjoy Kenyan coffee with. A bit further in is a curved, glass-top work desk with a view of the room and TV, along with swivel chair, telephone, plenty of plug points and internet cable. I was happy with the Wi-Fi, though, which was quick and efficient. I liked the floor-to-ceiling window with a view of Nairobi, along with its blackout curtains. In front of that, a lounge chair with footrest, together with coffee table and complimentary fruit basket on arrival. More plug points were located next to the bed, which was a little soft for my liking, but I’m someone who prefers a hard surface. The en-suite bathroom had a separate bath and rain shower, with toilet, single basin, complimentary toiletries, and a cupboard with laptop-size safe.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: Artisan, The Gallery (a delicatessen with two spectacular ‘wine walls’), and the Sarabi Pool & Supper Club were the hotel’s only dining options until it opened its new steakhouse, Graze, at the end of April, subsequent to my stay. My business travel experience included the in-room dining, and I opted for the linguini with sautéed chicken, mushrooms and bacon, with a green peppercorn sauce. It was delivered promptly to my room and was delicious, although the staff could have done without calling my room later to ask if they could fetch the tray, particularly as it was quite late. Breakfast, at Artisan, was extensive, and I took a liking to the muesli and fruit in a glass, together with copious amounts of fresh carrot juice and decaf coffee. I did ask for eggs benedict as a main, but there was a delay and I needed to get to a meeting, so instead filled up on pork sausages, scrambled egg and bacon. Later I sampled the Champagne Bar, which I believe has become a bit of a local favourite, as evidenced by the busy Monday night I witnessed. Here they serve premium beer, wine, cocktails and spirits, and it looks onto the pool.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: The Sankara has five meeting rooms, ranging in size from two of the Woodvale rooms at 98m2 to the boardroom at 20m2. There are, in fact, three Woodvale rooms that can be combined to make up the Sankara’s biggest facility, capable of hosting 250 people in a cocktail setting. Otherwise, there’s a business centre with computers and a secretarial service. Guests booking either a Club room or suite have access to the Club Lounge on the seventh floor. The Sankara has also beefed up its security in the wake of the 2013 Westlands Mall tragedy, with greater exterior protection and more security-focused procedures.
LEISURE FACILITIES: There’s a pool and gym on the seventh floor, with the latter offering treadmills with a view of the city, as well as weights, towels, cold water and change rooms. The hotel also shows weekend movies on a big screen over the pool, whilst the Angsana Spa comes highly recommended.
VERDICT: A 5-star experience and another reminder why the Sankara is regarded as one of Nairobi’s top hotels.
Address: Woodvale Grove, Nairobi
T: +254 20 420 8000