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Hotel Almanara Diani Beach Resort Hotel 0 star
Easyexperts
Diani Beach Road, Mombasa south coast Mombasa, Kenya -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

Just try and keep yourself from ooh-ing and aah-ing at the Almanara, for not only are the villas stunning, but the attention to detail that has gone into their decoration is quite impressive. This is one of the premier luxe choices in the Mombasa region and it's not hard to see why. But even if the utter fabulousness is there, we couldn't help but feel that there was something quite 'Western' about it. That said, if you're after dashing good looks and all the bells and whistles that go along with it, you'll certainly find it at the Almanara.

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    • Hotel Almanara Diani Beach Resort

      Almanara Diani Beach Resort   -   © Luis David Alvarez / EASYVOYAGE

    • Hotel Almanara Diani Beach Resort

      Almanara Diani Beach Resort   -   © Luis David Alvarez / EASYVOYAGE

       
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    Location 7.0 /10

    Situated at the southern end of Diani Beach on Mombasa's beautiful south coast, the Almanara is about a 25 minute drive from the Likoni Ferry crossing to Mombasa Island. When coming from Moi International Airport, allow for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes of travel (although the ferry schedule can be unpredictable), otherwise, the Ukunda Air Strip is a 10 minute drive away.

    Accommodation 9.90 /10

    Each executive villa, thoughtfully decorated in the local Swahili style but with a hearty contemporary twist, sleeps up to six guests and comes with its own staff of chef, waiter and housekeeper. Boasting three double bedrooms (each with ensuite bathroom) on the first floor and a huge roof terrace, the villas also consist of a large kitchen and open plan living/dining areas on the ground floor.

    The spacious lounge area boasts designer details such as intricately carved wooden furnishings, plush couches with tribal print cushions, a beautiful variety of African objets d'art, a huge flat screen television and arabesque lamps. The L-shaped terrace that curves around the lounge and dining area is the ideal spot for alfresco meals or simple relaxation. The roof terrace commands views over the lush gardens, with a collection of comfy day beds and massive sun loungers, while the suspended sails provide shade on those incredibly hot days.

    The winding staircase from the lounge to the first floor leads you to a landing with work desk, telephone, computer (WIFI is also available, free of charge) and printer. The spacious master bedroom is quite girly and features a carved, Lamu-style four poster bed, draped in luxurious sari-like linen with matching cushions in jewel shades and shimmering shantung material. A small lounge area looks towards a huge, flat screen television and DVD player, while the carved, white mirror frames suspended above the vanities polish off the room's feminine feel. A walk-in closet leads to the bathroom (a tad small for a master bedroom) where a raised Jacuzzi with rain shower is the star attraction. The attention to detail is noticeable straightaway; from the flowers, to the hand towels folded into shirts, or the face towels folded into tiny sailing boats, to the toiletries found in cobalt blue retro potion bottles, and even the toilet paper roll folded into an origami-like piece of art every day. The two remaining bedrooms are decorated in slightly different yet harmonious styles but each is comfortable and immaculate.

    Meanwhile, the presidential villa known as the 'Casa Bella' has attracted many a celebrity but is also a popular spot for weddings. With five sumptuous ocean-view bedrooms surrounding a central grand hall, the villa is entered via elaborate Lamu doors, where guests cross a glass walkway that overlooks a lovely Koi pond. The villa boasts not only ocean views but its own infinity swimming pool, spa, gym, games room and huge kitchen. Guests have at their disposal a private chef, housekeeper, security staff and a team of waiters, as well as exclusive use of a Toyota VX Land Cruiser (within the Diani area), complete with private chauffeur.

    Overview 9.45 /10

    We'd hesitate in calling the Almanara a resort, and even less so a hotel; rather, a collection of private beach houses. There are only six villas, plus a huge, waterfront presidential villa, but even at full house, the Almanara will only host around 45 guests. From the outside, the huge stone wall and tall, double doors don't give any hint as to what's on the other side. Once there though, we discover the salmon-pink villas nestled a few metres away from one another, with lush gardens to separate each one. It is also very quiet; often the only sound you'll hear is the rhythmic chug of the sprinklers that water the grass and plants. Hidden amongst the villas is a medium-sized lagoon-style pool with attractive stone tile base, Jacuzzi and swim-up pool bar, surrounded by wooden sun loungers and log-framed day beds with colour coordinated cushions. Winding stone paths lead to the presidential villa, after which a driveway to the right of it will have you at Sails, the open-air restaurant (see Food and Drink).

    Food and drink 9.45 /10

    Each villa boasts its own fully-stocked kitchen with staff entrance where your personal chef will prepare and cook all your meals, should you wish. Meals can be taken outside on the veranda or indoors in the salon. There are no buffets or set menus here; the menu consists of whatever your taste buds desire. At breakfast we enjoyed a fresh fruit platter, homemade muesli, bread, pastries, bacon and eggs. The wooden table was scattered with fresh hibiscus flowers and set with shell-trimmed woven place mats. We must give special mention to the fresh passion fruit juice and homemade pineapple jam. At dinner, we gleefully tucked into a hearty serving of grilled fish and prawns, coconut rice and marinated vegetables - possibly the most delicious meal we ate in all of Mombasa. It is important to mention however, that this system could be a slightly awkward one if you're not used to having a personal staff wait on you - watching as you eat, waiting silently for you to finish - which let's face it, is the case for most people.

    Sails, the on-site ŕ la carte restaurant is popular with Almanara guests, tourists from other hotels, as well as locals/expatriates. For this reason, it is advisable to book a table here, open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday. A handful of tables are set up under a canopy of white sails, whilst cosy lounge areas lie more exposed on the deck, all mere metres from the beach. A small collection of daybeds provides the perfect place to savour a pre-dinner cocktail or two with that special someone. The setting is very pleasant, especially in the evenings, when the dim lighting creates an intimate ambiance. It can get windy out there though, especially if the tide is coming in so layer up! We enjoyed an aperitif (a lovely, bone dry Tall Horse Sauvignon Blanc) served with deep-fried seaweed and a soy dipping sauce. The grilled chicken with lemon and herb coulis was delicious and bursting with flavour, while the chocolate mousse was velvety and rich, just as it should be.

    Beach 9.20 /10

    Almanara is situated on a lovely, quiet stretch of Diani Beach. Boasting the fine white sands and warm waters that this part of the Mombasa coast is famous for, the beach is empty most of the time, save the odd roving beach seller hawking key chains or other trinkets. We loved the tranquility as well as the stunning sunrise over the Indian Ocean. Beach equipment (a neat line of sun loungers "for two" and parasols) is located within the resort grounds by the Sails restaurant.

    RHP

    To know

    Keep an eye out for the Colobus monkeys that often shuffle along the stone wall fence; whole families of these beautiful and endangered creatures can be seen leapfrogging over one another, and if you're lucky you'll get to see them go about their daily business. The entrance to Almanara is heavily guarded and has jokingly been compared to "getting into the White House." While this is reassuring, the same rules apply, just as they would anywhere else. There is a large safe in the master bedroom of each villa; its use is a complimentary service. Other complimentary services include next-day laundry.

    Equipment

    • Car park
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      massage, spa

    • Swimming pool

    advantage

    • Beautifully decorated villas with own staff
    • Sails, the beachfront restaurant

    disadvantages

    • Limited on-site facilities
    • Only the presidential villa boasts sea views

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
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