Fairmont The Norfolk
For more than a century, this venerable address has been the setting off point for countless animal-admiring safaris and many a great African adventure — as well as making a fine bolt-hole for recoup and relaxation afterwards. The Norfolk has hosted the adventurous, the eccentric, and the remarkable since its opening in 1904. And it’s easy to see why. A stay here makes you immediately part of a rich safari tapestry, from Theodore Roosevelt’s visit on his retirement as 26th President to Churchill’s pre-Colonial tour. Indeed, a short stroll through the museum-quality corridors will make you feel connected to the great continuum of history. An oasis on the edge of Nairobi’s bustle, the hotel was acquired in 2004 by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts who brought along their reputation for acquiring legendary properties (The Savoy in London and The Plaza in New York, to name a few) and for updating them with all modern conveniences you’d expect — though we’re certain on its opening day Christmas ‘04, the lavish hot and cold baths made quite an impression.
Each guest room and suite is furnished to a high international standard, with all the usual bells and whistles—from marble bathrooms to king beds and wifi, set around tranquil courtyards that trill with the warbles of African song birds. Recent refurbishments include glassed-in rainfall showers in the Delamere and Acacia Wings. We cherish that first cup of fragrant Kenyan tea in the Colonial elegance of the T Lounge, the opportunity to stretch tired limbs in the lovely heated outdoor swimming pool, and – in the footsteps of Sean Connery, another notable guest – raising a life-affirming glass or two on the famed Lord Delamere Terrace to watch the bustle of Nairobi go by. This inn fairly hums with the buzz of impending adventure.
Further restaurants include a welcoming steakhouse with open kitchen, Cin Cin wine bar, pool bar and of course, room service. To work up an appetite, there is a small health club with sauna, steam room and delightful spa. Requests big and small are unfailingly met by the in-house butler service.
A note for families & children
Fairmont The Norfolk is happy to host children of all ages. Baby-sitting services are also available.
Not only is this beloved landmark convenient for visits to the home of Karen von Blixen, it featured in the Academy Award winning film of her life’s adventures ‘Out of Africa’. Paying homage to one of Kenya’s first intrepid settlers is something of an obligatory pleasure; after all, the Danish author is rightly credited with inspiring a whole generation of safari travellers. At Micato, we too carry a torch for this formidable woman, a visit to her home and gardens will surely put you in the proper frame of mind for your own adventure.
Also convenient to The Norfolk, Sheldrick’s Elephant Sanctuary is Kenya’s foremost animal orphanage and conservation foundation, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The chance to watch baby and infant elephants and rhinoceroses feed and gambol before being reintegrated into the wild is unspeakably moving and more than a little fun. So too, the enchanting Giraffe Centre, where we marvel, feed and yes, even kiss (!) the magnificently poised, winsome and — sadly endangered — Rothschild giraffes, as they lope and linger round their 120 acres of primeval forest.
And of course, we have the opportunity to visit the Micato-AmericaShare Community Centre in the Mukuru slum of Nairobi, where smiles belie the poverty one sees. Witness the good works done here, from the library to the basketball court to the fresh water borehole—all thanks of Micato travellers and friends who positively impact so many children’s lives with each safari taken.