Fairmont The Norfolk has been a starting point for African safaris for over a hundred years, and it’s easy to see why when you set foot here. It’s a calm oasis in the middle of the city, and thus the perfect place to kick back and unwind, recalibrating from your flight and preparing for the grand adventure ahead of you. At The Norfolk you’re part of a rich safari history, and black and white photos of past guests (Churchill and Roosevelt among them) grace the walls of the open-air lobby, seemingly urging you to relax and enjoy the journey of a lifetime.
Nairobi’s most venerable hotel, The Norfolk, has been a meeting place for passing travellers and newly arrived settlers alike since 1904. A richly storied property, The Norfolk was acquired by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts shortly after celebrating its centennial. Fairmont has an unblemished reputation for acquiring legendary properties and nurturing their histories while updating them with the most modern conveniences. This includes The Savoy in London, The Plaza in New York, and St. Andrews in Scotland, to name just a few. Fairmont The Norfolk has shone even brighter over the last few years, and they look to be carrying five-star luxury to the next centennial.
Each guest room is luxuriously furnished, with all the five-star comforts—plush carpets, marble bathrooms—meshing perfectly with the warmth and charm of Africa. Whether experiencing Kenya’s world-renowned tea or coffee for the first time in the Tea Room, snacking on the famed Lord Delamere Terrace and watching the bustle of Nairobi go by, or relaxing in the tropical garden that fills the inner courtyard with sweet scents and singing birds—this legendary safari starting point has an undeniable buzz of impending adventure.
With three restaurants, the Tea Room, a pool bar and of course, room service, there are many opportunities to enjoy the fruits of this wonderful kitchen. To work up an appetite, simply visit the health club, where personal trainers and daily classes compete with the pleasures of the sauna, steam room and delightful spa.
Fairmont The Norfolk is happy to host children of all ages. Baby-sitting services are also available.
All of Nairobi is ours to explore! Perhaps we’ll visit Kenya’s foremost animal orphanage and conservation foundation, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. For more than four decades Dame Daphne Sheldrick was a recognised authority on successfully raising infant elephant and rhinoceros orphans and re-integrating them into the wild. Watch the babies feed and play while learning about them from the late Dame Daphne’s staff.
Karen Von Blixen’s home—the Danish author of Out of Africa—is nigh obligatory, paying tribute to the woman who nearly single-handedly inspired a generation of safari travellers. The home remains a perfect architectural gem with much of her original furniture recovered, and a visit will surely put you in the proper frame of mind for launching an excursion into the bush.
Then there’s the Giraffe Centre, set in 120 acres of primeval forest. The Centre raises, and then releases, endangered Rothschild giraffes into the wild. Children and adults alike thrill to the treat of feeding these gentle giants by hand, facing them eye-to-eye from an elevated viewing platform.
And of course, we have the opportunity to visit the Micato-AmericaShare Community Centre in the Mukuru slum of Nairobi, where the smiles on the residents’ faces belie the poverty one sees. Witness the good works done here, from the Community Centre library to the basketball court to the fresh water borehole, and perhaps even have a chance to speak with some of the children whose educations are sponsored through Micato-AmericaShare—because of Micato travellers and friends, their lives have changed.