Fusing an open-air layout and coziness of private luxury, in beautiful surroundings of Suahili art, The Red Pepper House ensures personal—and personalized—experience. With only five guest rooms this is the most exclusive hotel on Lamu island.
The personal attention of staff was evident to us from the moment of arrival. Two members of staff took care of our luggages as we were led to the lovely traditional dhow (Swahili boat), where we were met by the hotel’s general manager.
With welcome drinks in hand, spread on comfortable pillows we set sail to the hotel. Twenty minutes later, the boat docked by the long hotel jetty, which stretches across the wide beach right to the hotel itself. Stepping in, we be greeted like a family by the entire staff.
Under the tall roof
The waterfront near the hotel is dotted by picturesque mangrove trees, replaced by neem and acacia trees further inland. The Red Pepper House emerges from amongst them, its impressive thatched, undulating makuti roof towering above.
As we walked into the massive open-air lounge we were struck by the eclectic and highly personal décor, which is a reflection of the hotel’s original purpose: the Spanish owner built it as a family holiday home.
The unique assembly of art, crafts and furniture, used skillfully to decorate the hotel makes the Red Pepper feel equally cathedral-like and homely. Crystal chandeliers hang above colonial antiques, sisal rugs and traditional Swahili furniture, including pili pili beds, decorated with peacocks. Tribal masks and sculptures adorn walls and corners.
The local Swahili heritage comes through in the hotel’s decoration but also in the building style: the open sides, high ceilings and shaded verandas provide cool interiors in the hot Lamu climate.
The spacious open lounge is at the focal point of the hotel, with its circular seating area in the center. Leading to the beach and the pool on one axis and the guesthouses on the other, the lounge serves as a cool and comfortable hangout.
The hotel’s rooms (called nyumba), are decorated with the same artisanal Swahili furniture found throughout the property. The living areas spread to a private terrace and beyond to the enclosed sandy ‘garden’ of acacia trees.
Personal and tailored
The best part: we were the only guests. But even if we weren’t, the small number of rooms ensures an incredibly peaceful and highly personalized experience. Activities are tailored. A dhow cruise to a remote beach, excursion to the Takwa ruins or a trip into Lamu town, the Red Pepper staff is on hand to assist. The sunset dhow trip followed by champagne under the stars is a must!
The dining options and their locations can depend on guests if they wish—though we liked to be surprised by the head chef. Every evening he would invite us on a journey of tastes, from Swahili to the Mediterranean flavours… with hints of Asian cuisine.
The sense of tranquil shelter emanates from the Red Pepper House and extends to the unique development just a short walk through the sparse acacia forest. The Anidan Shelter, a beautiful orphanage next to the hotel is run with huge help from the hotel.
Incorporating a children’s hospital, a nursery school and dormitories, the NGO cares for more than 250 children but also provides help for the nearby villages, for example with health services.