on September 15, 2011
One of the anticipated highlights of my trip to Kenya was my two night stay at Ngong House. They surely did not disappoint on any level!Upon my arrival at Nairobi International Airport, I cleared immigration and exited the arrival hall emptied handed as British Airways was unable to deliver my two checked bags with me. One of Ngong House’s friendly drivers Lucy met me at the exit area. She was a friendly young woman, who I enjoyed not only on my ride from the airport, but later during my stay as my driver to Nairobi National Park on Monday.The drive from the airport, even at 10:30 on a Saturday evening, was a bit harrowing. It would become the standard by which all further driving in and around Nairobi would be measured. Lucy navigated the zany round-abouts without hesitation. All I could think about was our UK vacation a few years back and how my husband David did with driving on the opposite side of the road right out of the Glasgow airport. While something one can get used to in time, it is not something you want to experience for the first time while still working to get the whole "stay to the left" thing figured out.Upon arrival at Ngong House, I was immediately greeted by the evening’s host Paul who offered me a glass of whipped pineapple juice. While it seemed too late for dinner, I was hungry so I did accept his offer of a light supper in lieu of the four course meal being enjoyed by other late arriving Americans. It seemed several of us arrived on the same flight from London although I arrived much later due to the hassle of filing a claim for my delayed bags.My late evening sandwich was a delight – freshly grilled chicken breast on the most tasteful multi-grain bread. This bread would quickly become my favorite throughout my stay, especially as morning toast. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.After my sandwich, I was shown my accommodations. As much as I was hoping for one of their infamously unique "tree house" rooms, I was happy to learn they had me in the suite adjacent to the main lodge. This was perfect for me for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was not having to navigate up the narrow stairs to the sleeping area.Entering my room from the front porch, I realized that I probably had twice as much space as necessary to be comfortable. There was a sitting area with a wood burning fireplace and a small dinette table with a couple of chairs. The king sized bed had already been turned down for the night, with the mosquito netting protecting the area from the little nasties. Later when I climbed into bed, I was pleasantly surprised that a nice hot water bottle had been placed in the bed to take the night chill from the bedding.To the left of the main living area was another sitting area, with a built-in best and a fully stocked refrigerator complete with complimentary soft drinks, beer and wine. First class all the way, the Ngong House! There was also a large wardrobe type dresser where there was also a safe for personal use while out and about during the day. Adjacent was the bathroom, again very spacious and well stocked with beautiful apothecary style bottles with shampoo and body wash.I made good use of the free in-room WiFi to send David and email letting him know that I had arrived safely. And with that task completed, I was off to bed! Amazingly, I slept until around 7:30 and was set for local time for the balance of my two weeks in Kenya.I had arranged for breakfast at 9:00am which was served out on the lawn under the acacia trees. It was a lovely setting with table throughout the yard set for the guests. I was a bit disappointed to be seated at a table for one, as I would have enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and dine with others, but it turned out alright as another guest was set up at a table for six, but her other travel companions decided to sleep in practically missing breakfast altogether. We enjoyed a chat across the way over tea and fruit.Breakfast as with all other meals at the Ngong House was very good. It would seem that nothing is done with exquisite attention to detail in terms of preparation and presentation. Cooked to order eggs were offered along with choice of breakfast meat and a basket of that multi-grain bread toasted to perfection.With plans to go out and explore some of the better known tourist sites in the surrounding area of Karen, I returned back for lunch midafternoon before heading back out at 4:30p for the evening feeding of the nursery elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Upon my return for supper, I was treated to another fabulous ding experience. Each meal service provided was of gourmet quality, with personal service to match.About getting around, Ngong House has a small fleet of vehicles and several drivers on stand-by to take guests wherever they would like to go during their stay. Because of the type of payment plan I was on for my accommodations, I paid a daily rate for use of a vehicle and driver during my two day stay. This included the sightseeing I did on Sunday, the four hour game drive at Nairobi National Park on Monday as well as transportation downtown to my hotel that evening. Lucy was even kind enough to get me to the local Nakumatt store to buy some clothes and toiletries on Sunday evening when it became clear I would not have my bags that evening.Located remotely on 10 acres of privately held land, guests could rest assured knowing they were also protected not only within a gated limited access area, but that the property itself also had its own security access restricted to guests and staff. Additionally, there were the three large watch dogs that enjoyed mingling with guests around the main lodge building when they weren’t out gallivanting in the bush.Regarding service, the staff throughout Ngong House was first class all the way. Everyone from those serving meals to the drivers, were courteous and anxious to help in any way possible. During my first morning, the owner Paul stopped by my breakfast table to introduce himself and thank me for staying with them. He was a very friendly man, obviously concerned about the comfort and satisfaction of all of his guests. He also made it a point to introduce me to his "deputy in charge" an Aussie named Charlotte. She was a most interesting person; having joined Paul’s staff a few years ago having made the connection through another hospitality related business. She proved to be perhaps the greatest assistance to me personally during my entire time in Kenya as she was the one who tracked down my delayed baggage situation with British Airways and personally went to pick up the first bag which had arrived late on Sunday evening. She also made arrangements to get me to the airport Tuesday morning to pick up my second bag, as it had been located and was on the Monday evening arrival into Nairobi. I cannot imagine having to deal with the airline without her assistance! To be sure, Charlotte was the MVP of my entire vacation.While staying at the Ngong House is pricey, given the all-inclusive meals and beverages (to include beer and wine) and impeccable service, I think there is no better way to start or end a safari holiday in Nairobi than a stay here. I was very happy that I was able to make arrangements for my two night stay prior as it afforded me the opportunity to relax and unwind before what would be a very hectic coming 12 days of "on the go" travel on safari.
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