24-Hour Room Service: Tribe – The Village Market Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya

Grandeur is all very well, but without a touch of glamour a high-end hotel is just that: a smart place to sleep in.

Until recently, Nairobi's luxury hotel scene was stuck in this rut, the likes of the Norfolk and Stanley being good at what they do (offering five-star service in opulent surroundings) but rarely offering excitement. Now, Tribe has provided Nairobi with an injection of contemporary cool. Despite a name that appears to hark back to the past – Tribe's motto is in fact "one tribe, the human race" – the hotel is utterly modern, fusing slick Manhattan loft interiors with an earthy African warmth.

In the two months since its official opening, the hotel has already played host to Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman, as well as luminaries from October's MTV Africa Music Awards, including former Fugee Wyclef Jean.

Architect Mehraz Ehsani, whose boutique brainchild is all about surprise and asymmetry, claims to be reacting against the Holiday Inn-style "box". "No pot-plants here," he says. "And you won't find many right angles either." He's right: Tribe beguiles from the start. Neither a block nor a high-rise, the newly built four-storey structure lies low, sinking back into its sloping grounds, a black ripple in the exterior walls disguising the lines of windows.

The entrance also confounds. You go in via the intimate one-storey entrance which almost immediately shoots upwards into a vast atrium, where stylish people recline on arty black leather stools, tall-backed sofas or wicker loungers. Much of the furniture is designed by local artiste Jutta Gavidia-Wilhelm and was constructed by her local workforce.

Indeed, the overall craftsmanship is impressive throughout: sofas so tall they form pods, reaching up towards sheer voile curtains lit by chandeliers of chrome baubles; polished granite steps snaking up to the first floor; innumerable discreet sources of light. There is also a profusion of African artwork adorning every corner of the hotel with hieratic heads, leather gourds and figurines studded with cowrie shells. A library containing some 2,800 books and a chill-out room with 300 DVDs is provided too, should you decide to linger. At Tribe, you feel as a guest should, but rarely does: comfortable and relaxed.

The hotel's restaurant, Epic, is fully in line with the Tribe ethos, all sleek curtains of repoussé steel. With an emphasis on organic fare, it has a good – but not overwhelming – range of options. Lunches are strong on salads and the prices are reasonable.

"Don't be fooled by the menu," says chef Neil McCarthy, veteran of London's Mayfair InterContinental and Moscow's Metropol. "These are only suggestions. We make whatever the guest wants." I decided not to call his bluff and ordered the "suggested" organic asparagus spears and dill gravadlax followed by ribeye steak, all of which were heavenly.

Still, there's a bit of work to be done. They're "almost finished" with the rooftop terrace, with its open-air cocktail bar and shisha lounge. The conference room and Kaya spa – with its seven Thai-oriented treatment rooms, hair studio, and gym – are slated to open early next year.

Location

Forty minutes from Jomo Kenyatta airport in the west, the neighbourhood of Gigiri is in the north of Nairobi. This is embassy-land, where stately jacaranda trees bloom in UN front gardens. Most of Nairobi's other top-end hotels are in the centre, but for a taste of Nairobi's most intimate deluxe hotel, it is worth the journey. One advantage is that it sits right in the embrace of the Village Market, an enclosed shopping complex, with a weekly Masai market. Whatever you feel about malls, this one is convenient and far from brash. The other plus is that, as Tribe is just a stone's throw from the US Embassy, security standards are some of the tightest in Kenya.

Comfort

The rooms differ from each other, but share dark wood flooring and sandstone brick walls, enlivened by African sculptures, icons and calabashes. They range from the standard luxury of the junior suites, to the loungey loft business suites, the flashier penthouses, and the truly monumental ambassadorial and presidential suites. But even at the top end, the spacious rooms, huge white sofas and rock-hewn bathrooms are never tacky (though you may find a pair of bronze lions watching you while you're in the bath).

Desks are well-appointed, with speedy Wi-Fi and laptop-sized safes to hand. The only let down is the plasma TVs, which look great but are slow to operate.

Tribe – The Village Market Hotel , The Village Market 9/418 Limuru Road, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya (00 254 20 720 0000; africanpridehotels.com)

Rooms 4 stars
Value 5 stars
Service 5 stars

Doubles start at $265 (£177), including breakfast.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Day In a Page

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'