Hemingways in Watamu is member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, testament to its quality. It is within a national marine park south of Malindi, and is noted for its gorgeous beach, big game fishing, excellent choice of watersports, and delicious food.
All rooms and apartments are sea-facing, tastefully decorated and situated in 2 wings, north and south. All are large, light and airy, have a contemporary en-suite bathroom and a private terrace or balcony. Air conditioning keeps the interior crisply cool, and you have the benefits of tea and coffee maker, minibar and free Wi-Fi. The south wing rooms are arranged in apartments of varying sizes, each with a lounge-dining area, kitchen and large terrace.
As well as the large beach-facing pool, you can enjoy the gym and a game of tennis, or a pampering visit to the spa. Being by the ocean there are lots of water-based activities, too. Big game fishing is one of the specialities of the hotel, evoking memories of the eponymous Hemingway himself. You an also enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, paddleboarding and explore by canoe, while a sunset cruise on Mida Creek aboard a dhow is surely the most romantic way to end the day.
There are local excursions you can take too, such as visiting the nearby Arabuko-Sokoke forest in search of elephant, explore the archaeological site of Gede,go on safari in Tsavo East and West and enjoy a round of golf on the nearby 18 hole course.
But the chances are that you're here to relax, so chilling out on the beach or by the pool might be as much as you want to do! Whatever you decide to do, you'll certainly enjoy the excellent cuisine here, and there's nothing better than sitting in the African sun with a cocktail in hand!
Open: Hemingways is open all year. It was re-opened in January 2018 following extensive refurbishment lasting about 1 year.
Location: Hemingways is on Turtle Bay in Watamu Marine Park, 120kms north of Mombasa, site of the closest international airport, and 25kms south of Malindi where there is a domestic airport.
Rooms: There are 39 rooms made up of 26 ocean and 13 deluxe ocean rooms. Each has at least 40sqm of space, has large windows with ocean views and a modern en-suite bathroom. Air conditioning is standard. Amenities include a stocked minibar, tea and coffee maker, phone, free Wi-Fi, safe, hairdryer and mosquito nets. Ocean rooms are located on the ground and first floor of the north wing, and have a terrace or balcony. Deluxe ocean view rooms are on the top floor of the north wing, have 4-poster beds, flatscreen TV and balcony. In addition Hemingways has 1, 2 and 4 bedroom apartments. Located in the south wing, these have open plan lounge-diners, expansive terraces, fully equipped kitchens and en-suite bedrooms. Amenities are the same as the deluxe ocean view rooms. They offer greater independence while also conferring full access to all hotel facilities. There are 3 x 1 bed, 16 x 2 bed and 2 x 4 bed apartments.
Activities: Take part in watersports, go snorkelling, scuba diving paddleboarding, enjoy a sunset dhow cruise, go bird watching and whale watching (seasonal), and take trips to Tsavo National Park. You can visit Gede ruins and have a guided excursion to Malindi. Game fishing is a popular pastime.
Facilities: These include an outdoor pool and pool bar, an additional pool, a spa with 4 treatment rooms, a salon and a gym. There is a main bar overlooking the beach, a restaurant and cafe (see below). The hotel has a library, gift shop, business centre and a floodlit clay tennis court with sports equipment and a coach. There is a laundry service, pay locally.
Dining: The main restaurant provides light brasserie style meals with a large proportion of seafood dishes, served on the dining terrace. The cafe serves snacks, pizzas and ice creams.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome. Babysitting can be arranged, and cots and high chairs are available.
Health: This is a malarial area.
Communication: There is free Wi-Fi internet access.
"Hemingways is not my kind of place - too much of an insulated, Western-style resort, and rather expensive for what it is. However, to be fair to them, they were very good about my wanting to cancel the rest of my stay there and move on early. I had heard very good reports of it from other people earlier in my trip so was very disappointed by the standard of the accommodation and the general atmosphere of the place - though this is probably a matter of taste and I'm sure many people have a great time there. The Wifi didn't work at all, although the resort IT manager did come to try and fix it and told me he is planning to upgrade the system soon. I had almost run out of malaria pills, having left some behind in my luggage in Nairobi, and although I was able to make an appointment with the on-site doctor, I was very surprised to find he didn't have any in stock. The resort manager was very professional in dealing with my dismay at finding myself in a place I didn't like and I think generally they did everything they could for me."