You’ve probably had the phrase, ‘our hotel is five stars rated’ thrown around by hotels in their marketing campaigns, but have you ever wondered what it actually means? The Kenya Tourism Regulatory Authority has recently released a new hotels ranking based on the star classifications, however, before we get to that we need to understand what the rankings represent. The Tourism Regulatory Authority is Kenya’s official body that ranks hotels and it seems that nobody knows for sure what criteria they use for the ranking. The criteria they use needs to make clear so that both hotels and customers can plan themselves accordingly. Nonetheless, there is currently no worldwide universal body that harmonises these rankings and thus, the hotels’ standards may vary per country. This is precisely why, whenever a hotel claims its five stars or four stars ranked you should make an effort to find out who ranked it.
Here is what to generally expect when you visit a hotel based on their ranking according to USA Today Travel and The Daily Mail. However, do note that some hotels may have extra facilities which are above the standards in their ranking category.
One Star Hotels
Hotels with a one star are the most basic of the bunch, the rooms have basic amenities, a bed, a reading table, while the bathrooms can be shared by several rooms or by a whole floor. You won’t find a TV, telephone or room service in these hotels.
Two Star Hotels
Hotels with this ranking are a slight improvement from one-star hotels, they are cleaner, offer a private bathroom (don’t expect a bathtub though), they may have a telephone, a TV (but with limited channels), and the reception may be opened for 24 hours. The hotel has to uphold cleanliness and maintenance of its facilities to maintain the ranking.
Three Star Hotels
These type of hotels are a bit nicer than the latter, they are in the middle of the rankings and thus maintain a balance of affordability and comfort. They have several types of rooms priced differently, are well secured, have Wi-Fi in public areas, an onsite bar or restaurant. Additionally, there should be a telephone in the rooms to reach reception, in addition to room service, a TV, slightly more furniture (may include a sofa, closet in addition to the bed and reading table). They may have a private bathroom attached to the bedroom for better privacy.
Three-star hotels in the Greater Nairobi region include Maanzoni Lodge, Amboseli Sopa Lodge Kajiado and Safaris Camp. The Coastal region includes Mnarani Club Kilifi, Sandies Tropical Village Kilifi, and Azul Margarita Beach Resort in Mombasa. South Rift region includes Mara Engai Wilderness Lodge Narok, Mara Simba Lodge Narok and Tipilikwani Mara Camp. The North Rift region includes Kerio View Lodge Elgeyo Marakwet, Samich Resort Elgeyo Marakwet and The Noble Conference Centre in Uasin Gishu.
Four Star Hotels
Expect a lot more in a four-star hotel, the décor is often top notch, the hotel has more staff and thus offers more services. They can be several bars and restaurants offering different cuisines, variety is a requisite in such hotels. Expect to find a fully equipped gym or a spa, conference room, a swimming pool; you should have 24-hour access to the hotel and find staff to serve you. The rooms are larger, the beds are big and cleaner. They should be Wi-Fi provided at least within the bedroom with a private bathroom (a hot shower is a pre-requisite). You will often find different types of rooms priced differently in a four-star hotel including suites.
Four-star hotels in Nairobi include Crowne Plaza, Ole Sereni Hotel, House of Waine, Weston Hotel and Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi among others. The Coastal region includes Leisure Lodge Beach & Golf Resort Kwale, Baobab Beach Resort & Spa in Kwale, Msambweni Beach House and Private Villa in Kwale, Serena Beach Resort and Spa Mombasa, and Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa. South Rift region includes Keekorok Lodge Narok, Mara Explorer Camp Narok and Sarova Mara Game Camp. Northern Kenya includes Sarova Shaba Game Lodge Isiolo, Ashnil Samburu Camp Isiolo and Sweetwater’s Serena Camp & Ol Pejeta House. In the Central & Mount Kenya region, four-star hotels include, White Rhino Hotel Nyeri, Aberdares Country Club Nyeri and Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club. North rift only has the Boma Inn, Eldoret.
Five Star Hotels
These are the hotels atop the luxury chain, they have all the services offered in four-star hotels with an extra cherry on top. They are spacious, with fancy décor (you will feel the ambience right when you walk in) the security is top notch with well-trained and friendly staff. Expect to have 24-hour access with round the clock room service. These are the kind of hotels where you drive in and someone offers to find a parking space on your behalf. If you are new to town, five-star hotels have concierge services bundled in, where someone would assist you with tasks like making restaurant reservations, booking transport, in addition to recommending the best nightlife hangout spots, coordinating the movement of your language etc. Five-star hotels maintain excellent cleanliness and hospitality standards. They strive to meet every need visitors may have, of course only if they fall within the hotel and legal policies.
Five-star hotels in Nairobi include Villa Rosa Kempinski, Hemingway’s Nairobi, Sankara Nairobi, Fairmont The Norfolk, Tribe Hotel Nairobi, The Sarova Stanley, Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi, Dusit D2, Intercontinental Nairobi and The Boma Nairobi. The Coastal region has Median Palms Suite and Villas in Kilifi, Leopard Beach Resort and Spa Kwale and Swahili Beach Resort Kwale. The South Rift region has Lake Elementaita Serena Camp in Nakuru, Mara Serena Safari Lodge in Narok, Olare Mara Kempinski in Narok, Enashipai Resort and Spa in Nakuru. The Northern Kenya region has Segera Retreat Lodge, while The North Rift, Central & Mount Kenya, Eastern and Western Kenya regions have no five-star rated hotel.
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