I thought I knew Nairobi. But when I looked out from the Kilele Rooftop Lounge of the new Tune Hotel last Saturday morning, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings – before I realised that the low ochre-coloured building was the Mall besides the Westlands roundabout.
When I came back to Kenya in the mid-1980s, the view from the top of the KICC was – apart from the relatively small business district – a city cloaked in trees. It used to be called ‘the green city in the sun’.
In the 1980s, the KICC was the tallest building in Nairobi. Now it is dwarfed by so many high ones. From where we were sitting in the Rooftop Lounge, there was the dark grey block of yet another hotel going up, and beyond it an orange-tiled tower very much like the revolving restaurant in Kampala.
Stage right there was the city centre; stage left, the estates of Loresho and Lavington. There are still a lot of trees, with the high buildings sprouting above them. Let’s hope much of the greenery will stay, as the city spreads out.
The Kilele Lounge, the peak of the hotel, gives you an amazing 360 degrees view of the city, its suburban estates and its distant hills. Its red and white décor looks better, I think, on an Arsenal footballer, but I reckon this will be a very popular meeting and drinking place.
The Tune Hotel is something of a breakthrough for Nairobi. It is East Africa’s first of a chain that has 14 links in Malaysia, eight in the UK, one in India, and now one in Kenya. The chain’s slogan is ‘Experience all the comforts for a fraction’. The Tune in Rhapta Road publishes that a single room is Ksh.7,000 – and for another person in the room the addition is only Ksh.1,000. And I gather that even these rates are negotiable.
The hotel’s 280 rooms are spread over 11 floors. They are amazingly compact – hence the low price. They have either a queen-size bed, twin beds, or even 10 triple. All are the same size, by the way. All have a flat screen TV, with DSTV. Much else is cleverly flat too – like the pull-down worktop, two plastic red chairs that pull out from the wall, as well as pull-out red plastic cup-shaped receptacles for stowing things.
The hanging space is red hangers on the wall and some shallow shelves by the bed. The washroom is very neat, too – with a toilet, basin and shower. On each floor there is a shared room for ironing clothes. There is a charge for Wi-Fi: Ksh.500 for 24 hours; Ksh.900 for 72 hours; Ksh.1,500 for an unlimited time. These days, Wi-Fi is free in ‘high-end’ hotels but, at the Tune room prices, the Wi-Fi charge is reasonable.
Everything is scrupulously efficient, clean and tidy at the Tune Hotel. All this ingenuity is very much South-East Asian.
As well as the two rooftop lounges – there is a Sky Bar, sports bar, too – the hotel has two ‘food and beverage outlets’ on the ground floor. One is the Utamu Restaurant, which serves a good selection of continental cuisine. The other is the Grab & Go bar and takeaway, which serves sandwiches, salads and paninis.
We sat in the Grab & Go for coffees and a cake after our beef burgers and glasses of wine in the Kilele Lounge – excellent burgers, topped with bacon or cheese or pineapple. We did a little ‘man watching’ of the kinds of people sitting at the tables or checking in at reception. Quite a few mixed couples, we noticed – and quite fitting for such a cosmopolitan-style hotel.
We also read the display announcing events at the hotel: quiz night on Tuesdays; Latin night on Wednesdays, learning and dancing the night away; live jazz entertainment on Thursdays; resident DJ on Fridays and Saturdays; old school on Sundays, tuning in to beats of the 70s and 89s – that’s for me!
So it’s a fun place, the new Tune Hotel. It is well situated near other fun places in Westlands. It is right opposite the old Continental Hotel, with its popular Vineyard Bar and Restaurant. At the top end of Rhapta Road, the Tune is only a short walk, or a cheap taxi ride, away from other bars and clubs in Westlands. And both the Kilele Rooftop and the Sky Bar will attract many night-life fun-seekers.
It is almost too good to be true, but they are offering 100 rooms a day between 24th -26th December and 1st -2nd January for just Ksh.995. If you want to check it out, go to the website http://www.tunehotels.com/gb/en/our-hotels/nairobi/ using the promo code PROMO995.