The Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki is truly a masterpiece of luxury. It can very well be considered the cradle of romance, history and spectacular scenery. From a country home to one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, Mount Kenya Safari Club is a Mecca for the who-is-who of the world.
Built right at the equator on a ridge facing Mount Kenya the site is truly magnificent and well-worth a visit – if only for the view alone!
The grand main building gleams white against the green sweep of surrounding lawns where you can catch dramatic views of the foothill forest rising to the peaks of Mount Kenya. The original building was designed as a dream home by Rhoda Prudhomme for her husband.
As a wealthy New York matron of 50, Rhoda fell in love with the young French aviator who took her big game hunting on her safari in Kenya.
She gave up all to marry and live with him in Njoro among the Happy valley set of the 1930s. The land had previously belonged to a Mrs. Wheelers who agreed to sell it to them. The Prudhommes called the house they built Mawingu which is Swahili for the clouds.
The house with its many guest rooms became an inn in 1948 when it was purchased by Abraham Block, a humble Jew from a little village in Lithuania who arrived in Kenya in 1903 and went on to found a formidable business empire that included the famous Block group of hotels.
In 1959 the late film star William Holden and two friends rested there during a shooting safari. They immediately fell in love with the place, bought it and turned it into one of the most unusual and exclusive clubs in the world – the Mount Kenya Safari Club was born.
Sir Winston Churchill was a founding member as were Lord Louis Mountbatten, Robert Ruark, US president Lyndon Johnson, Conrad Hilton, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby among other notable names.
Today the Mount Kenya Safari Club is a large and complex set up. The hotel, built on 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, contains a wide and diverse range of accommodation.
A whole host of sporting options are available and there are conference facilities, shops and galleries – hotel vehicles are even necessary to transport you from your cottage or villa to the main hotel.
The popularity of the club, which also operates as a hotel, has meant expanding the accommodation and services to cope with the influx of tourist who visit. The hotel maintains a tradition of up-scale elegance complete with a dress code for dinner. There is live music for dancing and children have to eat separately.
Anyone can stay here and the choice of things you can do is nearly limitless. You can look through the excellent art gallery, ride horses through the forests, bask by the pool, have a massage, play a round of golf, visit the boutiques, shop for books or curios, and wander through the aviary – the list goes on and on.
The accommodation at the club covers a wide range of styles, locations and prices with the facility designed to offer you quite a different experience depending on which room you get. For example you can go back in history if you stay in one of the rooms or suites in the main building.
On the other hand if you want a more private experience you can opt for one of the lavishly appointed newer cottages placed down by the river.
You can choose to be in a functional room with small windows or you can delight in front of a gigantic stone fireplace in a grand cottage with stunning views of the mountain. The options are wide and varied – sometimes even confusing!
Ultimately, whichever way you choose to experience Mount Kenya Safari Club, luxury will follow you everywhere.