Photo courtesy of Lamu House
Lamu HouseThe ancient rhythms of daily life are palpable in Lamu’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to the 14th century and is widely considered the best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. Ideally situated on the waterfront, Lamu House is an 11-room boutique hotel (there are also nine residence-style apartments a short walk away) that serves as a great base for exploring the island’s confluence of cultures, a mix of Portuguese, Arab, Bantu, Indian, and British influences. Start at Lamu Museum to get an overview of the region’s nautical past and artisanal specialties, then weave through the fruit and craft stalls—and donkeys, as there are no cars—that line the cobblestone streets nearby, spotting intricately carved wooden doors on your way back to the hotel. The courtyard swimming pool offers respite from the daytime heat, as well as a tranquil backdrop for quiet nights under a starlit sky. And be sure to ask for a sea-view room: watching the glowing sun rise through open doors is not to be missed.