The architectural style of La Marelle is half a world away from the traditional Arab / Swahili houses more usually found in Lamu and its archipelago.  With its polished wooden floorboards, colonnaded verandas, whitewashed window shutters and green tin roof, La Marelle might be in the Caribbean or New Orleans, Sri Lanka or Assam.

A large and elegant living and dining room runs the width of the front of the house, along with a spacious veranda looking out across the garden and beach to the Lamu Channel and Shela village. The centre of the house is a large enclosed courtyard garden, and the three bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen lead off this green interior space.

“Just to say many thanks for the rent of your villa last week. We had a fabulous time and Jeremiah, William and Ahmed looked after us very well.”

Jeremy, UK

The furnishings and fittings echo the eclectic colonial design of the house and reflect the tastes and travels of the house’s owner – deep relaxing daybeds, traditional Lamu chairs, antiques from Africa, India and beyond – giving La Marelle a unique, sophisticated, personal and relaxing atmosphere.

There are numerous places to sit, lounge and take it easy around the house and grounds.  The large, secluded and shady garden surrounding La Marelle is dominated by a huge baobab tree  and even contains the skeleton of a humpback whale harvested from the beach.  Directly outside the garden gate is over two kilometres of golden sand – nice and sheltered with a gently shelving beach, it is a lovely place for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.

The house comes complete with a charming small wooden dhow with outboard motor – the ‘Kinyika’ – named after Lamu’s offshore rock where dolphins play – and a captain to pilot her.  They will collect you from the airport and take you to La Marelle, and thereafter they are at your disposal for trips across to Shela village, Lamu town or elsewhere in the islands.  Fuel is charged separately at cost – but the engine is not at all thirsty.

“A sweet, Southern-style bungalow on Manda Island. There’s a whale skeleton in the garden, and miles of creamy beach outside the gate. Suitable for a small family.”

Conde Nast Traveller Magazine on ‘Where to stay in Lamu’

There are three additional staff to help around the house – a night watchman, house steward and an excellent chef.  He will be happy to shop and cook meals as required, and local fisherman will often come to the house with fish, prawns, lobster and other delicious and freshly-caught seafood.

For eating out we recommend strolling down the beach to Diamond Beach Village which has a lovely low-key beach bar and delicious pizzas, or heading a few hundred metres north to the smart Majlis Resort.  Alternatively jump into the Kinyika and head across to Shela’s legendary Peponi Hotel or one of the many other excellent places to eat and drink on Lamu.

Summary

  • Charming and sophisticated beachfront retreat
  • Shady baobab gardens, lovely sea and sunset views
  • Motor boat and captain available
  • Sleeps 6 guests in three double bedroom
  • Standard Rental Rate KSh 35,000 per night

Detailed Information

Accommodation and Facilities

  • Four Full-time staff
  • Motor Boat and Captain

Inside

  • Living and Dining Room
  • Galleried Courtyard
  • Front Veranda with Dining Area
  • Two Master Bedroom suites
  • Double Bedroom with separate Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Good Mobile Phone and Internet Service

Outside

  • 1-acre plot
  • Shady Garden with Baobab Tree
  • Direct Access to 2.4 km Sandy Beach
  • Beach Beds and Parasols available

Further Afield

All kinds of activities and excursions can be arranged locally including –

  • Cultural Visits
  • Dhow Safaris,
  • Fishing
  • Snorkelling
  • Kite Surfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Water skiing

Location

La Marelle House

Manda Beach

For a real escape-from-it-all retreat, Manda Beach is an even more low-key and relaxing destination than Lamu Town or Shela. Quiet and unspoilt, it is likely you will have most of the beach to yourself for much of the day. Manda’s 2.5 kilometres of sheltered sandy beach sits towards the bottom tip of Manda Island, looking out across the Lamu channel to Shela village less than a kilometre away. To the south of the beach there are coral heads and rock pools and the remains of an old fort and cannons from the early colonial era.

The dense and bushy interior of Manda Island is quite different to Lamu Island’s more open landscape. The island is known for its wonderful bird life and attracts wildlife from the mainland too – it is home to wide variety of animals, from monkeys, antelopes and anteaters to a herd of buffalo and even the occasional elephant and lion.

La Marelle House

Manda Beach

Manda is home to the beautiful Takwa Ruins – the ancient remains of a Swahili town deserted in the 17th Century – accessed along a narrow channel through the mangroves which fringe much of the island.  The ruins are highly atmospheric, particularly in the late afternoon light and make a memorable dhow-excursion.  On the ocean side of Manda, through the shallow Mkanda channel, pretty little Manda Toto (‘Baby Manda’) Island is a nice place to swim, snorkel and picnic.

La Marelle House

Takwa Ruins, Manda Island

Lamu

Nestling against the beautiful, unspoilt Indian Ocean coast of northern Kenya, Lamu Island is one of the most beguiling places on earth. Little changed in centuries, Lamu is renowned for the warmth of its welcome to visitors, its remoteness and tranquility, its rich and colourful history and its distinctive Swahili culture – a unique amalgam of African, Arabian, Indian and European influences.

La Marelle House

Lamu Town Seafront

Enchanting Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest living town south of the Sahara and the best-preserved coastal settlement in East Africa. Historic and cultural attractions include Lamu Fort, Lamu Museum and the Takwa Ruins on next door Manda Island. Lamu has always attracted and inspired the spiritual, the creative and the artistic – and the island hosts regular festivals and celebrations – from the religious and cultural to the artistic and yogic.

La Marelle House

Lamu Town Square

One of the island’s many glories is its traditional Swahili Architecture – Lamu’s unique stone townhouses, many dating back to the early 18th Century, are celebrated for their intricately carved wooden front doors, imposing entrance porches and shady courtyards, the grandeur and elegance of their interiors and their beautiful decorative stucco plasterwork.

La Marelle House

Lamu – Zidaka Niches

Lamu is not a place that believes much in progress – or indeed in haste of any kind – and life is lived at a leisurely pace. Less than 10 miles long, the island has no paved roads or cars (except the District Commissioner’s Land Rover and the occasional tractor) and nearly all transport is by foot or donkey, motorboat or sailing dhow. In a world that is increasingly homogenized and harried, Lamu makes a wonderfully authentic and unhurried retreat.

La Marelle House

Lamu Town – Shopping Street

One of the many pleasures of spending time in Lamu is exploring the byways of the historic Old Town, wandering the narrow streets and alleyways and meeting the always friendly and welcoming, often highly eccentric, inhabitants.  There is good shopping for colourful kikoys and kangas, local crafts, traditional carved furniture and more along the town’s main street, one ‘block’ back from the seafront.  Taking a dhow safari or an evening’s sunset cruise is another ‘must’ for any visit to Lamu, and another charming and leisurely way to experience the islands.

La Marelle House

Lamu – Dhow Races

How to get there

Lamu is best accessed by air and there are usually several scheduled flights per day to and from Nairobi. Some flights also arrive or depart via Malindi. Airlines serving Lamu include –

Flights land at the airport on Manda Island and the boat trip to La Marelle takes just a few minutes. La Marelle rentals include return airport transfers.

Visitors’ Book

“Just to say many thanks for the rent of your villa last week. We had a fabulous time and Jeremiah, William and Ahmed looked after us very well.”

Jeremy, UK, December 2013

“A sweet, Southern-style bungalow on Manda Island. There’s a whale skeleton in the garden, and miles of creamy beach outside the gate. Suitable for a small family.”

Conde Nast Traveller Magazine on ‘Where to stay in Lamu”

Rates

The standard rental rate is Ksh 35,000 per night on a ‘self-catering’ basis, including return airport transfers and the services of the house staff.

Please contact us for Christmas and New Year rental rates, low season rates and occasional special offers.