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Comments by Cbhris Rowey
If you want a holiday on the edge of the Indian Ocean, listening to all the waves and looking out from your balcony on the dhows moved below and tropical flowers and foliage, kijani House is a good place. It is situated in a small maze-like Arabic style Village of Shella, and made up of three or four Arabic style houses around a large, wonderfully peacefully garden with two (One and half really) pools. It is owned and run by perfectionist Swiss &endash; every detail is perfect, from the antique local furniture to the mosquito coils under every dining table. There is a hotel boat and the food is excellent. If the set course meals are too large &endash; with second or third helpings politely offered- there is an a la carte menu (which usually is cheaper) providing a whole variety of food.

Above all, the staff at the hotel are not only immensely efficient but, even more important immensely charming-the waiters, the gardeners, the cleaners, the boat people, the reception. Everyone seems genuinely pleased to talk and to help. Hamid, the guide attached to the hotel is informative, protective and kind and all without being "pushy". Even the surprise of being woken the first day by the prayers at 5.00 am-not from one mosque but from five- become part of the charm of Shella and this outstandingly interesting and peaceful hotel- undoubtedly the best hotel in Lamu island. Although not as loud (or expensive and touristy) as its main rival, it is, in realty, more classy.

Ciomments by Elie Losleben Five TV Limited

Secret gardens and stately Swahili retreats
ff the bustling waterfront of Shella Village, dhows sway gently on the incoming tide as merchants and fisherman cross back and forth on the shimmering sand. A few steps away, a small entrance framed by clusters of frangipani and bougainvillea flowers opens to cool shade and green shadows. Entering Kijani House Hotel is like stepping into a secret garden, an enchanted hotel of private spaces and elegant retreats, Aquamarine pools glow gently in the shade of giant kunazi trees, small tables and beach chairs lie under a profusion of palms and flowering flamboyants and yellow oleanders branch out over large terraces that face the ocean .Kijani means green in Swahili, at once invoking the colour of Islam, the small hotel's verdant gardens and the fecundity of new growth.

Owner Pierre Oberson and his wife Mwanashee created Kijani to revive the tradition of stone Swahili houses and provide an authentic retreat for visitors looking to experience Lamu's past. it took them more than twenty years to rebuild the hotel from the ruins of three old properties, using only traditional methods and materials in the restoration. Kijani's rooms and gardens are filled with antiques and handmade replicas of the furniture, lanterns, ornaments and utensils that graced the stately house of Lamu's past. Copies of old Portuguese lamps sway from white archways. An arrangement of ceramic water pots, used to carry oil and water aboard ship centuries ago, stand under the shade of a royal palm. Members of Shela Village even borrow Kijani's antique ceremonial chair, crafted on the nearly island of Siyu, to celebrate weddings and special occasions.

True to the atmosphere of a Swahili home, Kijani's rooms and central areas emphasise the aesthetics of privacy and space. Each room has a private veranda shaded from sight by sculpted archways and trees. The rooms are dark and cool, shards of sunlight and ample breeze welcomed through tall wooden shutter. A canopied Swahili bed stands beside antique cupboard and tables inlaid with hand &endash;coloured Indian tiles and painted glass. In the bathroom, intricately carved mirrors set off the sensuousness of warm ochre walls, the heady oriental effect heightened by shafts of light that filter through the shutters from the world outside. Kijani House Hotel offers a retreat from the bright bustle of Lamu's waterfront &endash; a lush oasis of green gardens, pools and cool rooms in splendid Swahili style.

More information on Kijani House to come