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At home in Nairobi's Historic Grand Hotel
Visiting Nairobi's tudor style Norfolk Hotel, now celebrating its 100th Anniversary, is like taking a journey into British colonial history. Stopping for a pre-arranged luncheon at this elegant hotel, we were greeted like royalty and seated at a pleasant, gardenside table next to the main dining room, where we later shared a few pleasant moments with our host, Bunty, who filled us in on the hotel's amazing story. Among the many offerings on the noon buffet menu, was a highly polished silver steamer, brimful of juicy king-size prawns. Only on rare occasions do I take the time to photograph a meal in progress, but this was for the record. Another feast was presented on the dining room walls, where a gallery of black and white photographs portrays life in Kenya from the 1800s through to the 1950s. We could have stayed the entire day gazing at these unique images - and vow to return soon. From
Kenya Story by Jerry W. Bird.

More about Norfolk

 Kenya's most famous and oldest hotel, The Norfolk, will be celebrating its centenary anniversary this year. The Norfolk has played a leading role in Kenya's colorful history, and continues to be Nairobi's finest and best-known hotel.The Norfolk, which is part of the Lonrho Hotels Africa group and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, plans to celebrate its centenary in style.

 The premiere event for the year will be the biggest birthday party Kenya has even seen, a night of true elegance that will mark the Norfolk's history from 1904 to the present day. Many past guests, including some famous faces and the Who's Who of Kenyan society, are expected to attend the Norfolk's Centenary Gala Ball Dinner and Dance on December 4th. All guests staying at the hotel on this date will be invited to attend at no extra charge.

On November 7th, the hotel is staging a Vintage Car Rally to bring to life Kenya's bygone colonial era. The Rally will be flagged off from the hotel steps and the finishing line will be the Nairobi Race Course, which is also celebrating its centenary this year. Vintage and racing enthusiasts from around the world are expected to participate and attend the rally and the race meeting. The hotel has produced a commemorative newspaper, the Norfolk Telegraph to mark the centenary year.

The Norfolk officially opened on Christmas Day in 1904, offering elegance and comfort in the wilds of Africa. Lions roamed the plains opposite the hotel, and hippos lived in the river at the rear of the grounds. Guests would arrive at the hotel by rickshaws, to spend long lazy afternoons on the Lord Delamere Terrace. And they often enjoyed wild parties long into the night. The exotic blend of romance and intrigue that characterized the Kenya colony was centered on the Norfolk Hotel.

 The Norfolk was the base from which many great adventurers began their exploration of the region, making the hotel the place where the "safari" was born. This was where US President Roosevelt began his world famous safari in 1909 setting out from the front steps of the hotel into the wilderness.

Throughout the 20th century adventurers, the safari set, royalty, world leaders, statesmen and movie stars have all enjoyed the Norfolk's stylish ambience and relaxed charm. Writers ranging from Hemingway and Elspeth Huxley to Kenya's most famous author, Karen Blixen, have all immortalized the hotel.

The town and later the modern city of Nairobi grew up around The Norfolk, which still has its own private tropical gardens. The hotel is still the traditional starting point for safaris and the Lord Delamere Terrace is modern Nairobi's most famous meeting place, where drinks and light meals are served continuously from morning until midnight.

The Norfolk offers accommodations in 168 ensuite rooms and suites, has three conference rooms, the largest seating 175 delegates, a heated outdoor swimming pool, health club with gym, sauna and steam room, beauty salon, book shop and gift shops. Room rates start at US$250 per room per night.

 For color brochures and more information contact Lonrho Hotels Kenya, The Lyle House, 2027 South Orange Avenue, Sarasota FL 34239, telephone 800-845-3692, fax 941-951-7744, e-mail walden@comcast.net. Website www.lonrhohotels.com

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