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100 years of the Norfolk Hotel in Kenya
More about Norfolk



What does the UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan have in common with the Emperor of Japan, the British Monarchy, former US President Teddy Roosevelt, rock star Mick Jagger, movie star Denzel Washington, Harry Belafonte and renowned author Ernest Hemingway? They have all at one point in the last 100 years stayed the famous Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi Kenya. To celebrate its centenary year the Norfolk Hotel will host a series of events where guests and patrons alike will relive and recreate each decade that the hotel has lived through over the next six months. "History is alive and breathing within the walls of the Norfolk," says Richard Kimenyi, the General Manager of the Norfolk Hotel. "The history of the Norfolk Hotel is entwined with that of Kenya. Our Golden years are the golden years of our national history. This makes the Norfolk a national monumental heritage in every aspect. As we mark our centenary celebrations, we shall reminisce the bygone era of the wondrous spirit of adventure on which Kenya was founded." The celebrations which kick off from the 1st of July 2004 were heralded with the launch of the Norfolk Telegraph newspaper - a complimentary publication is printed and written in the classical 1900's format.

The calendar of events includes :- The famous Theatre Nights at the Norfolk Hotel Gardens on the 24th July and the 15th-16th October, the return of the Vintage Car Rally on the 7th November beginning at The Norfolk Hotel to the Nairobi Racecourse and the classic Centenary Costume Ball on the 4th of December at the Norfolk Hotel Ballroom. Since Christmas Day in 1904, the Norfolk Hotel, with its cool resting rooms and hot and cold baths, was civilisation in the bush. With nothing in front of it except the papyrus swamp with the frogs and barren, open land behind it, the white railings of the hotel's perimeter spelt civilization and comfort for those early arrivals. Former US President Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit, launched their first great safari at the Norfolk in 1909. The entourage stepped off the front steps of the Norfolk and into the marshy swamp, where they were stuck for hours.

Throughout the years, the Norfolk has hosted some of Hollywood's greatest movie stars such as Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers of the Born Free fame, Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones amongst others. Also adding his name to the famous people's guest list is Hollywood star Ralph Fieness and his film crew, who have just recently been in Kenya, shooting the movie The Constant Gardener, which is due to be released later this year. <image.tiff>The first authors to be taken in by the hotels grandeur and patronage were Wilbur Smith and Ernest Hemingway, who picked numerous tall tales from the adventurers and settlers who frequented the Lord Delamere Bar. "Ernest Hemingway was a familiar guest at the Norfolk in those days," adds Kimenyi  "He would sit at the Lord Delamare Bar for hours talking with Delamere himself and other settler adventurers. It was here he picked some of his most memorable yarns.

In 1989 the Norfolk Hotel was bought by the Lonrho Group of Hotels who also own and manage Mount Kenya Safari Club, Aberdare Country Club, The Ark, Sweetwaters tented camp and Mara Safari Club. The Norfolk is a member of the leading hotels of the world. Kimenyi adds, "The land on which the Norfolk is built formerly belonged to Lord Delamere who exchanged it in 1927 with Abraham Block. Block was later to be the owner of a wide range of five star hotels in the country with the Norfolk becoming the jewel in crown of his dynasty." The Norfolk is one of the only places in the world that has cheated time and remained for a hundred years to host yet another generation of Hollywood stars, Presidents, music legends, Royalty and authors.

Calendar of Events

To celebrate its centenary year the Norfolk Hotel will host a series of events where guests and patrons alike will relive and recreate each decade that the hotel has lived through over the next six months

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