Since I was a boy, I have been across the Nyali bridge hundreds of times on my way to a beach holiday. Beaches are the reason we go to the coast. But, because every year more and more people go to the coast for their December holidays, you find the beaches chock full of loud Nairobians with their one-day-old Kiswahili accents, ruining the whole trip.
I had, therefore, decided to avoid the beach at all costs, and instead spend two days cooped up in a hotel, maximizing my use of its amenities. By the time I checked in to the CityBlue Creek Side Hotel, I was in a foul mood. I’d come by bus as the SGR had been booked by eager Nairobians going to the coast.
As had all good bus companies, I could only get a cramped rear seat on a bus behind an idiot of a man who insisted on further ruining my claustrophobic and jumpy journey by leaning his seat further back than was necessary.
The receptionist must have sensed my impatience as in less than five minutes I was in my room. Actually, I’d do no justice to the room if I didn’t start back at the reception which was garnished everywhere with what I was later to learn was coconut wood.
It frames the art on the walls and supports the cushions on the Swahili style seats. It’s what makes everything from the doors, the pillared beds and even the towel hangers in the bathroom.
Everywhere you turn it contrasts beautifully with the predominantly white walls to come together for a perfectly blended traditional coastal look. Even if I was not at the beach, there was no doubt that I was at the coast. That was before I went onto the balcony.
There are two blocks, with either garden views or creek views. While the garden view is ok, there is no comparing it to the magnificence of the creek, which is what I had. It’s like a private miniature corner of the ocean and from my balcony, flanked by exotic ferns, it was imposing and yet private. As I walked down to the pool area, I was happier still that there was no beach.
Just a quaint pool, an oar-shaped bar at one corner and music in my ears. Everything felt designed to give you an authentic experience and it did. I enjoyed many laps in the small pool although I did wish it had stretched to the edge of the creek. I was even more impressed by their poolside buffet.
Being a vegetarian in Kenya is hard, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the existence of grilled paneer. Of which there were plenty, and salads too.
I slept like a baby in its mother’s arms that night, partly because the air conditioning was perfect and partly because the beds seem to be made of cosy hugs.
The thick curtains meant that I slept well past sunrise, something I haven’t achieved since my college days. The coast magic had started working. Breakfast was a beautiful buffet, which again took care of my dietary restrictions. I had fruits and juice, buttered whole wheat bread, a salad, cheese, chickpea stew and a big bowl of millet porridge.
Working out at the humid coast means you start sweating faster and get faster results than you would in a cold area. I, therefore, hit the gym, after the heavy breakfast had been sufficiently digested and got to it.
Sweating my cheat meals away efficiently meant that by the time dinner-time came round, I was famished. Again the kitchen didn’t disappoint, as the pizza I selected was a humongous nine-inch masterpiece of mozzarella cheese and select veggies, accompanied by a big bowl of salad.
The second day was more of the same and as boring as it sounds, lounging by the poolside, which sits a few metres above the majestic creekside was exactly what I needed. Everything, for a business hotel, felt generous.
By the time I came back to Nairobi from my first beachless holiday, I was completely convinced that beaches are overrated. At the hotel, I only had a run in with one Nairobian, in the pool. But she was a sexy budding poet who only served to enhance my experience, so no complaints here.