You’ve probably seen it many times; past the bridge above the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport turn-off on Mombasa Road. Its name alone makes one do a double take; after all as a Kenyan we’ve only known one Hilton, the eye-catching, cylindrical towering building in the center of the Nairobi Business District, which has been a landmark for decades.
Well, its namesake situated close to the country’s major airport is equally a stunner, the four rows of blue hotel room windows offering a striking symmetry against the white hotel walls. “Madam, kindly put your bags on the table for sanitization”, requests the security guard holding an atomizer at the hotel entrance. As I oblige the gentleman, a lady guard beckons me to sanitize my hands and points a temperature gun at the side of my head. Welcome to Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport!
After months of being cooped up in the house, only leaving to do necessary errands, a staycation was just what I craved. But as we’re smack in the middle of a pandemic, hygiene and safety was (is) a huge concern. Heavens knows 120 days of living as a recluse has made me extremely paranoid and overly cautious. The need to ‘outside’ won over my fears and on a warm Saturday afternoon, I found myself checking into the Hilton JKIA. Blue stickers with a ‘keep a 1.5 meters distance’ message points me to the reception where a masked and gloved Joan checks me in. Two colorful murals on the walls of the hotel lobby catch my eye. One is a head-scarfed lady next to a giraffe and another of a plane flying into Nairobi showcases the city’s major buildings.
As I walk down the corridor to my room, I notice all the rooms have a blue Hilton CleanStay room seal on the door which as I do a room tour, I learn means the room has been clean and disinfected for my stay.
Opened in 2018, Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi Airport is a mid-range hotel with 175 guest rooms offering double and twin beds, hot showers, carpeted floors and black out curtains. The mustard seat and ottoman and art above the head board add a fun pop of color to the room’s ambiance. After a quick shower, I grab the remote control to enjoy some screen time before dinner. The remote wrapper tells me the remote has been sanitized for my use.
The best thing about a staycation is that you get to relax and have someone else take care of you. Room service brought up delicious dry-fried fish, ugali and traditional veggies; the almond cake was an absolutely tasty treat. The breakfast buffet does not disappoint either; I honestly thought I ate too much! Thank heavens the tables in the restaurant have been spaced to keep up with social distancing – and avoid side-eyes for over-eaters such as myself.
Is it a staycation if you haven’t spent hours lounging by the pool? Located on the 6th floor, the outdoor, 1.2 meter swimming pool has scenic views of the surroundings. I just wish it was heated though! As is available on every floor and facility, there is a sanitizer at the pool entrance. Also on the same floor is the fitness center which currently allows only two people to work out at a time.
As I ride down the elevator for check out, the little screen shows elevator etiquette – only two people in a lift at a go, wash your hands, sanitize often, avoid touching your face. I’m impressed by the lengths at which Hilton has taken to ensure a clean safe stay for their guests.
Are you looking for a safe, staycation location on Mombasa Road? Or are about to fly in or out of Kenya and need a hotel close to the airport? You won’t go wrong with the Hilton Garden Inn. Take the word of a paranoid, overly cautious guest.