The Charming Lonno Lodge
What We Love
- Daily breakfast is included in the Jetsetter rate
- Stunning architecture that blends Swahili style and Italian design
- All rooms are equipped with a kitchenette and a balcony or patio overlooking the Indian Ocean
- Wines served at the restaurant are imported from Italy
What To Know
- Italian owners provide a very warm welcome
- Rooms feature international electrical outlets, so no need to pack an adapter
- It's a quiet resort with just eight rooms; don't expect a party scene
- Staff can arrange excursions, guided tours and game drives
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Located in Watamu, a fishing village on the Kenyan coast, Lonno Lodge is a petite beach retreat with just eight guestrooms. Built from native materials including coral limestone, the property combines Swahili style and Italian design flourishes — the creative vision of owner and architect Aldo Calegari. Stone archways, carved wood doors and imported furniture dot the resort, and palm-shaded walkways cut through the gardens, linking the open-sided public areas to the guestrooms, which are in an observation tower. There’s access to a private white sand beach, and the restaurant serves Italian and African cuisine under a lofty thatch roof. Solar panels and wind turbines boost its eco credentials.
Bed and Bath
The guestrooms are dominated by individually designed kingsize four-poster netted beds, which are topped with imported Italian linens. Built-in daybeds and antique Somali sofas are scattered with cushions and pillows covered in Maasai prints, and African carvings and artwork decorate the walls. All rooms feature a kitchenette and come with a balcony or patio overlooking the ocean and coral reef. The spacious bathrooms feature Italian porcelain fixtures and African soaps and bath products. Flat-screen TVs, DVD players, free WiFi, Italian coffeemakers and water dispensers come standard.
The breezy restaurant overlooks the pool and the ocean beyond and serves top-notch Italian cuisine. A five-course menu includes such traditional dishes as risotto with asparagus and pumpkin ravioli. African dishes incorporate fresh fish and ingredients bought at the local market. Spend leisurely days around the pool or lounge on the gorgeous stretch of white sand just in front of the resort. There’s no spa, but massages are available in a raised thatch-roofed hut, and the staff can arrange ocean and land excursions, from snorkeling adventures to game drives to Kilimanjaro treks with experienced guides.
In the Area
Lonno Lodge is within easy reach of Tsavo East National Park, home to the Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino). The historical ruins of Gede, once a thriving Arab seaport, are a 20-minute drive away; there you can learn about the area’s Swahili origins and the Kiswahili language, still spoken today. Additional excursions include a guided trek to Mount Kilimanjaro, an expedition to Amboseli National Park, which is considered one of the best places in Africa to spot elephants, and the Maasai Mara national reserve. Closer to the resort you can stroll out on the seabed at low tide to see normally submerged islands, or explore the Mida Creek lagoon in a canoe.
How to Get There
Back in February I spent two weeks in Kenya (Nairobi, MaasaiMara, and Watamu). We rounded off our trip at this beautiful hotel about an hour and a half north of Mombasa.The property has no more than 9 guest suites so we were in for a personalized experience. By far, the best hotel I’ve stayed!
The online booking was very easy. The driver picked us up from the Mombasa train station and we were handed a lovely personalized letter from Silvia and Aldo (her husband), welcoming us to the coast and giving us the Wi-Fi password in the car for the ride to the hotel. #TheLittleThings. Once we arrived, we were greeted by the owners for a smooth check in process and a nice cold drink.
The property is gorgeous; Aldo is an architect and they really put a lot of thought into the design. The property doesn’t have air conditioning, which I was concerned about, but the room had great airflow and was for the most part very comfortable. In the morning, we liked to drop the mosquito net, prop the balcony door open, and enjoy the breeze. The welcome / reception area was beautifully decorated and felt very warm and welcoming
The food was nothing short of amazing. I was surprised by the Italian influence on the coast (the owners are also Italian). I was looking forward to enjoying more Kenyan cuisine but the hotel does great Italian inspired dishes. We opted for the half board option, which meant breakfast and lunch or dinner. We had lunch in town everyday and come back to the hotel for dinner, which worked. Drinks were good and the bartenders were nice. Gotta try the Dawa!
The hotel doesn’t have a traditional beach. The back of the hotel is coral, and at low tide, you can walk out to the islands and even into town on the sand bed. The owners put up the low tide times every morning (so dont worry about being out there when the tide comes back in) and even provide water shoes for guests to use. Most mornings after breakfast, we’d take a walk out to the islands and back, or into town for lunch
If I find myself back in Watamu, I’d definitely stay here again.
The ambiance, view from the beach, breakfast was amazing. A close walk to the beach. It was amazing. Beach view from the room was excellent. Massage location is cool with good services.
Dinner was amazing!
I stayed at Charming Lonno Lodge in April 2019 and had a really great time. The property is superb and you can see that a lot of effort was put into each room. The staff were very friendly and attentive and we enjoyed their company. The food was great and was very fresh which we appreciated. Looking forward to visiting the property again, soon!