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
- Eco friendly
- 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
I really have so much good to say that I don't know where to begin.
Never started by reviewing the art at the hotel, but this hotel IS art. Aldo tried building with existing Watamu builders, and gave up. He then employed 60 people and trained them how to build using this amazing technique. Thick coral bricks with lime mortar - a very pale cream colour with a slightly different shade as mortar. The rooms/houses are all slightly different shapes but entirely in the Coastal style. And then the dining room, lounge and bar: wow. The detail. The dining room backs on a coastal traditional orangey wall. But to draw attention away, they've hung curtains that are tied in the middle but stretched top and bottom so they hang like a dress. Best of all, it remains cool no matter the temperature outside so it's like a trip to the Coast when we were children before aircon. You can fall asleep with the rhythmic sound of the tide. Except you sleep instead of boiling.
The rooms are spacious, airy, and have ample light despite Aldo's efforts to minimise direct light which carries heat with it. The bathrooms clean and gorgeous. There is healthy DSTV in the room - but we only used it for about 20 minutes of news each evening.
The pool is salt water but doesn't feel abrasive like a swim in the sea. It's warm, and it has an amazing view. When you're done, you can stroll over and collapse on one of the swing-beds looking at the pool or the sea; or go and rest on a platform bed that doesn't sway. There's a very well priced massage service right by the sea, so you lie down hearing the waves crash.
Sure, there is no beach here. It's all coral. But no beach means no beach boys to harass you. You can walk out through the coral towards some islands, and if you really want a beach, take a tuktuk or car down to Papa Remo and pay for a day pass (the food isn't as good as at Lonno so don't stay too long). It's far more important to have your little island of paradise.
The service and food in the restaurant were fantastic. Reasonably priced too. A range of fish and meat and the team is very flexible.
And then Silvia and Aldo-unbeatable hospitality. Lovely people. Keen to help. You feel like you're staying with old friends.
This was EXACTLY what we wanted. Aldo and Silvia might be surprised to see this given how mobile we were, but if you're a bit highly strung and active - this IS the place to go to shut down, to relax, to feel truly alive.
They were also great with our young baby.
I want to come back every year, forever!
The downside - the downside is that little tiny bit of anger you feel that somehow Aldo and Silvia have built the coastal paradise you always dreamed of; and you're not the owner!!
The resort is beautiful with a very nice pool and well-designed rooms. At low tide you can walk right down to the beach for a very scenic walk to Watamu town. The food, much of which was Italian-inspired and used fresh local seafood, was the best we had on our entire trip. We did not get the full board option originally, planning to eat mostly in town, but after eating an initial dinner upon arrival we quickly decided to have all our lunches and dinners at Lonno. Great experience, highly recommended
Yup, I love me some deals! This is the only lodge I know of in Kenya that offers a special package for Solo female travelers (I could be wrong but for now I could place a bet on it 😉) and when I confirmed the package is still valid I jumped on the chance.
I was able to confirm with Silvia in just under an hour after confirming my flight and all was set. I was very impressed with how swift this was, even the payment process, which I did via PayPal was easy peasy.
I got to the Lodge from Malindi airport which for me was the closest and the drive took around a half hour.
The lodge is in a quiet area of Watamu with easy access to the town.
I loved the whole set up of the property from the foyer, the swinging lounge beds, comfortable couches and the serene dining area.
I had the pleasure of spending my stay in the Deluxe Ocean front tower room and I absolutely loved it!
The staff are polite, professional and always willing to help.
Silvia and Aldo are always at hand to assist in any way possible including suggesting activities. Silvia organized for me to get a couple of yoga sessions during my stay and I am so grateful.
One can take a walk along the reef on the beach to the town during low tide and it’s peaceful and picturesque.
I’d like to give a special commendation to the Chef who’s meals I thoroughly enjoyed every single time.
Lonno lodge is indeed charming and I would recommend a stay there for anyone wanting a time out in a beautiful environment with fantastic hosts.
We could not have wished for a better place to relax and start our new life chapter in as a family. The Lonno Lodge is truly a special place, but the owners Silvia and Aldo and their dedicated and attentive team were simply magnificent. We felt so welcomed and will definitely return. The food is spectacular, the room, hotel, location are all fantastic. Can highly recommend Lonno Lodge, a peace cut out of heaven.
The Lonno Lodge was an outstanding stay. The view of the ocean is gorgeous and sets the back drop of a relaxing and fulfilling several days. The architecture of the rooms and the small stone-town feel in which all the housing is located is like a work of art. Inside, the rooms are comfortable, capturing the heavenly breezes from the sea, firm beds, perfect pillows and soothing showers. The ocean tide comes in just near the lodge and several comfy swings are set up to sit there, read, write, talk, drink and enjoy the view all day. We spent our time there and at the poolside which is tucked into the design in such a way that while swimming you can see the ocean waves rolling in so you feel connected to the sea. In the mornings, the tide is low and we took exquisite walks, finding starfish, crabs and other wonders of the sea along the way.
We traveled there with our 10 year-old daughter and aunt in her sixties and found there was something for everyone. If we came as a couple, or as a work retreat, or as a family, it didn’t matter. The Lonno Lodge is a good fit for all of the above.
The biggest reason to stay here though, for all its breathtaking nature and design, is the management and customer service is among the best we’ve experienced (this includes decades of travel in the region and otherwise). They are attentive, kind, responsive and competent. They quickly accommodated a room change request upon our arrival. We were served three course dinners that were amazing each night. Breakfast and Dinner were part of our total package and in they went all out to make both delicious. We were totally satisfied and pleased with each meal and they are willing to accommodate to the dietary desires of our travelers (elder and child). There are massages on the premises which were great and whether you want to bike or go visit some local spots, they were knowledgeable and eager to help.
But we didn’t do much outside of the lodge. We were looking for a getaway and we found all we could hope for and more. This place is worth every cent. Truly high value in every way.