During my younger days in Nairobi, there only used to be a select few restaurants that people could frequent, and you could count on one hand the number of bars you could visit. It was rare to see skyscrapers, and normal to see green spaces everywhere. However, this African jungle has now transformed into more of a concrete jungle. Everywhere you look, you can see hundreds upon hundreds of office tower blocks, hotels, malls, apartments, and of course, construction sites. And to make optimal use of these buildings, you can usually find some kind of eating or drinking establishment within the majority of them.
Westlands has become one of the most popular areas of Nairobi, the hub of most shopping centres, bars and restaurants. Over the past 5 years, I have been amazed with the number of 4 to 5 star hotels which have popped up around the area. However, one of the first ones to appear over 5 years ago, was the Sankara hotel. When rooftop bars were a fairly new concept particularly in Nairobi, the Sarabi Bar by the poolside at Sankara was the place to be. It offered an unparalleled view of the Nairobi skyline, and it had a very relaxed yet sophisticated feel to it. I had last been to Sankara around 4 years ago, and decided to pay another visit to see if it still lived up to the great memories I had previously experienced there.
Despite the Sankara being located within the hustle and bustle of Westlands, Sarabi is on the 7th floor of the hotel, meaning that fortunately you are able to escape the surrounding chaos. With soft lounge music playing in the background, it feels perfect for a casual business meeting, catch up with friends, post-work drinks, or a first date. The bar offers tapas-style sharing plates and shisha. Cocktails and mocktails alike are quirky, yet tasty. Sarabi is also home to an adjoining champagne bar, perfect for a special occasion. (Sarabi bar is open daily from 12pm till 1am, whilst the champagne bar is open daily from 6pm onwards)
Rooftopping Pool & Bar
The only negative I must mention is that there is an extremely unattractive building which has unfortunately paused construction directly opposite the hotel, which has taken away from the gorgeous view that once made it stand out as a rooftop bar.
The view of construction providing the bar’s negative feature.
On the whole, it would definitely be worth checking out Sarabi @ Sankara if you are in the city. However, do stay tuned for more posts on other more newly-opened Nairobi rooftops, coming soon…
• Download the EatOut App on both Apple and Android, to discover the latest discounts and offers at most Nairobi restaurants, or visit www.eatout.co.ke for recommendations.
• Use Uber to get around the city for a reasonable price, with a minimum journey being 200/=.
Overlooking Westlands and surrounding areas.
Where to stay
Aside from the Sankara Hotel, here are a few more recommendations on where to stay next time you visit Nairobi:
• Ibis Styles
• Park Inn by Radisson
• Villa Rossa Kempinski
Where to eat
• Indian: Open House, Haandi
• Japanese: Furusato, Phoenician
• Italian: Mediterraneo, Trattoria
• Eritrean: Asmara
• Chinese: Taste of China, Mister Wok, Lotos
• Seafood: Ocean Basket
• Meat: Fogo Gaucho, Carnivore
• Mixture: Urban Eatery, Art Caffe
• Special occasion: The Talisman, Zen Garden
What to see and do
• Day trip to Nairobi National Park – if you don’t have enough time for the Maasai Mara but have time to spare in Nairobi, this is the perfect option to squeeze in a safari.
• Giraffe Centre and Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary – as these are both situated near each other, it is worth doing both together. The best time to visit the elephant sanctuary is between 11am and 12pm as this is when the elephants are fed daily – but be sure to arrive before 11am to guarantee entry. You can visit the giraffe centre before or after, where you will have the opportunity to feed giraffes by hand. It’s quite the experience, very different from seeing giraffes and elephants in the wild!
• Maasai Market – colourful Kenyan jewellery and artefacts made by very talented locals, definitely worth a visit when you’re in Nairobi, and perfect for souvenir shopping. Open daily except Monday, see below for locations:
Tuesday: Prestige Plaza (Ngong Road)
Wednesday: Capital Centre (Mombasa Road)
Thursday: Junction Mall (Ngong Road)
Friday: Village Market (Gigiri) and Lavington Mall (Lavington)
Saturday/Sunday: High Court Parking, City Square (Downtown Nairobi) and Prestige Plaza (Ngong Road)