If you have explored pretty much every county in Kenya, planning a weekend excursion can be quite the challenge, particularly if you insist on visiting places you have never been. It was therefore while reminiscing about campus days in Athi River that I realized that I had never actually stopped in Machakos to check out what the town had to offer! I had always taken its proximity for granted as a freshman undergraduate student at Daystar University and even after graduating a few years later, I was yet to check it out! I therefore booked two nights at Gelian Hotel which, based on reviews on Tripadvisor, was the best place to stay in town, and set off the very next day.
Located right in the middle of town, I checked into a deluxe room (single- Ksh 11,400) with a balcony which offered the most incredible view of the charming buildings downtown and the renowned hills of Machakos further beyond. The room itself had the usual amenities you would expect in a business hotel, but perhaps the most impressive spot to stay is the presidential suite (Ksh 35,000). The bold dark wall right behind the bed adds a touch of elegance and opulence, with the red pillow propped on the bed being the only touch of bright colour in the entire space. It comes complete with a spacious living room and bathroom fitted with a medium-sized bathtub, making for quite the ideal spot so spend a couple of nights before heading back to the bustle of Nairobi.
One of my favourite things about Gelian would have to be the food. The menu was a pleasant surprise with a lot of classic French dishes each beautifully garnished and plated, coupled with a few local recipes.
If you’re keen on fine dining for dinner, start with the classic calamari and avocado tartare drizzled with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil.
For the main course, savour the honey glazed pork chops set on a vegetable medley served with parsley potatoes, or the gelian lamb rack served with cream mash potatoes and fresh vegetables.
For dessert, Executive Chef Albanus Kitheka recommends the crepe suzette staffed with fruits and topped with assorted ice cream, but my personal favourite was the banana split! It was fantastic!
I am not much of a party animal but Club Euphoria, said to be one of the best in town, is located right at the basement of the hotel and when the manager offered us discount vouchers for every drink we purchased, we decided to head downstairs and check out the scene. There was a full house with a DJ on deck playing local, international, trendy as well as old school music which kept revelers on their feet all night. This is certainly a cool spot to for a night out wherever you happen to be staying in Machakos.
1) Lunch at Swara Plains, Acacia Camp. We followed this up with a game drive, although the ranch is also a fantastic spot to stay with its charming bandas and tents for accommodation coupled with an array of team building activities for large groups.
2) Visit Machakos People’s Park for activities like zip lining.
3) The locals insist that you try the samosas at T. Tot Hotel. They also insist that these are the best in Kenya.
4) Check out the Kyamwilu Hill, a gravity hill where water apparently flows up the slope.