As the world cautiously reopens and resumes travel, I had the chance to stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport hotel. I have been here before the Covid-19 pandemic so on my most recent visit I was curious to see how they have reinvented their travel services.
The hotel is located in the airport, and they provide a free shuttle service. This makes it extremely convenient for early morning and late evening travellers or if you are simply overnighting before the start of your safari the next day.
At the reception desk, employees now stand behind clear sneeze guard panels. At first it felt a bit disconcerting communicating to somebody through a glass panel, but the staff are pleasant and helpful so you soon feel at home. A recent technology the hotel has introduced is a mobile app for making reservations and which also allows you to do a contactless express check-in.
My traditional check-in was quick and hassle-free, and on the way to my room I was given a detailed brief of the hotel facilities. Only two people are allowed into the elevator at one time which makes you feel safer in this enclosed space.
A clean bright look describes the hotel guestrooms which have very comfortable king-size beds. White linens and lots of light from large windows that are covered in sheer drapes create a well-lit atmosphere against the deep brown floors and bed headboard. The amenities counter doubles up as a work desk and the power outlets were easy to access. Along with free Wi-Fi, the bedroom is a very work-friendly space yet relaxing enough if you are a holiday traveller.
Guests staying in the suites have the added advantage of views beyond the airport to the grasslands where zebras and giraffes like to graze. They wander in from the nearby Nairobi National Park, a great place for an early morning game drive if you have the time.
It is always a pleasure to find a good size hotel bathroom and sufficient vanity counters. Disinfectant hand wipes and sanitary packs are now part of bathroom conveniences and the strong water pressure coming from the power showers made for a delightful wash. At night I did not hear the noise of traffic or airplanes so the windows are well soundproofed.
‘Check out our new contactless compendium’ is what the bedside tent card says. It has QR code that you scan with your mobile phone to view the in-room dining options. When I ordered a beverage, the waiter did not enter the room but delivered it at the door.
I like the detailed manner in which they are handling Covid-19 protocols such as a quick body temperature check by the security personnel at the hotel entrance and luggage sprayed with a disinfectant solution. All the staff are in masks. Covid-19 signage and hand sanitizers are installed in the public spaces but they are unobtrusive and designed in mellow colours that do not clash with the decor.
The shuttle buses are still operating at reduced capacity, in line with health ministry guidelines, and are sanitised after each trip. I was informed that the luggage trolleys are disinfected by the concierge staff after each use, as are items used by guests such as pens and PDQ machines.
Nice as the bedrooms are, I do enjoy sitting in the main areas to work or read a book because of the open-space feeling, the contemporary interiors with clean lines, and the understated colours. In the business lounge, the living wall planted with greenery gives the place an outdoors inside look, while a high atrium ceiling and big windows keep the lounge bright and airy. Other guests were working on their laptops in the Lobby Bar which serves alcoholic beverages in the evening.
I did not have the chance to utilise the meeting rooms but was surprised to find out that Four Points can accommodate up to 400 people. With all these facilities, the hotel is structured more like a downtown property than an airport hotel, and consequently they get a lot of interest from companies located near the airport.
Instead of getting room service, which operates 24-hours, I booked a dinner table at the rooftop Tazama Restaurant next to the heated swimming pool, gym and spa. One of the first things I noticed is a huge, colourful graffiti-style wall painting of Nairobi city, done by Kenyan artist Biko Wesa who is known for large wall murals. At Tazama I found other diners plus a few people having cocktails and snacks around the bar. Most of them looked like travellers, but the hotel is accessible enough for city residents in the southern suburbs of Nairobi who might be looking for a different restaurant option or a staycation.
It can get breezy on the rooftop but tall gas heaters are lighted to keep you warm in the evenings. Even as a solitary traveller I enjoyed the ambience up there as a DJ playing lively music, the panoramic views of Nairobi and a night sky animated by the blinking lights of airplanes landing and taking off from the airport.
A waiter brought a menu almost immediately and the same trend of quick, friendly service continued throughout the evening. I opted for a casual dinner of Buffalo Wings followed by a nyama choma wrap. Waiting for my meal I sipped on a glass of Aeropils, the hotel’s craft beer made by the Nairobi-based Big Five Breweries. Four Points by Sheraton hotels around the world all offer a locally made signature beer on tap. The waitstaff told me that in Kenya, Aeropils is only served at Four Points hotels and I found it an easy-drinking beer with a slightly bitter but crisp taste. But I also liked the pineapple and mint cooler from their fresh juice options.
An interesting food offering during my stay was a special all-avocado menu with main courses, desserts and shakes all made from avocado fruit. Another out-of-the-box idea at Four Points is a takeout menu for airport transit passengers which has snacks, sandwiches and full hot meals. Delivery is free. I will have to keep that in mind the next time I am ‘stuck at JKIA’ and want to eat something different from the usual airport fare.
Breakfast is served in the Marketplace Restaurant on the ground floor and there is a wide selection of hot and cold foods as well as an egg and pancake station. I chose to sit inside the restaurant but guests have the option of selecting from the buffet and having it sent to their room. I noticed that the table staff also sanitised the tables whenever a guest departed.
If I had stayed longer, I would have booked a lunch table on the outside veranda of Marketplace facing the sunny garden area that makes you forget you are still in the vicinity of an airport.
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport is a world-class hotel in Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International airport, and three-times winner of Africa’s Leading Airport Hotel award (2018, 2019 and 2020).
Warm, friendly and efficient service characterises the guest interactions while the innovative use of technology enhances comfort and convenience for international travellers. The hotel is structured with full-scale room amenities, multiple meeting spaces, a dedicated business lounge and extended options for dining with specialised menu offerings. These features set it aside as a one-stop destination for business customers while catering to the needs of short-stay and leisure guests.