AirBnb Nairobi – a traveler’s experience.

When I am back home in Nairobi, Airbnb provides a convenient base for me to catch up with family and friends whilst having some me-time too. I tend to stay in the Kilimani area; I find it reasonably safe to walk around any time of the day and the area is well connected with transport links.

A couple of years ago I found a good Airbnb place on Riara Road (behind Junction Mall), which became a regular for my annual trips. The young couple who hosted it provided a good balance between privacy and company. I rented one of their en-suite rooms and stayed there on 3 occasions. One of my favourite things when I am in Nairobi is having my shoes polished, I especially enjoy the banter that comes with the experience. I have had some of the most interesting conversations, sat up on that bench, having my shoes made over. I found a good shoe-shine stall at Junction Mall opposite the main entrance on Ngong Road. He (let’s call him Karanja) spruced up my 10-year-old, tired-looking pair of boots to have them looking so brand new that I got compliments about them. Karanja and I had a jolly good banter and the interactive experience was worth way more than I paid for.

During a recent visit to Nairobi, I was told that he had moved back to the countryside for personal reasons and would try to run a business there. I was devastated. The shoe-shine stall remained and I continued using their services but the experience was not the same. I lost the spring in my step.

Having a pamperous time is one of my other pastimes in Nairobi. I found a good spa, off Mfangano Street in town. It was a basic set up with excellent service. Imagine, a manicure, pedicure, hand & foot massage all for 300 bob. The technician (let’s call him Onyango) did a great job paying attention, he made certain that my cuticles were impeccable, I had to have him at my fingertips, pun intended.

My last Airbnb place was a studio apartment, on Kirinyaga Road, a 7-minute walk to Onyango’s spa. As we got used to seeing each other every other day, the conversation starter often was ‘leo ni massage tu’ (massage only today). My toes and fingers were pristine and I flaunted them wearing sandals literally come rain or sunshine, and holding that glass of wine for that few more seconds longer. I took care to tip Onyango well at each visit.

The Airbnb location on Kirinyaga Road was edgy at night but the flat felt safe once I got into the complex. Apart from proximity to the spa, the host happened to be a same gender loving woman and it is likely that there was a visceral affinity to the transaction. The flat complex itself was a peaceful atmosphere with professional security guards. I got friendly with a couple of neighbours who also run an Airbnb place at the complex, and we had some drinks and a takeaway at the flat on a couple of occasions. Daytimes on Kiringaga Road were busy with lorries, matatus and motorbikes hooting and dodging each other and potholes, bearing in mind that it was right in the middle of hardware stores and car mechanics. I would walk into various parts of town in the day to meet family or friends and navigating my way there and back without getting run over was a lovely challenge. The location of the flat was convenient for meeting friends and family who did business in town. Evenings out were always by Uber or a ride with friends. Two hundred bob got me to most bars in town and Westlands cost 350-400 bob on Uber. I will probably explore a different part of the neck of the woods at my next visit, for a fresh experience.

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