“Peponi is simple, fresh, cheerful and everything about it is totally original and genuine – no frozen foods here, nor frozen smiles.” Harpers and Queen
Peponi is a small hotel on the exotic Indian Ocean island of Lamu, just off the coast of Kenya. It is the very root of Swahili culture in East Africa, which centuries ago spread down the coast from the north. When the Sultan of Oman moved from Lamu to Zanzibar Island – further south – Lamu lay dormant, forgotten for three hundred years. There is only one car on the island and the narrow streets of the old town are very much as they were in his day.
Peponi is still run by the Korschen family who opened the hotel in 1967, and it has retained much of the character and charm that it had then. Small and personal, it is the perfect rest after a safari, or a hide-away holiday from modern life.
Peponi Hotel has a total of 24 rooms, which are divided into superior and standard rooms. All rooms at Peponi have ocean views. The superior rooms are differentiated by their location, size, private outside area, indoor plants, artwork and Swahili furnishings. No two rooms are alike. Five of our rooms are built right on the beach, with private veranda areas overlooking the sea, while the rest have a combination of ocean and garden views. All rooms have overhead fans, mosquito nets, showers (no baths), fresh flowers, and personal safes.
The bar is run by Charles, who will whip up in an instant the famous house cocktail ‘Old Pal’, or pour a fresh juice of lime, passion or orange, or even serve a fresh coconut with the top whipped off allowing access to the sweet, milky liquid inside. The bar is a favourite watering hole for guests and Shela village inhabitants alike, with “its nexus of entertainment, its fountain of gossip.”
There is no hurry to dine at Peponi. Breakfast is available in the dining room or on the terrace or even in your room from 7am to 10am. The choice is yours, from our wide selection of luscious tropical fruits to fish cakes and waffles with local honey and freshly squeezed lime juice. Coffee is poured from the traditional brass pots.
Lunch is available from 12pm to 4pm. You may choose to dine either outside at the grill, under the colourful bougainvillea, where you can dig your feet in fresh white coral sand, or on the terrace overlooking the ocean, the movement of dhows and local fishermen. Should you prefer a light snack without leaving the bar, fresh rock oysters are available or a range of samosas and sandwiches all day. You may even prefer to have them sent to your room with a cold passion juice or a local beer.
Dinner is distinguished by its plethora of new ways to celebrate seafood – with ginger, lime and garlic. Mangrove crabs, warm water lobster, squid, giant prawns and fish of all varieties. For something a little more local, a Swahili menu is also available, which can be eaten in the traditional way, on the floor, around a huge brass platter.
Peponi also has a fresh-water free-form swimming pool, situated under two Baobab Trees overlooking the ocean. It is the perfect place to relax with a good book, and if you so wish lunch can also be served here.
The truth is Peponi ‘happened’. It was a house that grew into a hotel, an idea that, little by little, took shape from its sea-mad proprietors.