Tucked away in Lake Nakuru National Park, Nakuru’s latest boutique luxury entrant, The Cliff, may well be just the breath of fresh air the town needs to inject some verve into its hospitality industry.
I unzip my tent all the way to the top then roll up the flaps, allowing the morning light to wash over the room, illuminating the rustic yet modern European-style furniture within. Gingerly, I step out onto the balcony, now wet from the overnight rains whose patter on my tent punctuated by peals of hyena laughter had kept me company through the night. Barefoot, I pad across the deck to the protective rail at the end of the balcony and take in the beauty of Lake Nakuru which, only a couple of years back, would have been specked by a flock of blush pink flamingos happily wading about in its waters.
Mine is one of ten spacious tents in Nakuru’s latest boutique luxury entrant bound to be a hit with both domestic and international tourists, particularly given the relatively affordable rates. The deck on which I stand is perched on a cliff about 100m high, hence the name of the camp. A freestanding bathtub within the tent overlooks the lake and I idly contemplate running a bath and fixing up a hot cup of milk coupled with the chef’s tempting jar of freshly baked pastries which are complementary with each room, before heading off to my pre-booked yoga session at the gym.
The Cliff stands out for various reasons, notably the obvious absence of safari chairs and maasai blankets which are always a key fixture in tented camps. The chic decor here could very well place the living spaces in a high end boutique hotel in Nairobi. To ensure that they get things right, the owner explains that over a four year period, he changed architects three times before settling on one to come up with a design that would maximize the obvious advantage of the cliff and the lake, all without destroying the site given its protected location within Lake Nakuru National Park.
Having been going to the Mara since the 70s, the owner not only has a palpable passion for wildlife and safaris but has also seen enough lodges to know what he wanted to do different at The Cliff. Nothing was left to chance, with the staff for instance being trained for about 7 months before the camp’s official opening on April 25th. His wife runs an interior design company, Spiegel Interiors, that specializes in high-end homes, and he picked up a few tricks from her over the years. Most of the decor around the camp was decided on by him, and the attention to detail can be seen in items like the handmade throws, customised designer furnishings, Timothy Oulton furniture and the well curated contemporary artwork decked along the walls, mostly featuring flamingos and other wildlife.
The restaurant’s continental menu which has distinct Thai influences is in itself reason enough to stay at The Cliff, and the food could very well rival some of Nairobi’s top spots. For dinner, the chef serves up three delectable courses with a hot roast pepper and tomato soup to start, perfect for the cold evening.
The main meal is a juicy tender beef fillet packed with flavour with a lemon mustard sauce and potato lattice, crowned by a Belgian mousse for dessert.
At the fully-stocked main bar where a bartender who doubles up as the barista deftly whips me up a mochacino, the eye is immediately drawn to a bold and daring canary yellow leather sofa behind which stands three indoor plants.
The spa, an architectural and decor marvel in itself features only the very best africology products, and the technogym which overlooks an infinity pool and the lake further beyond is enough to inspire anyone to workout.
Guests can also go on game drives around the national park which is flanked by rocky escarpments and dotted with pockets of acacia forest, with the likelihood of spotting wildlife like leopards, buffaloes, rothschild giraffes, rhinos, buffaloes, lions and more. Long seen as a stopover point for people heading to Western Kenya or on the Mara circuit, The Cliff may well be just the breath of fresh air Nakuru needs to inject some verve into its hospitality industry.