Our Favorite Travel Essentials of the Year
Everything you need for your 2023 travel: our editors’ picks for on-the-road...
Trish Goff is not only a nineties supermodel-turned-real estate broker, but also the brains behind the #knotonmyplanet campaign (which supports the Elephant Crisis Fund to end poaching, trafficking, and demand for ivory in Africa). And while Goff has become an expert on African land and community in her sustainability efforts, she has certainly become an authority in knowing the best that towns, like Nairobi, have to offer.
Here, Goff gives Departures her exclusive tips to navigating the Kenyan capital city.
Where to Shop
House of Treasures
Gifts for the hard-to-buy-for one in your life or rather just an excellent spot to treat oneself! Known for their homewares and furniture often sourced for local lodges within Kenya but better yet is their exquisite African jewelry.
Spinners Web (top Kenyan crafts all under one roof)
This is your one-stop shop for high quality local Kenyan crafts, all at fixed prices (so no wasting time bargaining). Make certain to arrive with a gift list as the store seems neverending in the best way possible- whether its textiles, handicrafts or one-of-a-kind items you didn’t realize you needed.
Kapoeta by Ambica
Ambica, a beloved local favorite designs feather adorned jewelry sourced from suppliers in Kenya. She recently expanded her work to include hand dyed canvas cotton in the most cheerful of colors and prints.
A unique home interiors company that resides in a striking space filled with curated collections of art, fabrics, and furniture from around the world-they also offer reclaimed hardwoods sourced from old dhow sailing ships. Within the same studio, artisans work to repurpose these reclaimed hardwoods into bespoke furniture.
One of my favorite things comes from here--a quite large colorful rhino which sits in one of my windows. These products are made from discarded flips flops recovered from beaches and dump sites and employs local craftsmen while alleviating marine pollution by recycling hundreds of tons of flip-flop rubber waste every year.
Wasp & Sprout
A fan not just for their homewares that are handmade in Africa using local materials and are environmentally friendly- but this company also empowers local artisans from the community with a mentorship program. They also have a delicious cafe serving food and drinks to stay or take away on your next journey.
This is your go-to before you leave Kenya for souvenirs, memorable traditional products sold directly by the artisans. Also, a great spot for lunch or breakfast as there’s quite the roster of delicious restaurants including a nice bakery with good cappuccinos and pastries.
Where to Eat
Tin Roof Cafe
A rare treat for a weary traveler and a must stop while in Nairobi for a healthy fix before heading out onto safari. Try the muesli with fruit & greek yogurt or opt for the vegan version of muesli with nut milk. If you’re feeling indulgent try the pancakes with lemon and sugar or the best yet the breakfast pizza. There are even gluten-free pancakes available for those with that requirement. Great for breakfast and or lunch, however, do not leave without an oat cookie!
This is the restaurant with the best steak in town, according to my meat-centric partner. If your two or more definitely go for the chateaubriand and order the chips as well. On Fridays, they have live music too, but be sure to make a reservation.
Another one of my must stops for dinner in town and known as a meeting and eating place for expatriates from all over the world working in Nairobi (which is one of my favorite things about Nairobi). The cuisine is international and touches on African-bush-fare - all 100% organic. Sit outside in the terrace and if it gets chilly simply request blankets, there is even space for restless children to run around.
Everyone’s favorite little unobtrusive cafe makes the perfect lunch spot - try the fish cakes, the chicken or even go for the chicken quesadillas served with a mango chutney. The Kienyeji tea is truly delicious.
About as authentic West-African food as you can get in a charming courtyard setting, specializing in Ghanaian recipes, great for when you are craving a proper home-cooked meal.
Things to Do
National Gallery of Nairobi
A little jewel box of a museum in a historic building that houses art across Africa, it also includes an art gallery with works of art for purchase. The textile room was a personal favorite full of traditional African textiles that serve as excellent interior decor inspiration.
The McMilan Memorial Library
The McMilan as it is known, houses rare first edition books, works of art and includes portraits and sculpture; worth a pass-by just to appreciate the architecture, built of Nairobi blue stone flanked by large pillars and stone lion sculptures. The building was commissioned in 1931 and named after the famous US philanthropist Sir William Northrup McMillan.
When I think of Kenya, especially Nairobi, it takes me back to visions of Out of Africa and the railways which connected the country. This museum encompasses all of that with its relics from the past from Theodore Roosevelt’s seat to the steam engine car they used in Out of Africa.
Where to Stay
The city’s new boutique hotel which borders Giraffe Sanctuary. It is a great home base while exploring Nairobi and also a good transition point when departing or arriving from a safari. The team here is so warm and accommodating--you immediately feel like a local. They also have a divine little gift shop with treasures you can actually take home that you will not find elsewhere.
Everyone must experience Giraffe manor at least once. The 1930s manor house gives you a sense of how Nairobi was back then. The resident Rothschild giraffes literally put their heads through the windows as you have your breakfast and will even give you a kiss.