The nineties weren't kind to Nairobi. The bombing of the U.S. embassy, followed by a population explosion that strained an already buckling infrastructure, cast a harsh light on the Kenyan capital. But today the city is getting back on its feet, after governmental reforms in 2003 led to a strengthened economy. Particularly in the suburbs around Ngong Hills (the area made famous by Karen Blixen in Out of Africa), chic hotels, restaurants, and shops now thrive.
WHERE TO STAY
Ngong House is Nairobi's most luxe B&B, run by Belgian Christof Verleysen. It has five tree houses and one apartment, a fantastic garden and pool, and a superb staff. $ From $270 to $300. At Langata, Karen; 254-20/891-856; www.ngonghouse.com.
The Giraffe Manor is famous for its Rothschild giraffesï¿½they'll eat right out of your hand. Each of the five bedrooms is decorated differently; one has Karen Blixen's furniture. $ From $525 to $595. At Hardy Estate, Langata; 254-20/891-078.
WHERE TO EAT
Opened in 1962, Alan Bobbe's Bistro is the city's most-booked dining room, serving such classic fare as seafood pot-au-feu. Dinner, $50. At Cianda House, Koinange St.; 254-20/226-027.
Le Rustique is the place for perfect crï¿½pes and cappuccino served under giant fig trees. $ Lunch, $30. At General Mathenge Dr., Westlands; 254-20/375-3081.
Nairobi's newest and sexiest spot is The Talisman, tucked into a garden in Langata. $ Dinner, $50. At 320 Ngong Rd., Karen; 254-20/883-213.
The Carnivore is where Kenyans go for a quintessentially African meal: barbecued lamb, pork, ostrich, and crocodile. Dinner, $50. At Carnivore Rd., Karen; 254-20/605-933.
At the House of Treasures, the sculpture, clothing, and jewelry represent a mix of top African and Asian artisans (Sally Dudmesh's earrings and necklaces are particularly fine). At 70 Dagoretti Rd., Karen; 254-20/883-224.
Lisa Christoffersen brings together traditional craftsmanship from all over Africa at Home Gallery, as well as contemporary work from top Kenyan artists. At Runda Estate, Runda; 254-20/712-2766; www.african-tribal-arts.com.
Designer Linda Camm has been working in leather for yearsï¿½her current best seller is a pair of thong sandals with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons. $ Sold at Zebu in The Junction, Ngong Rd., Karen; 254-733/700-010.
The Spinner's Web stocks a wide range of traditional Kenyan goods: clothing, jewelry, handwoven textiles, and pottery. At Viking House, Waiyaki Way, Westlands; 254-20/444-1485.
Elisabetta Capolino, a Roman jeweler with a workshop and store in Nairobi, turns precious metals, ancient talismans, and exquisite stones into one-of-a-kind necklaces. $ At Le Collane, Watamy Court, Lower Kabete Rd., Westlands; 254-733/519-229.
No other Kenyan designer has had international success like Anna Trzebinski. Her dresses, jackets, and shawlsï¿½adorned with ostrich feathers and beads by Masai womenï¿½have turned up at Browns, Paul Smith, and Barneys. Her gallery in Karen is by appointment only. $ 254-20/891-325
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.