Nairobi, Kenya - Classic 4
Ngong House lies on the outskirts of Langata, on the land once cultivated as Karen Blixen's coffee estate. Paul Verleysen, the charming owner, had the concept of a private home that would also offer exclusive and personalised service to a small number of guests. Germane to the concept was that the accommodation would be original, would fit seamlessly within the landscape, would utilise indigenous materials and styles, and would benefit from Paul's engineering skills. His creation complies perfectly with the self-imposed brief and, in addition, offers the ultimate luxuries of space, light and true style.
Accommodation comprises five wooden houses raised on stilts with peerless views of the misty Ngong Hills and the surrounding countryside. There is also a further bedroom within the attractive original house. The furnishings and decorative artefacts are, with very few exceptions, resolutely sourced within Africa, and primarily Kenya. The furniture may be constructed from camphorwood, which mellows to a rich dark patina with age, or perhaps, romantically, made from hardwood sleepers from the old Mombasa-Nairobi Railway. Each "tree-house" has its own spirit and ambience. The beautifully intricate hand-carved furniture of Lamu features in one, whereas another features a clear and tranquil blue combined with the strong lines of wrought iron pieces. Generous four-poster beds grace the upper-level bedrooms, crisp cottons and feather pillows promise a luxurious nights sleep. On the lower level the spacious living area has a large sofa to sink into, comfy chairs and an intimate dining area. The verandah is the ideal place from which to bask in the sun, take afternoon tea, observe the teeming birdlife or gaze into the sunset.
The cuisine is of the highest quality, imaginatively prepared using mouth-wateringly fresh ingredients. Meals, hosted by Paul or his son, Christof, may be served in the elegant dining room, under the shady trees, or in the covered yet open-sided dining area in the gardens in which a roaring fire is lit on chillier evenings. Enormous care is taken with presentation; flowers, hand-made glasses and beautiful plates with rich glazes glow by the soft light of many candles. Ngong House is truly inspirational.