Business Traveller’s Guide to Nairobi

Doing business in Kenya? Kenya Airways’ new B787 Dreamliners now fly between Nairobi and Paris, Johannesburg, Beijing, Bangkok and Guangzhou. Here are our recommendations for a business trip in Nairobi

Nairobi is the financial hub of East and Central Africa and a favourite destination for foreign companies expanding into the region. It has attracted global firms such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Coca-Cola, Bharti Airtel, Huawei, PwC, and Nokia, which operate their African and regional headquarters out of Nairobi. International food brands like KFC, Naked Pizza and Subway have recently expanded to Nairobi targeting the emerging middle class and growing expatriate community.

As a gateway to East Africa Nairobi receives millions of guests a year visiting Kenya or in transit to other parts of the region. Leading hotel chains are expanding their footprint in Nairobi, including Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group Kempinski, US chains Hemingway Hotels & Resorts and Best Western, which launched in Nairobi last year. According to last year’s figures 1437 new rooms will be put up in Nairobi by 2017 by global chains such as Radisson Blu, Marriott, Hilton, Park Inn and Lonrho.

Kenya Airways is central to the attractiveness of Nairobi as a business destination thanks to the airline’s rich network which includes flights to 57 cities globally. The technology industry is also a key driver, especially with regards to innovations such as mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and the establishment of technology hubs like iHub and mLab, which have inspired mobile phone inventions that have put the city on the global map as Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah’.

Notable companies in Nairobi include technology firms Safaricom and Seven Seas Technologies; media conglomerates Standard Group and Nation Media Group; banks like Equity, Barclays and KCB; and investment firms Centum and Transcentury. Nairobi also hosts leading international schools, high-quality hospitals, high-end restaurants and bars, and fun spots for hiking, nature walking and jogging.

Nairobi ranks favourably in a number of surveys on African cities. The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index ranks Nairobi among 13 cities in Africa leading in terms of visitor numbers and visitor spending. It is also among the world’s top fastest-growing destination cities by visitor numbers.

New Eka Hotel
A medium-grade hotel, Eka opened recently along Mombasa Road on route to and from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the city centre. Eka has 70 rooms fully equipped with air-conditioning, mini-bar, direct-dial international telephone and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel also has two restaurants and two bars, a conference facility for up to 200 people, smaller meeting rooms, executive boardrooms, a gym and an outdoor swimming pool set in lush gardens.
Room prices: Ksh25,415 per night for a superior room to Ksh33,915 for an executive suite. |

Close to CBD
The Sarova Stanley Hotel is located at the corner of Kenyatta Avenue and Kimathi Street in the city centre. A favourite for business travellers, Sarova Stanley has 217 air-conditioned spacious rooms and features a business centre, complimentary wireless internet access, a health club, an outdoor pool, and a sauna. Stanley also has a 227 square feet space for conference and meeting rooms as well as small meeting rooms. Launched in 1902, the Sarova Stanley was the first luxury hotel in Nairobi and has since hosted world leaders, well-known politicians and international celebrities.
Room prices start at Ksh20,400 for a deluxe single room to Ksh25,550 for a club room. | Tel: +254 709 111 000 |

Best value
Nairobi Serena Hotel is a luxurious 5-star property featuring 183 air-conditioned comfortable rooms, a garden, gift shop, newsstand and hair salon, an outdoor swimming pool and spa/wellness facilities. Business clients also enjoy Serena’s well-equipped business centre featuring modern audio-visual equipment and conference and meeting rooms. Serena is a favourite among leading business people, government officials, diplomats and local politicians.  The Nairobi Serena is located along Processional Way.
Room prices start from Ksh31,000 per room per night for a twin room up to the Business Suite at Ksh71,392. | Tel: +254 727 282200 |

No expense spared
Villa Rosa Kempinski
The luxury 5-star hotel Villa Rosa Kempinski opened in Nairobi last year and is located on Chiromo Road just ten minutes drive from the city centre. One captivating fact about Kempinski is that its exterior is painted pretty pink. The hotel features 200 elegantly furnished, spacious rooms, a spa with nine treatment rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. It has a variety of restaurants offering local and international cuisine including the Lucca Restaurant which serves Italian dishes and all day dining restaurant, Cafe Villa Rosa.
Room prices from Ksh23,290 for the superior room. | Tel: +254 20 3603 |

Cool and Stylish
Tribe Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel famous for its unique architecture and blend of urban styles with warm African colours and artefacts. Located on Limuru Road, in Gigiri, Tribe has 137 guest rooms and suites, a spa inspired by Kenya’s sacred forests, a library and a rooftop bar. Tribe also features waterfalls, gardens, some 900 hand-sculpted artefacts from all over Africa, sand-coloured walls, and a granite table submerged in its heated pool which those on business can use for al fresco meetings.
Room prices start from Ksh26,775. |

Nairobi has a diverse selection of bars, pubs and wine bars to sample. Try some of these:
Mercury Pub and Grill
First floor, Junction Mall, Ngong Road, | Tel: +254 722 309 947 |
Tamasha Hurlingham
Jabavu Close, off Argwings Kodhek | Tel: +254-(20)-2711772 |
Lavington Green centre off James Gichuru Road, Lavington | Tel: +254(0)20 344 335.
Gipsy Bar
Woodvale Grove, Westlands| Tel: +254 (0)20 4440964 |
Brew Bistro and Lounge
Piedmont Plaza, Ngong Road

Artcaffe coffee & bakery operate a chain of restaurants famous for freshly baked homemade breads, pastries, cakes and desserts. They have outlets at Junction Mall, Ngong Road and Oval Mall, Westlands.

Best local food: Amaica Restaurant is Kenya’s only restaurant chain whose menu exclusively features indigenous foods such as wild local mush-rooms and white ants, as well as traditional brews such as busaa and chang’aa. Dishes from different regions of Kenya are served at Amaica’s two outlets. Diners looking for a truly local experience should visit the Amaica Peponi, located in Westlands at Getathuru Gardens, off Peponi Road. Make sure you try the smoked beef.
Tel: +254 724 477663 |

Best Buzz: Java House is a popular coffee lounge and restaurant chain among Kenya’s middle class and expat community and beloved for its premium-roasted coffees and teas. The restaurant and coffee house chain operates 17 outlets in Nairobi. An outlet worth trying is the Java House located at the Kenya Medical Association building along Mara Road. The outlet has lots of indoor seating, ample parking space, free internet access and is located in the emerging Upper Hill Business District.
Tel: 0707 349 990 |

Best View: Mezze on the deck, best western premier The rooftop bar and restaurant by the pool of Best WesternPremier Hotel gives diners breathtaking views over the city. Mezze on the Deck serves a wide variety of Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine along with an array of sheesha flavours. Located along Argwings Kodhek Road.

If you have one hour…
Kenya National Archives
The Kenya National Archives offers a cultural tour showcasing artwork, crafts and ornaments from different parts of Kenya and Africa. It also has a photo exhibition of Kenya’s journey from the colonial era documenting the struggle for independence and the men and women who championed for it. Entry is Ksh200 for non-residents.
Kenya National Archives, Moi Avenue (opposite the Nairobi Hilton Hotel). | Tel: +254(0)20 2228959,

Nairobi National Museum
Visit the National Museum to learn Kenya’s history and heritage and see some contemporary art. There are frequent special exhibitions to enjoy as well as botanical gardens and a nature trail. Entry is Ksh2,000 for non-residents.
Museum Hill Road off Uhuru Highway. | Tel: +254 20 3742131,

Half a day to spare…
Nairobi National Park
Explore the Nairobi National Park located just 7km from the city centre on Langata Road. The park is home to over 400 species of birds and a wide variety of wildlife including the black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and eland. It also hosts the ivory burning site monument, Nairobi Safari Walk and an animal orphanage. Non-residents pay a park entrance fee of US$50   Tel: +254-20-2423423. |

A full day to spare…
Hell’s Gate National Park
Take a trip out to Hell’s Gate National Park, located northwest of Nairobi and south of Lake Naivasha. The park’s savannah ecosystem harbours over 100 species of birds including Verreaux’s eagle, Augur buzzard, vultures and a wide variety of wildlife including African buffalo, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and baboons. Fun activities include hiking, camping, birdwatching, horse riding and rock climbing. It takes about one and a half hours to drive from Nairobi to Naivasha. Non-resident adults pay US$30 for park entry.   Tel: +254 20-2433037. |

Popular keepsakes available for sale in Nairobi include the local Kitenge fabric, which can be tailored into custom-made outfits. Other popular souvenirs include wooden and soapstone carvings of wild animals, and African paintings. There are also a number of interesting items inspired by Maasai traditional culture, such as the famous Maasai shuka, Maasai leather belts, swords and knives used by morans [warriors], and culturally inspired jewellery and ornaments made from beads and bones. Locally roasted Kenyan
tea and coffee also make delicious souvenirs.

To get in touch with the local daily views and news on Nairobi and stay in touch with what
is happening abroad, look out for the following English language newspapers or access the following social media sites/feeds:

General Newspapers: The Daily Nation, The Standard, The Star and Business Daily.
Twitter: Billionaire industrialist and rock DJ Chris Kirubi @CKirubi
Tanzanian tech VC fund manager Mbwana Alliy @Mbwana
Financial analyst @alykhansatchu
Award-winning TV Journalist Jeff Koinange @koinangejeff
Blogs: Nairobi Living documenting life in the city, operated by journalist James Murua.
Rookie Manager run by finance professional Kellie Murungi.
WhiteAfrican run by tech entrepreneur Erik Hersman.

Getting There:

Kenya Airways (KQ) flies from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi to more than 40 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The Kenyan national carrier’s route network comprises 57 global cities including Paris, London, Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, Beijing and New Delhi.

Getting Around:
The most convenient way to travel from the JKIA to the city centre is by taxi, which you can hire outside the terminal or you can have arranged by your hotel. Most visitors prefer to travel around the city using taxis. However, public transport is available to almost all parts of Nairobi. Websites such as Jambo Nairobi…  and Guide to Kenya–Transport–in–Nairobi,–Kenya offer details on how to get around via buses and matatus.

You need to know…
Q Should I leave a tip? Yes, 5-10% is sufficient.
Q I’ve forgotten my tie – where can I buy one? Sir Henry’s Stores, located on Old Mutual Building along Kimathi Street and at the Junction Mall along Ngong Road. Alternatively you could try Little Red stores at the Yaya Centre along Argwings Kodhek Road and at the ISP building on Kimathi Street.
Q What’s the accepted formal greeting? A handshake should do if you are meeting someone for the first time. Hugs and kisses can come later, but wait for cues from the other person especially if they are a little bit older, or you are not exactly friends.
Q Any local lingo I might need? Everyone knows ‘jambo’! Other useful Swahili phrases worth learning include:
Habari yako (how are you doing?)
Mzuri sana (I am very fine)
Ahsante (thank you)
Nionyeshe barabara ya kwenda xxx (give me directions to xxx)
Tafadhali (please)
Duka (shop)
Maji (water)
Q Money matters: what’s the low-down on currency etc? You might face problems paying via card in some establishments because of network issues, or because your bill is too small. So always have some cash on you. Most banks have ATM outlets located in shopping malls and fuel stations. It is unusual to find long queues at the ATMs, although towards the end of the month and on the weekends they tend to be busy. It is best to convert money into Kenyan currency at the airport or in the CBD in banks and forex bureaux. Other than in hotels and parks where US dollars can be accepted it might prove hard to make your purchase using foreign currency elsewhere.