Mnarani House – Shela Village

Nestled between the picturesque sand dunes laced with doum palms, and the peaceful, coastal fishing village of Shela, on Lamu Island is “Mnarani House”. ”Mnarani” means “at the minaret”. The house is located near the Friday Mosque, a historical landmark in Shela Village, dating back to 1829, whose white minaret clearly stands out in the panoramic view of the village, and is recognised as one of the oldest surviving mosques with a minaret on the East African Coast. The house looks out over the sheltered waters which are the channel between Lamu and Manda Islands. Just a short stroll down from the house to Peponi Hotel takes us to one of Kenya’s most beautiful and unspoilt 12km stretches of beach. The larger, and historic UNESCO World Heritage Town of Lamu lies a distance of 3km or a 15 minute boat ride away. Mnarani House is a family holiday house in Shela, originally built in 1989, which has undergone a complete renovation and refurbishment, and is to re-open to visitors in December 2013. Using traditional methods of architecture and interior decor, as well as antique doors and woodwork, the house has been upgraded and offers a very comfortable option to those seeking holiday accommodation in Shela. The result is a magnificent house, a stone’s throw from Shela Beach, which can sleep up to 8 people, in 4 double rooms, all ensuite. The ground floor welcomes you into a showcase of fine decorative wall plasterwork carvings and niches, known as “vidakas” one of which is a replica of a wall carving in one of the ancient ruins at the back of the village. The refreshing blue clear waters of a white terrazzo overflow swimming pool runs along the length of the interior coralled wall in this welcoming ground floor area. Throughout the house these traditional decorative wall carvings and niches give a traditional feel to the house. Other traditional decorative touches include wooden ceiling beams hand painted in earthy red, black and white colours by local artisans and soft red coralled walls. Smooth white plastered walls and floors throughout the house in “nirhu”, said to purify and protect the home, and are an essential feature in a traditional Swahili stone house. The smooth white cement gives a cool finish to the house, in contrast to the black antique carved wooden doors and ceiling beams. Wooden furniture has been specially ordered and carved by local carpenters. Each double bedroom has a large fixed double bed, surrounded by a floor to ceiling white mosquito net with overhead ceiling fan. Crisp white cotton sheets and handmade Indian cotton bedcovers complement the decor. Each room has access to a balcony and there are magnificent views of the sea from many areas of the house, balconies, and dining area, culminating in a large open rooftop area, with a lounge, bar and fridge, partially covered by a “makuti” roof and partially open to the sun and stars. From the rooftop one can watch the traditional wooden dhows sail through the channel between the Islands. The house comes fully equipped and staffed. Our team includes a full time cook and house keeper and night guard. There is a wifi network for those who need it, intercom service between each floor and the kitchen, and inverter back-up system in case of power cuts. The unique aspect of being part of a living community which is Shela Village is of added advantage to the visitor, who can safely explore the sandy lanes of the village. Fishermen deliver their fresh catch to the door, nearby are local shops where fresh produce is available, friendly villagers welcome visitors to their community, Shela is a peaceful gem of a place, a place where one can really discover peace and tranquility and the laid back atmosphere of a small coastal community, as well as enjoy a beach holiday away from it all.