Where To Stay In Nairobi? The Best Hotels & Neighbourhoods

published by Bren

Last updated: December 13, 2023

Nairobi - one of my favourite cities, not just on the continent, but the world!

In this guide I'll take you through everything you need to know about Kenya's capital, including what the city is like, where to stay, and a break down of some of the best Nairobi hotels to make your trip as safe and memorable as possible.

What's Nairobi like?

All I can say is, pull your socks up.

Way up.

Lace your shoes up tight.

This city doesn't mess around.

Nairobi is one of Africa's gems, one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and a city that never sleeps. If you want to know Africa, you need to know Nairobi. 

I've been visiting Nairobi for almost ten years now, and have grown to love the city almost like a second home. For most first timers this city easily overwhelms them, especially if it's also your first time on the continent. However, that's because most people arrive here unprepared.

Without knowing where to stay, how to get around, and the best places to stuff your face, Nairobi is going to intimidate most newcomers. That will mostly leave you dining in a few tourist restaurants and leaving thinking Nairobi is "just okay".

However, a few insider tips is all you need to get a little deeper under the surface and feel Nairobi's magic. Do that, and you'll surely fall in love with it like the rest of us.

Africa for beginners?

At least on the eastern coast, Kenya is probably the most suitable city for first timers in Africa.

Everybody speaks English, it's safe in most areas, almost all first-world amenities can be found here, and people are very welcoming to foreigners.

On top of that, Nairobi Airport services airlines from most corners of the world, making it an easy entry point to the continent.

If you're looking for a city to host your first Africa experience, Nairobi is one of the best options there is.

In this guide:

Where to stay in Nairobi?

Choosing the right place to stay in Nairobi is essential.

Nairobi is a huge city, and driving across town can take over two hours at the worst of times. Taxis aren't exactly dirt cheap either.

That means you want to stay in a place that minimises your commute time and bases you around the main sights that you'll want to see.

Below I'll break down six of the best areas of Nairobi for tourists. Some are more accessible than others, but all can be good depending on the type of trip you're looking for.

I'll also recommend one or two accommodation options in each place, just to make things extra easy for you. The best hotels in Nairobi are generally clustered in a few areas, but there is accommodation of high quality in all parts of town. As you know my travels are all about value, so all these places are vetted and include some of the best Nairobi hotels when it comes to comfort and affordability. I've stayed all around Nairobi, so feel confident that you'll be well taken care of!

Map of Nairobi

As you can see Nairobi is large and spread out, and as the city is still developing each area is quite distinct. Some parts may resemble Europe, others may resemble rural Kenya in many respects.

Most tourists should be looking to stay around the Westlands/City Centre areas, but other areas are definitely suitable too. It just depends on how comfortable you are getting around on your own, and what you plan to be doing during your visit.

With Uber now very established, reaching different parts of the city is much less of an issue than it was in the past. However it still helps to stay in the right part of the city, as you never know when your sightseeing plans can turn into a day of sitting in traffic.

Let's take a look at each of these areas in detail:


the Nairobi National Museum

Westlands is one of the wealthier suburbs in Nairobi and the most popular area for expats.

It's quiet, there are lots of supermarkets and shopping malls around, and streets are lined with gated compounds and apartment complexes. Many of the top Nairobi hotels are also found here.

Shopping for marathon gear at Westgate mall, Westlands!

Its proximity to the city centre makes it an ideal place for those wanting to stay somewhere central but not in the bustle of town itself. It's also the centre of Nairobi's nightlife scene.

In my opinion, this is the best place to stay in Nairobi for first-time visitors.

Also note that the surrounding suburbs in Westlands are also suitable if you want something a little more quiet. For example, Lavington, Kileleshwa and the nearby areas are all safe and pleasant areas to stay.

I personally stayed in Kileleshwa on my last visit and as an avid runner, I went running around the neighbourhood daily with no issues, and saw many others doing the same. Since it's just the next suburb over from Westlands, it was still convenient to do all my shopping, eating out in Westlands as it's only a few minutes away by Uber!

A great place to stay in Kileleshwa is the Radisson Arboretum.

Things to do around Westlands:

  1. Visit the Nairobi National Museum.
  2. Head to Clay Oven for upper end Indian food - delicious and not too pricey.
  3. Urban Eatery is an upscale "food court" and one of the best places to chow in town. 
  4. Get pampered at Devarana - one of the best spas in the city.
  5. Hit Electric Avenue for the most vibrant nightlife in town. Alchemist and Havana are always fun, but avoid Brew Bar - always overcrowded with foreigners, and prices to match.
  6. Go to a spin class at Psycle Kenya!

Evening spin class at Psycle in Westlands!

Where to stay in Westlands?

For the budget traveller:

Stay at the Mvuli Studio Suites. It's an exceptionally well run apartment guesthouse in a perfect location. Should only run you $30ish per night which is an absolute bargain for this part of town. Best rates here.

For something nicer:

I would stay at the Best Western Plus Westlands. Equipped with a restaurant, bar, gym, excellent breakfast buffet and beautifully furnished rooms, this has a well-deserved five stars and is one of the best hotels in Nairobi. Check out the reviews and you'll see it holds its own against most upper-end hotels around the world. It's perfectly located right in the middle of Westlands, and isn't even that expensive for a place of this calibre. Around $200 should get you a room outside of high season, and since tourism is highly seasonal you'll get regular specials. You'll get the best rates here.

Staying nearby in Kileleshwa, a great spot is the Radisson Blu. It's right next to the Arboretum, which is a beautiful park with walking paths and greenery where locals and tourists alike go to relax, take strolls or go for runs. It's especially beautiful in the summer months.

South B/South C

South B Nairobi

South B/South C are adjacent local residential areas full of high-rise apartment complexes and the odd hotel. It's right by the Nairobi National Park, and there are also a few shopping malls and supermarkets in the area. This is probably not the best place for an Africa first-timer, but if you're comfortable being one of the only foreigners walking around this is a nice and affordable area to stay. I'd say it's one of the best places to stay in Nairobi for long-term stayers on a tighter budget.

Things to see around South B/South C:

  • Go for lunch or afternoon tea at the Ole Sereni Hotel - it overlooks Nairobi National Park, if you're lucky you'll see animals.
  • Just walking the streets here is interesting - especially in South B. A good look at local Nairobi life.
  • There's a nice food court out the back of Nextgen Mall - a good place to get some affordable local food.
  • Go ice skating at the Panari Center, a short drive from South C on Mombasa Road.
  • Carnivore is one of Nairobi's most famous restaurants where you can sample different game meats. It's on Langata Road, halfway between South C and Karen.

Where to stay in South B/South C?

For the budget traveller:

You can't get better value than Juddy's Place. Juddy runs this small homestay on her own; the rooms are cheap, the service is stellar. It's a little secluded so Uber is a must if you want to get anywhere, but you won't find many places that are better value for money. Best rates here.

For something nicer:

The Boma Hotel is easily one of the best hotels in Nairobi. It's located just off the Mombasa Road, far enough that you're not bothered by the ridiculous traffic, and not too far from the airport. Inside the hotel are two quality restaurants, a cocktail bar, pool, spa, gym, and everything comes with A grade Kenyan hospitality. Most importantly, rooms are big! You'll find the best rate here.

People who stay down this way often like to stay at the Ole Sereni, as it overlooks Nairobi National Park and you can sometimes see animals feeding at night. However, in my opinion the Boma is superior as a place to stay, and you can always walk down to Ole Sereni for a meal or cocktail anyway to enjoy the view. 

Nairobi City Centre

hotels in nairobi city centre

Things move fast in Nairobi town! Staying in town can be a shock to the senses at first, but it's actually one of of my favourite areas of Nairobi. 

The city centre has changed so much since my first visit back in 2012 - back then all the cafes and restaurants were filled with expat businessmen and tourists. Nowadays, it's filled with Kenyan students and young professionals, splurging on lattes and enjoying life.

Walking around the city centre is also totally safe, at least in the day time, and there are endless restaurants to try and friendly locals to talk to. Don't be afraid to explore here, it's the heart of Nairobi! There's also many hotels in Nairobi city centre that are good value, so if you want to stay here there are plenty of options.

Things to do in Nairobi Town:

  • Walk through Uhuru Park. It's nothing mind blowing, but you do see some interesting characters there.
  • Catch a show at the Kenya National Theatre (show times here).
  • Buy some souvenirs at the Maasai market. Remember to bargain hard here!
  • Tribeka Lounge on Banda Street goes off on the weekends. This is where to party if you want to mix with the local nightlife scene.
  • Just walking around town is an experience in itself. Lots of coffee shops, local stores and streets to explore. Make a day of it.

Where to stay in Nairobi city centre?

For the budget traveller:

Stay at the After 40 Hotel. It's in the centre of town and does all the basics right - good rooms, wifi throughout, and a restaurant on site. Usually $50 is enough to get a you a basic room, depending on the season. Best rates here.

For something nicer:

There are a few options but I'd go with the Serena Hotel, just because of its location. It's right beside Uhuru Park in one of the nicer parts of the city centre. It's not as lavish as some upscale hotels, but it has just enough flash - outdoor pool, poolside bar, good wine selection, gym, spa - to keep you comfortable. Hotels in Nairobi city centre are generally more expensive than elsewhere, so I prefer somewhere like Westlands. Still, it's not a bad place especially if you're there on business. Will likely run you at least $250 for a king room. Best rates here.


places to stay in karen nairobi

Karen lies to the southwest of central Nairobi and is home to a large portion of Nairobi's European population. Most residents here are upper-middle class, and you'll notice how much more international it feels than other parts of Nairobi.

One downside is it's quite far out of the city centre. However if you're looking for a quiet getaway far from the Nairobi's daily bustle, Karen's your place. 

Things to do in Karen:

  1. Head to Talisman on Ngong Road. Not cheap, but the food is world class.
  2. Head to Giraffe Manor down in the Langata area - your Instagram will love you for it.
  3. Walk the Oloolua Nature Trail, a 5km walk, complete with caves and waterfalls.
  4. Head to Karen Country Club for a pizza and a game of golf.
  5. Go for a day at the races at Ngong Racecourse. The crowd is more interesting than the horses!
  6. Share some love at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.
  7. Unwind at the Resurrection Gardens, a green sanctuary perfect for alone time and reflection.

Where to stay in Karen?

For the budget traveller:

Karen Little Paradise might be what you're looking for. This is a small B&B that grows much of their own food on premises, various fruits and vegetables that you'll inevitably get to enjoy during your stay. It's quite secluded and you'll certainly need a taxi to get anywhere, but if it's an escape you're after then look no further. Best rates here.

For something nicer:

Book yourself into the famous Drexel House, right on the outskirts of Karen. This one-of-a-kind hotel is housed in a colonial mansion and one of the most delightful accommodations in Nairobi. Very private, and equipped with everything you could want for a five star vacation - outdoor pool, garden, private compound, restaurant, bar, room service. A hugely different experience to a cookie-cutter five star hotel, a stay at Drexel and its wonderful staff will surely be beautiful memory of your time in Kenya. It books out often, so book early. Get the best rate here.


places to stay in kilmani nairobi

Kilimani was historically a British residential neighbourhood in Nairobi, but has since become a fast-developing residential and commercial centre.

There are several big malls and office buildings here, with more popping up every year, and the scene is very international. More recently it's become popular with the large Chinese population doing business in Kenya.

Things to do in Kilimani:

  1. Try the nyama choma (grilled meat) at Coco Jambo - a beautiful outdoor restaurant perfect for long lunches.
  2. Experience African fine dining at Le Palanka - not cheap, but an experience not to be missed. 
  3. Go shopping at the Yaya Centre - a small but upscale mall popular with expats.
  4. Start (and maybe finish) your night out at Kiza. It's a high-end nightlife venue, bottles and everything.

Where to stay in Kilimani?

For the budget traveller:

Eldon Suites is your place. This is a boutique apartment building, conveniently located within walking distance from various restaurants and cafes. It has a restaurant, garden and swimming pool and the rooms are very spacious. $40 should get you a room outside of high season - awesome value for money. Get the best rate here.

For something nicer:

Easy choice - stay at the Yaya Towers. Basketball court, tennis court, gym, games room, swimming pool, BBQ area; it's luxury living at its finest. It's also right beside the Yaya Centre where you can get everything you need. This is apartment living so you might find you enjoy the privacy a touch more than the usual Nairobi hotels. About $195 should get you an apartment here for a night and if you're wanting to vacation in style, you won't be disappointed. Best rates here.


If you're just overnighting it's not a bad idea to stay by the airport.

Nairobi traffic isn't the friendliest and trying to get to the airport at peak hours is a nightmare, so this can be the best place to stay in Nairobi for 1 night, unless of course, you're planning on exploring the city. In that case, I'd probably stay in Westlands or the city centre.

Besides, the airport isn't in the middle of nowhere, so if you do stay here there are a few things close by to keep you busy.

For the budget traveller:

Silent Sky Homestay is the best option down here. It's tucked away in a side street and not the easiest to find, but the value for money here is excellent. A good night's sleep is guaranteed, and breakfast is included. 3km from the airport, $25 a pop. Get the best rate here.

For something nicer:

Stay at the Four Points. It's run by the Sheraton and does everything right - spa, gym, pool, buffet breakfast. Out of the Nairobi hotels by the airport, this is the best of the lot - located right beside Jomo Kenyatta, so you can rest easy and avoid the early wake up. Perfect for an overnight stay. 

More Nairobi tips

Use Uber. It's safer than taxis and has better-vetted drivers than Bolt. There are many Uber drivers in Nairobi, so it's never hard to find a ride. Also, Uber Eats is very good and you can order your groceries or any number of restaurant meals from your phone.

Order groceries - Traffic in Nairobi can be a nightmare so getting food delivered is often a good option at meal time (especially when it's raining!) The two major apps are Uber Eats and Glovo. I recommend getting them both because they serve different restaurants and supermarkets, and both have a good selection. On my last trip I was quite busy so ordered food in almost daily. Delivery is super affordable and will only cost you a dollar or two.

Groceries ordered from Artcaffe using Glovo!

Airport taxis are expensive but they are safe and convenient. You will need to negotiate with the driver because they will always give you a loaded price. The best tip I can give you is to open Uber and check how much the fare will be. In my experience, if the Uber fare is 1,000 shillings, an airport taxi will probably quote you something like 2,500 shillings. If you just tell them you're going to call an Uber, they'll probably agree to something like 1,200 shillings. Or you can simply call an Uber and wait.

Eat the local food! Kenyan food is not intimidating at all and you should definitely try all the staples while you are there. Ask around for some good places, locals will be more than happy to point you towards their favourite local spots. Some foods you can ask about are ugali, pilau, chapati, smocha, nyama choma, plantains, githeri etc.

Fish and masala chips!

Get a sim card. There's mobile data coverage everywhere in Nairobi and it's affordable. Safaricom is the best network, make sure you take your passport with you as it's required for every foreign user.

Food safety is less of an issue now than it was 10 years ago, but eating in local street places can still give problems to foreign stomachs. I highly recommend you read my guide on preventing traveller's diarrhea - it will come in very handy on a trip to Nairobi.

Traffic is heavy. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, especially during peak hours. Weather is also a factor - if it rains get ready for some epic traffic jams.

Learn the language. English is widely spoken, but it helps to learn some Swahili before your trip. You might want to check out my Learn a Language in 7 Days guide.

Get travel insurance! Travelling in Africa is unpredictable, insurance is an absolute must. If you've never purchased travel insurance before, this blog post should tell you everything you need to know. 

Hoping you love Nairobi as much as I do. Any questions, leave them below. Enjoy!


Featured image: ninara @ Flickr

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  1. We have a family of four travelling from Zanzibar to Nairobi, overnight then on Saffari for 8 days (camping) then back to Nairobi for probably about 3 days. Ideally we would like to stay somewhere safe and ideally all in the same room but we are on a budget. We are then heading to Victoria Falls (any ideas here for great accommodation for about 3-5 days), then on Saffari to Botswana, Zim and South Africa (for 10 days) then volunteering in Moz (for a month). All up we will be gone for over 2 months. You seem to indicate the westend is the best but struggling to find a cheap safe family room. Any suggestions. Also how long roughly to the Giraffe manor and animal orphanages from here? Last year my daughter and I spent 4 weeks in Moz and South Africa but always had a guide with us, so while I feel OK in Africa now Hubby is still quite wary. Kids are 13 and 15.

  2. Great post! As a frequent traveler to Nairobi, I can confirm that this list of hotels and neighborhoods is spot on. I’ve stayed in some of these hotels and can attest to their quality and location. The Giraffe Centre in Langata is a must-visit for anyone interested in wildlife conservation, and the neighborhood of Hurlingam is definitely worth exploring for its trendy restaurants and bars. Thanks for sharing this useful information!

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