From spruced-up colonial mansions to sophisticated safari lodges and tropical bungalows, Kenya's hotel scene is one of Africa's most diverse. The humble campsite gets a thoroughly modernand modishinterpretation in Kenya's wildlife lodges (think martinis and four-poster beds beneath the baobabs). The best include three meals a day and a broad range of services. Not content to spend an afternoon bumping along in a Range Rover? Guided safaris let you walk with the wildlife, while village visits and community outreach programs offer a chance to give back to the locals.
Before you book, it's worth inquiring what's included in the price of your stay. While daily game drives are part of any lodge package, many perksfrom an hour in a hot-air balloon to a day in the spawill cost extra. Also consider location when booking your lodge. The most exclusive ones tend to be the most remote, so you'll usually have to shell out extra for charter flights onto private airstrips.
Along the coast, most of the action is centered around southern focal points like Diani Beach (30 minutes south of Mombasa) and Malindi (two hours to the north), while the laid-back Lamu archipelago dangles like a pearl necklace in the north (eight hours from Mombasa by road and ferry; one hour by air). Many of the southern resorts are large, boisterous all-inclusives: Though not conducive to privacy, they offer a chance to sample area restaurants and nightclubs and mix with the locals. Kenya's remote island hideaways are a secluded alternative, with quiet strips of sand shielded by palms and mangroves. Here you'll be able to avoid the ubiquitous beach boys who flock to tourist haunts like Diani, offering carvings, curios, and more illicit wares. Activities from diving to dhow rides to kayak safaris can be arrangedusually for an added pricethough you still might not find enough to keep the kids busy if you're planning a family trip. Honeymooners will swoon for romantic retreats like Kiwayu Safari Village and Funzi Keys; parents with tykes in tow might want to stick to something centrally located on the mainland.