Set down a narrow cobbled street in the heart of charming Shella Village, Zahir House is a traditional Lamu home with whitewashed walls, wooden shutters and intricately carved furniture. The bedrooms are spread over five floors, two of them with terraces offering views of sand dunes in one direction and dhow boats sailing across the water in the other. On the ground floor, there’s a lovely plunge pool for cooling off from the Lamu heat, and a hot tub on one of the higher floors to warm up of an evening in the chilly months.
We visited back in February, exploring the donkey-filled streets outside the house and sailing over to the Majlis Resort for a luxurious lunch and to laze about on their amazing beach beds. Evenings were spent on the roof terrace, listening to the calls to prayer as the sun went down and the moon rose.
With no cars, Lamu residents makes use of donkeys to transport goods around the island. When they’re not at work lugging humans’ stuff everywhere, they’re free to wander the streets, much to the delight of people like me who take lots of photos of them and pet them.
Back at the house the views stretch over the surrounding rooftops and out to the stretch of water between Lamu Island and the mainland.
From our room I looked down to see colourful laundry laid out to dry on a neighbouring rooftop.
Breakfast at the house, cooked by the expert staff. Lots of avocados and toast.
Lying in the plunge pool and staring up at the open sky overhead was one of my favourite things to do.
Trevor (a human) and Gerald (the inflatamingo) had a great time at the plunge pool.
I snuck up to the top floor one afternoon and had the roof terrace to myself to sunbathe and listen to the kids laughing and playing football in the street below.
Just after sunset is the most magical time of day in Lamu, when the moon is rising, the dhow boats are making their way back to the beach for the day and calls to prayer are echoing through the air.