Sometimes people use the words “boutique hotel” to represent small, low amenity foolery that excuses it being otherwise not great. Other times, “boutique hotel” is used in all the right ways, special touches, a dose of history, and true connection – The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel is the latter and we can’t get enough of this corner of wonderful in Diani Beach, Kenya.
Diani is a beach town near Mombasa, Kenya. It’s got some “baby Zanzibar” vibes with Maasai strolling the sand, kitesurfing, and calm waves perfect for swimming. A true resort town popular with British, Dutch, and German tourists we were looking for a place that was intimate and driven by the culture. We found it at The Maji.
The first thing you notice when you walk is the water – “Maji” is actually Swahili for water. The pool at the Maji actually begins in the lobby and winds around to the outside of the building, wrapping itself through palm trees and sitting areas all in view of the beach. Once you’re done fantasizing about the minute you get to jump into the pool, you’ll notice the art – it’s everywhere. Every nook and cranny has stunning original work from both traditional and contemporary African artists. The architecture of the space and the decor make you feel as if the entire hotel is one big gallery and it sort of is. Each of the 15 rooms at the Maji is uniquely designed with hand carved furniture, local textiles, and sweeping views. Our favorite room is the “ocean suite”, a two-story room that feels more like a beach house in and of its own. The sky high ceilings are actually thatched giving the entire sun-drenched space a very natural vibe. There’s a jacuzzi that leads to your personal access to the Maji’s pool, and an upstairs terrace with sun beds for those moments when you want to take in the breeze and some poetry from Warsan Shire.
The service at the Maji is impeccable. We had a bit of a harried situation where the ferry that connects Diani to the mainland at Mombasa (where the airport is) was down. We needed to change our flights from Mombasa airport to the airstrip in Diani in order to make our flight. We didn’t know where to begin, the airline website gave us virtually no help but the Maji staff were on it. Not only did they call the airline on our behalf, they contacted the airport itself to have them wait for us. We had a full on Indiana Jones moment running down the runway to catch our flight – but we made it and will have an epic success story to share as a result of the diligence of the staff at the Maji.
If you’re ever in Kenya, and want a luxe beach break at a place that has all of the high end touches you need but still somehow manages to feel like home. The Maji is your spot.