“La Marelle House is a wonderful house with great staff and a really nice boat! And Marcella the owner is a great and thoughtful hostess!!”
The architectural style of La Marelle is half a world away from the traditional Arab/Swahili houses more usually found in Lamu and its archipelago. With its polished wooden floorboards, colonnaded verandas, whitewashed window shutters and green tin roof, La Marelle might be in the Caribbean or New Orleans, Sri Lanka or Assam.
A large and elegant living and dining room runs the width of the front of the house, along with a spacious veranda looking out across the garden and beach to the Lamu Channel and Shela village. The centre of the house is a large enclosed courtyard garden, and the three bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen lead off this green interior space.
The furnishings and fittings echo the eclectic colonial design of the house and reflect the tastes and travels of the house’s owner – deep relaxing daybeds, traditional Lamu chairs, antiques from Africa, India and beyond – giving La Marelle a unique, sophisticated, personal and relaxing atmosphere.
“Just to say many thanks for the rent of your villa last week. We had a fabulous time and Jeremiah, William and Ahmed looked after us very well.”
There are numerous places to sit, lounge and take it easy around the house and grounds. The large, secluded and shady garden surrounding La Marelle is dominated by a huge baobab tree and even contains the skeleton of a humpback whale harvested from the beach. Directly outside the garden gate is over two kilometers of golden sand – nice and sheltered with a gently shelving beach, it is super for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.
Between the house and the beach is La Marelle’s charming and original ‘dhow lounge’ – a large static dhow with makuti-thatched roof. It’s decks strewn with comfortable and colourful cushions, it is a lovely place for meals and drinks or for dozing, relaxing, reading and enjoying the view.
The house comes complete with a charming small wooden dhow with outboard motor – the ‘Kinyika’ – named after Lamu’s offshore rock where dolphins play – and a captain to pilot her. They will collect you from the airport and take you to La Marelle, and thereafter they are at your disposal for trips across to Shela village, Lamu town or elsewhere in the islands. Fuel is charged separately at cost – but the engine is not at all thirsty.
“A sweet, Southern-style bungalow on Manda Island. There’s a whale skeleton in the garden, and miles of creamy beach outside the gate. Suitable for a small family.”
Conde Nast Traveller Magazine on ‘Where to stay in Lamu’
There are three additional staff to help around the house – a night watchman, house steward and an excellent chef. He will be happy to shop and cook meals as required, and local fisherman will often come to the house with fish, prawns, lobster and other delicious and freshly-caught seafood.
For eating out we recommend strolling down the beach to Diamond Beach Village which has a lovely low-key beach bar and delicious pizzas, or heading a few hundred metres north to the smart Majlis Resort. Alternatively jump into the Kinyika and head across to Shela’s legendary Peponi Hotel or one of the many other excellent places to eat and drink on Lamu.