Rondo Retreat
Accommodation,  Kenya,  Restaurants

Hotel Review: Staying At The Rondo Retreat Lodge

The name Rondo originates from Kavirondo the area around Lake Victoria formerly known as the Kavirondo Gulf. Rondo means all round which means a place of wholeness for body soul and spirit. The first house a guest cottage was built in 1948 by Bob Turton a saw miller from South Africa. He built the cottage for his wife.

He later donated the house to the NCCK (National Christian Council of Kenya.). This was after he got an accident while driving home. And he decided to start a new life in the USA with this wife and two children.

The NCCK were unable to maintain it and it was in shambles until it was taken over by the Founder of Trinity Fellowship. He converted it into a Youth camp. It was later converted into an orphanage between 1975 and 1986.

It came into the possession of Trinity Fellowship again with the purpose of running a youth retreat. At the time of the transfer Kitchen, Toto Movie was being filmed at Rondo. The film is a depiction of Kenya’s fight for independence. Since then Rondo has slowly grown into the beautiful retreat lodge that it is today.

1950’s Interior Design

The Rondo Retreat has several cottages, some are 5 bedroomed (the one we stayed at) while others are two bedroomed. The 1950s interior décor comes alive in the cottages. With bright colours, rich textures and vintage details in the form of furniture and accessories. Portraits of birds found in the Kakamega Forest hang above the beds in the room we slept. In another room, there was the first emperor of Ethiopia’s portraits and the history of the Queen of Sheba’s trip to Ethiopia.

Cottages at Rondo Retreat
Cottages

The first encounter at Rondo Retreat would be the reception with a beautiful parking lot and one cottage to your left. A beautiful bench overlooks the reception area. The retreat is set in a large expanse of land within the southern part of Kakamega Forest in western Kenya.

The bench that overlooks the reception
The bench that overlooks the reception

Each room in the 5 bedroom cottage has a private patio like the one below. The one above is the shared patio for all the rooms in the cottage.

Individual patio
Our individual patio

Our cottage was a five bedroomed cottage named Turaco, had a patio, with a living room and each bedroom is ensuite. My room had a twin bed, that I shared with a colleague we were travelling with. The patio had several sitting areas with makuti furniture (bamboo reef furniture). A place to sit and relax, one of my favourite hangout areas while I stayed here.

5 bedroomed cottage
Outside the 5 bedroomed cottage

The living room too has 50s theme furniture, with a fireplace. Each cottage has a different style still maintaining the same theme.

Each room in our cottage had a name with a specific theme to it. For instance, our room had crocheted bedding covers with portraits of crane birds found in Kakamega Forest. Another room still had crocheted bedding covers with the Ethiopian emperor photos and the Queen of Sheba.

Living Room in another cottage
A living room at one of the cottages

The Rooms

The rooms have character. Each room has its own design, its unique interior decor. There are some rooms that have twin beds while others have a double bed.

Twin beds
Twin beds

 

Twin room
My room

 

Room with double bed
Room with a double bed

 

Themed rooms
Themed rooms

The Bathroom

The bathroom is very minimal, in terms of offerings. There is only a bar of soap offered for guests. Which in my view should be more considering the amount of money a guest is paying for accommodation? There should be a shampoo, conditioner and lotion for guest. The hotel is one of the best in the area and should live up to its standards.

I loved that the bathrooms give special considerations for people who are physically challenged. There is stool so if you cannot stand in the shower you also have support all around you. I loved that the hotel does not encourage the use of plastics. Special care to the environment. There is a thermos with hot and room temperature available with glasses for water. This is offered instead of plastic bottled water.

Dining Area

Rondo retreat has a communal dining area that comes with rules. These rules fascinated me. One of them was no mobile phones. This rule was not taken seriously though as my colleagues and I had phones in the dining area as we waited for dinner.

Dinner is also served the British style where you wait for everyone to settle down at the table and then food is served at one go for all. The menu is standard and not a buffet or a la carte. If it is chicken and beef then everyone has chicken and beef. However, the hotel manager gives the brief just before check-in for anyone who has special considerations to let the lodge know in advance so that the chef can make special arrangements for you.

Dining area set with dessert
Dining area set with dessert

The Chapel

The lodge has the chapel within the premise. In my view, this is a perfect wedding venue for any couple who would love a small intimate wedding that just has close friends and family. The place has a chapel, a beautiful lawn that can be used for the reception party and the surrounding areas and the cottages are beautiful sets for a photoshoot.

The Chapel
The Chapel

Movie Set

Speaking of sets, the Rondo retreat was a set for The Kitchen Toto that was filmed in 1987. The Kitchen Toto is the story of the son of a priest who was killed by the Mau Mau during the emergency period in Kenya. The boy moves in with a British Police Officer to work as their house boy. It depicts the life of a 14-year-old boy during the emergency period in Kenya.

The Food

I loved the food, it felt home-cooked and certainly fresh. For breakfast, the orders were made after dinner the previous night. While dinner was a three-course meal that started with soups, the main course then dessert. The drinks are charged separately from the boarding rate. If you take a soda, juice or wine then you pay on check out day. The total of all the drinks taken during your stay is compiled and issued to you.

Main course meal
Main course serving

 

Starter meal
Soup starter

The Lawn

The lawn area has seats you can spend time relaxing. I especially loved the bench that was in front of the lodge reception. The lawn is also a good place to just sit on the grass and relax. I didn’t get to do this though as the grass was wet and the time we visited the weather was rainy throughout. In addition, there are gates that lead to walking treks to Kakamega Forest.

The lawn
The lawn

 

Tree species within the Property
Tree species within the Property

 

A memorial plaque within the lawn
A memorial plaque within the lawn

The Curio Shop

The Rondo Retreat Lodge also has a gift shop where all proceeds help support their community activities at Rondo Retreat Center.

 

Gift shop
The gift shop

The Verdict?

I enjoyed my stay at Rondo Retreat. This is one of the establishments where I really enjoyed my stay in 2019. The service was great and the place is so serene, quiet and refreshing. I noticed a lot of elderly visitors love to come here. This is not to say that the place is not for people of other ages. It’s a great place if you want to have some alone time, the place has no television, in the cottages and in the lounges. This gives you a lot of quiet time to reflect and if you love reading a good place to come and finish your book. It is also the best place for nature lovers as there are so many opportunities to see different kinds of bird species, flowers and trees. More of this is told in detail on my guide to Kakamega Forest.

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39 Comments

  • Natalie

    How lovely! It is hard in this day and age to get some quiet reflective time as the world is just so busy. It looks like you had a great visit!

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Yes it is, i really appreciated the quiet environment.

  • Julien

    What a beautiful place to enjoy nature and spend some quiet time! I love the expansive grounds located around the property.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      I loved it too, its within the Kakamega Forest in Kenya.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Hey, Kristina I loved the place too!

  • Jan

    Beautiful property! It is nice to see so much green outside the cottages. I love the idea of ‘themed rooms’ and decorating each room as per the theme. Enjoyed reading the descriptions of this property. Thank you.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Thanks Jan, Glad you enyoyed it. 🙂

  • Sinjana

    That’s a charming place to stay indeed. I would love to stay here. Too bad they had only one soap in the bathroom but I’d expect them to provide more on request.

  • Sharon Lumbasi

    Yes I am sure they would, because the staff was very helpful and friendly. I just had high expectations given that it is a high end lodge in the area and it should do more than what a budget hotel provides.

  • Emese

    Sounds like a lovely place to stay. Love all the green surrounding the cottages, and the themed rooms sound nice. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Carrie Ann | Should Be Cruising

    I love all of the vintage furniture and how peaceful and relaxing everything looks, both inside and outside of the cottage! I could definitely spend some time here to just relax with family and friends. Yay for no TVs!

  • angela

    How lovely, it reminded me of where I stayed in Tsitsikamma in South Africa. Old world charm. Love the little gift shop, I would have had to buy a few bits from there.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      The gift shop had pretty cool and unique items for sale

  • Jay Artale

    Love that the curio shop supports the local community. More hotels and restaurants should do this. I’d much rather buy a handmade souvenir than one that has been mass produced.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      I agree, I got myself a pair of earrings I don’t think I will be seeing anywhere else

  • Annalisa

    Really looks like a dream to me! I bet you had a fantastic stay at the Rondo Retreat. The rule for the phone usave during dinner feels right though. I wish every restaurant had this rule!

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      I agree, it encourages interaction and socializing during meal time which is good especially if you are travelling as a group

  • Wendy Lee

    What a lovely hotel! And I really appreciate how you started with the history of this facility–very interesting.

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed the read.

  • Sarah Wilson

    This looks lovely. Just in the process of planning a trip to Kenya and this looks just the sort of place we like to stay. So pleased I found this post, thank you 😊

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Glad I was of help. 🙂

  • Slavka

    What a pleasant, peaceful place! Small places like this are a nicer option to large resorts. The lodge has character and the gift shop has interesting items in it. Good to know about this place 🙂

  • Hannah

    These cottages look lovely. What a peaceful and serene little escape. I also love the little shop – how adorable! Thanks for the fantastic guide!

    Hannah | https://getlost.blog/

  • Nancy Hann

    What cute cottages! I loved the private patios and big front porch. The family style meals would be fun for getting to know other guests. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicole | Mapless Adventures

    What a very thorough review of Rondo Cottages. Thank you for sharing. I loved the pictures. This place seems like it would be an ideal place to relax!

    • Sharon Lumbasi

      Thanks Nicole!

  • Dee

    I found the history of the property interesting, and love the expansive grounds and how green it is, and the fact that the property is environmentally conscious. Looks like a great place for a retreat!

  • Anna

    What a lovely place with a story! The 50s theme furniture and fireplace both look really cozy! I´d love to stay here one day!

  • Yukti Agrawal

    Staying at Rondo Retreat Lodge looks worth due to its 1950’s type of interiors. Good to know it was once upon a set for The Kitchen Toto. The themed rooms too look beautiful.

  • Sharon

    What quaint, cozy little cottages! I would love to sit outside on that lawn and just relax.

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea

    What a great use of space. This seems like a good place to stay, but I agree they should provide more than just soap for guests’ use.

  • Becki

    Wow, what a stunning looking retreat. It’s certainly got a vintage look and feel to it. I could so imagine myself sat out on that lovely looking porch with a glass of wine.

  • Fae Celine Ong

    Rondo Retreat Lodge looks like a really beautiful place. It is such a great place to relax

  • Fae Celine Ong

    Rondo Retreat Lodge looks like a beautiful place to stay. It is a great place to relax

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