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Mtende House  
  • Shela Village
  • Newly refurbished
  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms
  • Roof Terrace
  • Self-catering with full staff
  • Peaceful Dune setting
Once in a while you stumble upon a place where your mind's eye sees something to make your heart heave a sigh and set down to rest. Mtende House is such a place. Take your morning coffee up on the roof terrace with the meuzzin's first call as the grey dawn sky over Manda Island bleeds to peach and another day begins. What was it that was worrying you back home? Can you even remember?

Mtende House

About Mtende House

Owners Buzz and Jax first stumbled on Lamu in 1978. They were living and working in Southern Sudan and went to Kenya for a well earned break. For many years they dreamt of having their own home there. Now that this dream has become a reality they are delighted to share their Retreat, Mtende House, with you.

Mtende house is situated in a very peaceful corner of Shela village next to sand dunes covered in bush and close to the ruins of an old mosque now a place were only monkeys play. The bird life is great, and occasionally a shy bushbuck is seen picking a discrete path through the dense dune vegetation.

The house consists of a ground floor with single bedroom and a small cloakroom. The main kitchen is situated here (but is complemented by a small kitchen way up on the roof terrace where you can also prepare hot drinks and snacks and raid the bar fridge without tackling any stairs!)

On the first floor there is a large airy double bedroom with a balcony and seating and extra barazas for sleeping. From here there are great peaceful views of the dunes and bush and the Friday Mosque. On this level there is a bathroom and spacious landing with balcony window.

A further flight of stairs leads to the second floor and another large airy bedroom with balcony and more dune views, a bathroom and landing with balcony window overlooking village. Simply but elegantly furnished with traditional kikoy and woven fabrics accented with richer textiles here and there, the rooms are all light and full of sunshine, but shuttered for shady afternoon siestas.

Finally there is a last flight of stairs to the roof top with its comfortable sofas, 'veg out' barazas and hammocks, the open plan dining area and the aforementioned small kitchen. You will spend much of every day in this penthouse haven in the gentle breeze, involving yourself in the politics of the birds feeding in the foliage nearby or the daily debate on whether to take the scenic route to the beach or the one which goes via the bar at Peponi? A knock on the front door below will require a peep over the wall to check if the fishermen have appeared with the promised oysters or if it's the guys selling mangrove crabs. Ho hum......another busy day!

By the time you get onto the roof you are almost level with the dunes and there is a great glimpse of the sea and Manda island past the Friday mosque.

None of our Retreats are far enough from the beach to make a difference of more than five minutes and there's nothing to choose between them on that basis, however Mtende House adds a different dimension to Shela sitting as it is nestled at the foot of the dunes and reminds one what a sleepy little place the village really is, and how much natural life inhabits the dunes at its fringes.

It's a lovely spot and ideal for one or two couples looking for a romantic hideaway and at a price that makes it more affordable than a hotel. The house has been lovingly built with great attention to artisanal skills and traditional detail. Many of the doors and windows are antiques and were collected over the years when Buzz and Jax were only Shela dreaming. Now Mtende is real and the doors are open wide in welcome.